29 June 2011

A Columban ordination on the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul

Saints Peter and Paul, El Greco, painted 1605-08

Earlier today I attended the ordination of Columban Fr Rodolfo Christopher Kaamiño IV in Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Ozamiz City. The ordaining prelate was Archbishop Jesus A. Dosado CM of the Archdiocese of Ozamiz. As a deacon Father Chris was working in Malate Parish, Manila, which the Columbans have been taking care of since we came to the Philippines in 1929. He will continue to work there as a priest for some months before receiving an overseas assignment. He spent two years in Taiwan as a seminarian on his First Mission Assignment.

Among the five Irish Columbans in Malate killed by the Japanese in February 1945 during the Battle of Manila, when around 100,000 died, mostly civilians, was Fr Peter Fallon, the first Columban parish priest of what then was the town of Misamis, now Ozamiz City, when we came to Mindanao in 1948. The first bishop of the Prelature of Ozamiz, set up in 1951, was Columban Bishop Patrick Cronin, later Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro.

Photos from website of Cathedral Parish

Among the many priests who concelebrated was Columban Fr Desmond Morrison from Derry, Northern Ireland, an engineer by profession, who designed the Cathedral, built in the late 1950s or early 1960s. (Right now I can't find the exact date).

Today, the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, is also the 93rd anniversary of the canonical establishment of the Missionary Society of St Columban in the Diocese of Galway, Ireland. It late became a society of pontifical right, meaning it wasn't under the jurisdiction of an individual bishop.

In the January-February 2011 issue of Misyon I published an article by Father Chris on his experience in Taiwan as a seminarian, ‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of men’ (Mark 1:17). He describes directly and with humour what he was doing. I tried to find a more 'polite' way of describing this, but couldn't. I'll let the newly ordained priest speak for himself and I know that you'll keep him in your prayers.

‘Come after me and I will make you fishers of men’ (Mark 1:17)

By Rodolfo Christopher Kaamiño IV

The author, from Ozamiz City, was ordained deacon in Malate Church, Manila, on 12 December and priest in Ozamiz Cathedral 29 June 2011. He writes here about his experience as a Columban seminarian on First Mission Assignment in Taiwan.

Father Rodolfo Christopher Kaamiño IV

Friends ask me what I’m doing here in Taiwan. Half-jokingly, ‘Washing asses’ is my frequent reply, and they laugh, thinking I might be joking or that I mean something else. Here is somebody who has studied for four years in graduate school in the USA now washing other people’s asses. It led me to wonder what’s ‘wrong’ with this, probably because it’s a ‘dirty’ job, or because it’s not a ‘classy job’, a ‘sophisticated profession’ such as engineering or accountancy. A friend asked me why I’m doing this. I told him I don’t do it on my own, or else I would have quit a long time ago. I have some help from above.

After being in Taiwan for almost two years, I felt I was an ‘amateur in every field and professional in none’. Probably that's what being a missionary is all about. Being in the ministry for several months now, I feel that I don’t have to be a professional or a rocket scientist to be a minister. I arrived here with ‘professional ideas and concepts’ about mission and ministry learned in school. In ministry here at AiJia these don’t matter much. Mentally challenged adults don’t necessarily need a professional. They need a human companion, somebody who can ‘waste’ time with them.

The ministry at AiJia, of course, also requires professional nursing and care-giving and I learned both on the job. Probably it was my willingness and openness that enabled me to also take on those roles. It wasn’t easy. Being an adult, I don’t want to be told what to do. Yet being a ‘tongue-tied’ foreigner, I depended much on others in the ministry. In AiJia a professional nurse, caregiver or social worker may efficiently take care of the physical needs of mentally challenged adults but not necessarily of their human needs. It has been my continuous struggle in the ministry to provide the people here with professional care and at the same time to be a human companion to them.

Most of the first followers of Jesus knew only of one trade, and that was to fish. These disciples could have remained professional fishermen and serve the hunger of the people by providing them with fish. But Jesus invited them to a whole new level of fishing, to ‘fish’ for people, a whole new field beyond their professional expertise. It required less of their professional skills but more of their hearts and minds. A tall order, but they were willing and trusting. Despite their being slow to understand, Jesus patiently journeyed with them as they continued ‘fishing’ for people.

Like the first disciples, I too am slow to understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Yet I continue this journey in trust and with help from above. We missionaries try to put some flesh on God’s love in this world. Each does it in different ways depending upon the different gifts each has been given. One can be a professional when the situation calls for such. But most of the time, people need a human companion, somebody who is willing to go the extra mile with them.

You can find the Father Chris on Facebook.

No comments: