The Order of Preachers was founded by St. Dominic de Guzman in the thirteenth century basically in order to halt the proliferation and spread of heresy in Southern France. St. Dominic wanted the people to be freed from heresy so that their soul would be saved. Hence, the primary task of a Dominican as a preacher is to preach the Word of God, the Truth, in order to save the souls of all.
The Dominican Province of the Philippines is not blind and unaware of this great task entrusted to the members of the Order of Preachers. Hence, as a response to this call and challenge, it established mission areas where its members can preach the Good News to the peripheries: to places, ideals, experiences, cultures and life situations where the people are at the edge of the center which is the Gospel.
On the 8th day of August 2017, the great feast of its Holy Founder, Dominic de Guzman, the representatives of each mission areas of the Province shared their experiences and their apostolates to the members of the Dominican Province of the Philippines. The event started with an opening prayer and followed by the Opening Remarks given by Br. Jose Martin Sibug, OP, the Promoter of the Missions of the Province. In his message, Br. Sibug encouraged the members of the Province to listen to the sharings of the representatives to be able for them to understand and feel the situation of our brothers and hopefully, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they would be inspired to devote their time in our mission areas, too.
The sharing commenced with the Calayan Missions. Since the weather was not favorable and the waves were big, the representative of this mission area did not make it. In the absence of the Calayan group representative, Br. Sibug read to the brethren the report sent to him by Br. Noel Castor,OP, the assigned priest in Calayan together with Br. Ramiro de Belen, OP. In the report, Br. Castor shared that they catered to the sacramental needs of the Parish of St. Bartholomew and the newly instituted St. Bartholomew Catechetical Center. Furthermore, since the Province had a piece of land in the island, it supplies the needs of the priests assigned in the area and at the same time the Bigasan ni Tolome, which sells rice at an affordable price.
Br. Joseto Bernadas, Jr., OP, who is assigned in Rumah Santo Tomas Aquino, Surabaya, Indonesia was the next person to share. Br. Bernadas shared four points to the brethren which encapsulated his experience in being shepherd in Indonesia. First, he shared that their presence in the Catholic University in Surabaya is a good starting point where they can start planting the seeds of the Gospel. The second point that he highlighted was their presence in the Redemptor Mundi Parish. Their presence in the Parish fortifies their presence in Surabaya since they can administer the sacraments to groups of people. The third point that he highlighted was the good number of vocation that they have in Indonesia. But instead of being proud about it, Br. Bernadas said that it is a challenge to them since they need to sustain the seed that they sow. The fourth point that he highlighted was the presence of the Dominican Laity who helped not only the Parish but also the Dominican seminarians. The Surabaya mission is hopeful that after some years, a formation house would be established and a Shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Manaoag would be built.
Br. Alfred Fernandez, OP, the next sharer, was the representative of St. Antoninus House in Mindanao. The House has two domiciles: in the cities of Davao and General Santos. The brothers assigned in General Santos City have their apostolate mostly at the Chapel of Our Lady of Manaoag and the St. Michael Parish, the Parish where the House belongs. They have a daily Mass in the chapel and on Sundays, they help the Parish in their Masses. Their ministry constituted blessings, confessions and counselling in the Chapel of Our Lady of Manaoag through a case to case basis. They also helped the clergy of Marbel through the various expertise that they have. As a matter of fact, some of them were elected and appointed as officers.
The set-up in Davao area is a little different in the sense that they do not have a chapel to administer. The brothers assigned to this area mostly addressed the sacramental needs of the students of San Pedro College both in the College and Basic Education campus. They also administer to the sacramental needs of the Dominican Sisters of the Trinity and they likewise help in the Parish where they belong. Aside, from these forms of apostolate, the brothers are also involved in the dialogue with the natives and the Moslems.
The Camiguin group also shared their experiences to the brethren. Br. John Stephen Besa, OP, principal of the Lyceum of Camiguin, shared their ministries and apostolate in the Island as they administer the St. Vincent Ferrer Parish and the Lyceum of Camiguin. They also acknowledged the legacy and all the things that their predecessors had done. In the end, Br. Besa shared that their main concern is the deepening of the faith of the faithful in the area. Br. Cyr Stepehen Magbanua, OP, the Parish Priest shared their ministry and apostolate in the Parish.
Br. Edmund Nantes, OP, who is assigned in Rumah Santo Dominikus also shared their apostolate in Pontianak, Indonesia. They take care in the formation of the seminarians of the Diocese. They also help the Diocese in their various ministries and apostolate. They also promote Dominican vocation in the place with a special emphasis on the uniqueness of the culture and traditions of the people. Their preaching and ministry are incorporated in the culture and traditions of the people.
Br. Jaime Alamillo, OP, assigned in St. Dominic’s House in Sri Lanka shared to the group the status of our mission there. He shared that the situation in Sri Lanka is both good but challenging: good in a sense that we have a house and seminary in the area but challenging since we have few vocations. Sri Lankan mission is still hopeful that it can attract more vocations and the priests assigned to the area are thinking of ways on how to attract more candidates to the Dominican vocation. The priests assigned in Sri Lanka helped in administering the sacramental and spiritual needs of the people both Filipinos and Sri Lankans.
Br. Patrick Hiwatig, OP, Superior of the House of San Lorenzo Ruiz and Companion Martyrs, shared his experiences as a priest assigned in Dagat-dagatan, Navotas City, Metro Manila. He shared to the brethren that the apostolate is a challenging one but then it becomes meaningful and somehow light because there are some groups that helped in uplifting the lives of the people.
The sharing ended with a closing message by Br. Napoleon Sipalay Jr., OP, Prior Provincial of the Dominican Province of the Philippines.
By Br. Paulo S. Sillonar, OP