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

d632334130a2b9d194362b7d857b88bf

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.”

More posts about:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Frei Bo

Frei Bo

Priest-Religious of the Order of Augustinian Recollects, Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno. Webmaster.

Leave a Comment

< 2020 >
July
SMTuWThFS
   1
  • All day
    July 1, 2020

     

    START OF CURSO DE PREPARACIÓN FOR SOLEMN PROFESSION OF FRAY RAMON BITANCOR III (Antipolo)

    BIRTHDAY
    Br. John Arnold Lozada (prenovice)
    Rakyla Nadine Samuel (RAY-Cavite)

    ANNIVERSARY OF SIMPLE PROFESSION
    (2017-2020)
    Fray Ricky John Austria
    Fray Ivan Cuison
    Fray Jhyryx Vincent Gamulo
    Fray James Erold Gatinao

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Benedicta Marco, AR

2
  • All day
    July 2, 2020

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    (2014-2020)
    +Fray Delfin Castillo

3
  • All day
    July 3, 2020

    ST. THOMAS, APOSTLE

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Merriam Capellan, AR

4
  • All day
    July 4, 2020

    PRAYER INTENTION: FOR VOCATIONS (cf. LAMP 5c)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    (2016-2020)
    +Fray Loreto Ceasar Dacanay
    +Sr. Martina de la Santisima Trinidad, AR

5
  • All day
    July 5, 2020

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Filomena Castaño, AR Sr. Jeraldine Hernandez, AR

    ANNIVERSARY OF SIMPLE PROFESSION
    (1961-2020)
    Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr.

    (1981-2020)
    Fray Dionisio Selma

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Margarita de la Paz, AR

6
  • All day
    July 6, 2020

    GENERAL COUNCIL MEETING
    July 6-10 / Rome

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Allan Rubett Cabatian
    Sr. Ma. Alma Alaras, AR
    Lalaine Karylle Ramos (RAY-San Carlos)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Vicenta Cutanda, AR

7
  • All day
    July 7, 2020

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Radni Caparas
    Angela Palen (RAY-Provincialate)

8
  • All day
    July 8, 2020

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Marcelina Diaz, AR
    Mary Ann Nuñez (RAY-Caidiocan)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Ma. Juliana Mandia, AR

9
  • All day
    July 9, 2020

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Cirilo Andan
    Sr. Ma. Alma Limotlimot, AR
    Shiena Mae Quimada (RAY-Laray)

    ANNIVERSARY OF SIMPLE PROFESSION
    (1960-2020: 60TH ANNIVERSARY)
    Fray Walthrode Conde

    ANNIVERSARY OF SOLEMN PROFESSION (RELIGIOUS BROTHER)
    (2005-2020)
    Fray Teodulo Hayahay

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Ma. Lourdes Tinoy, AR

10
  • All day
    July 10, 2020

    ANNIVERSARY OF SOLEMN PROFESSION (RELIGIOUS BROTHERS)
    (2004-2020)
    Fray Rey Tripulca
    Fray Feliciano Campomanes, Jr.
    Fray Jonathan Jamero

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1982-2020)
    Fray Leonardo Pauligue
    Fray René Paglinawan
    Fray Joseph Philip Trayvilla

11
  • All day
    July 11, 2020

    RCI BOT MEETING

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Gerarda de la Riarte, AR
    Sr. Anacleta Berino, AR

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1976-2020)
    Fray Ceferino Roberto Añez
    Fray Federico Gregorio
    Fray Lauro Larlar

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sen. Marcelo Fernan (Brother-General of the Order)
    +Sr. Trinidad de Sgdo. Corazon de Jesus, AR

12
  • All day
    July 12, 2020

    SEA SUNDAY
    “During this Sea Sunday, we are invited to become aware of the hardships and difficulties that seafarers face daily and of the valuable service provided by the Apostleship of the Sea in being Church who bears witness of the Lord’s mercy and tenderness in order to preach the Gospel in the ports of the whole world.”

    (Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People)

13
  • All day
    July 13, 2020

    BIRTHDAY
    Most Rev. Buenaventura Famadico, DD (Diocese of San Pablo)
    Elyssa Santos (RAY-Cavite)

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1975-2020)
    Fray Regino Bangcaya

14
  • All day
    July 14, 2020

    450TH ANNIVERSARY – APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION, QUO PRIMUM
    (Promulgating the Tridentine Liturgy / Pius V / 1570)

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Griselda Gruba, AR

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1974-2020)
    Fray Dionisio Cachero

15
  • All day
    July 15, 2020

    ATTENTION LOCAL PRIORS: DEADLINE TODAY OF SUBMITTING THE ONLINE ASSESSMENT SENT BY THE PRIOR GENERAL (cf. Prot. CG 100/2020)

    MEETING OF THE GENERAL FINANCIAL COUNCIL
    July 15-20 / [No venue yet]

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1973-2020)
    Fray Hernando Coja

16
  • All day
    July 16, 2020

    49TH PATRONAL FIESTA
    Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish-Recoletos / Cebu City
    Fiesta Mass: (Time and Presider—to be communicated later)

    14TH PATRONAL FIESTA
    Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish / Inagawan, Puerto Princesa City
    Fiesta Mass: (Time and Presider—to be communicated later)

    *Special intention for those who perished in the July 16, 1990 earthquake (particularly in Baguio).

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Carmencita Indolos, AR
    Mo. Cecilia Rosa Talangpaz

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1978-2020)
    Fray Enrico Peter Silab

    ANNIVERSARY OF SIMPLE PROFESSION
    Mo. Ma. del Carmen, OAR (Bacolod Monastery)

17
  • All day
    July 17, 2020

    4TH PATRONAL FIESTA
    Quasi Parish of Nuestra Señora del Carmen / Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur
    Fiesta Mass: (Time and Presider—to be communicated later)

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Kenneth Joseph Onda
    Sr. Ma. Soledad Torres, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Ma. Martina de San Miguel, AR
    +Sr. Martha Llanes, AR

18
  • All day
    July 18, 2020

    150TH ANNIVERSARY –DECLARATION OF PAPAL INFALLIBILITY BY THE FIRST VATICAN COUNCIL (1870)

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Ma. Teresa Bautista, AR

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1965-2020)
    Fray Emilio Larlar, Jr.

    (1981-2020)
    Fray Samson Silloriquez

19
  • All day
    July 19, 2020

    PRAYER INTENTION: FOR THE SICK (cf. LAMP 5c)

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray William Cordero Jr.

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1964-2020)
    Fray Walthrode Conde

20
  • All day
    July 20, 2020

    50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST HUMAN PERSON ON THE MOON (1969)

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Gaudencio Geronimo de Mesa
    Sr. Ma. Nita Atencio, AR
    Sr. Geronima Primor, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Vicenta de San Agustin, AR

21
  • All day
    July 21, 2020

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Ginger Acosta, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Ma. Edwin Ilagan, AR

2223
  • All day
    July 23, 2020

    ENCOUNTER OF OAR PRENOVICES FOR MONTEAGUDO
    July 23-25 / Spain

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Francisco Antonio
    Fray Rouel Sia

24
  • All day
    July 24, 2020

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Arian Josef Ocheda
    Fray James Dexter Tanquis

25
  • All day
    July 25, 2020

    ST. JAMES, APOSTLE

    GRADUATION CEREMONY OF ST. RITA KINDERGARTEN
    Linyuan District, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Jose Ernil Almayo
    Fray James Esplanada (simply prof.)
    Sr. Ma. Gorreti Cui, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Genoveva del Sgdo. Corazon de Jesus, AR

26
  • All day
    July 26, 2020

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Joaquin Jamelo
    Sr. Ma. Olympia Bolatete, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Prudencia de la Virgen del Pilar, AR

27
  • All day
    July 27, 2020

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Jorge Peligro
    Sr. Ma. Eulalia Magquilat, AR

28
  • All day
    July 28, 2020

    PRAYER INTENTION: FOR THE MISSIONS (cf. LAMP 5c)

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Ma. Irma Castrodes, AR
    Sr. Ma. Ligaya Satur, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Sr. Patrocinio Cabanlet, AR

29
  • All day
    July 29, 2020

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Mo. Gertrudes del Espiritu Santo, AR

30
  • All day
    July 30, 2020

    BIRTHDAY
    Reynz Rey Tupaz (RAY-Tambo)

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    +Mo. Cecilia Rosa de Jesus Talangpaz, AR
    +Sr. Asuncion de San Jose, AR
    +Sr. Magdalena del Espiritu Santo, AR
    +Sr. Magdalena Sabano, AR
    +Mo. Ma. Nicolasa de San Jose, AR
    +Sr. Vicenta de San Agustin, AR
    +Sr. Esmeralda Mantalaba, AR

31
  • All day
    July 31, 2020

    END OF THE CURSO DE PREPARACIÓN (Antipolo)

 

Categories