As noted previously, Fr. Johnny Klingler, SCJ, is in the Philippines, teaching English through the end of May. The following is his latest update:
Last week the community of Cagayan de Oro hosted a five-day workshop for the Dehonian Youth Missionaries. This is a group of young people who live the charism of our founder. It is made up of young college age girls, boys and some SCJ seminarians. I was happy to be able to be the principal celebrant at one of their liturgies. The last evening they had a wonderful social which included dancing and an original comedy. There was so much laughter and even though I did not understand a word I enjoyed being with them. The closing Mass took place on Saturday morning. The young people received their commission to mission one week in three of the SCJ chapels in the mountains on the outskirts of Cagayan de Oro. I, along with the SCJs and the Youth Missioners, received tee shirts upon which was printed their logo.
Sunday morning, May 20th, I celebrated the community mass. It was special for me as it was the 45th anniversary of my ordination. I thanked our Lord for the gifts and blessings of so many years. In the afternoon I went with Fr. Bene to visit the Dehonian Missionaries in the three chapels of Manggalay, Rest House and Vgyaban. When we arrived the young missionaries were conducting May devotions with the small children from the areas.
There are 27 chapels in mountains of Dansolihon, Cagayan de Oro City and one main chapel. The SCJs who are responsible for the Church in Dansolihon try to visit them once a month. They give the sacraments and meet with the chapel lay leaders. Many of the chapels are in areas far from each other and are difficult to reach by vehicle. The people are very poor. Many families live in very small houses with five to seven children. The people have little education and in some communities their children have to walk several kilometers every day to neighboring villages to go to school. The ministry is difficult. It is a big challenge that the SCJs have accepted.
We also visited the SCJ – Higaonon Scholar Project which is a Social Scholarship Project for Higaonon high school students. The native Higaonon live far in the mountains and they are extremely poor. They receive little good education. In 2004 the SCJs began providing a dormitory living situation for high school age girls and boys that was close to a good school. Here they are in a safe place and cared for. Today there are now about 37 students, both boys and girls. Most of them are from poor families. The SCJ Philippine Region supports them in almost all of their needs for study. They provide for their tuition, school needs, uniforms and health care when needed. The parents are responsible for their food needs. Occasionally they cannot give enough food good for one week. A new boarding home was completed last September.
Since its beginning, 20 students have graduated. Some of them now have jobs and some of them continue their studies in colleges and as working students; two of them are in formation to become nuns and two are our seminarians.
I am now in my sixth and final week of teaching. We continue to be very involved in building vocabulary and good pronunciation.