by Cheryl Piccio, ABS-CBN News
HOUSTON — Filipino priests from all over North America and as far as the islands of Hawaii came to meet at the 3rd national assembly of Filipino priests in Houston this past weekend.
The national association of Filipino Priests USA holds the assembly every three years. It aims to promote unity, support and total growth, by serving as a venue for collaboration and forum for effective pastoral leadership to the over 800 Filipino priests currently serving in the US.
“In the Catholic faith here, the Filipino community is one of the larger communities. They have always been very devout, very devoted to the church, and there are a good number of Filipino priests that serve here. So for us to welcome Filipino priests from throughout the United States is a great honor,” says Cardinal Daniel Dinardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston.
Reverend Oscar A. Solis serves as the bishop of the diocese of Salt Lake City — the first Filipino to be appointed Bishop in the US.
Solis founded the Filipino priest assembly in 2008, and tells BA that the forum plays a large role in the growth of the Filipinos in service.
“This to update ourselves in order to learn more new ideas and insight into our ministry, so that we can become more efficient,” he said.
Joyfully & faithfully sharing God’s mercy was the theme of the assembly– a message that Solis says not only aligns with their efforts here in the US, but also in the Philippines, given the ongoing war on drugs.
Solis and other priests say they are against the extrajudicial killing of suspected drug offenders.
“They should be rehabilitated. So, they can re-enter the community as better persons. We believe in a system that is punitive, but rehabilitative.”
During the four-day conference, the priests discussed the challenges of Catholic immigrants– especially Filipinos–and how they can play a larger role in the church’s ministry.
But is was not all work. Time was set aside for socializing. One evening’s entertainment was even performed by the priests themselves.
With singing and dancing talent on full display, a highlight of the evening was an engaging performance by Filipino platinum recording artist, Sheryn Regis.
The organization plans to legally incorporate as a non-profit, and ultimately become the umbrella organization of all Filipino priest organizations & associations in the country.