VOICE FROM THE SOUTH
By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, SJ
How did the American Jesuits get to the Philippines? The New York Jesuit province was looking for a mission to start in mid-1920. They had the potential of going to Alaska so that people like Fr. Pollock kept his windows open during the winter to get used to the potential cold of Alaska. The Jesuit General in Rome assigned then a province in India. But when the British Consul saw their names as mostly of Irish descent, the British consul refused to give them visas because at that time the Irish were giving the British a lot of trouble. Names like “O’Donnell, Malley, O’Leary” et al. were not eligible for British visas to India. The solution was to ask the Spanish province of Leon to give up the Philippines and instead send their men to India. It was heroic for the Spanish Jesuits to give up their developed mission in the Philippines and go to India. Since the Spaniards had to learn English because the country had been turned over to the Americans, they would no longer have that problem. The Spanish Jesuits had missions in Mindanao and several schools in Luzon like the Ateneo Municipal, San Jose Seminary, San Javier and the Seminary in Ilocos, and a residence in Cebu. This is how the New York American Jesuits that many Ateneo students got to know got to the Philippines.
The first batch of about 25 arrived around 1927. Among these were prominent individuals who easily involved themselves in the mission. The American rector of the Ateneo became a good friend of the governor general. And was supposed to frequent Malacanang and relax by throwing stones to skip the waters of the Pasig River. One of these early American Jesuits was Fr. George Wilmann who propagated the Knights of Columbus in this country. Cardinal Tagle has been interested in promoting his cause for sainthood. Fr. Wilmann also developed youth centers in Sampaloc that had a big effect on the local hoodlums. Then there was Fr. Walter Hogan who was in charge of the ACIL (Ateneo Catholic Instruction League) where Ateneo students taught the Catechism to younger students mostly in public schools. After the Japanese war, he also organized the workers in the Manila waterfront. One of his organizations was taken over by Mr, Oca whose children still continue the work in the waterfront.
Then there was Fr. Dennis Lynch, who worked with the establishing of the NCAA in Manila later followed by Fr. Edgar Martin in the promotion of basketball in the country. Then there were the Jesuits sent to Mindanao. In northern Mindanao they brought back the people to the Catholic faith. Most of the Filipino priests in Northern Mindanao had followed Monsignor Aglipay to his schismatic church. That group of Fr. William Hayes, later to become bishop of Cagayan de Oro, and dearly referred to as the “Kamahalan”. There were the pioneers in intellectual disciplines like Fr. Frank Lynch, the distinguished sociologist and the philosopher, Fr. Joseph lMulry, and Fr.John Delaney of UPSCA. Then there were economists like Fr. Nicholson And there was Fr. Giselle who produced the Atex which Ateneans drank in gallons. Of course there were many other illustrious names and those who worked silently for the development of this country, like Fr. Murray, Fr. Fasy, Fr. Ducheneau, Fr. Mudd, and many others who made successful inroads in the faith and economy of this nation.
(One of the Spanish Jesuits displaced, on vacation in Spain, was Fr. Manuel Peypoch who was martyred by the Republican Spaniards in the mid 1930”s. He was the teacher of many prominent Filipinos.) <emeterio_barcelon@Yahoo.com>