Tag Archives: Philippines

A New Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines ~ and we were there!

Many congratulations from St. James’ Church, Taiwan – to Bishop Dixie on his retirement, and to Bishop Rex on his installation – YES!

A group of 6 of us from St. James’ Church, Taichung, Taiwan had the honour of attending the installation service of Bishop Rex Reyes as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines (EDCP) on Thursday March 14, 2019. Thanks be to God!

And I had the fun of taking photos from all angles and heights…

Manila this past week was definitely THE place to be! And more specifically, Cathedral Heights, Quezon City, where a huge compound owned by the Episcopal Church in the Philippines houses their provincial offices, St. Luke’s Medical Center, Trinity University of Asia, St. Andrew’s Theological Seminary (SATS), and the National Cathedral.

And the place was packed with busy people as EDCP were holding their 47th diocesan annual convention in the provincial offices from March 12-14…

The convention culminated in the installation service of the new bishop, held at the diocesan ‘pro-cathedral’ at St. Stephen’s Parish, in the ‘China Town’ area of Manila – not to be confused with the National Cathedral, which is for the whole province of the Philippines. Yes, it’s kinda complicated having both provincial and diocesan buildings in the same city, especially when getting from one to another may involve long hours in traffic. This was us arriving on Wednesday evening and driving from the airport into the city…. hey, it’s all part of the experience; even traffic jams are ‘more fun in the Philippines’ as the advertising slogan goes!

For historical reasons, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines is strongest among the indigenous Igorot people in the mountainous provinces of the northern Philippines, but many have moved south, looking for land to farm and settle on, and some have settled in the EDCP area around Manila (they, together with the 2 Chinese-speaking Episcopal churches in Manila, form the backbone of the EDCP today). The partnership between St. James’ Church, Taichung and EDCP started in 1998 when Bishop Manuel Lumpias wrote from Manila to Bishop John C.T. Chien in Taiwan describing how groups of Igorot Episcopalians gather to worship under mango trees due to lack of church buildings. Mango trees are everywhere in the Philippines, big and broad and shady; great for groups to meet under them on a temporary basis, but not much good in the rain!

Bishop Chien gave that letter to Rev. Charles C. T. Chen, then rector of St. James’ Church, Taichung, and Charles was deeply moved. He remembers how St. James’ itself started through the generosity of Christ Church, Greenville in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina (USC) and the United Thank Offering (UTO) way back in the early 1970’s. As Charles said, when he read Bishop Lumpias’ letter, “In Taiwan, we had nothing and we were so poor; now we have everything, so it is time for us to help others. Just as Christ Church and the UTO gave so willingly to us in our early days, so we want to express our thanks by sharing our wealth with others.”

And so Charles sprang into action, and within a short time, St. James’ Church had raised US$ 6,000 to build a church in EDCP. Then, on finding out that the village had no water supply, they raised a further US$ 3,000 to install a permanent water supply for the whole community. That church was Christ the King, Sandeline, Nueva Ecija, consecrated on July 27, 1999. But it was only the beginning, and through succeeding EDCP bishops, Bishop Benjamin Botengan and then Bishop Dixie Taclobao, the partnership expanded from that one church to eventually become 12 churches, all built with money raised by St. James’ Church. In many cases, it was individual donors from St. James who wanted to express their gratitude to God by building a church in the Philippines, in other cases it was a collective church effort.

As time went on, so the cost of construction increased, but Charles always loves a challenge and he continued undaunted! In 2010, thinking the project was at an end with 11 churches built, a Thanksgiving Service was held at Holy Carpenter Church, Villa Labrador (church No. 8, consecrated in November 2009), and attended not only by Charles and his wife, Maryjo, but also the Bishop of Taiwan, David J. H. Lai and his wife Lily. Actually it turned out that one more church was to be built after that, St. Gregory’s, Cogeo, Metro Manila, consecrated in November 2012; one third of the money was donated by a member of St. James, Ms. Hsu Hui-Lan, in memory of her husband, whose Chinese name translates as Gregory, the rest of the money was raised by St. James’ Church. We visited St. Gregory’s Church on this trip, and were warmly welcomed by the church members…

Since 2012, with the official completion of the church-building project, our partnership has developed in different ways. St. James Church, Taichung welcomed Lynn Baguiwet, trusted and faithful EDCP Finance Officer for a 2-week visit in September 2013, followed by Rev. Joel del Rosario who came to St. James for 2 months in the summer of 2015. Both have become great friends of us all, and we hope for more visits from EDCP clergy and friends in the future! This is Lynn on the left, and Fr. Joel on the right with Rev. Lily L. L. Chang, current rector of St. James’ Church, Taichung…

It was Rev. Lily Chang who organized this visit to EDCP; it was actually her first visit, she became rector of St. James in 2015. Rev. Charles Chen and Maryjo came too of course, they are both so amazingly full of energy at 84 years old, and intrepid travelers still. They couldn’t wait to get to the Philippines and meet all our old friends once again! And we were accompanied by Rev. Sam C. S. Cheng and his wife, Julie, such great supporters of this whole partnership. Sam is former junior warden of St. James from way back in the late 1990’s, and so it was Charles, Maryjo, Sam and Julie who had made that first visit from St. James to EDCP to see the first church, Christ the King, Sandeline; we think that visit was in the summer of 1999. That was just after I arrived at St. James. Since that initial visit, there have been 7 visits altogether of St. James’ people to EDCP with a grand total of about 20 church members from St. James having visited one or more times. Charles has been on 6 of the visits, with a gap of one in the middle, I too have been on 6 of the visits, excluding the very first one. Thought you might like to see one of the early photos, from my first trip in 2003, when we visited one of ‘our’ churches, St. Mark’s Church, San José, Nueva Ecija – when were all a bit younger!

In 2017, when we heard that Bishop Dixie was going to retire, we had originally planned to come to the consecration of the new bishop, really as a way to say goodbye to our beloved Bishop Dixie and to thank him again for all his support in our partnership. But it wasn’t possible to come to the consecration due to timing, so we resolved to come instead to the installation. Thus it was that we arrived on Wednesday evening, March 13, after a 1¾ hour flight from Taipei. Two very helpful seminarians, Fray and Go, met us at the airport on behalf of the diocese. When we arrived at the hotel, we discovered that, staying at the same hotel as us and also attending the installation service, were our old friends, Archbishop Ng Moon Hing (Bishop of West Malaysia, Archbishop of the Province of S. E. Asia and Chair of CCEA – Council of Churches of East Asia), and his wife, Siew Lan. They are just so lovely and friendly! And then Archbishop Ng went off for a conference call, and Bishop Dixie, his wife Juliet and assistant Moises all came by to say hello. By then it was quite late, after their full day of meetings, but it was so great to renew our friendships and reconnect once again!

On Thursday morning, Lily and I were up and out ready for pick-up at 6:00 am (yes, EDCP conventions start really early!) We attended the 6:30 am Memorial Service at the National Cathedral, held on the third day of the convention each year, in memory of those of EDCP who have died in the previous year.

Then breakfast with the delegates and reunions with our old friends, especially Fr. Joel!

While the delegates had their meetings, we waited for the rest of our group, and then went on a tour of the compound. First to the National Cathedral. In 2012, we had the chance to meet Bishop Manuel Lumpias, whose letter had sparked the whole partnership (he used to say that it was the best letter he ever wrote, even though he couldn’t remember anything particular about it!) Bishop Lumpias sadly died last summer and his ashes are interred in the columbarium at the National Cathedral. Lynn took us to see his memorial and Charles was delighted to discover that he and Bishop Lumpias in fact share the same birthday, 5 years apart! We had a prayer in thanksgiving for the life and ministry of Bishop Lumpias, it was very moving to remember him on this visit.

We also visited St. Andrew’s Seminary (SATS) with a warm welcome and tour of the buildings too!

And we were delighted to meet up with Bishop Benjamin Botengan, Bishop Dixie’s predecessor, and his wife, Mrs. Kate Botengan. Such a happy reunion, and a group photo – of course!

We met up with Fr. Gerry, such a delight…

And then we visited Prime Bishop Joel Pachao in his office, just above the meeting room of the EDCP convention; ‘prime bishop’ means he’s in overall charge of all 7 dioceses of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines…

After lunch, while the delegates finished up their convention meetings, we were taken to visit St. Stephen’s High School, where we enjoyed meeting the principal, Dr. Judy Tan, and her staff once again. The school is bilingual, Mandarin Chinese and English, and they persuaded me to visit 2 of the classrooms to talk to the students to try to enthuse them to keep up their Chinese – yep, wish I’d had the chance to learn it when I was their age!

And then next door to the ‘pro-cathedral’ for the installation service at 5:00 pm. Also at the service were Bishop Luke Muto and a group from the Diocese of Kyushu, Japan, companion diocese of EDCP, and other bishops of the Philippines, plus ecumenical partners, friends and family of the new bishop. It turns out that Bishop Rex has many friends in the Taiwan Presbyterian Church through his former work as General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP), and ongoing responsibilities at the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Taiwan Ecumenical Forum. Wonderful!

After the service, we went to another part of the school for the installation dinner – yummy yummy! We had beauitful music and dancing displays from students of St. Stephen’s High School…

On behalf of Bishop David J. H. Lai, Rev. Lily Chang presented both Bishop Dixie and Bishop Rex with artillery shell crosses

And Bishop Rex presented our group with distinctive Igorot bags from Sagada Weaving… THANK YOU! 😊😊😊

Bishop Rex also presented Bishop Dixie with a special plaque of thanksgiving ….

We met Bishop Rex’s family…

And so many friends!

On Friday, March 15, while Bishop Rex was meeting with his clergy, Bishop Dixie and Juliet kindly gave up their first official day of retirement to take us to visit 2 of ‘our’ churches. At the first one, St. Gregory’s, we were warmly welcomed with coffee and snacks. We sang in English, Tagalog and Chinese, then shared in fellowship with the church members. The plot of land is tiny, so the church has an upstairs, and it was great to see the way it is being so well used for Sunday School, and as a place where seminarians can stay when they come for the weekends.

The senior warden and one of the church members came on with us to visit the second of our churches, St. James, in rural San Isiro, about an hour away from St. Gregory’s. The road has now been paved to within a few km of the church so everyone was delighted. We passed a jeepney with people sitting on the roof, and resolved if we ever come again, then we hope Bishop Dixie’s energetic and adventurous wife, Juliet can take us for a trip on the top of a jeepney! The 15 church members had all gathered at St. James to welcome us and cook lunch, made from their own vegetables, fruits and chickens. It was really delicious! Fr. Ben, in charge of both St. Gregory’s and St. James, is currently in Jerusalem, but his wife, Liz had come especially to St. James to join us, and she had brought a Ugandan friend, Catherine who came to Manila originally to do a PhD and is now doing research. It was great to find myself speaking Swahili with her – in the unlikely setting of the middle of the Philippine countryside! We had brought a box of T-shirts from our St. James’ Language Institute, bearing the name of St. James, for the people of both churches, also boxes of pineapple cakes!

By then we were exhausted and ready to go back to Manila, but hey, there was some shopping to be done, and energy levels suddenly shot up – off to the shopping mall to buy some must-have dried mangoes!

That evening, Rev. Lily Chang (on behalf of St. James’s Church) hosted a dinner in a Chinese restaurant, and it was wonderful to be able to share our gratitude with our wonderful hosts. We welcomed Bishop Dixie and Juliet, Bishop Rex, Fr. Joel, Lynn, Fr. Lendehl (EDCP, but formerly supported by AsiaCMS, we’ve met twice at CMS conferences in Malaysia and Cambodia!), Moises (who organized all our program and answered every question we ever had!), Deacon Ritchie (our amazing driver), plus Emily and Soledad who are members of the diocesan partnership committee. We shared our vision for future partnership and had a lot of laughs and fun, then presented gifts from St. James to everyone present…

And finally a group photo, YES!

And on Saturday early morning, we found ourselves on the way to the airport, driven by Fray – and accompanied by Fr. Joel who had come to see us off. They are all so kind and wonderful! Saturday apparently is even busier on the roads than weekdays, especially it being just after pay day – but we got there so early, we missed most of it!

And so farewell to Manila – the sun was shining as we took off, and as we looked down on the land below…

In fact it was beautiful weather all the way to the southern tip of Taiwan – which you can just see in the distance below…

After that, well, the clouds rolled in, and by the time we reached Taoyuan Int’l Airport, guess what, it was back to the rain that so characterizes the north of Taiwan. The sun was definitely great while it lasted!

A very big thank you to all our good friends in the Philippines, to Bishop Dixie and Bishop Rex and all in EDCP for their warm welcome and gracious hospitality, for their vision and their willingness to participate with us in this great adventure in mission. Thank you too to Rev. Lily Chang for welcoming me to join their group, and to St. James’ Church for their support. And to Rev. Charles Chen (and as always supported by MaryJo) especially, in gratitude for his vision, courage, passion and energy which has inspired so many to give to this project and enabled our partnership to develop over the years. Most of all, we give thanks to our Almighty God for His many blessings and for his enabling. To God be the glory, Amen!

Advent Word 2017, Day 8 ‘prepare’

#AdventWord #prepare

‘PREPARE for what? How do you PREPARE for the Word of God to come and “take our flesh and grow as a child in Mary’s womb?” PREPARE and “grow as a child.”’

Today we celebrate Rev. Charles C. T. Chen 陳金地牧師 82nd birthday ~ Happy Birthday Charles! He and MaryJo are not in Taiwan to celebrate, instead they are in Italy with Bishop David J. H. Lai and the group from the National Council of Churches of Taiwan (NCCT) visiting many people and places, including the Vatican and Pope Francis (check the report here).

This photo is Charles and MaryJo’s engagement photo, taken in 1958, as they PREPARE(d) for their marriage.  Wow, almost 60 years ago!

And what’s the connection with the ‘Visit to the Taiwan Episcopal Church 台灣聖公會 of Bishop John A. Pinckney from Taiwan’s Companion Diocese, the Episcopal Diocese of Upper S. Carolina (EDUSC), October 1965?’

Fast forward to 1996, and St. James’ Episcopal Church, Taichung became a parish, with Rev. Charles C. T. Chen as rector. In 1998, a letter from Bishop Manuel Lumpias of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines (EDCP) to then Bishop of Taiwan, John C. T. Chien described how Igorot Christians in EDCP were meeting for worship under mango trees because they had no church buildings of their own. Inspired by memories of the generous US$ 30,000 donation in 1971 from Christ Church, Greenville, EDUSC, to build St. James’ Church, Charles responded in faith and love, inspiring church members and friends to donate money sufficient to build a church in EDCP. That first church, Christ the King, Sandeline in Nueva Ecija, soon inspired a second, then a third, and eventually over 12 years, a total of 12 churches were built to the glory of God.

As Charles said at the time, “In Taiwan, we had nothing and we were so poor. Now we have everything, so it is time for us to help others. Just as Christ Church, Greenville, EDUSC gave so willingly to us in our early days, so we want to express our thanks by sharing our wealth with others.”  Thanks Be To God!

Congratulations to the Filipino Community in Tanzi, Taichung!

Celebrating the opening mass and blessing last Sunday, August 14, of the new Filipino R. C. Church in 台中市 潭子區 Tanzi, Taichung by 蘇耀文 主教 The Most Rev. Martin Yao-Wen Su, R. C. Bishop of Taichung.


Congratulations to my good friend, Fr. Joyalito ‘Joy’ Tajonera MM 陳智仁 神父 @ Ugnayan Migrants and Immigrant Ministry, and all the Filipino Community in Tanzi!

14095759_10208799574920226_2301527666299081520_n 14067445_10208799575560242_6224721952377355100_n

Address: 台中市 潭子區 興華一路 300號 3樓 Taichung City, Tanzi District, Xing Hua First Road, No. 300, 3rd floor. Sunday Mass Times: 7:45am and 9:00am

14063969_10208799573840199_1747228291942991286_n 14034862_10208799572320161_4855916772000084427_n

This is their fifth move to different rented accommodation since Fr. Joy started the migrant ministry in Tanzi in 2004. First they worshiped in a factory restaurant, then an apartment building, then a banquet hall, then a former department store. This new church building is a former movie theatre above a supermarket, now converted to a R. C. Church and the Ugnayan Migrant Center serving the Filipino community.


Thanks be to God, and please pray for Fr. Joy and all the Filipino Community in Tanzi!

Trinity Sunday in Taichung!

A city of colour even on a rainy day!

Attended the morning service with the Filipino community, mostly migrant workers, who gather at the Church of the Immaculate Conception every Sunday.  The main mass is at 12 noon, and is always packed out, so they now have a new mass at 10:45 am too – that’s the one I went to.  The priest is a good friend of mine, Fr. Joy from Maryknoll Missioners.

And check out that beautiful church minibus, their very own popemobile…..

Now just waiting for the pope himself lol!

Welcoming Rev. Joel del Rosario ~ from EDCP to Taipei!

The latest exciting adventure in the ongoing partnership between St. James’ Church, Taichung and the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines (EDCP) has been the visit to St. James for the last 2 months of Rev. Joel del Rosario – and these last 3 days on his way back home to the Philippines he had the chance to come to Taipei ~ YES!

Fr. Joel was previously in charge of several of the churches in EDCP that have been built with money raised by St. James’ Church since 1998. He was also previously dean of the national cathedral in Manila, and we’ve all met him several times on our visits to the Philippines. So it was extra nice to have a chance to show him around Taipei!

A non-stop visit, so much to see, so much to do!  He could have been here for a week, and still there would not have been enough time to meet everyone and see everywhere, ha ha! So, on Wednesday, a short visit to St. John’s University and Advent Church, then an evening walk at Baishawan Beach to see the northern tip of Taiwan in the distance and to escape the afternoon storms further down the coast…..

Thursday was busy busy busy!  The whole day in Taipei City, to Good Shepherd Church, St. Christopher’s R. C. Church – where the Filipino community worships, St. John’s Cathedral (lots of photos of the stained glass!), Changing of the Guard at the C.K.S. Memorial, visit to the diocesan office (Bishop Lai is away at the General Convention in the USA, so we did our own tour, and the diocesan staff kindly welcomed us and smiled for photos!), then Taipei 101 – where it was very grey and stormy when we went in, but an hour later there was bright sunshine!  In both Good Shepherd Church and St. John’s Cathedral, the churches were decorated for their kindergarten graduations this weekend.  And finally dinner with my good friend, Fr. Joy…

And yesterday – well, to the airport!

Although I spent the day taking photos while Fr. Joel kindly posed for them, he went up Taipei 101 on his own with my camera, so those photos are all his own work!

Fr. Joel’s baby granddaughter, Alyss, is currently in Chang-Gung Hospital in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, the partner hospital of St. Luke’s Hospital in Manila.  She and her parents have been here for several months in order for baby Alyss to have a liver transplant – the surgery was in early April, and she is making a good recovery. Please do pray for her and for the family at this time.

So it’s been a great 3 days, thank you to everyone in Taipei for your hospitality, thank you Fr. Joel for coming, and thank you Bishop Dixie and our friends in EDCP for a great partnership in mission! And Fr. Joel – please come back again soon!

New Month, New CMS Link Letter, New House!

Ah, June, a new month!  Except that I’m only just surfacing – and realizing that 9 days of June has already passed. Ah well!

However the good news is that, at long last, and a whole long year since the last one was published ~ hot off the press comes my latest CMS Link Letter ~ click on the link below….

Lee, Catherine 66

In it, you will see that the big event of this month so far was moving house on June 1. Yep, it all happened as planned, with a huge amount of help from many people, and I’ve been unpacking boxes and sorting out ever since.  Like y’do.  June in Taiwan is not the coolest month for moving anything anywhere.  But hey, it’s happened and it’s done ~ YES!

The Wednesday before the big move, Rev. Lennon Chang and a small group from Advent Church kindly came along for the New House Blessing and Holy Communion ~ very moving and very meaningful.  Everyone has been so kind, and done so much, and look, even Tan Mama turned up on the night!

Since then, lots of people have been to have a look and offer advice on what to put where ~ but until this weekend it was all chaos, yep chaos – stuff everywhere!

Last night was the first group who actually got a chance to sit down ~ and here they are! All colleagues from St. John’s University, we were originally all in the same office together ~ so we had a great evening of food and fun, and a quick visit to my new house!


And in case you’re wondering, that beautiful table-covering above was a gift from Bishop Dixie Taclobao and the Igorot people in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Philippines, given on our visit there 2-3 years ago – the ladies there wear them and dance – but y’know my dancing is so terrible and, well, it just looks so stunningly beautiful on the table!

A New Month, New CMS Link Letter, New House ~ it’s all happening ~ YES!