Farewell, Fr. Joel . . .from SSAP Parish Pastoral Council

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It seems only yesterday when you started out as Parish Priest and Spiritual Assistant. How time flies. On behalf of the Parish Pastoral Council, We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being our Guardian Angel these past years.

Thank you for opening doors for us, having the mutual desire to share God’s love. As Pastor, you have given us much more than thought and skill.

A compelling Pastor, yet one of us:
Never the boss, yet controlling the flow: kind, free and caring, groovy and wise.

Thank you for all that you have done. How much love resides therein! The pastoral care you have been can never be measured. Heads above the rest in mind and heart.

The Parish Pastoral Council officers and members with the parishioners share your dream of working together as a team.

Your openness to help endears you to us. On leaving your care, we must look back to grow. Upon these memories we lay our farewell to you.

God bless you more Fr. Joel. . .
We love you.

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Goodbye And Godspeed, Fr. Joel!

11

The ringing bells at the Parish Centre at 10.15am on Sunday, 6 April, heralded the end of classes; and the joyful shouts and laughter of children told their own story – the end of another school year at CCD (Continuing Catholic Development).

It was also the day of a very special time in CCD’s history, the last celebration of their usual year-end Thanksgiving Mass with Father Joel Sulse, OFM, presiding. With nostalgia and sadness and also with gladness and celebration, the CCD family – parents and students, friends and supporters and teachers and committee – filled all the bays in the Social Hall to bid farewell and best wishes to Father Joel, who would be leaving for Rome to pursue his studies for a doctorate in Divinity. For the past five years Father Joel was not only CCD’s Spiritual Advisor, but to many, he was also their Friend, their Confessor, their Mentor.

After his homily, Father Joel also bade farewell to his congregation. He said that the best memory of CCD with him was the certain and sure knowledge he has of the combined efforts of both the parents, and the teachers and the committee in ensuring that the children received the best formation and religious education available to them. He commended the teachers and the committee for their selfless and generous service to the Lord and to their community in implementing and sustaining one of the best CCD programs he is aware of; and his only request was that they continue.

In their tribute to Father Joel, CCD said that during his time and with his guidance and support, CCD has grown from strength to strength – its curriculum and work program were set and in place and the dramatic increase in the number of student population – not only in the returning students but incoming new students as well – were the most visible and tangible legacy from him.

Thank you and Goodbye Father Joel.

“CWL Will Always Remember You, Fr. Joel!,” by C. Quesada

10Last April 5th the Catholic Women’s League gave Fr. Joel Sulse a despedida luncheon. He will soon leave for Rome for further studies.

We find it hard to say good bye to someone like Fr. Joel because we have grown very fond of him. He always has a smile for those he meets. You will never see him angry. He is approachable and makes time for you

Our CWL scholars simply love him. They love his teachings because somehow Fr. Joel touches their lives. One scholar shared how abandoned he felt when his father left the family. Fr. Joel told him that he knows how he feels because the father of his nephews also left the family and he took the role of the father.

The scholars honored Fr. Joel with songs, dances, poems and cards, Truly Fr. Joel will always be remembered.7

Diane C. Pangilinan, a college scholar of Catholic Women’s League Santuario de San Antonio Parish, drew the image of Fr. Joel Sulse in behalf of all the CWL Scholars, as a tribute for Father Joel as he leaves the parish.

Diane says, “We believe that it is not enough to show how much Father Joel has shared himself among us. We are all very blessed to experience his love and compassion as our spiritual father.”
Well done, Diane!

GOODBYE AND GODSPEED FATHER JOEL! from CCD

11

The ringing bells at the Parish Centre at 10.15am on Sunday, 6 April, heralded the end of classes; and the joyful shouts and laughter of children told their own story – the end of another school year at CCD (Continuing Catholic Development).

It was also the day of a very special time in CCD’s history, the last celebration of their usual year-end Thanksgiving Mass with Father Joel Sulse, OFM, presiding. With nostalgia and sadness and also with gladness and celebration, the CCD family – parents and students, friends and supporters and teachers and committee – filled all the bays in the Social Hall to bid farewell and best wishes to Father Joel, who would be leaving for Rome to pursue his studies for a doctorate in Divinity. For the past five years Father Joel was not only CCD’s Spiritual Advisor, but to many, he was also their Friend, their Confessor, their Mentor.

After his homily, Father Joel also bade farewell to his congregation. He said that the best memory of CCD with him was the certain and sure knowledge he has of the combined efforts of both the parents, and the teachers and the committee in ensuring that the children received the best formation and religious education available to them. He commended the teachers and the committee for their selfless and generous service to the Lord and to their community in implementing and sustaining one of the best CCD programs he is aware of; and his only request was that they continue.

In their tribute to Father Joel, CCD said that during his time and with his guidance and support, CCD has grown from strength to strength – its curriculum and work program were set and in place and the dramatic increase in the number of student population – not only in the returning students but incoming new students as well – were the most visible and tangible legacy from him.

Thank you and Goodbye Father Joel.

A Special Message from Fr. Joel Sulse, OFM

“I am deeply honored and humbly touched by the support and love accorded to me by you, my beloved parishioners. Day and night I asked the Lord for the graces you need; and I am convinced that God heard my voice and supplications for all of you. You have shaped my life as a Franciscan religious. You have been my teacher like Jesus. It was all of you who developed the likes of being a pastor in me. For all these, I am grateful to all of you, to Sts. Anthony and Francis, and to the Lord forever. I will be staying in Rome for three years to pursue a course on Spiritual Theology focused on Franciscan Spirituality. I’m doing this in obedience to the mandate given me by the Minister Provincial and his Council through the recommendation of our Formation Council. Following the will of the Holy Spirit for me, I am pursuing this because it is needed by our congregation. May the Lord bless me and keep me. Please pray for me. My prayers remain for all of you. God bless you for all the generosity and support you have showered the parish during my stint. Please extend the same love and support to the Pastoral Team and to our Franciscan Province, in general. Till we meet again! Happy Easter to all!”

“Blindness and Power Play” by Fr. Joel Sulse, OFM

“You were born a sinner and now you teach us!”

This remark by the Pharisees to the man-born-blind is a very paralyzing and belittling statement. This is borne out of a certain bias against him since they believe that his physical disability is a product of a curse or a sin done by his ancestors. The blind man suffers all the more from this merciless cultural bias.

I have been ministering to a few thousands of inmates in my ten years as a priest. I became close to them that I have often seen the others going back and forth to the penitentiary even though their cases had already been dismissed. One of the compelling realities I have discovered which has really surprised me is the common remark from the inmates. I have known of the sad state that they have encountered outside. They have experienced the most difficult and most trying moments in convincing people and the company they apply for in seeking a job. One inmate said “Applying for a job is very difficult than having policemen catch us.” They said it was double agony on their part experiencing rejection from the society where they belong. The bias is so enormous that the rejection is like a two-edged sword slashing them to the bone. Even their closest friends and their families have developed the same kind of prejudice against them. Too sad to think but indeed it is a reality happening every minute of the day in their lives.

The experience of the man-bornblind and the inmates I have known are in no way different. They tell a story of power play at work in our society. The sad thing is that this power play of authority is mostly present in the human heart. It pierces through the brain of every human individual and dictates us to commit and develop a more biased culture amongst us. The reason why Jesus healed the man-born-blind is to shake the authority of the Pharisees regarding their on-going neglect in understanding the very essence of the Sabbath Law, and that is to give and nurture life and not to curtail one’s freedom to experience God’s mercy and compassion. Who is really in control of the situation? To which type of authority do we belong? What other related biases have we done?

Jesus in the gospel would like us to recognize that the spiritual blindnessof the Pharisees is a serious crime far greater than the physical blindness of a person. What is so inspiring in the story is the challenge asked by Jesus to the man-born-blind, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” And the response He got was “Lord, I believe!” And we were told that he worshiped Him. Indeed “Blessed are the lowly for they will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Superiority separated all God’s creation beyond human imaginings. It divided the world into countless groups. Differences were solidified that instead of experiencing the universality of the innateness in each one of us, it penetrated into the instincts of human and other living beings. It became a culture, and thus, the sufferings of the world are but products of this enormous mistake. Superiority has always been the problem. But a solution has been offered to us in the humanity of Christ himself…that though He is a God, He did not deem equality with God. Rather, He emptied himself and took the form of a slave. This is the humility of God shared to help humankind understand that there is another way to become great in His eyes.

Can we stop belittling others and stop subscribing to the offers of being superior to others? What about choosing the path of the man-bornblind? He believed and worshiped Jesus! Let us continue to move on to this meaningful Lenten journey.

Read More about Fr. Joel and his reflections.