Friars told: Going to peripheries is ‘higher martyrdom’
CEBU City – While not everyone will be granted the grace of martyrdom, Franciscan friars were exhorted to follow in the footsteps of St. Anthony of Padua, the group’s special patron, by going to the peripheries to proclaim the Gospel.
According to Fr. Alberto Baldo OFM, who gave the homily during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Custody at San Vicente Ferrer Parish on June 13, feast of Saint Anthony of Padua, God had a “different plan” for him despite his intense desires for marttrdom. For the priest, St. Anthony’s desire pointed towards “a higher call of martyrdom” – to live a simple life proclaiming the Gospel.
St. Anthony, the group’s special patron, is “a great saint”, said Baldo, who seriously wished to be a martyr, after having been inspired by the lives of the first 5 Franciscan martyrs who went to Morocco in 1219.
Missionaries to the peripheries
In his message, Fr. Arturo C. Daquilanea, OFM, Custos of the Saint Anthony of Padua Philippines, called on his brother friars to go to the peripheries because by simply going there and “living a difficult life is [already] martyrdom.”
He added to Baldo’s message, saying: “We do not have to die the martyr’s death.” Daquilanea stressed the significance of being “missionaries to the peripheries.”
In his homily, Baldo also encouraged Massgoers, saying: “Let us proclaim our identity” for “until now we have done nothing”, quoting St. Francis of Assisi.
Themed “Grateful at Ten: A Hopeful Fraternity in Dialogue Going to the Peripheries with the Joy of the Gospel,” the event was marked with a Eucharistic celebration officiated by Daquilanea and concelebrated by some 23 priests of the Custody coming from Ormoc, Samar, Negros, Davao, Lanao del Norte, and other areas in Visayas and Mindanao, and even a visiting priest from South Korea.
Fr. Antonio Maria Rosales, OFM gave a quick flashback of the Custody’s journey. He mentioned the first friars who arrived from Spain in 1578 that formed the ‘Provincia Apostolica de San Gregorio Magno de Filipinas’ in 1586. With the 1896 revolution, 250+ friars left the country while 20 to 30 friars remained.
Other Franciscan missions (Sta. Barbara, Assumption from Wisconsin, and Sant’ Antonio from Italy) arrived after World War II. The Vicariate of San Pedro Bautista was formed soon after Vatican II. The Vicariate became the Province of San Pedro Bautista in 1983, which gave birth to the autonomous Custody in 2007. CBCPNews