The Society of the Divine Word (SVD) is now celebrating our one hundred years of missionary presence in the Philippines. On August 15, 1909, the first two SVD missionaries arrived in Manila and began their long journey to Abra, a landlocked province in Northern part of Luzon. With only a bamboo raft, Fr. Juan Scheiermann, SVD and Fr. Ludwig Beckert, SVD journeyed on Abra River to Bangued, the capital. They reached Pilar, Cagotungan, Abra — their mission station, by horse — in their full black cassocks! Perhaps they never thought that one hundred years after, the SVD mission in the Philippines will be this big and this successful. We owe all to the grace of God.
It seems young priests are more comfortable in front of the camera
Last August 17, I arrived in Cebu for the Centennial Celebration of the SVD Philippine Southern Province. More than 100 of my confreres came to celebrate this significant occassion.
Hehe Parang Mag-Ama! Puros Hubag!
With the theme “We Remember, We Rejoice, We Renew”, we were delighted to hear anecdotes about the SVD in the Philippines. Bishop Arturo Bastes, SVD shared to us never-been-heard-nor-published stories about the Divine Word Missionaries in the Philippines (Sample: Did you know that the SVD owned all the Church properties in one of the Archdioceses in the country after the World War II? Mahabang istorya ito!) I was really thankful to the good bishop who happened to be the ordaining prelate during my priestly ordination. So, i also took the opportunity to have photo op with him.
Fr. Tony Pernia, SVD shared about the facts and figures in the Philippine SVD. FYI, Fr. Tony is the Superior General of the SVD worldwide!!! Not only that, he is a Filipino!!! During our time with him, somebody made a remark, “100 years of the SVD in the Philippines is not enough to produce a saint, but enough to produce a Superior General.”
The SVD together with the Blue Sisters and the Pink Sisters
The Pink Sisters are praying for me! Ssshhh, wag maingay!
Our sister congregations also celebrated with us. The Centennial Mass was celebrated at the Pink Sisters Convent together with our lay mission partners, XVDs and the Blue and Pink Sisters. The presider and the mass homilist was Fr. Tony. Agape meal followed.
We also had basketball exhibition game: SVD vs. XVD (ex-SVD seminarians). Did I mention the SVD won? We were on the Sports page of the Sunstar Magazine the following day, and the whole of Cebu knew about it.
Ricardo Cardinal Vidal also joined us for the prayer before the clergy religious night. He also expressed his appreciations for the missionary work done by the SVDs in the Archdiocese of Cebu.
The SVDs listened to a fisherman from Cordova
The last day of the Centennial Celebration proved to be the most memorable and most meaningful for me. Perhaps all my other confreres will also agree. We went to Cordova, where one of the housing projects of the SVD is located. Father Max Abalos, SVD, who spearheaded the project said that it is geared toward the development and liberation of the people from poverty and oppression. The Cordova fisherfolk village has now a cooperative business and will soon establish their dried danggit business.
Mabenta ang mais ng mga fisher folks. Mga pari nag-enjoy!
Our last stop was the Janssenville in Bangkal, Soong, Lapu-Lapu City. Janssenville is another housing project of the SVD. It is a compound of 100 houses with a gate and a chapel for the housing recipients. Together with NGOs, our mission partners, fisherfolks, street children, XVDs, students, visitors, Janssenville settlers and many others, we were given a tour in the area. Fr. Anthony Salas, SVD, JPIC-IDC director, said the houses were built through the consolidated effort of the SVD and the University of San Carlos (USC) community and the beneficiaries.
Fr. Tony is given a tour in the Janssenville Compound
The Holy Mass in the afternoon was presided by Bishop Bastes. He also gave the homily in flawless Visayan language. Hehe Bol-anon man pod diay siya mao nga hasler kaayo mobisaya. Paka-paka oy!
Bishop Bastes, SVD
After that, Fr. Tony led the blessing of the whole village. We blest the 100 houses, one priest per house. (siyempre sama ako doon). It was very touching…ang bawat pamilya may isa-isang paring dala papunta sa kanilang mga bahay. Masaya ang naging kwentuhan ko with the family na nakasama ko.
Fellowship meal followed. It was like a feast. I was happy and thankful to be part of that celebration. Indeed, it was a piece of heaven. More pictures HERE!!!
Congrats SVD and may the Triune God live in the hearts of all.