Archive for February, 2011

Most Filipinos are devout Catholics and are predisposed to random acts of kindness. Having been taught to keep our faith strong, we have the propensity to believe without questioning. We are drawn automatically towards any seemingly benevolent deeds and wholeheartedly give others the benefit of the doubt. While this may be an exceptional expression of faith and charity, it also lends us vulnerable to accept anything and all pertaining to religion, and from anyone who reaches out to us.

When the Kapitbahayan Housing Cooperative handed out their newly acquired government housing in December 2010, one of the housing recipients at Leumeah was a priest by the name of Father Raul del Prado. This immediately raised more questions than answers as priests would either be taking up residence in a presbytery, a parish or a convent. So why was a priest granted a housing commission house? As more facts came to light, like his employment, the doubts and reservations increased. Specifically why was the priest celebrating mass and giving the Eucharist if he was not in the normal priestly quarters. These were conflicting and baffling facts.

To preclude the Filipino Chaplains here in Sydney from any ramifications, we decided to go direct to the sources to obtain clarification and confirmation, if only to put the allegations to rest. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila and the Dioceses of Parramatta, Sydney and Wollongong, emphatically state that Father Raul has no ministry and no faculties here in Sydney and the rest of Australia.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila replied with this statement: “His name does not appear in the directory of priests of the Catholic Church in the Philippines. Please ask the Archdiocese of Sydney for his official status, if any. Also, to check if he is really a priest, please ask him to present his celebret (official ID).”

Father Raul’s diocese is in Alaminos, Pangasinan where he is recorded as “on leave”, this may explain why he is not listed in Manila. The Reverend Bishop Peralta of Alaminos Parish has not replied to our query.

The statement from the Executive Officer to the Chancellor, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney states: “I am of the understanding that Father del Prado does not have the faculties of the Archdiocese of Sydney. Without such Faculties Father del Prado would not have permission to say Mass in the Archdiocese?” This would mean that the masses he celebrated in Sizzling Filo on 24 December 2010 and 28 December 2010 in Auburn should not have happened. Likewise, the masses he celebrated on 30 January 2011. And these are only the ones we know of recently.

The positions of the Archdioceses of Parramatta and Wollongong were basically the same as that of Sydney: “Father Raul has neither ministry nor the faculties to perform the sacraments anywhere in Australia.” Prodding further, the Wollongong spokesperson said “He needs to get permission from his Bishop (Peralta) before he can be given permission here in Australia.”

The statement “once a priest always a priest” is not always true. There have been instances of priests who have been excommunicated, defrocked or who have simply walked away from their vocation. They may have been laicized as a personal choice or by order of their superiors. The masses celebrated by priests in these situations may be deemed illicit or invalid.

Perhaps compassion should be exercised to an unemployed priest who refuses to return to his own hometown parish for whatever his personal reasons may be. But he is no more deserving of the Faithful’s sympathy and help, as anyone who is unemployed, with a disability, or a single mother struggling to make a living.

Just like a doctor who cannot operate without a license to practice medicine; like a solicitor who is unable to practice law when disbarred; so too, is a priest unable to practice and celebrate mass without the appropriate permission and documentation from the Bishop of his area.
Sadly, the irrefutable fact remains that Father Raul has no faculties, no ministry, should not be saying mass and should not be receiving collections and/or donations in the name of the church. (www.filipin-oz.com)

MANILA, Philippines. February 23. 2011. – No Filipinos have been reported hurt in the earthquake that struck Christchurch in New Zealand Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a text message to abs-cbnNEWS.com, the DFA said that the Philippine Embassy in Wellington was able to contact Honorary Consul Zedric Peter Wait in Christchurch.

The Philippine Embassy in Wellington reported to the DFA that it was able to contact the Philippine Honorary COnsul in Christchurch, Zedric Peter Wait.

“Consul Wait stated that there are no known Filipino casualties so far,” the DFA said.

The DFA added that Wait and his staff are coordinating with members of the Filipino community in the area.

As of the latest, power is still down and telephone lines are sporadic.

There are 2000 Filipinos in Christchurch and in the vicinity, said the DFA. The embassy and consulate are monitoring developments in the area.

Reuters reported that the 6.3 magnitude quake struck New Zealand’s second-biggest city of Christchurch on Tuesday. The earthquake toppled buildings and claimed lives. Many people were also reportedly trapped beneath rubbles.

The Filipino Student Society of UNSW is having their 2011 Start of the Year Party on March 4 at FLOW Nightclub (680 George St). The program starts at 8pm with an after party at 10. We want you there!! For more information on how to book tickets, please call KATYA at 0420-648-453 or hit us up on our Facebook page – Filipino Student Society of UNSW (FSSU)!

I have prevented myself from writing about this topic many times before but people have been asking about this Filipino priest. I first heard about him some 15 years ago when he used to say mass for the El Shaddai flock. Somehow, his relationship with the El Shaddai Chapter in Australia ceased and I thought he had gone back to the Philippines.

All of a sudden, his name resurfaced but this time it was full of controversy. He was rumoured to be saying mass but without any authority from any Catholic bishop. It has been established that he is not assigned to any parish. Being a Diocesan, he does not belong to any religious congregation and that seems to be where the problem lies. He is completely on his own and must support himself to make both ends meet.

It seems that he is struggling to make a living, to make some money for his next meal. He was reported to have worked in a flower shop somewhere in Campbelltown. Another report indicates that he is selling phone cards. Maybe there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe he deserves compassion and understanding rather than criticism.

Of course there is the evangelical aspect but for anyone to be saying mass clandestinely and without any authority is something else. But maybe he is not really saying mass. His supporters claim that he was merely conducting a blessing. However, there were reports that he celebrated mass at Sizzling Filo Restaurant on December 24 and again on December 28, 2010 January 8 in Auburn and January 30, 2011 at 11am in Leumeah NSW.

Whenever mass is celebrated, the first collection should normally go to the diocese and the second collection is kept by the parish. But this priest reports to no diocese in Australia and has no assigned parish.

To give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he sends the first collection to his diocese in the Philippines. If this is the case, why then doesn’t the bishop in his diocese give him the necessary religious faculty to legitimize the exercise of his priesthood in Australia? For one thing, being a diocesan, this priest did not have to take the vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience. Therefore, he did not have to return to the Philippines even if the bishop wanted him back.

Australian Citizenship

Having stayed in NSW for at least 15 years, he must have already acquired Australian citizenship for which he should be entitled to receive payments from Centrelink. Everybody knows that fortnightly payments from the Commonwealth are hardly sufficient to cover basic necessities. It is probably for that reason why he must find other sources of income.

There are many Catholics in Australia who sympathize with him. He has in fact my compassion but I am only compelled to write this piece because of the many who also question his activities. I can only pray that the Good Lord show him the right path.

(Any comment or reaction to this editorial is welcome and may be posted on the following website www.philippinesentinel.org or sent directly to dinocres2@hotmail.com )

Jan. 13, 2011. Blacktown. While walking the streets of Blacktown with Transport Minister John Robertson, New South Wales Premier Kristina Keanelly bumped into Philippine Sentinel Editor Dino Crescini who immediately gave them a copy of the latest issue of the newspaper.

Keanelly and Robertson are on the campaign trail for the state elections scheduled on March 29, 2011.