Hinatuan, SURIGAO DEL SUR – After almost three hours of waiting, the crowd cramping in the church’s façade roared as Fray Miguel Miró, OAR, Prior General, and his companions arrived. It was already evening of March 1, 2019.
When the visitors came out of the vehicle, people spontaneously rushed towards them to give them the warm Hinatuanon (or typical of Hinatuan residents’ way of doing) welcome. Many reached for Father General’s hand for the blessing. Standing in front of them, Father Miguel expressed – via translation made by Fray Raul Buhay, OAR, himself a native of Surigao del Sur – his gratitude to the people, punctuating it with the Filipino word, “Salamat!”
The coming of Father Miró for the visit of renewal to the community of “Recoletos de Hinatuan” would be his first and last as Prior General. The community of friars is composed of Fray Albert Pellazar (Prior & Parish Priest); Fray Jerome Virtudazo (Parochial Vicar); and Fray Mark Saludes (Local Procurator).
After dinner, Father Miguel joined in the Holy Hour services at the parish church, with the Lay Ministers who were preparing for their acceptance and renewal.
The following day, March 2, Father General took the opportunity to talk to the lay faithful, to the parishioners present that morning. “Unity is vital to community,” he said to them. The reason why the faithful need to collaborate with the religious priests, he continued, is for the Church to achieve more.
Father General, likewise, stressed the importance of the Philippines to the Order and to the Church. He also related how essential interior life is, which is a mark of an Augustinian Recollect, in order to deepen one’s relationship with the Lord through constant encounter.
Fray Buhay, President of the General Secretariat of Apostolate, explained the content of the document on the pastoral plan of the Augustinian Recollects for the communities and apostolates. Then, Fray Antonio Carrón, OAR, another General Councilor, introduced the OAR Commission on the Protection of Minors which imposes zero tolerance on abuses of the most vulnerable, as the Pope demanded. The dialogue with the parishioners was closed with Father General gifting the Quasi Parish with the relic of St. Ezekiel Moreno, which, on behalf of the people, was received by the parish priest.
The second half of the day was the community’s turn to have a formal forum with the Prior General. During the forum, the visiting Major Superior categorized his sharing into six points: living with faith and joy in the mission, fulfillment of the Life and Mission Project (LAMP), OAR charism and apostolate, social apostolate, protection of minors, and the importance of communication. The conference culminated with the Father General’s final words: Go on with what you have been doling and let these be your prayers.”
In the evening, Father General concelebrated in the Eucharistic Celebration and witnessed for himself the acceptance of the 13 new “Kaabag”, a Visayan term used to refer to the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and the renewal of 46 others. He, moreover, was given a chance to express his gratefulness and to do the final blessing.
On the last day of the visit, March 3, the community saw to it that, before leaving, Father General and his General Councilors would be able to see first the “treasures” of Hinatuan such as the famed Enchanted River and the Sibadan Fishcage.
With additional reports from RCI