MANILA, April 13, 2015 –- In line with the 450th anniversary of Augustinian presence in the Philippines, three Augustinian missionaries, starting on April 12, will revisit and re-evangelize the people of the congregation’s former missionary area in Lubuagan, Kalinga.
Fr. Asis Bajao, Fr. Roy Remulta and Rev. Dante Sardido will also oversee the parish of St. Peter in the apostolic vicariate of Tabuk, as requested by Bishop Prudencio Andaya.
According to Fr. Ricky Villar, OSA their particular mission is to teach the faithful about justice and to nurture the local community’s Christian faith.
“The communitarian aspect, the tribal affiliation is solid. In [the] Christian communitarian aspect, they have good relations as a tribe so they could be easily re-evangelized, solid as they are,” explained the priest.
Bishop Manolo de los Santos invited the Augustinians to start another mission by the end of the year, that is to be stewards for the Diocesan Shrine of Holy Cross of Batalay in Virac, Catanduanes with the help of three Augustinian friars.
“Hopefully, the pilgrim shrine can become a parish, which is [now] a small chapel visited by pilgrims, thus, it is important to have regular celebration of the Holy Mass, administer the sacraments and to take care of Christian indianos of the place,” Villar said.
Andaya told them that their task as Augustinians is to re-evangelize, to catechize and to bring back the faithful to basic catechism, the priest added. The four friars also took the time to learn the locals’ language, Ilokano, as as well as the different dialects. As observed, the tribespeople speak English fluently, despite having no formal education about the language, because they had been exposed to Belgian CICM priests.
From 1600 to 1700, the Augustinian missionaries were sent to mission in the said area.
The faithful were also evangelized by CICM priests and by members of the secular clergy.
It was during the 40th jubilee of the Diocese of Virac, Catanduanes that the bishop announced the start of the Augustinian re-evangelization mission in the said diocese.
The first missionary to set foot in Virac was Fray Diego de Herrera, who was one of the first five Augustinian missionaries in the country.
The bishop of the diocese is now pushing for de Herrera’s canonization, who baptized the chieftain’s son and who was believed to have been killed or martyred in Catanduanes by natives. (Vanessa M. Puno/CBCP News)