Rome - 25 September 2005 for SSpS and SVD Mission Secretaries and Mission Animators


In this bulletin:



2. Philippines - FIRST MANGYAN SSpS







The newest SVD mission initiative is in the Republic of Chad, North Africa. Three confreres are currently working there: Achille Mpila from Congo, Teofilo Perey from the Philippines and Anthony Puthumana from India. Their previous regions/provinces (Madagascar, Togo-Benin, and Congo) generously freed them to take up this new challenge. Fr Anthony wrote to the Mission Secretary of the Irish British Province about their work in the Diocese of Gore. He wrote to thank the benefactors from Ireland and he stresses the importance of training catechists, a fundamental step in mission animation.

In our newly established parish of Laramanaye we are using the Mass vestments and items provided by the apostolic workers of Ireland. Kindly thank the benefactors once again. We are grateful to those people who help our new mission in Chad.

Now we are busy with harvest-thanksgiving masses in the parish. There are 45 villages to be visited. In every village we need to spend a least a day, listening to the people and praying with them. In many places the people are meeting a priest after an absence of 4 or 5 years. Great is their joy to have a mass. Since we are now here, communities up to 150 kms away are writing to us and asking us to come to them and open churches in their villages too. Many are not yet baptized and are wanting to become Christians. Training the catechists is the most important need. We can do it here in the main station. Three sessions of fifteen days each in the course of the year will be enough to start with.

What struck me most during my pastoral visits was the number of handicapped persons I saw. More than 7% of the Chadean population is reported to be handicapped. In some of my villages I found half of the people blind, while there are many lame, deaf and dumb in many of the villages. In one village, I found that many of the women of the village had huge thyroid lumps. They all want help, but what can we do?

Most of the children do not go to school. Actually, schools don't function. Hospitals and clinics are far away. In fact, for ordinary medical care we have to travel to Bebedja which is more than 200 km away from us. To see a dentist we would have to go N'djamena, which is 670 kms away. However, thank God, that apart from regular bouts of malaria, the three of us are well.

[For further information contact the SVD community in Chad at: ]


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2. Philippines - FIRST MANGYAN SSpS


In May the first Mangyan SSpS Sister professed her first vows.  The Mangyan community now contributes one of its own members as a missionary for the rest of the world. Madonna T. Virola, a journalist for the Inquirer News Service in Manila wrote the following account of the celebration.

Her people had never thought that one of them could be a Holy Spirit Sister. So it made community history when Doyet M. Luarca took her vows as the first Mangyan of the Hanunuo group to become a missionary nun.

More than 500 Mangyan people, friends, nuns and priests witnessed Luarca made her pledge on May 1 in a ceremony mixed with Mangyan rituals in a centuries-old church at the foot of Mount Halcon in Barangay Paitan, Naujan, Orientai Mindoro.

"It's the first time that the ceremony is conducted outside of our convent. We wanted Doyet's family, relatives, friends and the Mangyan community to participate," said Sr. Milagros Sandoval SSpS, provincial leader of the Servants of the Holy Spirit-Philippine North.


The Holy Spirit Sisters from Manila, even the older ones, came in full force, enthusiastic to welcome a Mangyan to their congregation. Bishop Warlito Cajandig, who was proud to wear his miter for the first time in 16 years, led a group of diocesan priests and novices, and missionaries of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). A truckful of Mangyan people arrived from Dangkalan, an islet in the southernmost part of Oriental Mindoro, in Bulalacao town. Their leaders, Ana Galicia and Badang Isidro, said they were proud that one of them was now part a congregation which has been serving them for the past 33 years.

"From being administered, the Mangyan is now a co-administrator," said Fr. Ewald Dinter SVD, director of the Mangyan Mission-Oriental Mindoro.

At first, Luarca's family objected to her choice of vocation. They had expected her, the fifth in a brood of nine children, to help them in household chores in Dangkalan. Luarca grew up like other Mangyan girls who loved to climb trees and mountains, unmindful of getting dirty. She obtained a degree of Bachelor of Science in Education at the Divine Word College in Calapan City, the provincial capital, and supported her younger siblings in school from a teaching job. Luarca came to know the Holy Spirit Sisters while working with them for seven years as a teacher in a Tugdaan school in Naujan.

"Marunong ang Diyos sa kagandahan (God knows of the beautiful)," 77-year-old Ulim, a community leader, remarked on his daughter's entering the mission.

During the ceremony, Luarca was brought to the altar like a bride by her father. Both were in full Mangyan attire. As part of a Mangyan ritual, a fire was lit before a procession entered the chapel to rid the surroundings of bad spirits. Earlier, a budyong (horn) was blown three times. After the homily, Ulim, Dinter and Sandoval gave their blessings and reminders. After they spoke, Luarca was presented the habit and veil. While she changed her attire, a gong was played for the dance of celebration and thanksgiving. During the offertory, fire, fruits, soil, a Mangyan dress, cross, the Constitution of the Holy Spirit sisters, bread and wine were brought to the altar. Luarca took her vows, signed the "kasulatan (documents)" and rendered a thanksgiving song.

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Though many international NGOs and the world media have moved on to other crises, the SVD and SSpS continue to offer service to those affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Fr. Arul James, two Holy Spirit Sisters and six scholastics from Bhopal are working in the tsunami affected villages of Colachal Vicariate. Once a week they all come together to share their experiences and plan for the future. Fr.James sent this recent report to the SVD-Hyderabad Province newsletter.

The overall activities among the tsunami affected people are now very low-key; most of the NGOs have left the scene. A lot of assistance has been reaching the people both in cash and kind and some leading NGOs continue to donate boats and nets as they become available from the boat making centres. Practically all the affected villages were adopted by one or more NGOS; some have left and others have been asked to leave. Such villages are now cared for by by CARITAS INDIA and other similar agencies.

In a number of villages, house-building is going on with the hope of completing the homes before the first anniversary of the tsunami in December. However, in many villages housing projects have not yet begun due to the non-availability of suitable land.

Initially we were moving all over the affected areas; now we limit our activities to about 23 villages, in and around Colachal Vicariate. Our activities are centered around visiting families and offering educational and vocational assistance to needy families and individuals in the area. We are also helping people with their medical needs and with the purchase of fishing equipment. Lately we have made a slight shift of emphasis from community to family. While visiting families we came across a number of affected people who were left out for various reasons. We are trying to reach out to the neglected, the voiceless, the silent suffering, the sick and widows. This is very demanding, involving several visits, verification, time and energy, together with frustration when faced by injustice and unreasonable demands by those who are well-off.

So far we have been able to provide school fees, uniforms and school bags for over 500 children; sponsored vocational training like computer courses and sewing; and provided partial help for professional studies like teacher-training, engineering, medical and nursing for over 200 students. By happy coincidence, on September 8th, the birthday of Mary and the foundation day of the SVD, we gave out twenty sets of fishing equipment (boats with engines and nets) for 60 families.

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Bro. Béla Lányi, the Mission Secretary of the SVD Hungarian Province, writes about two recent activities - a well-attended season of mission camps and the production of a new mission calendar.  Both activities highlight the world-church and collaboration across ethnic and national frontiers.

Record number of participants attended our missionary camps this year. For lack of space, we even had to turn down some applicants. The children’s camp in Zsámbék (20 miles from Budapest) accepted 250 children while the youth camp in Kőszeg (close to the Austrian border) hosted an additional 140 young people. There was a great family atmosphere at both camps. We tried to help the participants become more conscious of God's invitation to share in missionary service today.

What attracts them? – an elderly auntie from Köszeg wondered while watching a colorful group of young people in procession on the last evening of our youth camp. In today’s "life of comfort" some might think that religion is boring or old-fashioned and that mission is too risky. But these mission camps show a different way of looking at things. On this evening we marched from the huge parish church of Köszeg to the Mission House on the top of a hill. Behind the cross went Thomas, a blind boy with his seeing-eye dog, then others from many different parts of our country. There were also a good number of representatives of the Roma minority, young people "from good Catholic families" and residents from the state-owned orphanages. Young religious in habit, male and female, helped make the procession colorful.  Even more "color" was supplied by darker-colored Asians marching alongside Europeans. Participants of the camp and local believers, guests from the neigboring big town Szombathely and pilgrims from the more distanced Nagyatád also accompanied us. We had a piece of the Universal Church – on Hungarian soil...

Recently the Hungarian Province surprised our benefactors and friends with a new missionary wall calendar. It won their favor very quickly. We SVDs were even more pleased with the fact that this calender is a fruit of the growing cooperation with the neighboring SVD Slovakia Province. The real author of the calender is Fr. Martin Stefanec of the Slovak Province. He kindly put the layout and the photos of the calender at our disposal so that confreres of our province could contribute to the Hungarian version with local photos and some mediatations. Naturally, the calender includes the holidays and the liturgical calendar of Hungary, but we also thought of the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries. Since our mission house in Nitra, Slovakia  is a favorite place of pilgrimage for the local Hungarian minority, we were able to offer the calendar there during the main festival in August. Though the political relationships between the governments of Slovakia and Hungary are still rather cool, we Divine Word Missionaries of neighboring provinces can give a good example of warm fraternal cooperation. I experienced similar cooperation with our confreres in Rumania when I was invited to Traian to help in the preparations for the construction of a juniorate house for SVD-students. The welcome was very hearty. Thanks to all of you for your continued prayers and support!

[For further information contact Br. Bela at:]


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Items for the SVD/SSpS Mission Animation Bulletin Board can be sent to:

Tom Ascheman SVD

Mary John K. SSpS

SVD Generalate Mission Secretary

SSpS Generalate Mission Secretary

Divine Word Missionaries

Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters