There are probably persons and places that can never be forgotten….
These past months of personal trials and inactivity, due to the second attack of cancer with effects that stopped me even from eating normally, Lakewood, Ipil, the Philippines have been all the same all my life.
On the other end, I have been there 32 years minus two and a half months. In Lakewood I gave 11 years of my life before cancer.
I have been tasked to write something about the Silver Jubilee of the Ipil Prelature and the blessing of the new Church in Lakewood. It is like writing about my heart!
For the Prelature, I like to say that I was part of her (its?) youth, often a very noisy foreign Missionary.
The truth is that I could not accept to be “foreign” in the Church of Ipil. No Christian is ever “foreign” in Christ Jesus’ Family.
Like in every other family, there are conditions, attitudes, realities that have to be changed to help make our own Church, the Family of Bethlehem and Nazareth, the Community of the Acts of the Apostles, where the poor became the first attended to, the most loved and respected among sisters and brothers.
Seventy or one hundred/thousand Subanen were often simply ignored or forgotten, to say the least.
I wish to a still young and energetic Prelature, for the Silver Jubilee, to be able to count the Subanen, the Indigenous People of Ipil as the dearest members of the Communities. I have to thank Bishop Ledesma for letting me try to say what is the Church of the Poor… even at Prelature level and for having so much respect and attention for many activities for Indigenous Subanen (the ones still marginalized!), and farmers in general, initiated in Lakewood.
For Lakewood I find harder to write. There were joys and pains aplenty. For myself I wanted the simplest way of life, because the great majority of my people still now are very poor.
For the Convent to become the home of anybody, who are people, so to say, a home of the people. The Church to be the sign of our living as followers of Christ.
I did make mistakes. I did appear to be one “correk” all the time; I did try to teach others instead of walking at their side listening to them…
The last months in Lakewood were beautiful for me, including the celebration of 40 years in the priest-hood, as if the Lord was trying to say, “harry up, you don’t have much time left”.
The Cancer stroked, a first one to take Lakewood away from me, the second one to stop me even from feeding normally. God’s will be done … but it is often very hard, because my past is still so much my present.
I would close saying thank you for prayers, friendship and mutual respect.
Ad multos annos Ipil, mabuhay Lakewood!
Fr. Angelo Biancat
Aviano (PN) – Italy – March 12. 2005.