Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Priests sought for terrorist lair in Mindanao
Bishop makes plea for help in restive province
Bishop Martin Jumoad and Fr. Elmer Cantular celebrate Mass together . (Photo by Vincent Go)
- Joe Torres, Basilan
- July 16, 2013
The Catholic bishop of Basilan in the southern Philippines is calling for gutsy priests as volunteers to work in the island province which has been torn by violence for years.
Only 16 priests serve in the prelature's 10 parishes, according to Bishop Martin Jumoad. "They're not enough, especially because of the challenges and threats to the lives of the clergy," he said.
Basilan is a rugged, jungle-clad island in Mindanao and a known stronghold of the al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group that has been blamed for terror attacks in the country and the kidnapping of foreign nationals.
The island has been dubbed by the US military as its "second front" in the war against terror, although according to Jumoad, the province has been "relatively peaceful" in recent months.
All priests in the province have to be constantly escorted by soldiers to avoid abductions and assassinations. Several members of the clergy have been kidnapped and even killed in the past.
The prelate admitted that situation is "not stable," despite the recent peace deal signed by the government and rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
But still, Jumoad is against having bodyguards. "If the ordinary people have no security in terms of armed security men, it is not good for priests and bishops to have armed men around them."
Missionary priest Elmer Cantular, of Tumahubong village in Sumisip town, said in jest: "One benefit of being a priest in Basilan is that your life will not be boring."
The Filipino government has been pressured to bring an end to the violence in Mindanao, where an insurgency has continued over decades. A recent wealth-sharing deal between the government and the MILF is considered a major step along the path to peace.