This June, we were thankful to announce the ordination of Priests Joachim Gonzales and David Grubbs for the Philippine Diocese. Then, in September, Filipino deacons Romans Buniel and Moses Cahilig were ordained to the priesthood, finishing a long period of preparation. But the learning process has only begun, as the new priests are beginning their forty days of Liturgies and all the clergy are preparing for continuing studies: the priesthood requires not only liturgical training, but pastoral skills and education.
This week, newly-ordained clergy continued to practice the Divine Liturgy at the Mission Center in Davao City, together with the next group of lay servant leaders who are beginning preparation for (God willing) ordination to the diaconate. Also in these photos are several young men studying English and Scripture in preparation for seminary studies in Russia, and men and women learning to sing and to conduct an Orthodox choir.
A few years ago, the Philippine mission was in internet headlines because of a few mass baptisms. What is happening now – ordinations of Filipinos, raising up lay leaders, male and female, and establishing diocesan and pastoral structures – is less dramatic and photogenic; but it is at least as important in the growth of the Church. By God’s mercy, Orthodoxy in the Philippines is beginning its transition from a faraway foreign mission to a genuine, Filipino expression of the Church.