Editor of Hawaii Catholic Herald: Father René Bisaillon, a retired Missionary of our Lady of La Salette in residence at St. Theresa Church in Kekaha, Kauai, was listed among those celebrating jubilee years of their religious professions and ordinations in the Hawaii Catholic Herald. Father “Biz,” as he is affectionately known, came to Hawaii in 1991 after more than 30 years of missionary work in the Philippines. This year marks his 60th year as a La Salette missionary. He wrote the following reflection of the occasion of this anniversary.


Untitled-1
Fr. René in his early years serving in the Philippines
I was born March 17, 1931, in Cohoes, N.Y., son of Mr. and Mrs. Leonel Bisaillon. I was ordained on April 25, 1959. On Sept. 19, I went to the Philippines. I soon found out that Filipinos had three great qualities: faith, love and happiness, though poor.

The people accepted me right away. And the Lord was with me those 32 years. The weather was hot, but I adjusted before long. I said Mass in the towns where I lived, and the near and far barrios by jeep, on foot, through muddy roads, etc.

In Gamu, Isabela, many people had tuberculosis. I drove many to the doctors, some recovered, some died. Almost miraculously I never caught that disease!

 

Untitled-2In time, my superiors sent me to Jones, Isabela. The people welcomed me with great joy. There, with a nun and two parishioners, I “dared” go to distant towns in the mountains. It was a bit dangerous at that time, as the N.P.A. (New Peoples Army) was hiding there. And again the Lord protected us. People were overjoyed because no priest had gone there in 10 years. With tears in their eyes, they prayed and thanked the Lord from all their heart!

I baptized some 30 babies after Mass. Then they fed us, laughing, joking. They then wanted to be married! OK, I said. But I’ll have to come back, give you instructions, etc. They offered to let us sleep there, but with the N.P.A. it was better to return home, and we would return later.

In town, many had malaria! People were bit by malaria mosquitoes! Again I brought countless people who had malaria to the doctors. Despite the three years I did that, I never got malaria. The hand of God was on me!

I am celebrating my sixtieth anniversary of religious profession (1953-2013). When I write a book on my work in the Philippines, I’ll title it: “Catholic Priest Becomes … a Daddy.” One night (in Gamu) a lady came banging on my door in the evening. I got my flashlight (no electricity at that time!). The woman told me a baby and his mother were dying! I quickly went to the bamboo house and the baby was crying non-stop and the mom was sick.

“No money,” they said! “I’ll pay the bills,” I said. Finally they agreed. At the hospital, the doctors said we can help the mother, but there is no hope for the baby. I came home with the baby and went to a friend doctor. Same thing, he said! Eleven-month old baby, has tuberculosis, third degree malnutrition and weighed 10 pounds.

Untitled-3
Fr. René Bisaillon, M.S. was
professed on Sept. 19,
1953 and ordained to
the priesthood on
April 25, 1959.
So I brought the baby home with me. We both cried for two months and then, the miracle happened. He drank bottle after bottle of milk. He recovered.

I sent him to college. I went on to celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony with him and his beloved. Now he and his wife have a five-year-old baby, and another coming in August. Praise and thank you, Lord.

P.S. On the scary side, I’ve had poisonous snakes in my bedroom at night (no lights!) and even was kidnapped one time. So I prayed, and still pray from my heart: “Thank you, Lord!”

(Republished with permission of the Hawaii Catholic Herald (Honolulu), May 10, 2013, Patrick Downes, author and editor)