Samar youth orchestra in papal Mass – built to “touch life through music”

CKY orchestra playing Carl Bordeos

Contributed photo of Christ the King College Youth Symphony Orchestra in concert. From Carl Bordeos

The coordinator of a youth symphony orchestra in Samar province, Central Philippines, northwest of where Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) first hit land last year says the young musicians are gearing up to play in Pope Francis’ Mass at Luneta Park on Jan. 18.

Carl Bordeos, coordinator of the 60-member Christ the King College Youth Symphony Orchestra, from Calbayog, Samar, said his group is scheduled to arrive in Manila by January 9, for the general rehearsal with the choir on the 10th & 17th.

In his story of the orchestra sent to Catholic in Asia, Bordeos called the young musicians “missionaries of classical music”. 

Read on to know about this section of the orchestra for the Papal Mass.

Young Musicians from Samar to perform during Pope Francis’ mass in Luneta

By: Carl Jamie Simple S. Bordeos

The 60-member CHRIST THE KING COLLEGE YOUTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA (CKC YSO) from the City of Calbayog in Samar will join other instrumentalists from Manila to provide music in one of the Eucharistic Celebrations when Pope Francis visits the country come January 2015. These young musicians from Samar Island, given the special privilege to perform in the papal mass in Luneta, are high school & college students of the Christ the King College, a Franciscan educational institution.

IEC Palma crucifix NJ Viehland

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu (left) / NJ Viehland Photos

Musical Journey & History

It was Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu Archdiocese who conceptualized the group when he was still bishop in the Diocese of Calbayog in 2005. Through the efforts of Fr. Prisco A. Cajes, OFM, the former CKC President, and the Calbayognons in the United States headed by Walter Rumohr and Tomas Gomez who donated most of the musical instruments, the CKC-YSO was inaugurated during the Solemnity of the Christ the King on November 25, 2007.

After a 5-month rigorous training of the first members by Fr. Marlowe A. Rosales, OFM, its Music Director and Conductor, the first concert was launched at the Poor Clare Monastery in Calbayog City. Since then, it has developed into a dynamic group performing in different places in the country. To date, it has performed at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA); New Port Mall of Resorts World Manila; Century Park Hotel; Concert at the Park at the Open-air Auditorium, Rizal Park-Manila; Sabin Resort Hotel in Ormoc City; outreach concerts in far-flung barangays in Calbayog City; and at the Paco Catholic School for the Pondo ng Pinoy upon the invitation of His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, DD.

CKC Youth Orchestra mash up Carl Bordeos

Contributed by Carl Bordeos

Sharing the Gift of Music

Funds raised from the concerts have also financed the Share God’s Gift of Music Program, which comprises the scholarships, values formation and music training of the young-member musicians, upgrade and maintenance of the musical instruments, and outreach concerts in far-flung communities.

Since 2007 and up to the present, Fr. Marlowe seemed marvelous and successful in training the youth of Samar. In fact, two particular life stories of its members were featured in Mel and Joey of GMA-7 last December 12, 2010; an article ‘Youth and Music’ written by a Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist last December 13, 2009; ‘Trip to Samar’ written by a travel writer for an online website-based in California, USA; another article ‘Franciscan Friar honored for Music that touches lives’ featured in [CathNews Philippines].

Touching Lives Through Music

Two (2) inspiring stories of its members were featured on national TV: one, was about an orchestra member, who, because of one of CKC-YSO concerts in Manila, met her mom after 10 long years; and, an orchestra member who planned to stop his studies to work for a bakery store in Catbalogan, Samar. Because of the priest-missionary’s encouragement and help, the young man continues his studies. Fr. Marlowe promised to keep him as a student scholar of CKC-YSO.

Because of these as well as other inspiring stories of the orchestra members, the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP, city council) of Calbayog passed a resolution in 2010 declaring Fr. Marlowe as ‘Adopted Son of Calbayog City’ for his dedication and zealous service in developing the orchestra.

In addition, the resolution says“, the City gratefully recognizes and appreciates Fr. Marlowe A. Rosales’ vital contributions to our youths for sharing his knowledge and skills in music, thus bringing pride and honor to the city….”

The Missionaries of Classical Music

The CKC-YSO has not only entertained people in big cities like Manila, Cebu, Tacloban, and Dumaguete. They also have visited remote barangays (barrios) through their music outreach program, bringing the orchestral music closer to the rural folks, who may not have the opportunity to experience it.

Profile of CKC YSO’s Music Director

Born in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental, on October 16, 1972 to parents Nestor R. Rosales and Erma A. Rosales, Father Rosales graduated in 2001 from Conservatory of Music of the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas (UST) with 2 degrees, Bachelor of Music in Music Education and in Conducting.

His previous assignments were at Saint Francis School in La Libertad, Negros Oriental (Central Philippines) in 2002, as Parochial Vicar of San Vicente Parish in Cebu City in 2003, and in Saint Mary of the Angels Parish in Santa Teresita in Cagayan Valley (northern Philippines) in 2004. In all these places, he organized choirs of high school students.

Currently, he is serving as Missionary of the Franciscan Province of San Pedro Bautista on Samar Island fulfilling his great mission for the youth, touching their lives through the music of his orchestra.


Catholic in Asia, don’t stop at baptism

Bishop Claver baptizes Aaron Viehland NJ Viehland

Bishop Francisco Clave baptizes Aaron / NJ Viehland Photos

Francisco F. Claver, S.J. (20 January 1926 – 1 July 2010) was a Filipino Jesuit priest, appointed and consecrated first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Malaybalay in the Philippines.  He was the first member of the Igorot ethnic groups in the northern Philippines to be made a bishop. 

Claver completed a masters degree in Anthropology in the Ateneo de Manila and finished his doctorate in the University of Colorado. Ordained to the priesthood on 18 June 1961, he was appointed as the bishop of what is now the Malaybalay Diocese on 18 June 1969 and was consecrated on 22 August 1969. Claver resigned in 1984, but was appointed Apostolic Vicar of the Apostolic Vicariate of Bontac-Lagawe, Philippines. He retired on 15 April 2004.

Much talk about Church renewal and change today under Pope Francis’ reform movement echoes some of Bishop Claver’s ideas articulated decades ago. In particular, he has asserted that lay people need to reform also. It is not enough for Church members to be baptized and take part in Sacraments. Laity need also to participate in leadership roles for the change that needs to happen. They are not only subjects who will be affected by change, but also key players who will effect the change.

Bishop Claver “Ikoy” was born in the province of Bontoc, Mountain Province and was one of the most influential people of the Cordilleras and courageous leader against martial law. In his activities and writings, he has emphasized the importance of a participatory Church that is necessary in carrying out the aggiornamento called for by the Second Vatican Council. For him, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) or the Basic Christian Communities (BCCs) are the primary and particular embodiment and vehicles of participation and Church renewal. He died in Manila on July 1, 2010.



Remembering Good Shepherd Sr. Mary Consuelo Chuidian, “hero and martyr”

Remembering today on her birthday, Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) Sr. Mary Consuelo Chuidian.

Born into an affluent family, May 4, 1937, Sr. Consuelo died in 1983 with three other RGS sisters on their way to a meeting in Cebu, Central Philippines, when their ship, the MV Cassandra, sank.

Wall of Remembrance Bantayog Ng Mga Bayani Foundation FB

She has since been honored by Bantayog ng mga Bayani [Monument of Heroes] , a foundation that honors people and their efforts to free the Philippines from the “dictatorship” of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

Read why her name is etched on the Bantayog’s Wall of Remembrance when you click the link Bantayog ng Mga Bayani: Sr. Mary Consuelo Chuidian.

The Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd (also known as Religious of the Good Shepherd or Good Shepherd Sisters) is an international congregation of religious women in the Roman Catholic Church, numbering almost 4,000, present in 70 countries in five continents .

Learn more about RGS in the Philippines, click Religious of the Good Shepherd – Philippines

The spiritualities of Bergamo and Wadowice brought sainthood to the papacy (Commentary by Hector Welgampola)

Worship leaders lead some more than 15,000 worshippers in singing praise songs and dancing at Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines while waiting for the televised canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II in Rome on April 26, 2014. NJ Viehland Photo

Worship leaders lead some more than 15,000 worshippers in singing praise songs and dancing at Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Philippines while waiting for the televised canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II in Rome on April 26, 2014. NJ Viehland Photo

Heavenly bliss is the ultimate goal of all humans. That leads us to the Christian concept of a Communion of Saints. Some religions honor holy persons as saints even in their lifetime. So did the early Christians. In today’s Church, however, sainthood is a posthumous title reserved for holy men and women whose fragrance of sanctity continues to sustain earthly sojourners of the Communion. 

Last weekend, the Church added two popes to the official list of saints for veneration by Catholics worldwide. Way ahead of the dual canonization in the Vatican, the new saints received unprecedented media coverage. Much of it focused on their papal role as John XXIII and John Paul II. Happily, corrective action was promptly taken by Pope Francis. He graciously thanked Catholics of Bergamo, Italy, and Wadowice, Poland, for gifting the two saints to the worldwide Church.

Saint John XXIII was pope for about 5 years of his 84-year-long life. Saint John Paul II was pope for just 27 of his 82-year-long life. Much of the two saints’ contribution, even as popes, was the fruit of their Christian life and service each in his own habitat or mission. When considering their fuller life-witness, one wonders whether they should have been canonized as Saint Angelo Roncalli and Saint Karol Wojtyla. After all, their sainthood owes much to the holiness of life and witness that equipped each of them to grace the papacy as head of the worldwide Church.

For example, the ever-jolly Friar Tuck-style depiction of saint John XXIII often fails to reflect the rustic Roncalli serenity based on deep personal prayer. The “Journal of a Soul,” which puts together diaries and notes Angelo Roncalli wrote from age 14 until his last days, reveals the simple peasant spirituality that laid the foundation for his eventful papacy. “My great book is the crucifix,” he wrote as a simple priest, adding, “the solution of all difficulties is Christ.” He was fond of the private devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus practised by his great-uncle Zaverio Roncalli. “In fact, he was the first person to train me to that practice of religion from which my priestly vocation was to spring,” he wrote later as Pope John.

Even after being named papal representative in Bulgaria, he was ever conscious of the sense of Divine Presence nurtured by his peasant background. He once recalled, “God sees me: our humble grandmothers used to work this motto into their samplers of rustic embroidery; it still hangs on the old walls of our houses and it contains a stern reminder which serves to give a character of decency to all our behaviour.”

Archbishop Roncalli’s diplomatic sojourn in Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and France exposed him to a wide spectrum of world realities. It served as a providential pastoral preparation for his future task as pope. His political and ecumenical encounters in those countries helped set the agenda for his epochal pontificate. Such moves also set priorities for the charismatic Saint John Paul II’s long pontificate. Those who try to brand the two pontificates using human categories as progressive versus conservative fail to discern the hand of God as evidenced by the bridging roles of the later Pauline and Franciscan pontificates.

Polish Bishop Karol Wojtyla was ordained just one month before Pope John XXIII was elected in October 1958. Enthused by the new pope’s call for an Ecumenical Council, the new Polish bishop was one the first to respond to the pre-conciliar questionnaire sent to the world’s 2,594 bishops. After the death of Pope John, Cardinal Wojtyla supported Pope Paul VI further pursue the policy of Ostopolitik to reach out to Communist countries including the offer of diplomatic relations to Warsaw.

The Johnine-Pauline policy of detante paved the way for the role attributed to Pope John Paul II for the collapse of communism. As much as the socio-political struggle in Poland catalysed his later social teaching, it also tended to restrict his world view. Some Church watchers say that his Polish background made him politically progressive while being doctrinally conservative. Although his Christian humanism as a young poet and playwright had been forward looking, his Polish spirituality had difficulty in coping with post-Christian secularism and resisting curial moves to contain ecumenism and inculturation. In 1995, papal biographer Tad Szulc wrote that Pope John Paul II was “the unchanged spiritual child of wartime Krakow.”

When considered in the context of such ecclesial realities, the sainting of two recent popes has a catechetical value. Whatever critics may have to say about fast-tracking the canonizations, the proximity of their lives in recent history, encourages us to learn to honor the holiness of saints despite their human limitations. Even saints have been human, just like the rest of the pilgrim Church. After all, the flawed experiences of the past would help saints better understand us, just as the Church is expected to.

Hector Welgampola has served more than 50 years in Catholic media as editor of the two Colombo-based Catholic weeklies in Sri Lanka, the English-language Messenger and Sinhalese-language Gnanartha Pradeepaya (lamp of wisdom).
He then served as executive editor of UCA News from 1987 until his retirement in 2001. He also compiled the recently published Asian Church Glossary and Stylebook.



Lenten reflection – Malaysian flight disaster by Hector Welgampola

Girls sat at the foot of the altar and joined the packed Paco Church in Manila during the Day of Lament and Hope prayer service led by Cardinal Luis Tagle for the dead, their relatives and all people affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013, and the earthquake in Bohol Province and attack on Zamboanga City, southern Philippines just months ahead of the typhoon. NJ Viehland Photo

Girls sat at the foot of the altar and joined the packed Paco Church in Manila during the Day of Lament and Hope prayer service led by Cardinal Luis Tagle for the dead, their relatives and all people affected by Typhoon Haiyan in Eastern Visayas on Nov. 8, 2013, and the earthquake in Bohol Province and attack on Zamboanga City, southern Philippines just months ahead of the typhoon. NJ Viehland Photo

A Lenten reflection in the aftermath of the Malaysian Flight disaster

Australia, the land Down Under, has become the locus of search in the biggest air travel mystery in recent times. In a way, the shift of operational focus must have brought some relief to Malaysia.

Almost four weeks after flight ML370s went missing, Malaysian officials have begun to tire of trying to explain the mysterious disappearance of the aircraft. Equally wearied media keep looking for newer angles to avoid putting the story on the backburner. While search operations gather momentum, families and friends of the 239 persons seemingly martyred on an air-borne modern-day cross continue to hang on to fast fading hopes.

A look back at the events unfolding in the aftermath of the March 8 debacle may give some perspective. At first, reports about the missing jet seemed yet another episode in the 24-hour news cycle – one more disaster story. It did not enthuse too many. The unfolding story seemed to be limited more or less to the instinct of alert news media and routine follow-up by Malaysian Airlines.

None in authority seemed to know where the plane has gone. Others seemed less public-spirited as to share information routinely recorded in their machines. Initially, the Malaysian military and aviators of neighboring countries such as China and Thailand hesitated to share available bits of info about the unusual drift of the aircraft. Even Malaysian bureaucrats and airline officials seemed apathetic, until the families of the missing passengers lost patience. That was the turning point.

While some officials reacted poorly to the noisy protests, the heart-wrenching cries of the Chinese families wailing in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur touched the hearts of many worldwide. Such rare outpouring of fellowship elicits the best of the human spirit. Thanks to media, public grief waxed so high as to force lethargic governments to seek ways of assuaging people’s calls for action.

One positive development in this sad saga was the assurance given to passengers’ families by Malaysia’s acting transport minister. As international cooperation began to rally, he assured them that the search-and-rescue operation would continue. “As long as there is even a remote chance of a survivor, we will pray and do whatever it takes,” he said. Even though hopes of finding survivors became more and more unlikely, the prospect of recovering the remains of loved ones can sustain bereaved families. In most Asian cultures, such a prospect is essential to bring some form of closure.

Airport by NJ Viehland

No doubt, public outrage was a push factor prompting various other countries to volunteer technical information and backup not offered earlier. People’s growing frustration was later followed up with offers of equipment to search for the missing aircraft. If only such goodwill and technical support had been readily available earlier, the routinely monitored erratic path of the missing plane could have been promptly communicated. More importantly, such prompt communication may have helped save the lives of many passengers and crew.

Almost four weeks after the Malaysian Flight 370 went missing, a frantic search involving many nations is now underway for its black box. Ten airplanes and 11 ships equipped with sophisticated equipment from various countries have begun to scour the southern Indian Ocean for any such trace of the missing plane.

What has now begun is more a technological investigation to find why and how the Boeing aircraft went missing. It is not quite a search for survivors among the missing passengers and crew. According to media reports, even if the wreckage is located, there is little or no hope of their survival. Unless the flight had been hijacked elsewhere, the multi-country search off the western coast of Australia is all, too little, too late. That is tragic.

In an age when science is so advanced as to help humans reach outer space and traverse planets, there is no excuse for being ill-equipped to map and master movements in our own airspace and oceans. It is all the more unforgivable, if petty political point-scoring or regional rivalries inhibit inter-country collaboration essential for the welfare of all humans.

And as in the Tsunami or any past disaster, there is yet another unmistakable lesson here. No amount of technical equipment, no mass of scientific know-how can make up for a lack of humanitarian concern. After all, it is that godly spark called love that missions us as humans.

Hector Welgampola

Veteran Asian Church journalist Hector Welgampola from Sri Lanka has lived in Australia with his wife, Rita, since retiring as Executive Editor of the Bangkok-based Union of Catholic Asian News. Besides decades of leading and mentoring what used to be a wide network of UCAN correspondents and staff around the region and in other continents, Hector had also headed editorial teams of newspapers in Sri Lanka.

Spying or not, no cellphones in the confessional

NSA Spying or no spying: No Cellphones in the confessional - / NJ Viehland Photo

NSA Spying or no spying: No Cellphones in the confessional – / NJ Viehland Photo

A US National Security Agency (NSA) official has reportedly denied an allegation that the agency had spied on the Vatican, now Pope Francis and cardinals, but it has not allayed worries among certain Catholics about the use of cellphones for eavesdropping in confessions.

Audio Sancto, a website created and maintained by Catholic laypersons who record and publish sermons by Catholic priests, with permission of the priests who preach them, has broadcast a sermon addressing concerns about the use of cellphones for spying.

On Oct. 30, The Telegraph reported  the NSA American spy agency had monitored telephone calls made to and from the residence in Rome where the then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave, the secret election at which cardinals chose him as pontiff on March 13.

The British news service cited claims  made by Panorama, an Italian-language weekly news magazine, which said that the NSA monitored the telephone calls of many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave, which was held amid tight security in the Sistine Chapel.

Rorate Caeli (@RorateCaeli) on Nov. 1 tweeted:

Rorate Caeli @RorateCaeli

NSA spying on @Pontifex? @SenRandPaul says maybe. Either way, Catholics should not take phones into confessional!

Servus Immaculatae @servusimaculata replied:

Servus Immaculatae @servusimaculata

Indeed. No phones in the confessional as was preached from the pulpit here:

 (It listed the link to the Audio Sancto sermon)

In the Audio Sancto sermon, the preacher stresses the priest’s absolute duty not to disclose anything revealed by the penitent in the Sacrament of Confession. In this age of technological advancement, then, he maintains that banning cellphones from the confessional is needed to protect the Seal of Confession.

The website says recorded preachers are  “Catholic priests, in good standing with their local ordinaries and Rome, incardinated with normal faculties and jurisdiction, and serving in North America.”

They are unidentified so that “their attention for their flock won’t be divided by folks outside of their parish who might seek them out for questions rather than going to their local priests.,” the site explains. “The message they happen to be preaching – the Catholic Faith – is what is important, not the human beings preaching it,” the backgrounder page adds.

Click here to listen to information gathered by the preacher on how cellphones are used for spying and reasons why he prohibits bringing a cellphone into a confessional. It is the first part of the sermon, before the priest goes into talking about healing a person from a troubled family.

What are your thoughts and feelings about this sermon on safeguarding secrecy in the confessional, and how it affects the activities of the Church in your end of the world?

“Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang Asia!” – from “Francis” to Philippine Conference on New Evangelization

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

Pope Francis addressed the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization speaking publicly in English for the first time in a video message screened at the end of the closing Mass Oct. 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila. NJ Viehland Photo

[Transcript of Pope Francis ‘ Video Message for the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization at the closing Mass on October 18, 2013 at the University of Santo Tomas Quadricentennial Pavilion.  -PCNE press release]

Click here for video
My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,
I greet all of you with the peace and joy of our Lord. The first Philippine Conference on the New Evangelization is our offering to the Year of Faith. For this I thank all of you: brother Bishops, the priests, religious men and women, seminarians, and the lay faithful who organize and are participating in the conference. I am happy to learn that you came to Manila from different parts of the Philippines and Asia. The Holy Spirit has actively called you.
The Church of Christ is alive. Through this conference, I hope you would experience the presence of Jesus in your lives, that you would love the Church more and that you would share the Gospel to other people with humility and joy. Don’t get tired of bringing the mercy of the Father to the poor, the sick, the abandoned the young people and the family. Bring Jesus now into the world of politics, business, arts, science, technology and social media. Let the Holy Spirit renew the creation and bring forth justice and peace in the Philippines and in the great continent of Asia that is close to my heart.
Please pray for me. I need it. I promise to pray for you especially to our mother, the blessed Virgin Mary, star of the new evangelization.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang Asia! Pagpalain kayo ng Diyos.
God bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.