December 10, 2018
Some leaders visit a country and want to see its tallest buildings or most impressive monuments, others to experience the laughter and creativity of its people. When Fr. General Arturo Sosa planned his visit to the Philippines, he had one simple request: "Take me where we serve the poor."
It was in that spirit that Fr. General and a small group of Jesuits traveled to Kalookan City, the densely populated "killing fields" of the Philippine war on drugs. Greeted by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, DD at San Rogue Cathedral, Fr. Sosa heard firsthand of the tragedy that has befallen the 4th largest city in the Philippines: thousands dead, extra judicial killings by police officers, vendettas settled under the guise of justice, a country that excuses the violence because the people of Kalookan have been denounced by the administration as "non-humans" and "contract killers".
Bishop Ambo, as David is affectionately known, invited the Jesuits to serve the "poorest of the poor" in the Philippines by establishing Sacred Heart Mission Station in Kaunlaran Village this past October. Assigning Fr. Willy Samson, SJ and scholastics Br. Madz Tumbali, SJ & Br. Nikki Lee, SJ to the station, the Jesuits have been serving casualties of the drug war. Bishop Ambo wrote of those in the city lost to violence, "we often forget about their families: about the wives who are widowed and the children who are orphaned". It was these "forgotten" who greeted the Bishop and Fr. General as they arrived at the Mission Station to see the progress being made by the Jesuits and Bishop David's community-based drug rehabilitation program.
Of the Village Fr. General said in his homily at the start of the week, “In a place where so many poor people have been killed, it is one small mission station, but it seems to me to be a beginning in the way John the Baptist was a beginning: full of the promise of new life. That seems to be the way hope is built in this world, one small step at a time.”
Ending the day at the Loyola House of Studies, Fr. General celebrated mass with a group of Jesuit colleagues and benefactors before sharing his reflections on the visit with those who can most readily help the mission. "Thank you for your generosity, for being here, for being part of this body. We are all collaborators in a mission that is not the mission of the Society of Jesus – but the mission that Jesus gave to the Church." Looking at the assembly of Jesuits and lay colleagues, Fr. General smiled and said, "We are so few, so small. We don’t have any power. The only real power is the grace of Christ.”