September 30, 2023

“Walk and journey with the young.”
Children and youth need moral models. As much as they need knowledge, they need the essence of the knowledge.
Pope Francis has been emphasizing the “synodal” approach in teaching. The present generation needs role models. It is not enough to talk. It is not enough to command. It is not even enough to provide. Synodal means be immersed with the situation of the people. Walk and live with the people. Teach them by example. Be a model of an upright life.
I cannot forget one of the powerful lines of Pope Francis that inspired me to find quality time with the people: “Be among your sheep until you smell like one of them.” The synodal strategy is one of the strengths of effective evangelization today.
It is so sad nowadays to see many priests being gravely immersed with infrastructure projects and seemingly adoring them to be the gauge of successful priestly ministry. In effect, they have little time for the people, no time to catechize and justify it as sole work of catechists, and lesser time for personal prayer and administration of sacraments. Instead of being with the grieving families, instructing couples for their marriage, personal counseling to first communicants, listening to the confessions of penitents, praying the Holy Rosary, and visiting the sick, the priest is preoccupied inspecting infrastructure projects, buying materials at the hardware, or preoccupied with business transactions.
It is not bad to address the physical need of the mission but a good balance must be observed. To make infrastructure a priority and neglect our spiritual activities and the spiritual needs of the people is wrong and could hamper the essence of priesthood. Sometimes, we, priest tend to act like engineers and architects even without any idea of engineering and architecture. Sometimes, we, priests act more like businessmen and treat parishioners no longer as collaborators of faith but clients and business partners. The constant reminders of Pope Francis on business, projects, and jobs must stir our minds and hearts as spiritual leaders.
People need spiritual leaders and models. Hence, we have priests in the communities. Priests are ordained primarily to be role models of virtues and holiness, and administrators of sacraments all for Christ. Priests share in the prophetic, kingly, and priestly mission of Jesus here and now. Priests are not ordained for a business to enrich oneself and family. Priests are entrusted the spiritual gifts to be dispensed to the people.
I admire Rev. Fr. Irvin Uden, who is freshly assigned at San Roque Mission Station, Natonin, Mountain Province. I visited him recently and he said, “There are no infrastructure projects in my term. I need to focus on the people. I see the need to be with them to deepen their faith, their role, and the meaning of mission.”
We have another youthful priest who generates inspiration to the community through his visible presence and spiritual lifestyle that cannot be doubted. Rev. Fr. Eusebio Manang-bao, SVD, of St. Joseph Church, Sabangan, Mountain Province, is well known for his sincere and jovial social relationship. He animates his people with his good examples and prayerful life.
Rev. Fr. Bar Fangkingan is another young priest who spends most of his time reaching out to the different basic ecclesial communities of the Banaue Catholic Mission. He spends quality time with them; listening and inspiring the community for solutions that they own. He revived the daily celebration of the Holy Mass.
Rev. Fr. Michael Tokoyen is another youthful priest who spends time for prayer and prepares his homily well. In effect, he touches the hearts of people to conversion and molds them to stronger faith.
Rev. Fr. Joel Dumansi is well-known for his knack for reconciling conflicting groups and families. He is the new mission rector of the Asipulo Catholic Mission in Ifugao. He is a priest who does not complain much but sees things, even difficult situations, as elements of healthy maturity. He is a humble priest who sees lessons and advices as important part of growth. I appreciate him for always inquiring or consulting with older priests when confronted with unfamiliarity and doubts. True enough, we don’t become less when we consult people about unfamiliar things.
Rev. Fr. William Moguigui is a young priest in the ministry but not so young in age. He is composed even when his social surrounding is stressed and troubled. He is a priest of authentic simplicity and calmness.
Rev. Fr. James Manilang is a priest without duplicity. He is a model of genuineness. He does not conceal his weakness because he wants a social environment with honest people. He trusts that honesty is a foundation of authentic development.
Rev. Fr. Benedict Villapa is well sought for his wit and powerful homilies. He is a priest who finds joy being with the people. His short stay with the Vicariate of Bontoc-Lagawe and his being invited as a guest priest left the people good memories of him as a smart and jovial priest without any pretense.
Rev. Fr. Victor Munar is well known for his charismatic preaching and inspirational writings. He teaches well and he sees to it that his students understood the lessons well and have something to bring home. He is frank and a well-listened radio program host.
Rev. Fr. Roland Buyagan proves himself as a good formator as a parish priest and a seminary rector. He is respected for his credibility and deep spirituality. I consider Fr. Rolly as a good peer confidant because he is a generous listener and he enlightens things with solutions.
Rev. Fr. Benedict Castañeda is well-loved for his well-researched and well-prepared homily. He is a priest who cannot keep still when things are not prepared well. He goes around with everybody and generously helps them, especially in terms of spiritual needs of his community. He prefers to work with a system, which assures him of having quality outputs.
Rev. Fr. Joseph Requino, even in his matured age as a retired priest, does not see aging as an impediment in reaching out and serving. He goes around Mountain Province and Ifugao when communities are in need of priests and he makes himself available.
Rev. Lucresia Turtem is a priestess of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines (EDNP) and currently the dean of the Cathedral of All Saints in Bontoc. Her moral life is making an impact to the community she serves. She goes with the people to administer their spiritual needs and she is well loved.
Rev. Elvie Tulingan is another woman priest of EDNP. She is the newly-installed parish priest of St. Paul Church in Samoki, Bontoc. She does not confine herself inside the church or office but goes out and gets immersed with the community. She is well-loved and her work is well-supported because she does it well and with love.
Pope Francis was recently bashed by people and even priests for his display of impatience at the St. Peter’s Square where he was seen slapping the hand of a woman while greeting pilgrims at St. Peter’s Square. A video of the incident went viral.
We pray with and for Pope Francis. It solicited judgments.
Pope Francis is human too. In his unguarded moment, human nature made him react spontaneously to a situation. But after realizing his wrong deed, he sincerely and publicly apologized during his 6 p.m. Angelus, the divine nature overcoming the wrong.
I respect the Pope and I feel with him. At 83, he is still mobile. We thank God that with his age, he is still serving well.
The unpleasant incident should not disappoint us but motivate us to pray as a church for him and for his intentions. The video presented the human weakness of the Pope, but it has led me to my New Year’s objective to control my anger and to be more forgiving as he did to the lady. The Pope apologized, and this show of honesty and humility is inspiring.
Reach me at [email protected] or at 0905-165-3669.