“Casianic Experience”: A Glimpse of My Diaconal Exposure

(Note: Here is a glimpse of the life and ministry of an Augustinian Recollect deacon (the author) assigned in the island community of San Isidro Labrador Parish in Casian Island, around two hours by boat from the town of Taytay in mainland Palawan and when seawaters are serene.

Fray Jorr, a native of San Carlos City in Negros Occidental, was ordained deacon on November 17, 2018, together with six others. In mid-December last year, his group were sent to their respective parish assignments for the start of their diaconal practice which is basically described as “one of service in three areas: the Word, the Liturgy, and Charity.” As a deacon, Fray Jorr has to take the ministry of the Word which includes proclaiming the Gospel during the Mass, preaching and teaching. His liturgical ministry includes various parts of the Mass proper to the deacon, including being an ordinary minister of Holy Communion and the proper minister of the chalice when Holy Communion is administered under both kinds. His ministry of charity involves service to the poor and the marginalized and working with parishioners to help them become more involved in such ministry.)

“You cannot really know something until you are there.”

These were the words from a Recollect priest who had dedicated long years in the missions. His wisdom tipped my interest to have this eagerness to also go to the mission territories to experience what is yet unknown to me. Providentially, I was assigned in one of our “local missions” in Palawan for my diaconal exposure, and now I confirm the truth behind those words.

Fray Jorr Rabacal, OAR, with some of the residents of Casian Island, Taytay, Palawan.

It’s been almost five months since I arrived here in Casian Island, and about six months since I was ordained a deacon. I cannot deny the fact that, so far, the sense of adventure and excitement are the factors that really move me to conquer my fears linked to the sea, and to muster courage to face the challenges in my diaconal assignment.

Many things in this island are new to me:  the means of transportation going to my apostolate is through a boat (of different types) where its engine has always the open possibility to malfunction anytime during the trip, long stems of plants and branches of the trees that are like hands slapping my face and like shackles on my feet as I climb the hill towards the chapel, the need to consult a calendar with indicators for high and low tides to somehow approximate the feasibility of travel despite the unpredictable condition of the sea, and the ubiquitous consciousness to conserve energy due to daily power interruption (from 12 midnight to four o’clock in the afternoon) — all of these bring me the sense of awe to see the interesting side of life in the island, and all of which inspire me to find deeper meaning in my vocation as religious and cleric.

Moreover, as I visit the island chapels and minister to the people, I can feel their enthusiasm. Understandable, because they cannot, say, go to mass, as frequent as the people in the mainland do.   And seeing a minister approaching them, their longing to hear the Word of God becomes immediately evident in their eyes. I am happy for them because I know every time a minister visits them, in their hearts they whisper they have another chance to receive God’s grace.

My brief immersion so far in the apostolate like this cannot be compared with those of others who have already spent many years in the mission apostolate. But all that I have witnessed and experienced in these few adventures in the last few months offered me a more profound awareness of God’s goodness. But then a question still lingers in me: Am I as ready as I was for the first time?

Blessed and joyful. Two days after my arrival here in Casian last December, Fr. Louie Gabinete, the local prior and parish priest, immediately assigned me to Barangay Batas in Batas Island, for the 9-day novena dawn paraliturgy, or equivalent to “Simbang Gabi” if it were dawn masses prior to Christmas Day.

Batas is the newest island chapel handed over (or added) by the Vicariate of Taytay to the Recoletos. I stayed there for 11 days to carry out my responsibilities dutifully, with the people of the island. Two chapels were assigned to me where I minister the paraliturgy, and other tasks covered by my diaconal ministry. One chapel was nearer to where I stayed while the other was at the other side of the same island. In order to get to this second chapel, I had to ride a pump boat, enjoying the splashes of the waves that would douse us and soak our clothes. After disembarking, we had to traverse the middle of the forest for an hour. It was in the dark, mid-section of the forest and then on the top of the mountain that I could not help myself but marvel at God’s creation. From the summit, I would peek below and feast on the beautiful scenery: the blue-green-colored sea studded by islets, the rock formations that could be as big as a cathedral, and the multi-hued sunset. If luckier, I would be able to have a glimpse of the wild boars and wild chickens (known to the locals as “labuyo”).

Fray Jorr, together with Fray Niel Ryan Jarumay, OAR, on their way to one of the island chapels to celebrate the Holy Mass with the faithful.

These, for me, are a blessing and they have formed part of my joyful experiences here. These could never be forgotten nor be replaced. Looking back when I was in Batas Island for 11 days, and when at times I felt lonely and tired, I could still remember how these incredible sights of nature had their own way of firing me up and keeping me going in serving God’s people. I didn’t exactly know how to express it, but there was something in them that reminded me of transcendence.

Fearful but courageous. I always looked forward to doing my apostolate every weekend. Although my missionary zeal would be heavily challenged just by the thought of encountering the raging waves, I still strove to muster enough courage to go to the island chapels.

Actually, it’s not about the location of the apostolate area—whether it is just nearby or there in a remote island; rather, it is the unpredictability of the natural phenomena – the waves of the sea. No one can really guess with prevision how these waves would behave when we are already in the middle of the sea. But, once the bangkeros (boatmen) would warn us that the waves would be too dangerous, our apostolate schedule would be postponed to another day. They would make us understand that anything could go wrong during the trip with that rough sea condition, and help could be so difficult. Although Christopher Paolini is saying, “Without fear there cannot be courage,” there is also such a thing as taking calculated risks.That’s the wisdom behind heeding the advice of these sea experts who know their world better. And that is quite a courageous thing to do, too.

At San Vicente Ferrer Chapel in Sitio Luyo.

Returning from the second chapel which was on the other side of Batas Island, I would retrace the footpath across the middle of the dark forest for an hour and a half to get to the place where we had docked our pump boat. As darkness began to fall, I would remember the stories of the inhabitants here about the supernatural forces that I might possibly encounter. Integral to the rich history of this remote island are interesting stories about encounters with supernatural elements such as “engkanto” and “wakwak”.These are only two of those creepy creatures that people warned me about. And in that late afternoon when I was on my way home, what the locals told me before “You I might come across them” became more vivid in my imagination. To intensify the eerie ambiance, there were huge trees — so huge that it would take 10 to 12 people to completely circle around their trunks — whose branches would overshadow our path, forming a canopy. Later, I learned that I had also passed by a cemetery. Luckily, though, the moon at that time was so bright that somehow it illuminated the path, at least a portion of the whole stretch, that I was treading. Otherwise, in the middle of the forest, the only source of light would just be my flashlight. All the singing that we did while walking was gradually replaced by the hush of the branches touching our skin. Honestly, I wanted to run at that sound because it seemed so strange and terrifying. But then I entertained the idea that this travel in the middle of the forest was similar to my journey towards priesthood. It could be as dark and, at times, as frightening as this, but I must stand firm and be brave, I told myself. And so I just prayed to get out of the forest alive, in the same way that I prayed, and am praying, in quiet surrender and trust in my journey towards priesthood: “It’s up to You, Lord.”

Yes, all I did, at that time during that long walk, was to pray and surrender everything to the One who is much powerful than all evil forces combined.

Prayer as refuge during high tide. With courage and readiness as well as with the love of God to serve, I was given the strength that I needed to go on despite the challenges in living out my religious life and diaconal commitment in this “Waterworld.” I realized it wasn’t all about the adventures in Casian and Batas Islands and nearby islands; it was also about the amazing grace and blessing of God. I realized that all of those that I experienced and witnessed to were no mere products of chance. They were divinely appointed moments for me. And they, too, were precious opportunities to build a stronger relationship with the Lord Himself by keeping my prayer life ablaze and with that of the community entrusted to me to shepherd. I also re-discovered that those were the renewing source that kept my religious life so attuned to God’s guidance and my mission firm: to share Christ with His people. These also made me cling to the mercy and will of God. And for one more time, I got to re-affirm: prayer life is indeed vital!

While it is not only by the mind but also by the heart that I was able relate effectively with the people here, what is more necessary and fundamental is my faithful relationship with the Lord. This gives effectiveness in my diaconal exposure. Without my relationship with Jesus, I would surely be an islet that can never be a refuge during high tide for anyone lost in the sea.

New perspective to live by. For some, it may seem to be difficult to live and work in a remote island such as here in Casian. Yet the happiness and the contentment that I had since the day I arrived here could never be equalled to as when I could have been assigned in another place. I know that God has always been with me in this community with its unique features and characteristics as an area of local mission. Now, I come to realize that life in the mission is not just about conquering fears, overcoming hardships, taking risks, or challenging oneself; it is also about convincing oneself that he actually has what it takes to live and love the mission itself and to let God do the rest. After all, everything is God’s works and all we have to do is to be His good workmate. As to those who asked me whether I am still as ready to live and work the ‘Casianic’ way as I was the first time I came here, my answer is: No one is ever ready, but I know for sure that I am willing and able!

jorr4

Fray Jorr Rabacal, OAR

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

    LAUNCHING OF ROSARY MONTH

    LAUNCHING OF THE EXTRAORDINARY MONTH OF MISSION

    Note to all Local Priors [for the Book of Masses]: After the feast of the Archangels (Sept. 29), “a Mass is to be offered for the living relatives, friends, and benefactors of the Order” (cf. Add. Code 70d)

2
  • All day
    October 2, 2019

    2nd PRIORS’ MEETING OF THE QUADRENNIUM
    October 2-3, 2019 / Provincial Curia

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Leonardo Pauligue
    Sr. Leah Lachica, AR

    ANNIVERSARY OF SIMPLE PROFESSION
    (2004-2019)
    Fray Leo Alaras

3
  • All day
    October 3, 2019

    START OF THE NOVENA TO OUR LADY OF THE ABANDONED (Valencia) /
    OUR LADY OF THE PILLAR (Baguio)

    21st PROVINCIAL COUNCIL MEETING

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Teresita Baco, AR
    Sr. Elyn Joy Olmedo, AR

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1987-2019)
    Fray Bernard Amparado
    Fray Cristituto Palomar
    Fray Joseph Granada
    Fray Jorge Peligro

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Ramona Plaza, AR

4
  • All day
    October 4, 2019

    PRAYER INTENTION: FOR OAR VOCATION (cf. LAMP I,5c)

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Manuela Mandia, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    (2003-2019)
    Fray Celestino Cachapero, OAR

5
  • All day
    October 5, 2019

    WORLD TEACHER’S DAY

    CONSISTORY 2019

    ELECTORS:

    1)  Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot MCCJ (b 1952), President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

    2)  José Tolentino Calaça de Mendonça (b 1965), Librarian and Archivist of the Roman Church

    3)  Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo (b 1950), Archbishop of Jakarta, Indonesia

    4)  Juan de la Caridad García Rodríguez (b 1948), Archbishop of San Cristóbal de la Habana, Cuba

    5)  FridolinAmbongoBesunguOFMCap(b1960),ArchbishopofKinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

    6)  Jean-Claude Hollerich SJ (b 1958), Archbishop of Luxembourg, Luxembourg

    7)  Álvaro Leonel Ramazzini Imeri (b 1947), Bishop of Huehuetenango, Guatemala

    8)  Matteo Maria Zuppi (b 1955), Archbishop of Bologna, Italy

    9)  Cristóbal López Romero SDB (b 1952), Archbishop of Rabat, Morocco

    10)Michael Czerny SJ (b 1946), Under-secretary of the Migrant and Refugee Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

    NON-ELECTORS:

    11) Michael Louis Fitzgerald M Afr (b 1937), Apostolic Nuncio (retired)

    12) Sigitas Tamkevicius SJ (b 1938), Archbishop Emeritus of Kaunas, Lithuania

    13) Eugenio Dal Corso PSDP (b 1939), Bishop Emeritus of Benguela, Angola

     

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Miguela Obera, AR

6
  • All day
    October 6, 2019

    SPECIAL ASSEMBLY FOR THE PAN-AMAZON REGION OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS
    October 6-27, 2019

    PATRONAL FIESTA: OUR QUEEN OF VICTORY PARISH
    Xiaogang, Taiwan

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Primitiva Berdejo, AR
    Sr. Noemi Mapa, AR
    Sr. Rona Alaza, AR

7
  • All day
    October 7, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Juliet Natinga, AR
    Fray Ralp Andrew Cepe, Jr. (simply prof.)

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (2006-2019)
    Fray Henry Santiago
    Fray Anthony Irineo
    Fray Russell Lapidez
    Fray Virgilio Paredes

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Margarita Miranda de Santa Monica, AR

8
  • All day
    October 8, 2019

    USJ-R BALAMBAN (SHS Scouts) joins 8th NATIONAL SCOUT VENTURE CAMP
    October 6-12, 2019 / Theme: “Commitment to Excellence”
    Iligan City, Lanao del Norte

    CST-R SAN CARLOS: 79th HIGH SCHOOL DAYS AND INTRAMURALS
    October 8-12, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Neil Ryan Jarumay
    Ms. Nestoria “Inday” Bad-an (Sister General of the Order)
9
  • All day
    October 9, 2019

    2nd FOUNDING ANNIVERSARY OF THE COMMUNITY OF RECOLETOS DE URBIZTONDO (Pangasinan)

10
  • All day
    October 10, 2019

    ST. THOMAS OF VILLANOVA, Bishop and Patron of Studies

    CLOSING OF PRIOR GENERAL’S RENEWAL VISIT TO COLOMBIA

    BIRTHDAY
    Most Rev. Raul Dael, DD [Bishop of Tandag]
    Sr. Ofelia Laspobres, AR

11
  • All day
    October 11, 2019

    ST. POPE JOHN XXIII

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Samuel Eyas

12
  • All day
    October 12, 2019

    BLD. MARIA THERESA FASCE, Virgin

    CELEBRATION OF THE FOURTH CENTENARY OOF THE RECOLETOS ARRIVAL IN ROME
    Solemn Mass Presider: Carlos Cardinal Aguiar (Archbishop Primate of Mexico)
    Time: 6:00 PM

    SOLEMNITY OF OUR LADY OF THE PILLAR
    TOMA DE HÁBITO
    Time: 9:00 A.M. / CARES, Baguio City
    Presider & Homilist: Fray Dionisio Q. Selma, OAR (Prior Provincial)

    PATRONAL FIESTA: PARISH OF OUR LADY OF THE ABANDONED
    Valencia, Negros Oriental / Time: 10:00 A.M.
    Fiesta Mass Presider: Most Rev. Julito Cortes, D.D. (Bishop of Dumaguete)

    FOUNDATION DAY OF TAHANANG TALANGPAZ, TAGAYTAY CITY

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Shirley Nonato, OAR (Bacolod Monastery)
    Sr. Marilyn Gustilo, AR
    Sr. Bernarditha Barnido, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Mo. Dionisia Mitas de Santa Maria Talangpaz

13
  • All day
    October 13, 2019

    COMMEMORATION OF THE DECEASED BENEFACTORS OF OAR

    CANONIZATION OF JOHN HENRY NEWMAN & 4 OTHERS:

    -Sister Mariam Thresia of India – Foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family;

    – Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini – Foundress of the Daughters of Saint Camillus;

    – Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God; and

    – Marguerite Bays of Switzerland, of the Third Order of Saint Francis of Assisi

    NEGROS ORIENTAL DAY

     

14
  • All day
    October 14, 2019

    150 years ago, on October 14, 1869, together with 17 other Recollect missionaries composing Mission LX, Fray Ezekiel Moreno boarded the frigate Concepción at Cádiz, Spain en route to the Philippines. The group arrived in Manila on February 10, 1870.

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Laura Cabanacan, AR
    Sr. Rhena Sherra Caranzo, AR

15
  • All day
    October 15, 2019

    15th ANNIVERSARY OF SARF-INAGAWAN CHAPTER

    DEADLINE OF AMRSP Logo Contest

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Renz Calex Soriano, OAR (simply prof.)

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (2005-2019)
    Fray Vincent Cadeliña

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Monica de Espiritu Santo, AR

16
  • All day
    October 16, 2019

    WORLD FOOD DAY 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Ma. Pia Pineda, AR
    Sr. Ma. Linda Peña, AR

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1988-2019)
    Fray Manuel Lipardo
    Fray Domingo Saladaga
    Fray William Emilito Villaflor

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY

    Sr. Margarita de Sgdo. Corazon de Jesus, AR

17
  • All day
    October 17, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Most Rev. Honesto Ongtioco, D.D. [Bishop of Cubao]
    Sr. Ma. Cirila Uy, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Visitacion de San Miguel, AR
    Sr. Gabriela Garcines, AR
    Sr. Jacinta Mandia Robin, AR

18
  • All day
    October 18, 2019

    SPA VALENCIA: START OF SCHOOL DAYS CELEBRATION

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Arnel Diaz

19
  • All day
    October 19, 2019

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

    SARF-VISAYAS REGIONAL GATHERING October 19-20, 2019
    Host: San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish Chapter, Talisay

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Arlyn Sarmiento, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Ma. Virginia Acha, AR

20
  • All day
    October 20, 2019

    WORLD MISSION SUNDAY

    ST. MAGDALENE OF NAGASAKI, Patroness of the Secular Augustinian Recollects

    PARISH FIESTA OF STA. REMEDIOS PARISH (Tanapag Village, Saipan)

    SARF VISAYAS – RITES OF ADMITTANCE TO THE TRIAL PERIOD AND PROMISED

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Ken Oliver Lao

21
  • All day
    October 21, 2019

    ARSE BATCH 2
    October 21-25, 2019
    Facilitator: Fray Lauro Larlar, OAR

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Ursulina Balading, AR
    Sr. Ma. Lutgarda Cañete, AR

22
  • All day
    October 22, 2019

    ST. POPE JOHN PAUL II

    BIRTHDAY

    Archbp. Agustinus Agus, DD (Archdiocese of Pontianak, Indonesia)
    Fray Edgar Tubio
    Sr. Teresita Diana, AR

23
  • All day
    October 23, 2019

    ST. WILLIAM THE HERMIT & BLD. JOHN THE GOOD, Religious

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Hernando Coja
    Sr. Herminia Catindig, AR

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1967-2019)
    Fray Dunstan Huberto Decena

24
  • All day
    October 24, 2019

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Rafael Cabarles
    Fray Jose Prudencio Castillo

    ANNIVERSARY OF SIMPLE PROFESSION
    (1996-2019)
    Fray Glynn Ortega

25
  • All day
    October 25, 2019

    ST. JOHN STONE, Priest & Martyr

    AUGUSTINIAN SCHOOLS ATHLETIC MEET (ASAM) 2019
    October 26-31, 2019
    Host: Colegio San Agustin, Bacolod City

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Veronica Purto, AR

    ANNIVERSARY OF SIMPLE PROFESSION
    (1995-2019)
    Fray Joel Dequilla

    PRESBYTERAL ANNIVERSARY
    (1983-2019)
    Most Rev. Buenaventura Famadico, DD (Diocese of San Pablo)

26
  • All day
    October 26, 2019

    SARF-LUZON REGIONAL GATHERING WITH THE RITES OF ADMITTANCE TO THE TRIAL PERIOD AND PROMISED
    Host: Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Parish (Tondo Chapter)

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Dionisio Selma
    Fray Renie Villalino
    Sr. Rosalie Ubo, AR

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Leonora Mercado, AR

27
  • All day
    October 27, 2019

    PRISON AWARENESS SUNDAY
    160th ANNIVERSARY OF EVANGELIZATION IN TAIWAN (1859 – 2019)

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Antonio Limchaypo

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Mo. Presentacion de San Jose, AR
    Sr. Martina Labao, AR

28
  • All day
    October 28, 2019

    PRAYER INTENTION: FOR OAR MISSION (cf. LAMP I,5c)

    BIRTHDAY
    Sr. Jeana Abejuela, AR

2930
  • All day
    October 30, 2019

    ANNIVERSARY OF EPISCOPAL ORDINATION OF MOST. REV. NATALE PANGELLI, SX, Bishop of Makeni, Sierra Leone

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Cristituto Palomar
    Fray Dominador Mercado Jr.
    Sr. Lorlie Decir, AR

    ANNIVERSARY OF PRESBYTERAL ORDINATION
    (1999-2019)
    Fray Joel Alve

31
  • All day
    October 31, 2019

    SYMBOLIC MISSION SENDING
    (cf. Section for Mission Apostolate)

    BIRTHDAY
    Fray Nemesio Tolentin

    DEATH ANNIVERSARY
    Sr. Albina de la Virgen de Soledad, AR

  

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