25th Anniversary of our MSSP Mission in the Philippines

January 11 1999: Start of the new mission of the Missionary Society of Saint Paul in the Philippines.
Fr Annuziato (Lonnie) Borg mssp and Fr Ivano Burdian mssp were the first two missionaries forming the MSSP community in the Philippines. The first and second houses, in Heroes’ Hill, Quezon City, were small rented houses, lacking any form of comfort. Later, an old bungalow was bought on 13th Street, Barangay Damayan Lagi, New Manila, Quezon City.

In 2004 the Missionary Society of St Paul was invited to lead the newly established parish of St Catherine of Alexandria, Barangay Pagalanggang, Dinalupihan District, Bataan Province; Fr Joe Cremona mssp, the third missionary to join this young mission, was its first parish priest.
During the 2006 General Chapter it was decided to open a new Paulist International Theologate on the 13th Street property. A new residence, St Paul’s House of Formation, was built for this purpose. This house was officially blessed and opened in 2009. This house welcomes in it all MSSP students during their theology years. Today more stages of formation are carried out in this house of formation.

Soon the need arose to establish another house of formation to cater for young men from the region of the Philippines who were asking to join our community. Initially the old bungalow on 13th Street, New Manila, was used for this purpose, but this house was not adequate for this need. In 2018 the old bungalow was demolished and a new, three storey building arose in its place. Due to the COVID pandemic, work was slow, but it was eventually finished and started welcoming young men from the Philippines and Vietnam for their first years of formation, before they passed on to the International House of Formation. Until now the members could not find an adequate time to officially bless and open this new house of formation.

Sunday January 28 2024: the members of the Missionary Society of Saint Paul celebrate the 25th Anniversary from the establishing of the mission in the Philippines. For this occasion, Fr Mark Grima mssp, the Superior General, travelled to the Philippines. The members were also fortunate enough to be joined by a dear friend of the Society, Cardinal Mario Grech. Cardinal Grech visited the Philippines upon the invitation of Cardinal Jose Advincula, Archbishop of Manila. During his stay in the Philippines, Cardinal Grech spoke at the tenth Philippines Conference on New Evangelisation (PCNE) and addressed the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines at their assembly. He also found time to meet with Maltese missionaries working in Manila.
This was the golden opportunity for the members in the Philippines to invite the Superior General to open and bless the new House of Formation. This new house has been named after Br Joseph Caruana mssp, one of the first two members to join the Missionary Society of St Paul in 1910, and the first to be sent by the Servant of God Joseph De Piro as a missionary to Ethiopia, in Africa in 1927. Caruana worked in Ethiopia all his life without ever returning to Malta. He died and was buried in Ethiopia in 1975. It is certainly very appropriate for the new Local House of Formation to carry the name of this first missionary, our older brother in the congregation.
We continue to thank God for his goodness to us, especially in this mission in the Philippines, and continue to ask God’s blessings upon us. We also pray that more young men choose to follow upon the footsteps of the Servant of God Joseph De Piro.

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