Dugmanon, Hinatuan, SURIGAO DEL SUR—Former CBCP President and now Bishop-emeritus of Tandag Nereo Odchimar, D.D. presided over the fiesta Mass in the Recollect-administered Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Quasi-parish (henceforth, OLMCQP), the lone Recollect community in Mindanao island. The fiesta was celebrated last July 17, 2019 and on the same celebration, Fr. Jerome Virtudazo, OAR was installed as its second parish priest. Sitting inconspicuously in the hilly Dugmanon barangay, the small church was nevertheless filled to the brim and was graced by the presence of the diocesan clergy of Tandag led by the bishop-emeritus and some Recollect confreres led by the Vicar Provincial, Fr. Ian Anthony Espartero, OAR.
The Universal Church has assigned July 16 as the feast day of Mary in her title Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. But with the erection of the new quasi-parish, the Diocese of Tandag now has two churches under the same patroness—one in Carrascal town in the northern tip of the diocese and one in Dugmanon barangay in the southern part of the diocese. Owing to two facts—first, that the bishop is always invited as the main celebrant of fiesta masses, and second, that it is impossible for the bishop to preside over the two fiesta celebrations on the same day—OLMCQP, the younger “Carmel parish,” has decided to celebrate its fiesta celebration on the 17th of July every year.
Thanking the Recollects
Bishop-emeritus Nereo Odchimar, D.D., a former CBCP President, thanked the Recollects for accepting his invitation to work in his diocese. Recalling a meeting with his diocesan clergy to invite religious congregations in the diocese, he shared during his homily that the Order of Augustinian Recollects—the pioneer group to evangelize Mindanao during the Spanish colonial era—was among the first priorities. He also reminded the faithful of the Recollect missionaries’ lasting contributions to Mindanao and to the diocese by enumerating some parishes named after Augustinian saints. Some of those he mentioned are the following: San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish and cathedral in Tandag City, Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Parish in Bislig City, and St. Augustine Parish in San Agustin and Hinatuan municipalities.
The lone Recollect community in Mindanao caters to 26 chapels under its jurisdiction. Most of them are located in mountainous areas, some are located in coastal areas facing the Pacific and one is located in an island. The three-member community is under the leadership of Fr. Jerome Virtudazo, OAR—local prior and parish priest.