Philippines – Naga City
History of the Mission
In 1992, Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi, O.P., D.D., of Caceres invited the Missionaries of the Poor to officially establish their second overseas mission in Naga City, Philippines. A year later, the Missionaries of the Poor, pioneered by Fr. Brian Kerr, M.O.P. and Brother Maximo Medina, M.O.P., arrived in Manila, Philippines on September 28, 1993, the Feast Day of San Lorenzo Ruiz – the first Filipino Saint.
They proceeded to Naga City and began their ministry among the poorest in the Bicol region. Their preliminary worksamong the poor consisted of:
– Visiting the indigent and poor families in San Rafael squatter and relocation site, bringing them food, clothing, medicines and companionship and pastoral care.
– Visiting and catechizing the shut-ins and scavengers at the City Dump Site in Balatas and providing them both the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
– Hospital visitations and hands-on work among the sick patients at Bicol Medical Center and the mentally-ill inmates at the Regional Mental Hospital in Cadlan, Pili.
From this humble beginning, this MOP mission in Naga City – named Heart of Mercy Mission and dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ – has grown tremendously and has given birth to other missions in Cebu in 2004 and in Manila this year, 2011. Since then the Philippines has provided the most vocations to the Institute such that today over 40% of all professed members of the community are from the Philippines. Many of these are now missionaries serving in our MOP missions around the world such as in Jamaica, Haiti, USA, Africa and Indonesia. Likewise the Philippines missions have had the joy of welcoming several missionaries – both Filipinos and non-Filipinos. As for the leadership of MOP in the Philippines, Fr. Brian Kerr, MOP (Jamaican) was the pioneering superior who stayed here for ten (10) years from 1993 to 2003, followed by Fr. Charles Ma. Susai Arumaiselvam, M.O.P. (Indian) from 2003 to 2006. He was succeeded by Fr. Kulandairaj Ambrose, MOP, (Jamaican) in April 2006 up to the present. At the 3rd General Chapter of our institute held in Jamaica last October 2010, regions were created for better governance. The Philippines region included the new mission in Flores, Indonesia (May 2010), and Fr. Ambrose is the First Regional Superior of this region. The Heart of Mercy Mission in Naga City is the regional base.
The apostolate of the MOP includes shelter and care for homeless, abandoned and the unwanted children, disabled and elderly, and to provide social and pastoral assistance to the indigent and needy.
1. Shelter and residential care for homeless/abandoned children, disabled and elderly:
The Divine Mercy Apostolate Center of the Missionaries of the Poor in San Rafael, Cararayan, Naga City is a home for 150 disabled, mentally-ill and elderly homeless persons. This includes special children and children with multiple-disabilities. While most of these residents come from the Bicol region, there are some who are from other parts of the country such as Manila, Quezon and Baguio. At this Center, they find and form a family with other residents and the MOP Brothers and lay volunteers. Activities at the Center include daily prayer, physical exercise and physiotherapy, garden and house-chores, and recreation. A good percentage of our population at the Center receives regular medication for mental illness and other illnesses such as diabetes, epilepsy, hypertension, etc.
At our Divine Mercy Apostolate Center, we take care of special children who are homeless or abandoned, or whose families are just too poor to give them the special care they deserve.
2. Nazareth Center for Children
Besides caring for special children, we also have an extensive outreach for the welfare and development of poor and indigent children. The Nazareth Center for Children run by the MOP caters to the physical, social, intellectual and spiritual development of these children through the following programs and services: