In Memory of Fr. Hugh Zurat, OFM

On the occasion of Fr. Hugh’s birthday (Oct. 19) and 40th day of his death, we are publishing this special issue to give due recognition to his contributions in laying a solid foundation for our parish community.

While I know that Fr. Hugh will personally protest this idea of honoring what he has done for our parish and will simply argue that he only did what he was expected to do as a faithful servant of our Lord Jesus Christ (Lk. 17:10) and son of St. Francis of Assisi, this is also an occasion for us to reminisce and refresh our memories, reflect on our ongoing activities and programs and review our future pastoral endeavors that facilitate our community’s steady growth and development.

On a personal note, Fr. Hugh’s first mission station in the Philippines was in Sacred Heart Parish, San Isidro N. Samar. Our family used to serve this parish and my usual assignment was to bring our youth group to clean the church at least once a month until the time I entered OLAS. Of course he was there before I was born. Fr. Hugh was my college professor at Our Lady of the Angels Seminary. Looking back, his teaching pedagogy influenced my ability to be attentive in classroom discussions and form good study habits – weekly quizzes were regular. When I was taking up my graduate studies at the Catholic Theological Union and Loyola University in Chicago, IL, he helped me financially by offering mass intentions for my books and other personal needs because he knew that our provincial fraternity could not afford to support me. He laughed out loud when I told him that I applied to work as a dog walker in order to get extra financial support for my schooling. Once in a while he brought me to a Filipino restaurant for lunch. He would always open our conversation in Waray, my mother tongue.

In all of those personal encounters, Fr. Hugh exemplified the essence of relational connectivity. The next time I visit my relatives and friends in the US, I will certainly miss our fraternal luncheon get together.

“Pray for all of us always and hope to see you at home that God prepared for us. Thank you for your fraternal care. May the good Lord grant you eternal peace!”

An Imo Kablas na Bug-to,

Fr. Reu Jose C. Galoy, OFM

As published in the October 16 issue of the Parish Bulletin.



One of the most important questions we can ever ask ourselves is, “Does life have meaning over and above our own designs?” Does life have purpose beyond our making? How we answer this question has significant ramifications for our happiness and peace of mind. Is there a divine blueprint for how life unfolds or are we just random players in a blind universe where everything happens by chance?

Micah is clearly a prophet of the grand design. He announces that God has great plans for the little town of Bethlehem that will have wondrous implications even “to the ends of the earth.” The reading from Hebrews assumes that God has great designs for the world in Jesus Christ and encourages our participation in those designs by submission to God’s will. Elizabeth, in the reading from Luke, proclaims Mary as “blessed” because of her trust in the fulfilment of God’s plans for her.

Believing in a “grand design” or trusting in “the big picture” is not always easy to do. There are times when we are in love, or when everything is going our way, and we feel that all’s well in God’s world. We may look up into the clear skies on a romantic evening and the dazzle of stars reinforces our belief that, “there must be something behind all this.” But there are other times when this belief is severely challenged. Infants die of genetic disorders; children perish in floods or from famine. Innocent bystanders are gunned down by a madman, and calamities befall the most underserving. We get sick for no reason, lose a job without cause, watch a loved one pine away and die in the prime of life. Life can become so filled up with confusion and problems that all we see is chaos.

And yet we are assured by the readings today that there is a grand design. The problem is we don’t want to accept “the big picture” in its entirety. We don’t want to believe that God’s will embraces the bad with the good, that everything that happens is part of God’s design, whether we understand how that can be or not. If we accept God’s will, however, we need to accept it wholly, without breaking it into pieces according to our particular demands and expectations. We gain great peace of mind when we embrace the belief that there is a divine blueprint for the universe that is good, loving, true, and perfect. Effective living is empowered by a belief that we are part of a “big picture,” that there is a purpose and fulfilment for each of us in the grand scheme of things. With Mary we are “blessed” in our trust of the fulfilment. Our joy is increased the more we accept God’s will in its fullness. This means that we accept both the sweet and the sour of life as part of God’s plan, that even tragedy has its purpose even when it is not presently clear to us what that purpose might be.

As Christmas approaches and we celebrate God’s grand design unfolding in the birth of Jesus, trust that God has a grand design for your life too. God willed for you to be, and your life has a special part to play in God’s plan. Pray, as did Christ, “Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God.” Embrace God’s will as fully as you can. Say to yourself often: “Everything in my life has meaning.” Everything! You are never a “victim,” and nothing happens to you purely by chance. Accept your sorrows as well as your joys, your suffering as well as your successes, as all part of God’s will. Your life continues to unfold as a magnificent with God as Director.

(Kent, Micheal, R. Bringing the Word to Life. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publication.)

About Fr. Reu and his other Reflections…..

SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time by Fr. Reu Jose C. Galoy, OFM

Our Gospel reading this Sunday has two major divisions. Jesus provides warning on the first part and lessons on the second part. Let me share with you William Barclay’s thoughts and reflection as we try to collectively make the message of the Gospel alive in the midst of our community.

A warning against:

1. It warns against the desire for prominence. It is still true that a person accepts office in the church because he/she thinks he/she earns it, rather than because he/she desires to render selfless service to the house of the people of God. Many may still regard office in the church as a privilege rather than a responsibility and ministry.

2. It warns against the desire for deference. Almost everyone likes to be treated with respect. And yet a basic fact of Christianity is that it ought to make a person wish to obliterate self than to exalt it.

3. It warns against the attempt to make a traffic religion. It is possible to use religious connection for self-gain and self-advancement. But this is a warning to all who are in the church for what they can get out of it and not for what they can put into it.

A lesson to learn in giving:

1. Real giving must be sacrificial. The amount of the gift never matters so much as its cost to the giver, not the size of the gift, but the sacrifice. Real generosity gives until it hurts. For many of us it is a real question if ever our giving to God’s work is any sacrifice at all. Few people will do without their pleasures to give a little more to the work of God. It may well be a sign of the decadence of the church and the failure of our Christianity that gifts have to be coaxed out of church people, and that often they will not give at all unless they get something back in the way of entertainment or of goods. There can be few of us who read this story without shame.

2. Real Giving has a certain recklessness in it. The woman might have kept one coin. It would not have been much but it would have been something, yet she gave everything she had. There is a great symbolic truth here. It is our tragedy that there is so often some part of our lives, some part of our activities, some part of ourselves which we do not give to Christ. Somehow there is nearly always something we hold back. We rarely make the final sacrifice and the final surrender.

3. It is a strange and lovely thing that the person whom the New Testament and Jesus hand down to history as a pattern of generosity was a person who gave a gift of half a farthing or the least possible amount. We may feel that we have not much in the way of material gifts or personal gifts to Christ, but, if we put all that we have and are at his disposal, he can do things with it and with us that are beyond our imaginings.

About Fr. RJ and his other reflections…..


(Pope Francis has urged the faithful to look beyond material needs and turn to Jesus who is “the bread of life.” The Pope’s words came as he addressed the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus.)

Taking his cue from the Gospel reading which tells of the crowd that went looking for Jesus, not because they saw the signs but because they had eaten the loaves of bread and were filled, Pope Francis pointed out that those people gave more value to the bread than to He who gave them the bread.

He explained that before this spiritual blindness, Jesus highlights the need to look beyond the gift and discover the giver. God himself – the Pope said – is the gift and is also the giver.

Jesus invites us – the Pope continued – to be open to a perspective which is not only that of daily preoccupation and material needs; Jesus speaks to us of a different kind of food, food which is not corruptible and that we must search for and welcome into our lives.

He exhorts us not to work for food that perishes but “for the food that endures for eternal life which the Son of Man will give us,” he said.

With these words – Pope Francis continued – He wants us to understand that beyond a physical hunger, man has a different kind of hunger – “we all have this hunger” – a more important kind of hunger that cannot be satisfied with ordinary food.

“It is the hunger for life – the hunger for eternity – that only He can satisfy because He is the bread of life,” he said.

And pointing out that the true meaning of our earthly existence is to be found at the end, in eternity, Pope Francis said that to be open to meeting Jesus every day of our lives will illuminate our lives and give meaning to small gifts, sufferings and preoccupations.

And quoting from the Gospel of John, the Pope said “Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

“This – he said – refers to the Eucharist, the greatest gift that fulfills body and soul.”

To meet and to welcome Jesus, “the bread of life” – Pope Francis concluded – gives meaning and hope to our lives that are sometimes tortuous; but this “bread of life” – he said – also gives us the duty to satisfy the spiritual and material needs of our brothers.

To do this – he said- we must announce the Gospel everywhere, and with the witness of a fraternal attitude of solidarity towards our neighbor, we can make Christ and his love present amongst men.

About Fr. Reu and his other reflections…..

A Samar-itans call to Mission by Hannah G. Roa

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The following write up describes Hannah’s experience working on the Housing project in San Antonio, Basey, Samar.Hannah is a member of the SYA or Single Young Adults ministry and the LeCom ministry. The project is a beneficiary of FrancisFest 2015. – Ed.

Living in the 4 walls of a concrete jungle and trying to survive in this fast paced life gets a toll on you after a while… You’d dream of your next beach destination to just unwind and relax or your next out of the country trip for a solo adventure. I so definitely wanted to get out of the city so bad and just not think of surviving in it even for just a little while. I wanted to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Killing time I checked my Facebook app and saw a post on our SYA Facebook page about helping in building homes of those that have lost theirs and loved ones in the storm called Yolanda, in Samar. As I was reading the post I wanted to jump to the chance to do so. I was hesitant because I didn’t know if I could be able to travel a 20- hour bus ride all the way to the site with strangers I didn’t know and cross seas from one island to the next on ferries. Yes the trip would be free of charge if I did join on the bus but the long hours sitting would be quite a challenge. I’ve already experienced a 10-hour bus ride from New York, NY to Pittsburgh, PA and I know the feeling of your derrière being numb as well as your legs from sitting down the whole time. I also wanted to be sure with whom I would be traveling with. So I didn’t grab the chance when I wanted to, just yet.

As part of the current team in SYA, a team member of mine announced in our Viber chat group about helping on Samar’s rebuild, about the post on our FB page. This time we didn’t have to travel with the bus and we could actually travel via plane and have shorter workdays. So I grabbed the chance then and was thrilled that there was an opportunity to go for shorter days than a 10-day build and not travel on the bus. I was excited to be able to give my time and be physically able to help in building the homes of those who have lost theirs in the storm. I wanted so much to do this ‘cause I know I won’t be able to give any financial aid. This was my way of serving for the church of SSAP, for SYA and for myself to give to those less unfortunate.

When the day came that 6 other SYAers and I were to travel to Tacloban we were all nervous because we don’t know what to expect; our sleeping arrangements, the mosquitos, the bugs, every city slicker’s nightmare. Though we were excited as well. This was our first trip to go help build homes and didn’t know a thing about building, but we were all pumped and thrilled to be part of this adventure and service for the people of Samar.

I thought of this trip to be my charity work cause I am not as active with the other ministries of the church than I should be. I just can’t find myself wanting to be active in them unlike being a part of this opportunity. This was to me a calling to serve, to be able to do the work of the Lord and be part of God’s army in rebuilding lives. This I was capable of doing.

As soon as we arrived at the airport of Tacloban, native dancers were there to greet us passengers. What a sight to see with all their smiling faces and energetic dancing. It didn’t feel like a place that has gone thru devastation. We made our way to one of our SYAers’ home near the airport, who which was part of the organization committee. We were all welcomed with open arms by her family and of course with a hearty breakfast to start the day. Then we headed off to the pier to catch a 15-min boat ride to San Antonio, Basey, Samar. As soon as we docked there was Fr. Reu to welcome us to the Barangay and show us where we would be spending our nights at, in the Parish Center of San Antonio.

We settled in nicely and we even got surprised that we would actually be having the air-conditioned office as our sleeping quarters. What a blessing we all thought, ‘cause this whole time we were prepping ourselves that we would be sleeping in quarters where only an electric fan would be given to us or even none, just the breeze of the province and mosquito nets as refuge from mosquitos. We didn’t expect to be sleeping in an air-conditioned area. So when we heard A/C we were all so happy knowing that after a tiring day at the work site we would be coming home to this. Sleeping on the floor we didn’t mind anymore.

Bags were all positioned neatly, we prepared and got into gear and set out to head to the site. It was a nice leisure walk from the parish, less than a kilometer. Lunch was served and we started to help out in steel work together with the other Franciscan brothers. Work wasn’t that bad because we had great company, good conversations, and delicious food to nourish us. All we did was laugh a lot, bonded with the Franciscan brothers also with the mothers and lolas who gave their time preparing our food every single day; from breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner they were there to keep us healthy☺we were well fed.

For 3 days we did manual labor: steel work, digging, transporting hollow blocks from the manufacturing station up towards the houses and tree planting. But we never forgot to say morning masses before we started our days. Our days would start at 630am for mass and would end at 6pm to clean up then dinner at 7pm onwards. Come the 3rdday our bodies were tired since we weren’t used to this kind of physical work. But the tiredness was worth every pain especially knowing that you are doing this for the families that lost a lot and even everything. Just seeing the smiles on their faces and hearing their ever non-stop “Thank you’s” was just so heart warming. Mobile reception there was sparse that I forgot about the city. Not having signal helped because I was so involved in the building and didn’t mind any more if I got a message or not.

Conversations were also being shared rather than everyone being busy checking out the news on their mobiles. I felt connected.

On the 4th day, Sunday, there was a medical mission planned and it was our last day before we, SYAers headed back to Tacloban and the friars and brothers back on the road to Manila. It was sad because all the mothers and lolas that had prepared our food were teary eyed to see us leave. It was also sad to know that we were going back to civilization and to the concrete jungle we call Manila. We all felt a little bit of separation anxiety (sepanx) leaving cause it meant that we wouldn’t be waking up early in the morning to go to the site to hear mass and work and laugh around and help out. Even if it was a short time of service work it was such meaningful service that we were doing and it meant so much to each and every one of us that it was sad to leave.

Back in Manila I’d be thinking and reflecting on what had happened during this charity work that I did. As Fr. Reu asked us, what was a striking memory for you; I would say that during the whole experience we all felt that everything was striking and memorable ‘cause everything was a first for all of us. But as we were reminiscing on what we did during the whole experience one thing came to mind that was very meaningful to me. It was when we had our sharings with the beneficiary families. We were all divided into groups so that time would be more efficient. There were stories told that some of them were all safe and intact as a family and some were devastating ones with one or two or three that had died during the storm. Some were miraculous stories too.

Hearing each and everyone’s experiences in my group kept me thinking that they are all so strong and that their faith has grown so much. Devastating news like this would make me think how can I move on? I’d probably even question the Lord why it happened. I would wonder how they can just look at life and be positive about it. No grudges on what happened to them. No ill feelings towards the Lord on the devastation that haunts them even until this very day. Where do they get this optimistic view in life? How can they just move on without being a bit negative about the experience?
There was one member in my group that even before she started sharing her story she started crying. She explained herself to the others in Waray, in which I could not understand. I could only figure out the context of what her explanation was about her crying and what I got from it was it’s either been a while or it was the first time she ever spoke about her experience. It made me tear up cause she was so brave to even go forward and share what had happened to her even if it was hard to do so. She lost her mom, her sister and another member of her family to Yolanda but if you see her now she seems happy and optimistic. Ready to take on the world.

There was also a mother who shared about their arduous incident on how she almost lost her child. Her child’s lips were already blue because of being swept by the water but she never let go of her in her arms and she kept on telling her daughter not to give up. Breath. Breath. She survived but had such a traumatic experience that she does not want to be left alone at home and when the rains start she would murmur to her mother “anjan ulit ang tubig” in their native tongue. How sad to hear these stories and feeling helpless not to be able to do something for them. What uplifts me though is the fact that all of them have been thanking God for keeping them alive and blessing them with people like us that helped them through moving on. In hearing them speak about what they went through and seeing how they are now, optimistic and happy, makes me realize that life is just simple if you make it to be and that if you have faith anything is possible in the Lord.

From hearing mass in the mornings, working the whole day, to bondings after dinner I would say this was a fun and meaningful experience for me. I’ve made friends, learned from the locals about life and faith, solidified my friendships with my co-SYAers that were there with me during this Franciscan Solidarity Camp and I realized that, as Jolly [Gomez] said it best (rephrased a bit), when you work with a community that works together the task is easier than doing it alone. So for those that seem to see the world as being difficult or challenging remember to ask for help from your community or faith family, ‘cause someone and maybe even everyone will definitely give a helping hand. We are all called to mission, whether to be disciples to spread the word of the Lord or to be carpenters to use our hands and help build lives. This is our mission.

Another mission trip to Samar will be done at the end of August. This project is a beneficiary of FrancisFest 2015. Your donations and support through FrancisFest will help raise more funds to finish the houses. – ed.

The Basey Samar Housing Project is one of the beneficiaries of 2015 Francisfest. Pls. support Francisfest 2015, featuring world renowned Filipina pianist, Cecile B. Licad, on October 2, Friday at 7PM in the Main Church.


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The friars of the Franciscan Province of San Pedro Bautista, Philippines hosted a thanksgiving mass and testimonial dinner last June 22, 2015 at the Santuario de San Antonio parish. The occasion installed Fr. Cielito R. Almazan, OFM as the new Minister Provincial and Fr. Reu Jose C. Galoy, OFM (our very own parish priest) as the new Vicar Provincial of the OFM province of San Pedro Bautista. The event was also a despedida for Fr. Lino Gregorio V. Redoblado, OFM or Fr. Greg as we know him. Fr. Greg was elected the new General Definitor for Asia, Australia and Oceania.