Provincial Curia, QUEZON CITY – Roughly 15 kms from Dumaguete City, capital of the province of Negros Oriental, or around 7 kms from the poblacion proper of the municipality of Valencia where it politically belongs, the hinterland barangay of Caidiocan nestles on the hillsides and a forested topography made famous by the geothermal operations of the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC).
Although these descriptions can somehow help one who is unfamiliar with the place locate where the newly established community of Recoletos friars is, nevertheless there is something more to the question “Where are you?” that Fray Jay Parilla, OAR relayed to other local priors two weeks ago.
During the first ever assembly of the elected and appointed priors of the St. Ezekiel Moreno Province last September 14 here at the Povincialate, Fray Parilla, the appointed local prior of the three-member Recoletos de Caidiocan community, made an inspiring report on the status of his community’s life and mission project.
Despite the ongoing major renovation of the convent and the transition it is undergoing as a new community, the brothers are finding ways to be faithful in their common observances as religious and in the compliance of their apostolic works.
The Recollect presence in Valencia (formerly Nueva Valencia, then Luzurriaga) began in mid-1850s. The Recoletos friars of yore were responsible for the birth of the town and the parish dedicated to Our Lady of the Abandoned.
Fray Pedro Ko, OAR is credited for the construction of the actual edifice of the parish church and the San Pedro Academy (SPA). The latter was built in 1963.
Then, in 1984, an educational apostolate began in Caidiocan, one of the 24 barangays of this “Little Baguio of Negros Oriental,” through the San Pedro Academy-Recoletos (SPA-R). The nearby school chapel-cum-kumbento became the St. Ezekiel Moreno Chaplaincy in 1997. And upon the directive of Bishop Julito Cortes of Dumaguete, it became a quasi-parish last triennium.
7th Provincial Chapter
In his letter to the Prior General, Father Provincial noted that he and his Provincial Council is “heeding the call of the 7th Provincial Chapter of the Province to revitalize and restructure our overall pastoral apostolate … in Caidiocan.”
The said Chapter framed three decisions related to Caidiocan: (a) “Finishing the study on the possibility of establishing a religious community in Caidiocan”; (b) “Designating a team of religious to closely supervise SPA-R in Caidiocan”; and (c) “In establishing new communities, preference is given to those located in the peripheries.”
Since the study of the possibility of creating a new community had promptly been done purposively to closely supervise the school apostolate there, the Prior Provincial convincingly expressed the mind of the Council: “Now the time has come to intensify our presence and strengthen our ministries in Caidiocan by establishing a religious community.”
Approval of the bishop
In compliance with the universal and particular norms, Father Selma formally asked for the consent of the local ordinary “that we establish a new and separate Recollect community in Caidiocan, Valencia, Negros Oriental.”
He assured the bishop “that this new foundation forms part of our LAMP (Life and Mission Project) as we intend to accomplish our tasks always in collaboration with you, being the father of the diocese, as well as in synchrony with the pastoral program of your ecclesiastical jurisdiction.”
In his April 2, 2018 letter to Father Provincial, Bishop Cortes gave the positive response: “With this letter please be informed that with the Board of Consultors (BOC) I have resolved during our BOC Meeting last March 27, 2018 to give consent to Your Province … in establishing a new and separate Recollect community in Caidiocan…”
Consent of the Prior General
Having secured all the necessary papers, Father Provincial forwarded to the General Curia in Rome the petition for the consent of the major superior in order to erect a “domus non formata” or a house whose establishment, according to number 433 of the OAR Constitutions, requires prior consent of the Prior General.
Then came the reply dated June 4, 2018 which, in part, said: “In compliance with (Const. 433) I have informed the General Council about your proposal in its session of May 29 of the present year, and may I inform you that I am giving my consent for the establishment of a house non formata in Caidiocan.”
With that, the Prior Provincial and his Council established the 23rd Recoletos community of the Province.
Composition of the community
The community is composed of three Recollect religious headed by Fray Parilla, the appointed local prior, house librarian, and CSEC-R (Commission on Social and Ecological Concerns-Recoletos) anchor. He is also the Priest in-charge of the San Vicente Ferrer Quasi Parish in Apo Island which belongs to the town of Dauin, Negros Oriental.
The other two members are Fray Excel Saycon and Fray Roweno Eugenio Hamo. Fray Saycon is the Local Procurator, Local Vocation Promoter, Priest In-charge of the St. Ezekiel Moreno Quasi Parish, and School Treasurer of SPA-R. Fray Hamo is the House Chronicler, House Liturgist, Chapter Secretary, School Director and Principal of SPA-R.
Meantime, while the huge renovation is going on, only two rooms are available in the convent, and these are occupied by Frays Hamo and Saycon. Fray Parilla takes his temporary residence at Recoletos de Valencia community. “He goes up to Caidiocan during mass schedules, community meetings and other important occasions, but not everyday to save fuel,” the local prior disclosed.
Areas of Apostolate
The brothers of Caidiocan are attending to three areas of apostolate: the quasi parish in Caidiocan and the one in Apo Island, and the school (SPA-R). In due time, they will also form a local chapter for the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity (SARF) and the Recollect Augustinian Youth (RAY), Fray Parilla said.
The St. Ezekiel Moreno Quasi Parish covers 19 chapels. The roads to most of these remain rugged and quite challenging especially during rainy season. With the new community closer to them now, the Catholic faithful are becoming more active in going to their respective chapel.
Fray Parilla was proud to report that in the quasi parish, the kneelers are all foamed; repainting of the building and the main gate is nearly finished; LED lights on the outdoor church cross are installed; and the designated Priest In-charge was already installed by the bishop himself last August 19, patronal fiesta of the quasi parish.
The San Vicente Ferrer Quasi Parish in Apo Island covers the 74-hectare volcanic island, a renowned marine sanctuary and tourist destination. Though it belongs to the town of Dauin, it is nearer to the town of Zamboanguita. “Apo,” which is derived from the same Visayan term meaning “grandchild,” is around 7 kms from the coast of Malatapay, a sitio of Zamboanguita, where the Recoletos friars and other passengers usually depart for the island.
In his update, Fray Parilla informed the brothers that the place of worship which is ensconced on a hill was constructed through various generous persons and entities. A view from above reveals the fish-like design of the structure. Recently, tiling of the floors was finished and glass windows were installed. “Just imagine how all those things were transported with the boat from the mainland to Apo,” the Priest In-charge himself wondered.
SPA-R for its part is picking up. This school year, it has a total of 176 enrollees, an improvement to last year’s student population. There are 14 employees in the school: 10 academic personnel, 2 non-academic, and 2 security guards. Rehabilitation and acquisition of physical facilities are also noted and monitored, thanks to the donors and sponsors. Recent achievements in the district level co-curricular and sports activities, enhancement of academic services, and its passing the FAPE (Fund for Assistance to Private Education) Re-Certification are among the visible indices of the progress in the school apostolate.
So, where is Recoletos de Caidiocan now?
It’s in the map of ongoing formation and integral development.
(Photo below: The St. Ezekiel Moreno Quasi-Parish Church)