The Tomb of Fr. Raimundo Argarate, SJ

The tomb of Fr. Raimundo Argarate, SJ

When half of Zamboanga del Sur was still under the Zamboanga Mission District of the Society of Jesus, a Basque Jesuit named Fr. Raimundo Argarate, SJ arrived in Olutanga island on the last week of December 1951 to begin his evangelization in the island after being expelled from the communist China.

 
During this time, logging was a lucrative business. Ships were a common sight docking at the island’s port to bring logs to as far as Japan. The prominent Miranda family generously supplied lumber for the building of the Church and the convent.
 
Missionary life in the island was not a bed of roses for this saintly Jesuit. The second elected mayor decided to get a portion of the the Church property for the road construction, which Fr. Argarate strongly opposed.
 
On the day that the bulldozer had to divide the land, the heavy equipment miraculously fell into the sea until it became totally out of sight.

Roses at the side of Fr. Argarate’s tomb

From Subanipa, Fr. Argarate widened his apostolic endeavors to what is now the parish of Parokya San Miguel-Mabuhay and town of Talusan. More Jesuits also came to join him. Filled with zeal for souls, Fr. Argarate labored unceasingly for 50 years until his death in 2001.
 
It was his ardent wish to be buried at the side of the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the Nuestra Señora de los Remedios Parish in Subanipa, the parish which he himself started and shepherded as their first parish priest in 1953. Many parishioners until this day still visit his tomb to offer their prayers.

The stairs of the original parish convent during Fr. Argarate’s time.

Advertisements

Skylab!

Tumalog, Municipality of Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

“Skylab” is a common term used to call the motorcycle with two planks of wood mounted on each side serving as passenger seats or for other loads. Believe me, this can carry as many as ten people!

#WitnesstotheWord
#SVDPhilippines
#SVDExpress
#ThinkMission

Promoting Dialogue and Peace in Mindanao through Madaris Gurus and Catechists

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

The new conflict in Mindanao that started last May 23 in Marawi    is becoming one of the most challenging problems in the recent history of the Philippines. The high number of victims, the destruction of the city, the people who have been forced to leave their houses, the martial law, the   fear and hatred among groups and clans and the increasing religious radicalism with violence   urge all of us to move with more courage and creativity.

Why so much violence and what will be the future of Mindanao with all the negative signs of today and  what to do to dream again the future peace in Mindanao?”

 

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

These questions have challenged the Silsilah Dialogue Movement to do more in many ways in the past and now especially through the program called: “ Madaris Gurus and Catechists.
In the past years many teachers of Madaris (plural of Madrasa) and the catechists of Zamboanga, Basilan, Jolo, Davao and other places have benefited by this program of Silsilah. This is a special training to gather together madaris gurus and catechists of a certain area, by groups, inviting them to live together for a few days to build respect, trust, friendship and   teach them the concept of Christian-Muslim dialogue. Guided by this spirit they are invited to teach parts of their lesson in the spirit of dialogue.

To achieve this goal they will be guided to learn more about the Culture of Dialogue, Path to Peace.  For us this is a spirituality that has to be first  experienced on the personal level  to be effective on the social level. Thus, we teach  the participants dialogue  with God, with the self, with others and with creation according to to his own religion.  This includes also dialogue  in  families, communities, in the same religion and  in all aspects of life. For this reason we usually  include in the  teaching of the Culture of Dialogue the concept of personal and social transformation and what normally is presented as intra and inter religious dialogue.

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

Our experience is that after these trainings   most of the participants  start to  be more dialogical among  themselves, not only in school, but also in  society. A touching experience among the many is what  the madaris gurus of Jolo shared with us on one occasion.  Jolo is a land of conflict  and the presence of the Christians is   less than  5%. Many Christians  have left  especially in recent years for the many acts of violence and kidnappings where  the victims are especially Christians.  The  positive  story is that  after the  training in Silsilah the  madaris gurus and the catechists  start to become friends and  when they meet in the market area or other places they smile and greet each other. This is  also the experience of other  participants in other areas and this can be considered  positive stories  and  signs of hope.

The  conflict in Marawi has opened    the eyes of many to a reality that in the past military and other leaders used to deny.  It is already  open news for all and the sad experience of  the increasing  conflict  justified by an increasing  intolerance of the part of  the more  radical  groups. They now do not only go against the Christians, but also against  Muslims  who are not like them and with the same orientation.  Some of the Muslims   are considered “ Kafir” ( infidel) by those who claim to be Muslims  but not of the same orientation .

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

This  reality  can not be denied any more. All now know  about the ISIS/Maute group present in Mindanao and other groups who are not so  well known yet, but are  also dangerous.
In addition to this  training, Silsilah  will also intensify other programs especially  in schools in  collaboration  with   youth leaders and groups willing to share the spirit of dialogue and peace that Silsilah promotes. This  plan will start from Zamboanga and will reach  many others, especially in all the areas where Silsilah is present  with groups called SILSILAH FORUM.  At present  the active  Silsilah Forum areas are in Tawi-Tawi, Siasi, Jolo, Basilan, Sibugay, Pagadian,  Cotabato, Kidapawan, Davao, Manila, Antipolo and other places where the groups are at the first stage of growth.

It is our desire and hope to  identify among the madaris gurus and catechists those who  are willing to join  Silsilah to  share this experience  and become  Instruments of dialogue and peace in our society.

 

Circa 2013 at Xavier High School, Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

We can not deny that  we continue our mission  with  sadness considering that  in spite of our  efforts and the efforts of many others  for dialogue and peace in Mindanao   there are  still many  victims of  violence. There are those who get discouraged  but for us who have   experienced in the past  also  the pain of  other friends who have been killed in their mission of dialogue and peace, we  are  renewed by God’s presence and the  spirit of  Padayon ( move on) and continue to  move and encourage all  to continue to   dream  for a future real and sincere  peace in Mindanao.

 

 

(This article is courtesy of Silsilah Dialogue Movement. Thank you Silsilah for faithfully sending me newsletters about our interfaith movement. – Fr. Felmar Castrodes Fiel, SVD)

 

FAQ: How do you know which religious community is right for you?

Children in Olutanga Island

 

In discerning your own unique response to God’s call of service, you may seek out the religious order or diocese that is the best fit for you, matching your own special gifts and talents with a congregation’s mission. Wherever there is a need in the missionary endeavors of the Church, there is a need for a Divine Word Missionary.

FAQ: What is the difference between a priest and a brother?

SVD Priests together with Brother Roland (in black)

 

A religious priest or brother belongs to a particular religious order, such as the Franciscans, Jesuits, Benedictines, or Divine Word Missionaries.

 

Each religious order is founded to fulfill a particular need in the Church through various ministries like teaching, monastic prayer and missionary service.

 

Priests perform sacramental ministry such as celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments.

 

A religious brother is a man committed to living the Consecrated Life in response to a call from God. Brothers are engaged in a variety of ministries in keeping with the charism of their congregation and model the person of Jesus through the relational manner in which they serve.

FAQ: How do you know if God is calling you to the priesthood or religious life?

@ Parokya San Miguel in Mabuhay, Zamboanga Sibugay

There is no easy answer to this question, but here are five things to do to help you decide—pray, talk with others, assess your talents and skills, start spiritual direction and enter formation.

 

Prayer helps you to listen for God’s call.

 

God often communicates to us through other people.

 

Do you have talents and skills consistent with the needs of the Universal Church and that of a missionary congregation?

 

A qualified spiritual director can help you explore God’s presence in your life.

 

If you have a general feeling that God is calling you to religious life, formation helps you to grow and understand your vocation more clearly.

FAQ: What is the difference between a religious priest and a diocesan priest?

Fr. Manuel Mijares, SVD

 

A religious priest belongs to a particular religious order. Each religious order is founded to fulfill a particular need in the Catholic Church through various ministries. “Order priests” can be assigned to any location and any ministry where their religious congregation is present.

A diocesan priest is one who is responsible primarily to the bishop of his particular diocese, a specific geographical region of the Church governed by the bishop. Within this region, the priest usually serves in a parish, though he may also be involved in other ministries like administration, communications, teaching and hospital or prison chaplaincy.

Both religious and diocesan priests perform sacramental ministry.