Properly spelled, it would be Pads, but in the English language this spelling doesn’t lend itself to the correct pronunciation. “Pads” comes from Padre and is just one of the many nicknames we have for Father Joe, the parish priest with whom we work here in Sagay.
|Blessing a parishioner's newly-purchased motorella.|
Pods is nothing if not the visible representation of Christ to the local people. Through his words from the pulpit, his work in the trenches, and his untiring fidelity in his vocation to the priesthood, Father offers his people hope, bolsters their faith, and constantly reminds them of their duty to their fellow man -- that Christ’s second most important commandment after love of God is love of neighbor.
|Pods with some of his biggest fans.|
It is a great honor and a privilege to serve alongside Fr. Joe. Although I have known and loved many holy priests in dioceses around the U.S., I have never met one who cares as generously and tenderly for the sheep of his flock as does Fr. Joe. No need is too great or too small. As Pods frequently jokes when he presents us with just one more alms request, it’s our fault that he comes to us for financial support for the needs of the people -- we’re the ones who signed up for this mission in the first place!
Rebuilding homes, giving sacks of rice to hungry families, providing scholarships for students who cannot afford an education, buying medication for people with every disease or ailment -- these projects and countless others have been accomplished during our months here on Camiguin. Every time Father brings a new need to our attention, I realize again how crucial this is, our relationship with the parish priest. Without him, we would be feeding the few townspeople that regularly come to our door; working together, we can accomplish that and much more. Thanks to your generous hearts and Fr. Joe’s knowledge of the land as well as his impressive networking skills, the money that God gives us is being put to great use!
|Like any good father, Pods is instructing me on the process of sea salt production.|
In his six years at Holy Rosary Church, Fr. Joe has made many improvements to the school and to parish life. Yet even with everything that has been done, Father recognizes that there is always more work to do. “No rest for the wicked,” Pods often quips when we encourage him to take a short break from his work. Life with Father is never boring, that’s for sure. I have been on more adventures in the past seven months than in the previous 24 years of my existence. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
|Fr. Joe with us and a few of his children who are currently living at the convento.|
Father often tells us stories of close calls and moments of divine providence when it is clear that God has a hand in the undertakings of His humble servant. “Someone’s looking out for us up there,” Pods will say with a smile, but my team sees it more as a direct line connecting Fr. Joe to the Holy Spirit. He’s evaded a rebel ambush, recovered from a brain operation when he had just two days left to live, and raised over 60 children all on his own. We’re never concerned for our safety when traveling with Pods, whether on foot, in a jeep, on a ferry, or in a small fisherman’s boat. We know Jesus will keep Father (and us) safe.
What are Fr. Joe’s secrets to life? In no particular order...
- “Lazy man’s coffee.” Instant 3-in-1 packets of coffee/creamer/sugar are a necessity for his morning routine.
- Coca-cola. After 9am, Father switches from coffee to ice-cold coke, and he continues drinking it throughout the day, concluding with a midnight snack of a sandwich and a half liter of coke. Absolutely no water, though he’ll take pepsi if coke isn’t available.
- Crossword puzzles. Father doesn’t have much spare time on his hands, but when he does you might find him puzzling away, or perhaps watching the news.
- Prayer. Sometimes when we show up at the convento unannounced, we’ll run into Father praying the liturgy of the hours. He also takes advantage of the peace and quiet in rare moments such as his weekly ferry rides to pray and take a well-deserved nap.
- People. Fr. Joe is the priest everyone knows. When we’re traveling, we sometimes run into Father’s old parishioners, and they are always thrilled to see him. Pods has a great affection for the Filipino people, but he also has a particular love for missionaries and a special tenderness for little children.
God bless you and keep you, Father!