Two years after having been forced to stop, the volunteers of the Rosa Mystica Mission will finally be able to return to the Philippines. From September 11 to 18, doctors, surgeons, nurses, nursing aides, opticians, and pharmacists from all over the world will visit the poorest of the poor in three places located in the north of the island of Mindanao, the great southernmost island of the Philippine archipelago.
The first two days will take place in Butuan, in the district of Santa Lucia, where the 2020 mission was to have been held, which had been transformed, at the last minute, into a traveling mission in the surrounding mountains because of Covid.
The Society of Saint Pius X has hosted a mission there since 1998, in an extremely poor neighborhood where homeless families who have lost everything during typhoons, floods, or other natural disasters are relocated. But this district is itself liable to flooding, because the nearby river constantly overflows its bed.
A few years ago, a small chapel was built by one of the faithful without great means, animated by the deep desire to convert the population of the village. This chapel, like the whole district, undergoes “minor” flooding (50 cm of water on average) at least 20 times a year, and “major” flooding (more than one meter of water) at least 3 times a year. .
The apostolate in this destitute community where superstitions, drunkenness, gambling, and prostitution reigned, was very difficult. But the grace of God works wonders, and the patient and persevering work of priests for more than 20 years is beginning to bear fruit in the second generation, which is turning more willingly to prayer and the sacraments.
On July 16, 2022 Bishop Alfonso de Galarreta came to confirm about 30 faithful. Some of them are involved in the apostolate (visiting the sick, catechism to the Mamanwas tribe that our mission will also visit) and in the social life of the village (organization of the next medical mission, distribution of government-donated necessities, assumption of responsibilities in the management of the barangay [neighborhood]).
Many residents of Santa Lucia lost their jobs during the lockdown. Yolly Gamutan, our missionary nurse with the local ACIM-Asia team, came to help the sick during these two years of very strict confinement in the Philippines. She was able to help them thanks to the donations from all the Filipino and foreign benefactors. The inhabitants of the neighborhood await the Mission Rosa Mystica as a blessing.
The next two days we will go a little further north of the island, to the Mamanwas of Cantugas, an aboriginal tribe for whom Fr. Timothy Pfeiffer – “Fr. Tim,” as he is called locally – opened an apostolic mission in 2020, and where Yolly Gamutan has worked for two years as a nurse and catechist.Providence obviously favored this meeting between Fr. Tim and this impoverished tribe whose customs and mores go back to the Neolithic era, and which, in the name of “cultural preservation” ordered by the government, has been frozen in ignorance and spiritual darkness.
Unfortunately the tribal chief and his wife are torn, Yolly tells the mission organizers, “between accepting our teachings and obeying the government directive that they must ‘preserve their tribal identity and culture’ by resisting Catholicism, which would provide for the rejection of primitive superstitions and beliefs based on a false understanding of the world around them.
“The spiritual warfare in their souls is real. We put our hope in our Heavenly Mother, because some members of the tribe like to pray the rosary. Thanks be to God, the chief of the tribe and his wife are keeping their promise made to Fr. Tim to join in the Sunday Rosary.”
A chapel construction project is underway, delayed by the difficulty posed by the establishment of title deeds in these tribes who were still nomadic not so long ago. The search for the dates and places of birth of the owners of the land is quite an undertaking.
In terms of health and hygiene, Yolly tries to teach them some basic rules in order to preserve them from recurring illnesses due to unsanitary conditions, e.g., contaminated water. She is counting on the visit of Rosa Mystica doctors and nurses to encourage them to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
The third destination of the mission is Canlanipa, a miserable district of Surigao City, where a community of settlers has gathered on a piece of common land in a more or less legal way. Residents of this neighborhood are low-income workers from the city's seaport.
Many of them lost their homes and the few possessions they had during Typhoon Odette in December 2021. Thanks to donations collected and distributed by ACIM-Asia, they were able to receive aid to rebuild their damaged homes.
Fr. Tim has developed a new mission there and many children, sponsored and spiritually supported by the students of the Dominicans of Fanjeaux during Lent 2022, were able to make their first communion last May.
The Caraga region, where Butuan and Surigao are located, is a particularly deprived region and health services are very limited there. Medical care, very expensive, is not accessible to the population of poor neighborhoods.
The small team of doctors and nurses would like, as much as possible, to bring them a little relief, a drop of water in this ocean of misery. This is why the Rosa Mystica Mission needs your help and of your generosity. It continues only thanks to donations from her friends and benefactors.
The volunteers are unpaid and finance their own plane tickets. The donations to the Mission are therefore only assigned to the material organization of the Mission itself, to the purchase of medicines and the necessary medical equipment, sometimes to the financing of hospitalizations and more important surgical interventions than those the mission is able to offer.
You can send your donations to: Bernadette Dickès, 2 route d'Equihen, 62360 Saint-Etienne-au-Mont. France.