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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org )