Fr. John Czyzynski is in the Philippines for the next month. “Really,” he joked, “rumors that Pope Francis timed his trip with my own are exaggerated!” The Holy Father recently concluded a five-day visit to the country, arriving just before Fr. John.
Writing from Cagayan d’Oro, the recently retired novice master shared a bit about his visit:
“I came here to meet with the formators and to share my years of experience doing formation ministry. [Most of Fr. John’s ministry as an SCJ priest has been in formation, the preparation of men for religious life and priesthood.] Our time together has been good. At least it feels like some good stuff is happening.
“These formators are so young that I have a hard time distinguishing them from the students. I keep saying that I am speaking from an American’s point of view and I need to hear how what I say matches their experience of doing formation in a different culture.
“I got here Saturday and rested a bit and then had two Masses at a parish in ‘greater Manila’ (a parish close to our house there). It was a feast day. The Philippine people have a great devotion to ‘Santo Niño.’ They honor the child Jesus dressed in something similar to the Infant of Prague. After communion all the children come up to the front of the Church and are blessed. I started to choke up as I looked at all those little kids waiting to be blessed. The folks here have great respect for the clergy. People of all ages come up to priests and take the priest’s hand and touch it to their foreheads. It is a sign that they are asking to be blessed.
“I will be meeting with the students who are at different levels of formation and talking to them about our community and charism. I am amazed at how well they speak English.
“So far I have been able to eat everything that everyone else is eating. That’s it for now; I’m going to rest a bit before my next session with the formators.”