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Extra Milers and Smilers

In this month’s column, Fr. Jerry shares with our readers stories of missionaries in various parts of the world who accomplished their mission here on earth in an unassuming, caring and generous manner.


o go the extra mile, and to give the extra smile–this is the Lord’s invitation for us as we journey through life, and do our mission. Let me share with you these heartwarming stories of Filipino SVD missionaries who went the “extra mile” and gave the “extra smile.”

Fr. Jay Baliao took care and brought home an ailing confrere, Fr. Ferdie Resuena, from their country of mission, Timor Leste. He assisted his fellow priest who was in a wheelchair during their entire flight until they reached Cebu, Father Ferdie’s hometown.

Father Jay stayed on until Father Ferdie, who had accomplished his mission, rested in the arms of our heavenly Father on Oct. 14, 2021. It was Mission well accomplished too for Father Jay who went out of his way to accompany Father Ferdie in the last stretch of his earthly journey.

Fr. Vic Leones was soft-spoken and unassuming. On his home vacations, I would sometimes see him at the Mission House, quietly reading a book in a corner. He was a man of few words, but he always offered a gentle smile to everyone he met. Father Vic worked in difficult mission stations in Ghana for 48 years, and died there last Feb. 26, 2021. He could have opted to retire in the Philippines, but as a true missionary, he once said: “Where God sent me, there I will die.”

Another missionary who lived a simple and joyful life was Fr. Iñigo “Gino” Batungbacal who passed on last Jan. 1, 2022 at the age of 77 in Brazil where he worked for 46 years. Father Gino was an inspiration to all of us, with his dedicated and humble service to the Divine Word.

Fr. Dante Venus was truly a brother to his confreres–very accommodating, caring, and generous. He always went out of his way to help people, to give joy and hope. He did mission work in Kenya, and in later years, he was a spiritual chaplain in different pilgrimages. Father Dante lived a meaningful life, and died with his boots on last Dec. 29, 2022 while accompanying a group of Filipino pilgrims in a Christmas pilgrimage at the Holy Land.

“Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14). When we finally meet God, He will ask us only one question: How much love did you put in all the things you’ve done? Let our daily prayer be: Lord, increase the love in my heart. At the end of our journey, may we have little or no regrets that we loved too little, or too late.

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Happy New YOU!

Let us start our 2023 journey on the right foot by being grateful to our loving and merciful God who never stops loving us. Let us be resolute by relying on prayer as the companion in our journey.

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