November-December 1998

Candle in the Dark

By Mandy Ochoa

Photo Courtesy :  Abs-Cbn

I felt I was on top of the world I had everything I wanted: fame, girls, my own car and my own house. But I wasn’t happy I felt empty inside.

My real name is Emmanuel which means God is with us. It is a name that holds a special significance during Christmas time because it’s the same name that was given the Lord Jesus Christ when he was born in Bethlehem – God coming to the world to be among us. And now that Christmas is just around the corner, I feel that special affiliation to Jesus once again. I feel lucky to have been named after Him. And I join the rest of the world in welcoming the wonderful, joyous Christmas season, at the same time commemorating the birth of our Savior and joining in the merry revelry that comes with the season.

A Grain of Salt

By Fr. Jaime Del Rosario, omi

I came here in Japan 1996, I was ordained in September, 1995 at the Our Lady of Grace Parish in Caloocan City as an O.M.I. priest. I ministered in that Oblate Parish as a deacon and then as a priest for some months. Coming to Japan as a new priest, at the age of 28 is a really challenging mission for me.

The Oblates are known to going for the most difficult missions. As a seminarian I had a great desire to go the difficult missions, particularly in foreign lands. I thought that it was a noble self-offering to the Lord. But now that I’m into a difficult mission, I begin to realize that “difficult” really is difficult.

The Maasai of Kenya

By Fr. Eufemio Sombrio, svd

In nearly forty years, this is my first time to celebrate Christmas away form my homeland. Before I left for Africa last January, I already heard reports from many missionaries abroad that indeed there is no place like home especially in terms of celebrating Christmas. Now that I am a Filipino in Africa, I’d rather say that Christmas in Kenya compared to the Philippines is both similar and different. Different because of our cultural traditions like the Misa de Gallo, like listening to Christmas songs as early as the month of September, or house-to-house caroling. But it is also similar because the message of Christmas to the Africans remains the same that “the WORD was made FLESH and DWELT among us.”

It Starts with a Dream

By Nelda Natividad

The Legion of Mary in the Philippines has been sending out Incolae (the plural of Incola!) or lay missionaries to Micronesia and Melanesia for some years now. These lay missionaries support themselves and help strengthen the Church through the Legion of Mary. Nelda Natividad tells us how she has now moved on from being an Incola (part time missionary) to extension worker.

A Dream

As Incola Mariae volunteer, I started as a College Teacher at the Divine Word Institutes in Madang, Papua New Guinea. With fellow Incola-teachers, I organized praesidia among the students and other teachers. When my contact with the school, I was fortunate to get a job where my training as a Certified Accountant would be of use.

Maria Aparecida

By Sr. Alice Lansang, icm

Let me tell you about a peasant woman in Brazil, Maria Aparecida, who has taught me to be a disciple.

Alcohol and Jealousy

Her quiet strength, her enduring patience wells up from her deep faith. Countless times I have heard her say, “I have faith in God...” that Ze, her husband, would be cured of alcoholism. Poisoned by the bottle and jealousy; Ze tried to prevent her participation in the community. Yet courageously she managed to fulfill her different tasks as wife, mother and community leader.

Earth can't belong to us, for we belong to it

By Fr. Sean Farell

 Sean Farell is a Columban lay missionary in Mindanao where he tries to help the ‘lumads’ in their struggles for a little land to live on recently the ‘lumads’ have been forced to go on o hunger strike to get their land returned to them. This poem has been born out of their tears. Here is an extract:

Many different faces
March a single beat
Footsteps fall together
In mid-day summer’s heat.

Hope...amid Tears

By Sr. Janice McLaughlin, mm

Maryknoll Sisters see peace building at heart of their service to the people of East Timor.

East Timor’s Bishops Carlos Ximenes Belo issued an SOS for his people, and Maryknoll Sister’s responded, four missionaries now one a Filipino, serve in this “land of tears.”


His days as hostage of Muslim rebels last year highlighted the difficulties of Fr. Des Hartford’s mission reconciliation.

On 7 November last, Fr. Des Hartford, Apostolic Administrator of Marawi in the Philippines, was released by his captors and walked for two hours through the forest of Mindanao to freedom. His ordeal began eleven days previously when he was abducted by former members of the Moro National Liberation Front. By their action they hoped to bring pressure on the government of the Philippines to fulfill promises made when an amnesty was signed some years ago. Fr. Hartford, who has worked for almost thirty years in the promotion of peace in this conflict area, represents the Catholic bishops on the Mindanao Tripartite Commission for dialogue.

In Giving You Will Receive

By Fr. John Griffin, ssc

One day in 1942 the whole school assembly at St. Kevin’s College in Oamaru, New Zealand sat riveted as two priests told of their lives as missionaries in Korea. More exciting for us young lads, their years in faraway Asia had recently included being held as prisoners of war by the Japanese who had finally released then for repatriation.

Of Rising Moons and Flaming Trees

By Sr. Emma de Guzman, icm

The days before Christmas had been extremely warm and heavy. And while the other parts of the world are coated in snow as Christmas approaches, the whole of creation in this part of the world is covered with omnipresent red dust, any passing vehicle creates its own clouds of red dust that settles on the leaves of every tree so that they appear to be made -up in red! One can understand why the houses are made red clay mud; this is the season of the year when red clay is joined to red dust, even the homes made of cement walls and painted take on another coating of the season’s red.

By Fr Joseph Panabang SVD

Father Joe would like to thank all those who sent him letters and greetings. He doesn’t always get around to answering everyone but assures you of his gratitude.


Joseph Kojo Baffoe, a four-year-old child, is very talkative and inquisitive. He lost his father. He was bought to Kintampo by his mother and left to his Aunt Yaa. He woke up one morning and asked, where is my father? He brought me to a far far place last night.” Knowing it was a dream, his aunt said, “Oh Joe, it means you were dreaming.” “What is dreaming Mama?” he demanded and poor Aunt Yaa was completely at a loss.