Malaybalay: young Filipino Jesuits make their dreams come true


In the northeast of Mindanao in the southern Philippines is the Diocese of Malaybalay. For the Jesuits it is the missionary district of Bukidnon, a mountainous province few hours drive from Cagayan de Oro, where the Jesuits are known because they run Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan. While traditionally one would have found old missionaries in this rural area, it is a group of young Jesuits, ordained priests only a few years ago, who do the pastoral animation and more in support of the bishop of the diocese. Besides taking care of four parishes - in Cabanglasan, Miarayon, Pangantucan and Zamboanguita - they animate the Jesuit Retreat House in Bukidnon’s capital city of Malaybalay. Sometimes they have the support of older Jesuits like Fr. Mateo Sanchez, a former novice master, who never misses the chance to return to this region he loves and where he has paved the way for economic, social and spiritual development.

In Malaybalay, we visited the Jesuit Retreat House, its staff members and its beautiful wooded environment. The center receives a good number of high school students from all over Mindanao, who go on retreat of a few days there.

Every Monday the community meets for prayer and sharing. Some of them travel for two or three hours on rough roads. We were fortunate to be with them on Monday, January 20. We gave them the opportunity to share what they were experiencing, their motivations for working in this region, their joys and the challenges they face.


First and foremost, they are struck by the desire to serve the poorest, particularly the indigenous people who have been marginalized by modern society. They like to live close to nature, far from the noise and pollution of the big cities. It is a style and rhythm of life to which many of them have aspired and they expressly asked the Provincial to send them to Bukidnon. Their work is varied because all of them are involved not only in pastoral activity - covering about twenty chapels - but also by a direct presence among the young people in the parish elementary or secondary schools.

Here are some testimonies from this sharing:

- Ismael: “I am a lawyer, member of the bar, and while I contribute to the activities of the retreat house, my main work is the responsibility of the legal services of the diocese. This collaboration is appreciated both for civil law matters and for my involvement in family mediation.”

- Richard: “At the end of my Tertianship, I made a discernment and I felt called to live and work with the poor and the aboriginal people. This is new for me and it is a source of new dynamism for my Jesuit life.”

- Felipe: “I am from Manila, but living in Bukidnon is for me the realization of my dreams. I love the nature, the climate and especially the people. In high school, my goal is to encourage young people to have the desire, after their studies, to return to serve their community.”

- Jereme: “I really feel “missionary” outside the cities. I want to be deeply involved in this work with the indigenous people in particular and I have asked the Provincial to send me here for at least five years. Often the Jesuits have come here to do a kind of “internship” of one or two years. But I want more than that!”

- Noel: “I love it here! This commitment following the pioneering missionaries of Bukidnon is for me ‘the salvation of my vocation’.”

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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