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All-action priest to be new Oblates leader
Incoming Oblates head has had an exciting careerFather Lauro delos Santos De Guia (left)
- Amiel Mark Cagayan, Cotabato City
- September 22, 2011
Father Lauro de los Santos De Guia will take over from Father Ramon Maria Bernabe, who has held the post since 2005, on October 11. The search by the OMI Superior General council in Rome was a lengthy one, lasting almost a year.
The OMI is the seventh largest religious congregation of men in the world, with a reputation for missionary work in arduous regions; Pope Pius XI named them â€śSpecialists in the Most Difficult Missions of the Church.â€ť
Accordingly, Father De Guiaâ€™s impressive CV includes a number of sizeable challenges.Â At the time of the OMI announcement on Sunday, the man who is fondly called â€śFather Docâ€ť was in his third year as parish priest of Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.
He said he was prepared to live a â€śvery simpleâ€ť life when he first accepted the difficult mission in Jolo vicariate, where only about one percent of the 26,000 people are Catholics. Most of the rest are Muslims.
The 55 year-old from Bulacan joined the Oblates in 1986, three years after finishing his doctorate in medicine.
He said he gave up his career in medicine because â€śmy heart belongs to the poor. My passion is working for them so they know God loves them so much.â€ť
After his ordination in 1992, Father De Guia was sent to Datu Piang parish in Maguindanao, at the height of Moro rebellion.
His next assignments took him to high-risk areas in North Cotabato, and other parts of Maguindanao. In Bongao, his confrere Father Rey Roda was shot dead when resisting a kidnap attempt.
Even that incident in 2009 failed to dampen the Oblatesâ€™ enthusiasm to serve the people of Tawi-tawi. And despite its ordeals and deprivations, Father De Guia has derived great satisfaction from his chosen path.
â€śMy being a doctor and priest in difficult and remote OMI missions has served a purpose,â€ť he said,Â â€śbecause I can answer the spiritual, health and medical needs of people who have not seen a doctor. This has been very fulfilling.â€ť