4 Filipino Missionaries one with the People in Sierra Leone, West Africa amidst Ebola virus

SIERRA LEONE – The Filipino Recollect missionaries working in Sierra Leone could have easily opted to pack their bags and go home during the harrowing outbreak of Ebola virus in late 2014. But they chose, instead, the less-beaten path of staying put and serving the people they had considered their own.

The four (4) Filipino missionaries were: Fray Russell Lapidez, OAR (local prior), Fray Jonathan Jamero, OAR; Fray Roy Baluarte, OAR;  and Fray Dennis Castillo, OAR. They were accompanied by two other Spanish missionaries: Fray Jose Luis Garayoa, OAR & Fray Rene Gonzales, OAR.

 

Mission beginnings

The Order of Augustinian Recollects or Recoletos started their missionary activity in Sierra Leone, West Africa in the year 1997, administering the Our Lady of Sierra Leone Parish in Kamabai, Biriwa Chiefdom. Due to the civil war, the missionaries suffered the effects of the conflict. After defending and accompanying the flock they were compelled to leave Sierra Leone. After peace has been restored in the country, the second batch of Recoletos missionaries returned in the year 2004.

There are about sixty (60) small Christian communities under the community’s mission. The Diocese of Makeni entrusted to the missionaries the administration of the thirty-three (33) primary schools. Besides the work of evangelization, the missionaries are also engaged in charitable works such as, but not limited to, medical help, installation of water-wells in remote villages, and other humanitarian services to the people who are in need.

“I’m proud of the brothers who are brave enough on deciding to stay amidst the danger, let us support them with our prayers,” said Fr. Edgar Tubio, OAR, head of the mission, who got back to the Philippines for vacation few months before the Ebola outbreak.

“Let us continue to intensify our support to the Recoletos missionaries who are working with the Sierra Leonean people.”

Lately, the missionaries created preventive measures to contain the outbreak, devising practical strategies to quarantine affected areas, and providing water-cleanser in the chapels and convent compound.

Decision to stay

“Few days ago, after conferring to each other we, the Augustinian Recollect missionaries have decided to remain steadfast to the mission entrusted to us. We are all afraid but we choose to be with our people to continue to give hope to them especially during this time of difficulties. Preaching the Gospel and at the same time sensitizing the people about the Ebola virus gives new meaning to our work of evangelization. May God protect us from Ebola virus” said Fr. Russel Lapidez, OAR.

The work of the Recoletos missionaries in the Diocese of Makeni mostly involved in education and community organizing, fomenting a holistic development of faith-experience. Actively engaging the people and being part of the local community.

Fr. Lauro V. Larlar, OAR, the Prior Provincial of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno, in whose jurisdiction the Sierra Leone mission belongs, reiterated “May we ask the Augustinian Recollect family and our people to please offer prayers and sacrifices for the people in West Africa, especially to our missionaries stationed in Sierra Leone, who are now in a frightening situation due to the deadliest Ebola virus outbreak. Together we humbly beg the help of God’s grace and mercy to protect them from all harm and allowing them to see His beam of light in the midst of this darkness. For this and in solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters, may we ask you dear people of God to pray with us that the good Lord be their comfort and strength in this time of uncertainty.”

First hand experience, evaluating realities

Fr. Lapidez provided this reality-check experience in his communication to fellow Recoletos: “It was early April when I heard the Ebola outbreak for the first time, and from that time on I tried to follow the issue, since we are not really far from Guinea, and my fear at that time that the EVD will enter Sierra Leone is now a reality. Based on the testimonies of those who were directly involved in handling the cases and other sources of information, these are the contributing factors that led to the rapid wide spread of the Ebola Virus disease in Sierra Leone in the span of six months. First is the delayed imposition of the government for stricter movement of the people in the borders of Sierra Leone after the first case of Ebola contagion in neighbouring countries (Guinea and Liberia) erupted. Second is the ignorance and incredulity of some people regarding the reality and dangers of Ebola virus. There are those in the villages whom we have tried to sensitize about the existence of EVD and warned not to eat monkeys or bush meat that could possibly infected by the EVD but they just shrug us off for a simple reason that, from the time of their ancestors up to this moment they have been eating monkeys and bush meats, and so far they have not yet infected by the Ebola virus. It was only when Doctor Sheik Umar Khan, the only virologist in Sierra Leone and the head of the task force fighting EVD outbreak, got infected of the virus and later on died, the people then begun to realize that Ebola virus is really real and deadly. Third is the traditional washing or ritual cleansing of the dead bodies which usually done in the house. The immediate family members are the most susceptible in contracting the EVD. Just like the sixteen year old boy who took care of his sick mother and afterward died with Ebola virus. Consequently, the boy got infected also and later on died as well. Fourth is the poor health facilities and shortage of trained personnel that capable of handling Ebola infected patients. In fact, three medical doctors and over 20 nurses who took care of the patients also got infected and died. This terrible situation stimulated some of the medical staffs to abandon their work as a protest to the government for neglecting them in spite of their sacrifices and putting their lives in danger. Fifth contributing factor is the stigma of being infected by the virus or just being suspected which compelled the victims not to go to the hospital or to seek any medical help. As an alternative, the Ebola virus carriers look for traditional healers and consequently transmit the disease to them. The stigma also affects the family members, like what happened to a woman who was admitted to a hospital in Freetown and been confirmed positive of Ebola virus. The family members tried to use force to remove the woman out of the hospital. The condition got worsen after another frightful situation happened in the Ebola treatment Centre at Kenema, when a group of people staged riot outside the facility which instigated by a woman who broadcasted that Ebola does not exist at all, and the centre is just a front of the medical practitioners to make money by harvesting organs and extracting blood from the patients. Reflecting on the flow of events I surmised that the utmost contributors to the outbreak are the people themselves.”

Continuing heroism

The Filipino Recoletos missionaries’ dedication to mission is a continuing heroic legacy especially in Sierra Leone, in Africa. During the civil war in the 1990’s, three Missionaries opted to stay with the people; heroically defending women & children at gun point. Fr. Raul Buhay, OAR, Fr. Manny Lipardo, OAR & Fr. Jose Luis Garayoa, OAR together with the people walked across miles and months evading armed rebels & the danger of execution, and being able to survive and being freed.

The mark of the Recoletos mission is: bringing the experience of Christ’s love in the community. In the name of the Recoletos missionaries, Fr. Lapidez said ” I reiterated the stand of the Augustinian Recollects that we are staying and we will continue the mission entrusted to us by the Church. And since we decided to stay with the people whom we are serving, we are then bound to take part in the government effort of informing the people of the reality and the threat of Ebola virus, as well as, how to protect themselves from contracting it.”

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< 2019 >
December
SMTuWThFS
1
  • All day
    December 1, 2019

    1ST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

    40th INTRAMUROS GRAND MARIAN PROCESSION
    Start of the Procession: 4:00 P.M.
    Carroza #67: Nuestra Sra. de la Salud

    PRESBYTERAL ANNIVERSARY
    (1984-2019)
    Fray Constantino Real

    (2007-2019)
    Fray Excel Saycon
    Fray Allan Rubett Cabatian

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    (2014-2019)
    Fray Cornelio Moral

23
  • All day
    December 3, 2019

    ENCOUNTER OF NATIONAL SARF PRESIDENTS
    General Curia, Rome December 3-6, 3019

    SILVER PRESBYTERAL ANNIVERSARY
    (1994-2019)
    Fray Rouel Sia
    Fray Joel Villaruel
    Fray Bernabe Dosdos

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    (2011-2019)
    Fray Crisostomo Garnica

4
  • All day
    December 4, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray John Paul Tanquis
    Fray Kenneth Caligdong
    Sr. Noemi Manzo, AR

5
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    December 5, 2019

    431ST ANNIVERSARY (1588-2019) OF THE AUGUSTINIAN RECOLLECTION

    28th FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY OF SEMoNoRe, Antipolo

    PRESBYTERAL ANNIVERSARY
    (1995-2019)
    Fray Reynaldo Jaranilla
    Fray Antonio Zabala, Jr.

    (2003-2019)
    Fray Romeo Ben Potencio, Jr.

    (2009-2019)
    Fray Roy Baluarte
    Fray Dominador Mercado, Jr.
    Fray Renier Alviola
    Fray Christopher Gaspar

    (2018-2019)
    Fray Kenneth Caligdong
    Fray Paul Demillones
    Fray Niel Ryan Jarumay
    Fray Keneth Pahamutang
    Fray Elpedio Sarita, Jr.

    ANNIVERSARY OF SIMPLE PROFESSION
    Sr. Ma. Grace Gicos, OAR (2014-2019)

    ANNIVERSARY (2006-2019) OF ACCEPTANCE AS SISTERS-GENERAL OF THE ORDER (OAR)
    Ms. Brenda Saliendra
    Ms. Nestoria Bad-an

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Joseph Granada

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Juana de Sta. Rita

6
  • All day
    December 6, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Manuel Lipardo
    Fray Amado Emmanuel Bolilia

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Paciencia Orsolino, AR

7
  • All day
    December 7, 2019

    PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    OLCP Church, Miranila, QC / Time: 9:00 AM
    Ordaining Prelate: Most Rev. Roberto Gaa, D.D.
    Ordinandi:
    Fray Jorr S. Rabacal
    Fray Monday Benjamine Edobor
    Fray Ifeanyichukwu Maximillian Omem
    Fray Jovy A. Gallego
    Fray Andrie S. Pugate
    Fray Tomokatsu N. Yamaguchi
    Fray Jessriel L. Marcha

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Jaazeal Jakosalem
    Sr. Teodora Gentapa, AR
    Sr. Marlyn Escalante, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Andrea Martinez, AR

8
  • All day
    December 8, 2019

    2ND SUNDAY OF ADVENT

    ROME: Act of Veneration to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Spanish Steps (1600H, Rome Time)

    150th ANNIVERSARY OF THE OPENING OF THE FIRST VATICAN COUNCIL (1869)

    JUBILEE YEAR (Dec. 8, 2019 – Dec. 10, 2020): Marking the 100th anniversary of the declaration of Our Lady of Loreto as the patron saint

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Leo Neil Bullos
    Sr. Concepcion Anadon, AR
    Sr. Concepcion Potoy, AR

    PRESBYTERAL ANNIVERSARY
    (1967-2019)
    Most Rev. Patricio Buzon, SDB, D.D. (Diocese of Bacolod)

    (1972-2019)
    Most Rev. Honesto Ongtioco, D.D. (Diocese of Cubao)

    (2000-2019)
    Fray Jose Alden Alipin
    Fray Don Besana
    Fray James Bumangabang
    Fray Arnel Diaz
    Fray Rommel Rubia
    Fray Edgar Tubio

    (2006-2019)
    Fray Roland Cepe
    Fray Gideon Antolin Lagrimas

    (2015-2019)
    Fray Ken Oliver Lao
    Fray Nimrod Launio
    Fray Leo Neil Bullos
    Fray Mark Ryan Prado
    Fray Enrico Nacorda
    Fray Nelson Plohimon
    Fray John Zachary Haguisan
    Fray Rafael Pecson
    Fray Jerik Troy Siozon
    Fray Lounal Jarumay

    ANNIVERSARY OF SIMPLE PROFESSION
    Sr. Marites Carasig, OAR
    Sr. Lucita Minguito, OAR

    ANNIVERSARY OF SOLEMN PROFESSION
    Sr. Marites Carasig, OAR
    Sr. Lucita Minguito, OAR

9
  • All day
    December 9, 2019

    SOLEMNITY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

    GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING
    December 9-13, 2019 / Rome

    40TH DEATH ANIIVERSARY (1979-2019) OF ARCHBP. FULTON SHEEN

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Ma. Alberta Tabon, AR
    Sr. Ma. Rosalina Fuertes, AR
    Sr. Herminia Limotlimot, AR
    Sr. Myrna Mianagua, AR
    Sr. Bernadette Calzado, AR

    PRESBYTERAL ANNIVERSARY
    (2002-2019)
    Fray Joel Dequilla
    Fray Jay Parilla
    Fray Niño Cesar Ruiz

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Magdalena de Sta. Maria
    Sr. Potenciana de la Encarnacion

1011
  • All day
    December 11, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Ma. Amada de Ramos, AR

    PRESBYTERAL ANNIVERSARY
    (2010-2019)
    Fray Persiuz Joseph Decena

12
  • All day
    December 12, 2019

    EPISCOPAL ORDINATION ANNIVERSARY
    (2001-2019)
    Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle

    EPISCOPAL ORDINATION OF BISHOP-ELECT JOSE ALLAN DIALOGO (Diocese of Sorsogon)

    SPECIAL BOT MEETING – UNO-R, BACOLOD
    Venue: UNO-R Bacolod / 9:00 AM

    23rd PROVINCIAL COUNCIL MEETING

13
  • All day
    December 13, 2019

    GOLDEN PRESBYTERAL ANNIVERSARY
    (1969-2019)
    Pope Francis

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Carmen de Sto. Niño, AR

14
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    INSTALLATION OF BISHOP JOSE ALLAN DIALOGO (Diocese of Sorsogon)

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Charlito Orobia

15
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    December 15, 2019

    3RD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Florinda Gonzales, AR

16
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    December 16, 2019

    MEETING OF THE GENERAL COMMISSION ON COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLICATIONS December 16-18, 2019 / Rome

    SIMBANG GABI STARTS

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Evangeline Geuncion, AR
    Sr. Paulina Admana, AR
    Sr. Ma. Milgaros Lucero, AR

17
  • All day
    December 17, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    POPE FRANCIS (Jorge Mario Bergoglio)
    Fray Nestor Raras

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Generosa Dimapilis, AR

18
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    December 18, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Most Rev. Ryan Jimenez, D.D. (Bishop of Chalan Kanoa)

19
  • All day
    December 19, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Excel Saycon
    Sr. Modesta San Jose, AR

20
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    December 20, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Albert Pellazar

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Soledad Samonte, AR

21
  • All day
    December 21, 2019

    BEATIFICATION OF VEN. FULTON SHEEN (1895-1979)
    10:00 a.m. / Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Peoria, IL., USA

    PRESBYTERAL ANNIVERSARY
    (1965-2019)
    Most Rev. Antonio Tobias, D.D. (Diocese of Novaliches)

22
  • All day
    December 22, 2019

    4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Ma. Emma Navea, AR

    ANNIVERSARY OF SIMPLE PROFESSION
    (1986-2019)
    Fray Agustin Culaton

    ANNIVERSARY OF SOLEMN PROFESSION
    (1989-2019)
    Fray Agustin Culaton

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Mercedes Jayme, AR
    Sr. Felicidad Pangilinan, AR

23
  • All day
    December 23, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Ricky John Austria (simply prof.)

24
  • All day
    December 24, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Allan Jacinto
    Most Rev. Natale Paganelli, SX (Diocese of Makeni)

25
  • All day
    December 25, 2019

    CHRISTMAS DAY
    Urbi et Orbi / 12:00 NN (Rome Time)

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Mary Lou Duhino, AR

    PRESBYTERAL ANNIVERSARY
    (1980-2019)
    Most Rev. Natale Paganelli, SX (Diocese of Makeni)

26
  • All day
    December 26, 2019

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Maria Gavino, AR

27
  • All day
    December 27, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Ma. Editha Escalania, AR
    Sr. Filomena Atun, AR

28
  • All day
    December 28, 2019

    EPISCOPAL ORDINATION OF AUXILIARY BISHOP- ELECT DARÍO RUBÉN QUINTANA MUÑIZ, OAR (Diocese of Mar del Plata, Argentina)

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Joel Naranja
    Fray Niño Cesar Ruiz
    Fray Jessriel Marcha

29
  • All day
    December 29, 2019

    FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY

    EPISCOPAL ORDINATION OF BISHOP-ELECT JESÚS MARÍA LÓPEZ MAULEÓN, OAR (Territorial Prelature of Alto Xingu-Tucumã, Para, Brazil)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Justa de Jesus, AR

30
  • All day
    December 30, 2019

    [Rizal Day: Regular Holiday]

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Maria Viñon, AR

31
  • All day
    December 31, 2019

    ROME: Celebration of Vespers and Te Deum in Thanksgiving for the past year (1700H, Rome Time)

    PRIOR GENERAL’S RENEWAL VISIT TO BRAZIL

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Antonio Zabala, Jr.
    Fray Jose Alden Alipin
    Sr. Potenciana Azurin, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Benigna de la Purisima Concepcion, AR

    HAPPY NEW YEAR 2020!

    

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