Four days before the start of the Rosa Mystica Mission, the health authorities in the Philippines requested the cancellation of the spiritual and medical aid mission that was to take place in the city of Butuan. Fearing an outbreak of coronavirus, they wanted to avoid too high a concentration of patients.
Due to the imminent arrival of the volunteers (some of them were already on site), alternatives had to be found very quickly. But this kind of situation does not scare Filipinos: they are used to having to respond to extreme emergencies!
In order to avoid overcrowding, the Mission has to be itinerant and far away from the major urban centres.
Encountering the Higaonon tribe
On the first day, Monday, 17 February 2020, the village of Minalwang - a three-hour drive from Butuan, 35 km from the coastal town of Gingoog - will be the Mission's departure base. The volunteers, transported in military trucks (because the Philippine army will be our partner and logistic support during the whole week) will go down, through muddy and chaotic tracks, in the heart of the tropical mountains, to meet the Higaonon tribe.
This region until 2019 was still subject to the exactions of the NPA (New People's Army, linked to the Communist Party of the Philippines). Particularly active in the years 2018-2019, this revolutionary army forcibly recruited its guerrillas from among the villagers and demanded that they pay a revolutionary tax. Thanks to the determination of Rick Mansangkagan, "captain" of the village, and to his very wise social policy (foundation of 5 primary schools, construction of a municipal courtyard under which our mission will take place on the second day, opening of two dispensaries, development of the road network), a very effective pacification work was set up. Last year, 50 guerrillas surrendered their weapons, with the promise of their lives being saved and government assistance for their reintegration. The choice of this location for our mission is not unrelated to this policy.
The joy of seeing priests, nuns, catechists and volunteers...
The inhabitants assure us that their particularly firm resistance can be explained by the Catholic faith they recently received from a foreign missionary, Father Pancratz, who began in 1975 to evangelize these remote valleys, which had long been reached by the Protestant missions. The fruits of his work are still being felt as our village "captain" sincerely expressed his joy at seeing the arrival of priests and nuns in habit, catechists of the Legion of Mary, and all these volunteers animated by the same apostolic zeal as that which animates him himself. He thus forms catechism groups for young people and adults wherever he can, and leads them to devotion to Our Lady through the Rosary and meditation on the mysteries of Our Lord's Passion.
On this second day of mission, Tuesday, February 18, he publicly received the scapular and the miraculous medal... We are far from our "French-style laicity"! He truly hopes that this mission, beyond the material support given to his work of pacification, will also be a spiritual lever for his people.
Donation by check payable to ACIM: ACIM - 2, route d'Equihen - F-62360 Saint-Etienne-au-Mont;
On the slide show you can see:
Photo 1. Opening procession of the mission. Our Lady takes possession of the terrible jungle.
Photo 2. Consecration of the Mission with Father Tim Pfeiffer (FSSPX), prior of Davao (Philippines), Father Jacques Péron (FSSPX) from France, Doctors Ian Sokolar from Croatia, Philippe Ledoux and Philippe de Geofroy from France.
Photo 3. Welcome speech of the "captain" of the village of Minalwang.
Photo 4. Small mountain people.
Photo 5. First day of mission in a mountain village one hour drive from Minalwang, on impassable tracks, without all-terrain vehicle. It rained heavily all day long...
Photo 6. Rain of graces!
Photo 7. Soldiers prepare the volunteers' lunch and a soup kitchen for all the patients who will have to wait until nightfall to follow the treatment route.
Photo 8. Meal served in banana peels, in the style of their home!
Photo 9. O Our Lady, take possession of these desolate lands!
Photo 10. Curtain of rain.
Photo 11. Small courtyard for consultations.
Photo 12: Imposition of the scapular. In these inaccessible corners of the mountains, we meet few Catholics. The members of these tribes claim to belong to indeterminate Protestant sects, sometimes even to paganism.
Photo 13. "Let the little children come to me".
Photo 14 and 15. Second day of mission in Minalwang. Rick Mansangkagan, "captain" of the village, receives the scapular under the municipal courtyard. Followed by the schoolgirls.