A church for the parish of St. Anthony
The island of Basilan belongs to the Mindanao group of islands in the southern Philippines. Whereas in the Philippines as a whole Catholics form the great majority of the population, here on the island of Basilan Muslims make up around two thirds of the population.
This is part of a region where the Islamist terrorists of the Abu-Sayaf group have been trying to establish a breakaway “Islamic State of Mindanao”. Though they describe themselves to be “Islamic fighters,” they are regarded by the international community and by the rest of the Filipino population as terrorists and common criminals. They continue to try and spread fear and division through bombings and abductions.
“We would like to build a solid and permanent church that will convey a message of stability and solidarity and of the strong faith of the people of God.”
The parish of Saint Anthony in Lamitan City is a vigorous and thriving parish, despite these circumstances. There is a regular Sunday congregation of 700 Catholic faithful. The parish church has stood here for 40 years, but over the course of time it has become increasingly decrepit and is moreover far too small for the growing Catholic community. There is an urgent need for a new and larger church, but the parish is too poor to raise the funds for such a project.
Bishop Martin Jumoad supports this project, dear to his heart. For one thing, the need for the church is obvious. And, at the same time it will be a powerful sign of the presence and identity of the Catholics in this town. He writes, “We would like to build a solid and permanent church that will convey a message of stability and solidarity and of the strong faith of the people of God. The Muslims respect people who are united and strong and who live a life of prayer.
A solid church will earn their respect and will hopefully also help to bring peace to our land.” ACN is helping with a contribution of $43 500 .