Caceres sends 33 missionaries overseas
“It is payback time. Before, we are recipients of missionary activities, now, after almost 500 years, we are sending missionaries, “ says Fr. Gerome Pelagio, Director of the Archdiocesan Commission on Mission and Evangelization (ARCOM).
Under the program Caceres Mission Aid, thirty-three (33) missionaries from the Archdiocese of Caceres are now serving seven missionary areas, namely: United States of America (13 Missionaries), American Samoa (1), Taiwan (1), Caribbean (4), Canada (2), Rome (1), New Zealand (6).
When asked why developed countries are now requesting missionaries, Fr. Pelagio said that these countries are slowly becoming de-Christianized. Although they are Christian nations, there is a growing number among the Christian population that no longer practice their faith. For most of them, God is irrelevant due to secularization. New secularization, according to Fr. Pelagio, means believing without belonging. Thus, mass attendance has greatly decreased and some parish churches are being closed due to the lack of priests. Missionaries are sent in these new mission places to encourage the faithful to join liturgical activities and to fill up the dwindling clergy, who are mostly aging priests.
Fr. Mayo Cezar Herrera, a missionary from the Archdiocese of Caceres poses with the parishioners at Castries, St. Lucia, Caribbean Islands
The Archdiocese of Caceres has two hundred diocesan clergy serving in ninety-two parishes. The average age among the Caceres clergy is 35 while the average age in the missionary areas is 85 to 95 years old. Due to lack of priests, “partnering with parishes” is being practiced where one priest serves four neighboring parishes, Fr. Pelagio added.
Fr. Pelagio also disclosed that re-Evangelization in developed countries challenges missionaries partly because of sexual scandals. There is also an apprehension if Christian faith will still be relevant in modern living. Still, in spite of secularization, Fr. Pelagio sees a silver lining, “Material things and advancement in technology cannot fill the hearts of men who long for transcendence. In first world countries, there are small Catholic communities who are faithful and their witness ignites Christian faith amidst secularization.”
Missionary priests accompany these small Catholic communities and as they do, the faith of the messenger of faith is strengthened. Silent, fervent and sincere expressions of faith in developed communities become food for the soul for the Caceres missionaries.
Fr. Pelagio was a missionary at Solomon Islands from December 2004 to January 2009. Thereafter, he obtained Licentiate in Missiology at the Divine Word Institute of Mission Studies in 2014.
The celebration of the Quadricentennial of Caceres as diocese in 1995 gave birth to the sending of missionaries. In 1997, the Caceres clergy, together with the Archbishop, after deep reflection and discernment, unanimously agreed to send missionaries. Sending of missionaries is a program of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines. Caceres Mission Aid Program assists the CBCP Mission program. Bringing the faith is an old concept of mission; to confirm the faith already present in the hearts and culture of men is the new approach in new Evangelization.
Currently, the following are the 33 missionaries the Caceres Mission Aid Program:
ON OVERSEAS MISSIONARY ASSIGNMENT (Officially sent by the Archdiocese of Caceres)
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA 1. LARGOZA, Fr.Rogelio (Richmond, VA) 2. RAMIREZ, Fr. Bernie (Richmond, VA) 3. BERDOL, Fr. Jesus (Green Bay, WI) 4. GUADALUPE, Fr. Leoval (Richmond, VA) 5. PESIGAN, Fr. Eduardo (Ogdensburg, NY) 6. VILLALUZ, Fr. Carlo (Green Bay, WI) 7. BRIONES, Fr. Jeffrey (Green Bay, WI) 8. LLAGAS, Fr. Chito (Green Bay, WI) 9. SIGUENZA, Fr. Edmundo (Green Bay, WI) 10. ABAÑO, Fr. Felix (Green Bay, WI) 11. YEE CONCEPCION, Fr. Vincent (Greensburg, PA) 12. MARTIREZ, Fr. Beda (Reno, NV) 13. TURIANO, Fr. Santiago (Green bay, WI)
AMERICAN SAMOA 1. GALVO, Fr. Jeudiel (Pago-Pago, American Samoa)
TAIWAN 1. TAN, Fr. Dennis (Hsinchu, Taiwan)
CARIBBEAN 1. MIRANDILLA, Fr. Niño (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) 2. ABINAL, Cresencio, Jr. (St. James, Jamaica) 3. TINO, Fr. Denver (St. Lucia) 4. HERRERA, Fr. Mayo Cezar (Castries, St. Lucia)
CANADA 1. IBAY, Fr. Joaquin (Regina, SASK, CAN) 2. LILIO, Fr. Adelberto (Regina, SASK, CAN)
NEW ZEALAND 1. CAMANO, Fr. Joaquin (Christchurch, NZ) 2. VELASCO, Fr. Benito (Christchurch, NZ) 3. DE LA Fr. TORRE, Rico Angelo (Wellington, NZ) 4. TEBELIN, Fr. Marlon (Wellington, NZ) 5. OLASO, Fr. Demosthenes 6. QUINDO, Fr. Misael
ROME 1. RECEPCION, Fr. Andrew (Colegio Filipino, Rome)