MSP priests: ‘Faith received, faith shared’
Since 1565, the Philippines has become familiar with receiving missionaries from Spain and Mexico sent to teach us about Jesus Christ. Since 1898, during the U.S. occupation American, Belgian, German, and other foreign priests and religious, have come to evangelize us.
Papuri sa Diyos sa kaitaasan! When the Catholic Welfare Organization, the present CBCP or the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, established the Mission Society of the Philippines (MSP) in 1965, foremost in their mind was to say thank you, God, and thank you, foreign missionaries, for the gift of Faith.
It’s the Filipinos’ turn to share the Faith received. And Pope Francis himself praised the Philippines “for continuously sending missionaries to other regions” since 1965, missionarios alias in regiones continuo mittere (Letter on the Anniversary of Manila Cathedral).
Invited by Bishop Frans Wiertz in 2006, Fr. Cesar Tablon, MSP, and Fr. Jonathan Germinanda, MSP, became missionaries in the Diocese of Roermond, the Netherlands. Upon arrival, they concelebrated with the elderly clergy of the Diocese, and the Dutch faithful thought our youthful Filipino priests were acolytes.
Grateful to the Spanish missionaries who planted the Mustard Seed
If the Manila Cathedral (founded in 1571) is called the stone “monument of faith,” MSP is a living “memorial of the Filipino gratitude to God.”
MSP is not only a gratitude of the past, but also a missionary brotherhood of the future. This band of wonderful brothers, though a work in progress, is now a prognosis of the historical events and a realization of a prophetic act of our spiritual leaders
When you meet an MSP priest, keep in mind that he is a “foretelling of better times for the Church and for the human race,” and an optimistic gesture on the part of the Filipino bishops (nimis optimisticum).
Of course, the divinely inspired endeavor was not at all a walk in the park. In the formative years of the Society itself, both the bishops and the pioneering MSP fathers passed through the crucible of crises and tears, more trials and tribulations.
“Freely you have received; freely you have to give” (Matthew 10:8)
The Holy Spirit never slept and, in His mysterious ways, was keeping the Society alive and kicking through the years, at the same time readying unselfish, dauntless, and mature lahing-Pinoy men to participate in the very mission of the Universal Church.
I have personally known more than a few MSP fathers. Oh, I tell you, I have sensed the joy that each of them felt after they courageously responded to the missionary challenges not only in the Gospel proclamation, but also in dialogue with people of other faiths and cultures in Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand), North America (California), South America (Guyana), and Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands, Tokelau, and Tuvalu).
Having come of age, the Philippine Church assumed a most beautiful commitment to humankind ad gentes; that is, share generously with other nations the Faith we, the Filipino people, have so generously received.
Jose Mario Bautista Maximiano ([email protected]) is the author of 24 PLUS Contemporary People: God Writing Straight with Twists and Turns (Claretian, 2019) and The Church Can Handle the Truth: Mercy-Healing of Historical Wounds (Claretian, 2017).