Greetings from the Philippines! What an eventful season it has been! We have been blessed with baptisms, ordinations, an episcopal visit, and refreshing fellowship with hundreds of zealous, newly-Orthodox Christians.
But first, exciting news closer to home…
For nearly three years, this chapel, built of woven bamboo, has been the home of the Orthodox community of St John Maximovitch in Santa Maria, Davao del Sur. God has regularly met us here in the sacraments and in warm fellowship.
But lately it has become apparent that our chapel needs more than superficial repairs. Less than a year ago we replaced the thatch roof, but it is now leaking again (this is the rainy season, so four or five blinding rainstorms per day will test any roof!) Meanwhile, in several places the woven-bamboo walls are buckling due to moisture. But through God’s mercy and the generosity of mission partners, there is already some money in the bank dedicated to a building fund! With this as a beginning, we aim to make use of this opportunity to rebuild.
Our hope is to replace the current chapel with something a bit larger and much more durable. We mean to widen the concrete pad, erect a galvanized metal roof, and build walls out of concrete blocks, so that the community of St John’s will have a place to meet for many years to come. If we reach our goal, then we will not only finish the functional construction of the building, but will go on to paint the walls, tile the floor, and make this truly a place to “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.”
Father Philip Ordained to the Priesthood
Father Philip Balingit has been at the center of the Philippine Mission from the beginning. He guided Father Seraphim and Fr Silouan on their mission visit in 2013, and was part of the disaster response of the Church of Russia after the catastrophic Typhoon Yolanda. For the past two years he has been studying at the Moscow Theological Academy
This July, Father Philip was tonsured to the Small Schema, and ordained to the diaconate. On Saturday, July 25, the Hierodeacon Philip was ordained to the holy priesthood by His Grace Bishop George of Canberra, at the Orthodox Cathedral in Strathfield, NSW, Australia.
Axios! Axios! Axios!
Introduction to Orthodoxy in Maitum
Orthodox Christians including Fr Silouan and John Mahinay shared how they came to the Orthodox faith, and missionary Alphaeus Sucayre gave a talk on the history of Christianity. Between speakers, visitors from Russia sang Orthodox hymns in Slavonic, and an ad hoc choir of singers from Polomolok, Alabel, Kiblawan and Santa Maria sang hymns from the Liturgy in Cebuano. Father Kirill Shkarboul, Orthodox priest from Taiwan, gave a closing message.
Over a hundred inquirers, catechumens, friends and neighbors attended an event in Maitum. Attendees included Roman Catholics, Aglipayans, Methodists and others. We were delighted with the level of interest and enthusiasm among those present!
Catechumens in the area are building an Orthodox temple at Maitum in anticipation of their baptism. Please pray that they be guarded and guided home to the Church.
Divine Liturgy at Palo, Leyte
On a visit to the mission area at Palo, Leyte, Fr Silouan concelebrated the Divine Liturgy with Antiochian priests Fr Konstantine Lautillo from Manila and Fr Sava Crispo Holanda Salinas from Tacloban. It was a blessed time of fellowship with the people of St Nikolai Velimirovic Mission. An added highlight was meeting Fr Deacon Eugenio, of the former Antiochian mission in Tacloban.
Episcopal visit to the Philippines
The Philippines gratefully welcomed the first visit of a Russian Orthodox bishop to this country since Saint John was here with his refugee flock over sixty years ago. Bishop Sergey of Solnechnogorsk, together with missionary clergy from Russia and many Orthodox faithful from Mindanao, visited the church of the Protection of the Theotokos in Polomolok, St Isidore of Rostov in Alabel, St John Maximovitch parish in Santa Maria, and the mission community at Kiblawan. In each parish he served a moleben and encouraged the faithful. Click for details and photos.
John Mahinay ordained to the Subdeaconate
With the blessing of Metropolitan Hilarion, on August 11, Bishop Sergey of Solnechnogorsk ordained John Mahinay to the subdiaconate at our chapel of St John Maximovitch.
Before his becoming Orthodox three years ago, for over twenty years Subdeacon John was a priest of the Philippine Independent Church, and he is still affectionately known as “Father Mahinay” all across our province of Davao del Sur. It is a joy to see him recognized for his leadership in the parish of Saint John Maximovitch, and to share the grace which God poured out today at his ordination.
At the culmination of a long period of catechism, in recent months we have been privileged to welcome hundreds of catechumens into the Orthodox Church. With the blessing of Archbishop Mark of Yegorievsk and of Metropolitan Hilarion, Fr Silouan assisted in a number of mass baptisms.
- 187 received into the Church in ocean baptism at Kiamba
- 239 baptized at Ladol
- 67 people baptized at Kayupo
These baptisms mark the end of a long quest for many people to find the Church – and the beginning of the lifelong process of learning to live within the Church.
Books for the mission
One of the keys to forming an Orthodox mindset in these newly-Orthodox communities is solid Orthodox teaching from the Bible. Jim Boubonis, a mission partner in the US, has graciously offered to collect Orthodox commentaries on the Scriptures, in order to ship them all to us here in teh Philippines. This will let us put reliable Orthodox Bible interpretation and doctrines in the hands of community leaders.
Prayers for peace and safety in our region
Please join us in praying for peace and safety for the faithful and everyone in our region. From recent headlines:
- IED explodes inside bus in Polomolok: 19 hurt
- Davao under red alert status; task group formed for Samal abduction
- British girl kidnapped in Philippines
- US State Department: Philippines Travel Warning
After a season of much travel, which interrupted formal language study, Fr Silouan is at last returning to a formal tutorial in the Cebuano language. He can functionally communicate in Cebuano, but needs further skills before he is ready to translate the liturgical services of the Church.
This has become increasingly important as so many more people are added to the Church; more than any lecture, the inspired service texts – Matins, Vespers, the festal services, and Lent – are invaluable in forming the mind of the Church with regard to sin and repentance, worship and prayer, the saints and the sacraments, and the whole life in Christ.
As a result, though he will still travel often to serve and teach, for the next few months Fr Silouan will be concentrating on class assignments and daily study to expand his fluency until he can begin presenting the divine services of the Church in the Cebuano language. Please pray for diligence and illumination in this study!
The combination of long-distance travel and a return to language class impacts the mission budget. Thankfully, the new budget is nearly fully funded! Please pray with us that new mission partners will come alongside to help us build the Church in the Philippines.
If you or your parish would like to be part of reaching and serving the Philippines, you can partner with us by clicking here and making a monthly pledge of any amount. We pray for and commemorate all our mission partners and benefactors; may God bless and reward you all!
Priest Silouan Thompson
Santa Maria, Philippines