MANILA, Nov. 18, 2011?A Jamaican missionary known as the male counterpart of Mother Teresa will be conferred an award for his untiring efforts to help the poor live a dignified life.
Father Richard Ho Lung, Founder of the Missionaries of the Poor (MOP), will be honored in Manila with the Gusi Peace Prize for his untiring effort of working for people’s betterment and in finding peaceful solutions for their welfare.
The awarding ceremonies are set on November 24 at the Philippine International Convention Center, Pasay City.
Surprised to be included among the recipients of the peace award he did not even know existed, Fr. Ho Lung decided to come and receive the award after being encouraged by some local friends and clergy.
“He felt it is fitting to receive it as it is both an honor for the Church, the local church in the Philippines, and it is a gift to the poor on whose behalf he is receiving the award,” Father Charles Susai, MOP secretary-general said.
The Gusi Peace Prize is Asia’s foremost awarding body and among the leading in the world today, according to its website, gusipeaceprizeinternational.org. It is a charitable foundation based in Manila, Philippines, whose main objective is to recognize and give proper recognition through the conferment of awards of excellence and distinction to individuals or groups worldwide who have distinguished themselves as brilliant exemplars of society or who contributed toward the attainment of peace and respect for human life and dignity in various categories.
Fr. Ho Lung’s accomplishments, achievements and contributions to world peace, respect and dignity of human life, as an exemplary Catholic priest, has made him a living example for others to emulate, not only in Jamaica, where the apostolate was founded, but throughout Africa, Asia, the United States of America, Europe and the international community.
Aside from receiving the award, Fr. Ho Lung’s visit in the country will be highlighted by the ground breaking of the construction of a building for the homeless in San Andres, Bukid, Manila and for the elderly in Cebu City.
He is also scheduled to meet and personally show his gratitude to Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, the outgoing Archbishop of Manila, who welcomed the Missionaries of the Poor into the archdiocese of Manila.
Fr. Ho Lung has been in and out of the country for apostolic visits to his communities since the 90’s. This time, he will be staying from November 22 until November 29.
Missionaries of the Poor in the Philippines
The Missionaries of the Poor first settled in the country in 1993 when Caceres Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi welcomed them in Naga City.
The MOPs agreed to work among a squatter community in San Rafael, Cararayan, Naga City, where then Mayor Jesse Robredo, now Secretary to Department of Interior and Local Government, relocated more than a thousand squatter families from the City to Sitio San Rafael.
For the past 18 years, the MOPs have constructed housing projects for people who have lost their homes due to fire, typhoons and other calamities, and have sponsored education, nutritional and medical services to children of all levels and needs.
The missionaries’ commitment to look after the needs of the underprivileged earned the trust of the over 30 families who lived in Naga’s city dump. The children of these families are educated and provided with medical and nutritional care. With basic services and needs provided for, the families’ little income earned from scavenging is used to provide for other essential needs. The effort done is also a way of breaking the cycle of poverty in these families.
Originally from Jamaica, the community was first established when a great fire in 1981 resulted to 150 casualties in Eventide Homeless Shelter in Kingston, Jamaica. Fr. Ho Lung founded a community, which was then called the Brothers of the Poor ? to build a family and community among the poor and disadvantaged.
The congregation pursued its apostolic objectives by building a community of men comprising religious brothers and priests who would live in a particular community, share all things in common, follow a common spirituality and with a common ministry of service to the least in society; and, bringing together the poor, especially the destitute homeless, as a family and forging community relationships with the wider society.
In 1982, the congregation was approved by the bishop of Kingston, Jamaica. Ten years later, the name was changed to “Missionaries of the Poor”.
In 1998, the Missionaries of the Poor become the first male Catholic religious institute founded in the Caribbean to receive Vatican approval.
To date, there are over 600 Brothers from 13 countries who serve the Lord and the poor in nine missions around the world.
Enthusiastic in helping the poor and in transforming their lives, the members of the community live an austere life and take nothing in return for their services. They also live a semi-monastic life and a conviction that it is through prayer that they receive the strength to face the painful realities of poverty and homelessness they are confronted with each day. For more information, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visitwww.missionariesofthepoor.org. (Ronalyn Regino)