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Eudists' Philippines Mission

Update on the Philippines Project

March 2006

The initial team of Pierre Marchand, Amadeo Pedroza and Ron Bagley are continuing to plan for their move to the Diocese of Imus. Amadeo actually arrived in the Philippines on March 5 and becomes the first member of the community to take up residence. Ron is scheduled to arrive in early May 2006 and Pierre will arrive in September 2006. The Provincial of Colombia, Fr. Ovidio Muñoz, has also announced that Fr. Alirio Raigozo will be joining the team early in 2007 replacing Amadeo. Ron visited the Diocese of Imus for three weeks in December 2005 and much of this update is based on his experiences.

When Ron visited the Philippines, he was able to get a first-hand introduction to the life and works of the Diocese of Imus. He spent time with the Good Shepherd Sisters both in Tagaytay (Diocese of Imus) and at the Provincial House in Manila. The Diocese of Imus is adjacent to the Archdiocese of Imus, so it is a short commute into Manila.

The Good Shepherd Sisters operate a spiritual renewal center in Tagaytay called Maryridge. It overlooks the beautiful Lake Taal which is home to the Taal volcano, the smallest active volcano in the world. (cf. attached picture) This center is in a beautiful serene setting which provides a reflective atmosphere for the many people who take advantage of the programs offered or a quiet personal retreat. There is also a community of Contemplative Sisters of the Good Shepherd in Tagaytay who are eager to welcome the Eudists. (cf. attached picture)

 
  Lake Taal and its volcano

     
Ron with the Sister of the Good Shepherd

Ron had the opportunity to visit many of the excellent projects conducted by the Good Shepherd Sisters in the Diocese of Imus and the Archdiocese of Manila. Many of these projects are focused on the needs of women. For example, the Third World Movement against the Exploitation of Women provides a variety of services to help women escape the hold of prostitution and sex tourism. Bukid Tabataan is a residential facility for abused children run by the Sisters. They also offer a variety of “livelihood” programs which enable women to produce items which then are offered for sale, ranging from strawberry preserves to soap to baskets and clothing, and so much more.

Ron also was introduced to the many self help projects undertaken by the Diocese of Imus. One of these is a ministry to the fishing communities of Cavite City. This ministry was begun by the pastor and parishioners of St. Peter Parish. The pastor brought some parishioners to visit the poor fishing communities which struggle to eek out a living. The parishioners came back to the parish and reflected in the light of the Scriptures on what they saw and decided they needed to do something to help these people. However, they wanted to do something that would enable people to earn a living with dignity.


Fishing Community


Shrimps, prawns and whitefish fishery

The project they developed has enabled a growing number of “beneficiaries” to begin fisheries to raise shrimps, prawns and whitefish. They are loaned the start up money to begin their own fisheries. Beneficiaries eventually reinvest in the project to enable more people to start their own fisheries. It began with four families and within a few years over 300 families will be earning a living in this excellent self help project. In addition, the Rotary Club and other parishes are planning to duplicate the project in other areas.

This is an example of the type of ministries developed as a result of the Diocesan Pastoral Priorities for Evangelization (DPPE). These priorities are the result of a long and extensive strategic planning process. Five goals have been set and 22 ministries have been identified to implement these goals. Currently, a great deal of emphasis is being placed on the formation of pastoral leaders for these ministries. Every parish has been asked to identify their leaders and send them to formation programs conducted by the Diocese of Imus as a part of the DPPE. Ron had the opportunity to participate in one such program while he was there. Bishop Chito has indicated that he would eventually like the Eudists to work in this area of lay ministry formation in the DPPE.

While in the Diocese of Imus, Ron spent a week at the major seminary in Tagaytay. It is called Tahanan ng Mabuting Pastol (Home of the Good Shepherd). During that time the seminary celebrated its 30th anniversary of foundation. During the wonderful celebrations, Ron had the opportunity to meet many of the alumni and benefactors of the seminary. Many of them were happy to hear about the Eudists and welcomed us to the Diocese.

The major seminary is actually a house of formation for the diocesan seminarians. They take their classes at the Divine Word School of Theology which is directly across the street. Other students from the many formation houses of religious orders in Tagaytay also attend classes at Divine Word. Actually, there are so many religious orders who have houses in Tagaytay that it is referred to as “the little Vatican.”

The seminarians at Tahanan were very hospitable and welcoming. They were eager to hear more about the Eudists and our charism. They showed great openness to the ministry we will bring, especially in the area a spiritual formation.

 


Ron celebrates Mass with seminarians


Seminarians entertain at anniversary festivities at Tahanan

The minor seminary is called Our Lady of the Pillar (OLP) and is located in the city of Imus. Once again, it is a house of formation. The college seminarians take their courses at San Carlos Seminary in Manila. They get up very early to celebrate Mass before they travel into Manila ahead of the morning rush hour. They return to OLP late in the afternoon. These young men were also very hospitable during Ron’s visit and shared a great deal about themselves.                              

 
One of the vans the seminarians use
to commute to classes in Manila

 
Seminarians at Our Lady of the Pillar Seminary

One of the things that Bishop Chito has asked the Eudists to focus on is the spiritual formation of the seminarians at both Tahanan and OLP. The precise way that this ministry will take shape will be determined after the Eudists arrive and become acclimated to the culture and language.

That is one of the things Ron learned during his visit: it will be very important for the Eudists to learn to speak Tagalog (the national language). Even though English is spoken in the classroom, business and some of the Masses, the native language is widely used. Most of the seminarians and priests are more comfortable expressing themselves in Tagalog.

Ron had numerous opportunities to meet the priests of the Diocese of Imus. Many attended the Dedication Day celebrations at Tahanan and Ron was able to join them at the Clergy Christmas party that was held at the minor seminary. He was also able to meet many priests at the parishes that he visited during his tour of the Diocese. The priests are very dedicated and hard working. With such a large Catholic population there are many demands on their time just to provide the sacraments and other pastoral services. When Ron mentioned to them that the Bishop has asked the Eudists to assist in the ongoing formation of priests, the universal responses was, “We could really use that.”

 


Christmas concerts

 
Carrollers and Ron

Ron left the Philippines with a strong impression that the Catholic faith is alive and well in this country. He saw many examples of the popular religiosity and deep faith of the Filipinos. It will be a joy and a challenge to establish a Eudist presence in the Diocese of Imus.

 

See more pictures of the first meeting in Rome
 

*Visit of the Superior General of the Eudists

The Community joined Sr. Carmelita Cruz, Sr. Guadalupe Bautista and the sisters of the Provincialate compound and Maryridge on March 4 [2004] as they greeted Eudist General Fr. Gérard Michel who came to explore possibilities of establishing the Eudist Fathers in the Diocese of Imus (Philippines) at Bishop Chito Tagle's request. The mutual sharing, with Sr. Mary James Wilson, as the able French-English interpreter, ending with a song to St. John Eudes and supper together- made a pleasant get-together!
 ( Extract from the "Journal du Bon Pasteur Nº. 164 Juin 2004" )

Here are a few Web sites to visit that will tell you more about our futur mission in the Philippines:
http://www.buonpastoreint.org/texte/jbp164.pdf - - - - - - - - - - http://www.goodshepherdsisters.org.ph/

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