In 1958, after Father Finster told my Mom that I should not even try to enroll at the Ateneo de Cagayan, after being refused admission in Ateneo de Davao, I found myself, at 18, in Cagayan de Oro, where this Ateneo existed.
I had no relatives nor did I know anyone in that 1960 Cagayan town, but I found myself a dorm, a college, a job, a wife and a life, in that order.
I lived in the town roughly all my adult life till I returned to Ohio in 2003, when I picked up another trail I left, and one that I am treading now.
It was in the little “Aggie library,” in the late 50’s ( it was actually just a small Catholic nook of bookshop) where the books read by Father Masterson were either displayed, sold, lent or handed down to us college Sodalists, where through my readings I was “touched,” by the Jesus of history, in a book by Fulton Oursler, called “The Greatest Story Ever Told.”
You might say that at that point, I became his follower. The rest, as they say, is history ( mine, yes, but others’ too.
Father Masterson played a great role in my conversion, and I might add, so did the other Jesuits of old, or should I say, “Jesuits, of late?
Madigan, Nicholson, Millar , Cuna, Caretero, McKeough, Poulin, Gaa, Bernad, Miciano, Cebrero, Jesena, Claver, Mitchell, Leonard, Dolan, etc etc.
And of course, in my new, later life with the Brotherhood, Fr. Herbert Schneider, S.J., BCBP Spiritual Director became important in my life.
It was sometime in 1980 upon my return from Ohio State, when feeling much desolation in my spiritual life, that Lita and I decided to make a retreat in Cebu, where a high school classmate from Ateneo de Davao, Dr. Romeo Du, met us and introduced us to BCBP and invited us to a BCBP prayer meeting in Lahug.
In that prayer meeting, like Charismatics often do, I observed them “reaching out and up to God,” with outstretched arms and in deep fervor, and I told myself, ” I have been searching for God all my life, and yet I have not been able to bring myself to “reach out,” to God in the way that they do?”
Here began my conversion to the Pentecostal Life of the Charismatics, the Holy Spirit movement blazing like a quiet wildfire, in the worship life of the Catholic Church, in the Protestant churches, ahead in the so-called Pentecostal movement
Going back to Cagayan, I introduced BCBP to a group of my basketball buddies, a bunch called “Oro Pro,” and this group became the nucleus for Cagayan:
Ben Gorospe(+), Fanny Escara(+), Edito de la Cerna, Frank Penaflor, and others.
There was also a younger group recruited by the BCBP Cebu mission team, and this included Jess and Nena Paras, Bob Neri, Joemarie Castellanos, Ric Roa, Ed Abastas,
And folks recruited by Nap Polotan (+): Dodong Racaza, Romy Bualat, Ping Almonia (+), Fin Magaro (+), Benny Roxas, Ambing Magtajas(+) Nono and, Boy Montellano & Cenas Montellano, Baby Raypon(+), Linda Lugod, Daisy San Jose, Maya Canlas, Boy Entece, Tony Malferrari Sr., Joe and Vangie Herrera and a few others whose names escapes my memory.
To be fair, it was both BCBP Makati and BCBP Cebu who spent much in terms of personnel, time and resources to set us up:
First sharer: Lito Urgino, at Estrella Restaurant, in Puntod, followed immediately by CLP 1 in Manresa.
Secretariat at the time: Fanny Escara, Benjie Gorospe, Dito dela Cerna.
Members of First reconnaissance trip to Cagayan: Romy Du, Ed Lising, Nap Polotan
Missionaries from Makati and Cebu:
(Makati) Louie Morales, Ray Datu, Manny Bannigan, Willy Gamboa, Lito Urgino.
(Cebu). Elvie and Romy Du, Rene Almendras, Ed Lising, Sadi Saguisag, the Puno couple, Kit Garcia, Fr Tucker, Jimmy Escano, Jun Tan, Rene and Marite Congmon, Larry and Dedith Veloso, Jeff Villa, Leo Luche, Jun Whong, Joe Ecco, Tito Nemenzo, Butch Chiongbian, et al.
We were to be the first BCBP chapter in Mindanao ( ca 1991) and Davao was to come next, then Iligan, etc.
Source: Kapatiran ca. 1991
Psalm 33: “Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own”
Photo of BCBP CDO CLP 1 graduates in Manresa Farm,ca 1991
source: Isel Makapugay, Work Area shop, Cagayan de Oro.
Lower level: R1, L-R: Jhun Wong(?), Joe Catan(?) Kit Garcia, unidentified,, Ed Abastas, Jun and Nono Montellano, unidentified
R2; Joe Herrera, Fanny Escara(+), Ed Canlas, Ping Almonia(+), Edito dela Cerna, Benjie Gorospe (+). Sadi Saguisag, Nap Polotan (+), Fr. Tucker, Mayor Ambing Magtajas (+) Tony Malferrari (+), Frank Penaflor, Dodong Racaza, Romy Bualat, Boy Entece, Fin Magaro (+)
R3 and R4: Rene Congmon (w guitar), Ed Lising, unidentified, Rene Almendras, Romy Du, Jeff Villa, unidentified, unidentified, (of the Cebu group), Leo Luche(?), Ric Roa (+), Frank Penaflor(?), Benny Roxas, unidentified,, a child, Jess Paras, Dee Raypon (+), Jim Escano,, Joe Ecco, Tito Nemenzo.
Up in the balcony were: Nena Paras, Cenas Montellano, Bob Neri, Fabs Gorospe, Elvie Du, Marite Congmon, Maridol Almendras, Ellen Roa, Vangie Herrera, Anita Magtajas(+) Maya Malferrari, Linda Lugod, Daisy San Jose, Lita Canlas, Demy Escara, Nieva Penaflor, Presing Almonia, Tata dela Cerna, Nene Magaro, Nene Roxas, Baby Raypon(+)
HOW DID BCBP & XAVIER Aggies’ twain meet?
To begin, the first BCLP was held in Manresa Farm,
Secondly, the first Baptism in the Holy Spirit was held in the Jesuit-taught St. John Vianney Seminary in upper Macasandig.
MANRESA FARM poem
By Anselmo B. Mercado
“Manresa Farm” is linked with Jesuit history.
It is also a continuing story.
It is named after a town called “Manresa”
near Barcelona, Spain where St. Ignatius of Loyola,
divested himself of his earthly wealth and nobility
to live in poverty and to work for God’s greater glory.
The Manresa farm was founded with the College of Agriculture –
Fr. Masterson’s dream to develop the farming sector.
Make the land productive,
by the sweat of toil and mind creative.
Empower the farmers, make them profitable.
Find ways for agriculture to be sustainable
to adequately feed the nation’s growing people.
Manresa Farm became the toiling field
where faculty, students and workers tilled,
rain or shine, all had a helping hand,
digging out rocks and shrubs, clearing the land,
planting trees and crops, establishing pasture,
tending livestock, learning about agriculture
and preserving the wonders of nature.
The farm sits on a 64.8-hectare elevated plain,
a place years ago hardly anybody would lay claim.
It overlooks the city of Cagayan de Oro,
on a winding road named Masterson Avenue,
in honor of the man, an adopted son and a local hero.
His ashes gone to earth and lie on Manresa ground.
His spirit and legacy lives on and is always around.
Manresa Farm today is a treasure to behold.
A story we are proud to be told.
“Grow with the Xavier Aggies.”
Fifty years of growth and service,
its educational and social apostolate will continue;
people and agriculture development we will pursue
to make the vision and dream come true.”
BCBP, Cagayan de Oro, therefore, took root in the soil of Manresa farm, named after the famous place in Spain where St. Ignatius wrote the ” Spiritual Exercises,” literally a manual to navigate the spiritual “waters” that could bring souls to heaven.
” Helping men and women to love and serve the Lord is not only an important service of BCBP but is also at the very heart of a healthy and effective Christian community.”
Fr. Herbert Schneider, SJ, BCBP Spiritual Director
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen”
So, when we joined BCBP in 1991, we were all hoping for “evidence of things not seen,” things that were lacking in our tepid Catholic and/or Christian lives. In time, God gave us the “realization of what we hoped for.” We pray for all those who joined us in this journey, those whom God had called to a new life with him.
From Gerry Garcia Good morning Ed.
I joined bcbp east in 2000.
We were the 1st batch of CDO East – Cdo became 2 chapters.
Now, bcbp Cdo will become 3- Uptown chapter.
Another Outreach at Gingoog.
Comments by Dr Boy Mercado
Ed, reflections such as yours is always a treasure building up to dig up from one’s rich chest of collections of the past.
A rediscovery is like a renewal, a revitalization, akin to our days of Jesuit education, called the spiritual “retreat”, a review of one’s life in order to move forward.
Pope Paul VI has said it with great depth but with easiness to grasp: to enable man “to know more, to do more, to have more in order to be more”. In the peregrino language (Camino de Santiago) we say “Buen camino!” and “Ultreia” (Go beyond).
From Romy Du:
Hi, Ed. Romy here. Read your narration and was touched about how you remembered events and people. Archbishop Jesus Toquip of CDO passed away just days ago. It was he who allowed BCBP to be in CDO with our first breakfast and then CLP.