Remembering is a mental exercise but in the later stages of life, it is can be more challenging. Remembering, however, is not simply recalling past experiences. It can become a movement of the heart, a journey of the soul. For we do not only ask the “what’s, “when’s”, and “how’s” of life but also seek the “why’s”.
The great philosopher Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Some agree that all that has happened in the past – no matter how seemingly insignificant, good or bad, happy or sad – has happened for a reason. Everything has a meaning and purpose.
This year we La Salettes gathered in Australia not only because we wanted to commemorate the Philippines’ Independence Day (June 12) but also to celebrate our decade of La Salette presence in Armidale. Our celebrations drew us to reflect and see the hand of God working in all the events of our life and ministry in this vast and beautiful land with its warm and energetic people. We realize that nothing has ever happened on our journey without God’s knowledge of them.
Our coming together became a moving spiritual exercise when we looked at the events of the past ten years within the context of our faith. Those moments when we wept, laughed, learned, grew, smiled, felt frustrated or sad – all were “God moments”. We just have to be able to see them with the eyes of God.
A Brief Historical Overview
In 1996 Bishop Kevin Manning, then Bishop of Armidale, invited the Philippine Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette to help in the ministry in his Diocese of Armidale. Bishop Luc Matthys reiterated the invitation when he succeeded Bishop Manning as the Bishop of Armidale. It would not be until January 2003, with the election of our new Provincial Superior, that the Ina ng Pag-asa Province would take the positive step and accept the invitation of Bishop Matthys to send La Salette Missionaries to minister in the Diocese of Armidale.
In May 2003, Bishop Matthys approved the assignment of Fr. Efren L. Musngi, M.S., to minister in the Diocese and began the process of securing his entry visa for Australia.
Fr. Musngi finally set foot on Australian soil for the first time on October 1, 2003, at 1:45PM and was welcomed by Bishop Luc Matthys and Msgr. Ted Wilkes.
Two other La Salette Missionaries followed shortly in the person of Fr. Rosanno Soriano, M.S., and Fr. Vimencio Ignacio, M.S. Then Fr. Musngi was appointed administrator of St. Patrick’s Parish and served in there for about seven months and then left for his new assignment in France on July 1, 2004.
Fr. Rosanno Soriano, M.S., arrived on November 18, 2003, and resided in Gunnedah for ten months. He was appointed Administrator of St. Andrew’s Parish in Wee Waa on August 31, 2004. He was installed later as Parish Priest, on November 29, 2007. He left Australia in 2011 upon his election as Provincial Superior in October, 2011.
Fr. Vimencio Ignacio, M.S., arrived in Australia on October 8, 2004. He spent some time in Gunnedah for two months and then served in the Parish of St. Francis Xavier in Narrabri from January 1, 2005-2009. He moved to Barraba on January 1, 2010, serving as Parish Priest to date.
Fr. Greg Honorio, M.S., arrived in Australia in January, 2005. He stayed in Australia for only a year. He spent most of that time serving at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Moree as associate pastor to Fr. Paul McCabe.
Fr. James Poovathinkal, M.S., arrived in Australia on January 30, 2009. He resided stayed at the Cathedral for ten months after which he was assigned as Parish Priest of St. Mary’s Parish in Walgett on December 25, 2009. He still serves in Walgett to this day.
Fr. Abmar Dumayag, M.S., arrived in Australia on May 3, 2013. At the end of June, 2013, he moved to St. Edward’s Parish in Tamworth City to serve as associate pastor to Fr. John Willis. St. Edward’s Parish is the biggest parish in the Diocese in terms of population.
A Grateful “Thank You”
We resonate with Jeremy Langford who summarizes well our experiences in this wonderful country of Australia when he says:
“God-moments are moments of recognition when we connect with what is true, realize what is real, and experience what is good and beautiful. La Salettes’ last ten years in Australia are a rare glimpse into eternity that happens in time. These were years filled with moments pregnant with love and life that helped us give birth to our best selves and encouraged others to find their best selves.They are moments that fill us with thanksgiving, overwhelm us with joy, offer us great hope. God-moments teach us that our faith really matters.”
Today, for everything that has been, we say with heartfelt gratitude, “Thank you, God!” Truly this has been a wonderful journey thusfar!