Father Provincial answers questions about Recoletos de Saipan


PROVINCIALATE, Quezon City—Here are some significant notes from the desk of the Father Provincial, Fray Dionisio Q. Selma, OAR, who was asked about the newly-consolidated community of Recoletos de Saipan.

Q. Father, a lot of lay people are interested to know about the new community of Recollects assigned in Saipan. Kindly tell us about this.

A. The community was established through the approval of the Prior General and his Council last March 4, 2016. Three Filipino Recollects are assigned there. The first two, Frays Allan Rubett Cabatian and Leo Neil Bullos, arrived in Saipan last August 10, 2016. They are in the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) collaborating with the newly ordained bishop, Ryan Jimenez, who is from Siquijor. The third member of the community is Fray Felipe Rollon Jr. He took a direct PAL flight from Manila to Saipan a few days ago, last August 24, at 9PM. The bishop assigns the Recollects to San Roque Parish. Fray Cabatian was installed parish priest by the bishop himself last August 21 as part of the patronal fiesta celebration.

Q. Have you seen already your community there?

A. Yes, I was there during the ordination of the new bishop upon the invitation of the bishop-elect himself. It was an opportunity for me to see for myself the parish and the newly-renovated convent, and to meet also some of the parishioners many of whom are Filipinos. When I was there, the repair of the convent was still on-going. And by the way, I would like to add that with me in the flight going to and coming back from Saipan were Bishop Julito Cortes and Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu who represented the CBCP. Archbp. Palma read the greetings and congratulatory message of Archbishop Soc Villegas, CBCP President.

Q. How do you describe the episcopal ordination of the bishop-elect?

A. Well, the episcopal consecration and installation of Mons. Ryan was well organized. The day before the consecration, on August 13, there were already activities incorporated during the evening prayer. The Professio fidei (Profession of faith) and oath of fidelity and obedience of the clergy to their new bishop elect was also made.

Most Rev. Ryan Jimenez was consecrated to the episcopacy last August 14, 2016 at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral of Chalan Kanoa, Saipan. The principal ordaining prelate was Most Rev. Savio Hon Tai-Fai, SDB, Secretary for the Congregation of the Evangelization of Peoples and Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Agana. With him as co-ordaining bishops were Most Rev. Tomas Camacho, bishop-emeritus of Chalan Kanoa and Most Rev. Julito Cortes, bishop of Dumaguete. The OAR was represented by Fray Edgar Tubio, President of the Secretariat of Ministerial and Mission Apostolate, Fray Cabatian, Fray Bullos, and I.

Q. How do you assess the Recollect presence in Saipan?

A. The OAR presence in Saipan is practically a return to this area where our forefathers served after the departure of the Jesuits. This is also in compliance with the last provincial chapter’s LAMP or Life and Mission Project of the Province to give priority to our missionary apostolate. As I was telling Fr. Jason Granado, one of the priests in the said diocese, who also asked me this same question: We decided to accept this mission area because the simplicity, humility and spirituality of then apostolic administrator added affirmative stance to the request. He used to say to me, “We will wait, Father, if it’s really God’s will and in His time” referring to our query about the one who will be appointed bishop. There is depth in that answer.

Q. It’s been more than a century since your predecessors left Saipan, or the Marianas in general.

A. That’s right. And now we are back. We are home again. And there are mixed emotions: joy, excitement, challenged. Joy, because we are again part of the history of evangelization in Saipan. Excitement, because it means to collaborate with a “paisano bishop-elect” who speaks the same language with many of us Recollects in the Philippines and who hailed from Siquijor which was once ministered also by OAR. Challenged, because the team to be sent are very young with different backgrounds in ministry: one is a seminary formator, another is a school administrator, and the third, a newly-ordained, is assigned in the parish.

Q. With your three-man team, young and enthusiastic, what are your expectations from them?

A. I expect that, with the grace of God, the Recoletos presence there make a positive impact on the people especially in their spiritual and holistic formation towards salvation; that God’s love and presence be felt in them that would lead the people to a better Christian relationship. It is my earnest hope that they be able to establish a good relationship and show a good example, or even to be role models, to the local clergy and religious. I also pray that vocation to priesthood and religious life may arise and that OAR presence help in the promotion and implementation of the diocesan program of evangelization, catechesis, education, youth ministry, etc.


{gallery}Fr. Provincial in Saipan{/gallery}

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