It is SO glorious when we share our spiritual gifts with others. Not only do we bless others, but we are also blessed in the process. Sr. Meagan here, introducing a wonderful couple that our Community has had the blessing of ministering with together, and even better, we have become family. 

Here is a blog dedicated to their current adventure in the Philippines, where they met up with our Sister Parish and the pastor there, Fr. Joseph. 

It all started when we read an article by Sr. Meagan in the Sister’s E-newsletter. We were going to Manila, Philippines to visit our son and daughter-in-law who were transferred there on a 3-year posting. I (Lucille) was very excited to see that “we” had a Sister Parish in the Philippines. We wanted to go visit them and help if possible. Sr. Anna put us in touch with Fr. Joseph, who lives on the island of Catanduanes. Fr. Joseph said that we should come for their Diocesan Day, Immaculate Conception on December 8 and he arranged an itinerary for us for our stay from December 5 to December 12.

Fr. Joseph was happy to receive us and toured us around the island, stopping in at different churches and explaining to us life on the Island. We learned about rice farming, harvesting abaca fibers, harvesting fruit and vegetables, and the education of children and teens. Our hearts were touched as we witnessed the hardships of village living and learned about the challenges for men going to Church regularly because of their work responsibilities. As we met different people in various places, we were impressed with the reverence with which they treated their priest. Although Fr. Joseph was not wearing his Roman collar, people recognized him and touched his hand to their forehead out of respect. It was obvious that he was well-known and well-loved.

Plowing the Rice Field with Carabao
Plowing the Rice Field with Machinery

Although the Philippines is on the other side of the world from Canada, struggles to maintain a strong spiritual life are a common thread. We discussed together with Fr. Joseph the challenges we both face in spreading the gospel and conveying the importance of having a strong spiritual life and relationship with Christ. We shared our stories of attempts, successes, and commitment to evangelization. We also told him about programs offered at our parish (St. Mary’s) and about the Encounter School of Ministry. We both learned from each other.

Fr. Joseph put us in touch with the Sisters of St. John the Baptist, who run a Children’s Home in his parish. Darrell and I purchased needed items that we could give to the children. Our hearts were filled with the joy of Christmas as we played Christmas music in our hotel room and packed the goodies in the bags.  

When we arrived at the Children’s Home, they were so excited and had prepared a few songs for us. We were very touched. After the presentation, we distributed the gifts to the children who were so appreciative of the small gifts that they received. At the sight of the children, our hearts were bursting with a joy that is hard to describe.

Fr. Joseph took us around his parish which consisted of many small village chapels. For one chapel and school, we had to take a small boat across the river to reach the village.  The children waited joyfully on the other side of the river to receive their priest.  

We were the surprise he was bringing. We walked up the path together, the children very excited to receive us. We had Mass in the classroom and then we distributed the little gifts to the children. It was so heartwarming to see how happy they were and to receive such a warm welcome from everyone. We were humbled by how much honour, respect, and love they showed us: from cutting fresh coconut to preparing a lunch for us.

Fr. Joseph also took us to another one of his chapels where we distributed gifts to the young children of his parish after Mass. This time we were assisted with the preparation of the bags by two of his catechism instructors. We prepared approximately 90 gift bags for the three different venues.


In addition to meeting his fellow priests and his parishioners, Fr. Joseph took us to some waterfalls, where we were able to cool off and enjoy the beauty around us. We also relaxed a bit at Galilee Retreat Centre run by the Sisters of St John the Baptist.

Galilee Centre – Stunning!

Our trip to Catanduanes, Philippines, and visit with Fr. Joseph, opened our eyes to a different reality. We see the extremes of poverty and wealth living side by side. We see spiritual poverty in both the wealthy and the poor. We also see great faith in both as well. We have prayed individually with both poor persons and wealthy persons and saw how we each have something to share with others. 

Darrell and I went with our spiritual gifts of faith, evangelization, hospitality, and “helps” and we received back a thousand-fold from each person that we encountered. 

There is so much more that we can say about our experience, all the backstories behind the people we met. There is a great need for support in the parish for both the physical as well as the spiritual. Prayer and financial support are very much appreciated. Fr. Joseph said that he “was very elated” to be considered a “sister parish” in the blog by Sr. Meagan.


Fr. Joseph, with his quiet, strong faith, love, and generosity touched the hearts and continues to touch the hearts of his parishioners and fellow priests. He has a special place in our hearts and will remain in our prayers. 

From a blog by Sr. Meagan to an inspiring visit to Catanduanes, our hearts are forever changed and united in spirit with the parish of Sts Louis and Zelie Martin and their parish priest, Fr. Joseph.

Where will the Lord take you as you Give God Permission? 

It might not be the Philippines, but it might be an adventure just the same. 🙂


Fr. Joseph, Giving God Permission

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