Father General exhorts Palawan communities: Always start from Christ!

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Puerto Princesa City, PALAWAN – For the first leg of his six-week and three-state renewal visit, Fray Miguel Miró, Prior General, headed off to Palawan and visited the four Recollect communities there, including that of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters in the capital.

In all of his talks with the religious and lay people, Father General’s consistent reminder boils down to this: always start from Christ who is the foundation of everything. “As religious and as Christians, our life should start from Christ,” one religious paraphrased Father General’s words.

Quoting Pope Francis, Father Miró also said to them: “The Joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.”

Recoletos de Inagawan

On February 12, the Recoletos de Inagawan community was the first to welcome the VIP. Inagawan, a barangay of Puerto Princesa City, some 75 kilometers south of the city proper, is home to the famous “Balon Pari” and the community of three Recollect friars administering the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish.

The community is composed of Fray Manuel Lipardo (prior), Fray Urbano Galanido (parish priest), and Fray Nestor Raras (local procurator).

But during the conference with Father General, the brothers from the newly established community of Recoletos de Plaridel joined in.

Fray Lipardo recalled that Father General had reminded them about living their Recollect life in the pastoral reality they are assigned. “Our preaching should first come from the heart and let the people see that what we preach is love,” he said paraphrasing Father General’s statements. And again: “The spirit of community should prevail over any personal programs or initiatives.”

The Major Superior, he said, was urging them to help one another and to look for co-responsibility in fulfilling the tasks, emphasizing what is often neglected in parish apostolate i.e., to accomplish the parish activities and programs in common.

Father Lipardo further noted other salient points in the conference with Father General: to be effective in the apostolate, the religious should dedicate time to pray and to study; to be prophets and creators of communion, and to walk with the people of God; to be aware of the social dimension of the mission by linking with ARCORES (Augustinian Recollect Solidarity Network); and to promote the protection of minors and young people in our apostolate areas.

The visit to Inagawan was also marked by a reunion with some officers of the ARCORES International who were making their ocular visit to some locations in the country such as Palawan and Samar.

The Prior General in Inagawan, Palawan together with the visiting team of ARCORES International

Recoletos de Plaridel

Around 30 minutes away, southwards from Inagawan, is the community of Recoletos de Plaridel which is located in the town of Aborlan. Here, on February 13, Father General made his second visit.

The community composed of Fray Regino Bangcaya (prior and parish priest), Fray Christopher Gaspar (parochial vicar), and Fray Monday Benjamine Edobor (deacon) takes charge of the pastoral needs of the San Rafael Parish.

Welcomed with the usual Filipino hospitality by the Parish Pastoral Council and heads of the different parish organizations, Father General took the opportunity to thank the lay people for accepting the Recoletos in their areas and to encourage them to grow as a parish.

Father Bangcaya said that the Prior General recounted to the people the important role of Palawan—since 1622—in the history of what is today dubbed as the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno, and the Order, as a whole.

The communities of Recoletos de Plaridel and Recoletos de Inagawan during the conference with Father General

Recoletos de Casian

“This is the best reception so far,” said Father General, referring to the warm welcome he received upon disembarking at the island of Casian past noon on Valentine’s Day, February 14.

The experience was heartwarming both for the people and the guest. After a near-four-hour drive from the capital to Taytay town, plus another two-hour ride aboard San Nicolas boat from the port of Taytay, Father General did not expect he would be accorded with such gesture akin to a homecoming. And for the locals, the positive compliment they heard was itself unforgettable and edifying.

The Recoletos de Casian community is the only Recollect community in the country nestling by the seashore. Fray Louie Gabinete (prior and parish priest), Fray Neil Ryan Jarumay (local procurator), and Fray Jorr Rabacal (deacon) make up the community that is taking care of the spiritual administration of San Isidro Labrador Parish.

Fray Leonardo Queaño, a corista who was on leave and happened to be visiting the brothers, joined in the activity.

According to Fray Gabinete, the visit officially commenced at four o’clock in the afternoon. Father General reminded them about the basics of religious life especially on common observances, which are none other than living as a community of brothers.

The 5:30 PM mass in the parish church was presided by Fray René Paglinawan, appointed interpreter during the visit. He interpreted for the mass-goers the homily given by the Prior General who was endlessly thankful to the people, and invited them to support the Recoletos community and to get involved in the life of the church.

L-R: The VIPs and the children of the parish; Father General with Recoletos de Casian community; A pose with the PPC Officers and some parishioners

Visit to the AR Sisters and SARF Members

Father General did not miss to visit the AR Sisters stationed at St. Ezekiel Moreno Spirituality and Development Center (SEMSDC) at Brgy. San Jose, Puerto Princesa City, a strategic stop-over point before one takes either a southbound or northbound trip to the island, or before an outbound or after an inbound flight.

In this visit, Father Miró is scheduled to meet here in the morning of February 16 the other AR Sisters from the towns of Narra and Brooke’s Point, and some representatives of the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity, particularly those from the chapters of Brooke’s Point and SEMSDC.

This will be the last activity of the Prior General before taking his afternoon flight to Cebu.

The Prior General with the Augustinian Recollect Sisters in Palawan, and Fray Paglinawan and Fray Gabinete

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Fray Jose Ernil Almayo, OAR

Fray Jose Ernil Almayo, OAR

Fray Jose Ernil F. Almayo, OAR, is currently the Provincial Secretary of the St. Ezekiel Moreno Province.