Remembering a Great Jesuit: Fr. Romeo “Archie” Intengan, S.J.

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Last week, I had a dream with Fr. Romeo “Archie” Intengan, my former professor in Special Moral Theology and local superior while I was still a Jesuit scholastic in 1991. In that dream, we had a warm and serious talk. He listened to all my personal problems and frustrations in life and gave me some consoling advice on how to face them and follow Christ.

Life as a layperson after leaving a religious order can be very challenging and frustrating. I felt being suddenly deprived of all benefits and institutional security when I left the Jesuit and religious life. I felt alone in the world after I left the religious order in 1991.

During this lowest moment of my life, two Jesuits often entered into my mind–Fr. Thomas Green, S.J., my former spiritual director at San Jose Seminary, and Fr. Archie Intengan, S.J., my former Jesuit superior at the Loyola House of Studies. I really wanted to see them and share with them all my struggles in life after I left the congregation.

I did see Fr. Green for a spiritual direction two years after I left the religious order. But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to talk with Fr. Archie before his death. I later knew that he was appointed the overall head or the Provincial of the Jesuits in the Philippines. Knowing the workload of a provincial, I didn’t pursue my plan to have an appointment with him, just to talk to him about my new life as a layman. I knew that he would always be there to listen and to provide me with some advice.

Yes, I was able to see him again with my own family, this time not to talk to him on how I found my vocation outside the religious order but to see him for the last time at the Loyola House of Studies chapel during his wake! Although we may not have met again in person, I always felt he was there, happy for what I have done for my family and for the Church as a layman.

Who is Father Archie?

Father Romeo “Archie” Intengan is a former Surgery Professor of University of the Philippines-General Hospital (UP-PGH), Moral Theologian and Professor of the Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila University, Provincial or national leader of the Jesuit Order in the Philippines, chief ideologue of the Partido Demokratikong Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP), and a spiritual father and friend to the many people who knew him.

It’s difficult to put Father Archie in one category as he is a person with many talents and abilities, performing various social roles while he was still alive. But to me, Fr. Archie is my spiritual father and true friend. He is also my former professor in Special Moral Theology and Juniorate superior at the Loyola House of Studies, Ateneo de Manila University, while I was still a Jesuit scholastic in 1990. Above all, he is my role model for scholarship, nationalism, and love for Christ.

As an Academic Scholar

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Fr. Archie managed to receive his licentiate in Moral Theology in Spain when he slipped out of the country to avoid an arrest that is ordered by the former President Ferdinand Marcos. After the EDSA Revolution in 1986 that ousted Pres. Marcos, Fr. Archie returned to the Philippines and started teaching Special Moral Theology II at the Loyola School of Theology (LST). I was fortunate to belong to the first batch of students he taught at the LST.

I could not have loved knowledge, research, and scholarship without the inspiration of some top Jesuit scholars led by Fr. Archie. Together with Fr. John Schumacher, S.J., and Fr. Joseph Smith, S.J., Fr. Archie is at the top of my list of role models for research and scholarship. I was always impressed by the degree of preparation, depth and high quality of his class notes and readings in our Special Moral Theology course. His conversational style of teaching was easy to understand. His lectures and class notes were very organized and comprehensive. These notes which were worthy of publication were all well-researched and complete with updated references despite his being a busy person. I knew that he always stayed late at night, doing his work as a scholar and teacher, aside from performing his duty as a local superior, medical doctor, and chief political strategist of his political party—the PDSP.

As a Nationalist

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The nationalism of Fr. Archie is par excellence. To me, he is the reincarnated Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino. He endangered his life by fighting the Marcos dictatorship and by trying to reform the country and serve the Catholic Church.

In his Special Moral Theology class, I learned that loving one’s country or patriotism is a sublime expression of loving one’s neighbor as commanded by Christ in the Bible.

 

As a Friend

Fr. Archie may be strong and firm in his beliefs and actions against political malaise and any form of abuse of power in the government, but he remained a gentle friend. He reached out to people and made them comfortable. If you’re sick, you can always knock on his door for a free medical check-up. He would never reject anyone who needs his help.

As a Man on a Mission

Fr. Archie is a man on a mission, a true Jesuit, and soldier of Christ. He knew that all his battles are all meant for the greater glory of God. And He knew that his life would end soon. I was informed that Fr. Archie went to his barber after sensing that his life is about to end.  Knowing him as a very systematic and meticulous person, he probably thought that he should face his relatives, friends, and the public in his wake with a good haircut and grooming. He may be a very busy person but he cares for others, making sure that his presence is always pleasant and loving to them.

Living saints and great followers of Christ live their life with a sole purpose of serving God and His Church through their chosen vocation. And Fr. Archie is one of them. I’m truly grateful to God for giving me the grace and the chance to see a living saint in Fr. Archie!

 

Photo Credits: Reverts to the owner/publisher of Fr. Archie’s photos.

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10 Danger Signs Your Priest Has Serious Problems with His Vocation

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Pope Francis condemns careerism among priests and religious. Treating one’s priesthood as a career rather than a personal calling from God to live a life of service and holiness is contrary to the Church’s teachings on the true nature of Catholic priesthood.

“Using especially strong language on one of his favorite themes, Pope Francis decried a plague of careerism among priests and urged them to renounce their personal ambitions for service to the church — warning that failure to do so would make them look “ridiculous.”

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“Careerism is a leprosy, a leprosy,” the pope said June 6, in a speech to students from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the school for future Vatican diplomats. “Please, no careerism!”

All types of priestly ministry require “great inner freedom,” the pope said, which calls for “vigilance in order to be free from ambition or personal aims, which can cause so much harm to the church.”

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Priests must make their priority the “cause of the Gospel and the fulfillment of the mission” entrusted to them, not self-fulfillment or public recognition, he said.

Such self-denial “may appear demanding,” the pope said, “but it will allow you, so to speak, to be and to breathe within the heart of the church.”

By “cultivating a life of prayer,” he told the priests, one can transform daily work into the “gymnasium of your sanctification” (Catholic News Service).

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Here are some signs that your priest is infected with the leprosy of careerism and, therefore, has serious problems with his vocation as a servant of God. This calls for the laity to pray for priests and be vigilant against clerical abuse to help them overcome careerism:

1. He is often conscious about his physical appearance.

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Priests are expected to be role models in hygiene and decency with regard to attire. But if he is too conscious of his looks and acts like ordinary teenagers, be warned that he have fallen in love with somebody or is having personal issues he cannot let go. It is normal for a person who falls in love to be extra conscious about their appearance and health.

2. He is often unavailable in the parish church.

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Priests are normally busy on weekends, especially Sundays, because most of the sacraments in the parish are celebrated during these days. Except if priests has other duties in the Church or seminary, they are expected to be available on weekdays. If they are not available and always out-of-town, then be warned that they may have personal affairs or relationships they are busy with during ordinary days.

3. He lacks enthusiasm when celebrating the sacraments.

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If the priest celebrates the sacraments such as the Mass, Baptism, Matrimony, etc as if he is only doing them as a chore, without enthusiasm, then be warned that he may have problems with his prayer life. One can easily feel the sanctity of the priest through his aura, demeanor, and level of spiritual enthusiasm in celebrating Christ’s sacraments.

4. He is often in need of money.

Priests have allowances and can receive stipends when celebrating masses. But if he engages in funding raising without a reasonable cause, be warned that your priest might be financing something such as a fancy car or supporting his own family which can be contrary to his vocation.

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5. He is often temperamental.

It is understandable that a priest might get angry if something goes wrong in his parish plans and see wrongdoing of his parishioners. After all, priests are also humans. But if he is suddenly different from his usual self and becomes easily irritable even in trivial things, then be warned that he might be in serious crisis with his vocation. He might have some serious personal problems which may be contrary to his vocation.

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6. He doesn’t prepare well his sermons.

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One can easily tell through the aura and sermon of the priest if he is a holy and spiritual person or he is just doing a chore. A good priest prepares his sermons well. He must not exceed 15 minutes in his homily as suggested by Pope Francis. He must not also use his sermons to vent his personal issues and unfulfilled needs.

7. He loves to show off his latest gadgets.

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Priests who love to show off his latest gadgets, such as iPhones, hoover boards, Mac Pros, and other expensive equipment, are giving wrong impressions to the laity. Why would they act like secular persons if they are spiritual leaders of the Church? They are supposed to be role models in Christian virtues and not commercial models for the latest expensive gadgets. Lay people would then start to doubt the sincerity, spirit of poverty, and holiness of their parish priests if they see them owning and using expensive gadgets.

8. He likes fancy cars.

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Craving for fancy cars and SUVs seems to be the common preoccupation of the new generation of priests. Instead of making themselves role of models of practicing the spirit of poverty mentioned in the Beatitudes, they become status symbols of a middle class lifestyle. The diocese must have a strict policy on owing and using luxury vehicles for their priests as this practice is contrary to the simple lifestyle of Jesus.

9. He is worldly in his ways.

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Priests can be sociable beings but not socialites.As pastors and witnesses of the Gospel, they must be aware that there personal actions, tastes, and activities must not be interpreted by the laity as worldly or materialistic. Lay people can easily spot a priest who is spiritual from a worldly one.

10. He is having an affair.

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Although lay people can sympathize with priest’s loneliness and lack of intimacy in parish church, they are also alarmed if they know their priests are having an affair with women or men. Persistent concubinage and other forms of illicit sexual union by priests are forbidden by the Church’s Canon Law. Once a priest engages in concubinage or sexual abuse, he loses gradually his vocation and lives a double life. He loses his credibility and becomes a liability to the Church. The Catholic church paid millions of dollars as damages in courts due to clerical sexual abuse in the US and around the world. The most common challenge faced by many priests today is how to satisfy their need for intimacy without leaving the priesthood.

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What is the Spirituality of Social Transformation?

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Understanding the Spirituality of Structural Transformation

The word “spirituality” can mean different things to many people. In essence, a spirituality in the Christian tradition is basically a way of life that imitates Christ’s life. Spirituality is a radical living of what one preaches, witnessing to the radical demands of the Gospel (PCP II, n. 282). The Second the Plenary Council of the Philippines speaks a particular type of spirituality for committed Christian to combat social and structural sins and transform society according to God’s plan–the spirituality of social transformation.

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) seems too broad in describing of what precisely this spirituality of social transformation in actual social practice and how can this be practiced by ordinary Christians in daily life. It just described it as a way of life marked by an enduring and intimate commitment to Jesus, a love for him that does not count the cost (PCP II 278), a way of life that is constantly called to a profound transformation of one’s life and living the spirit of the Beatitudes in a world of poverty, oppression, exploitation, and conflict (PCP II#272).

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It is said to be a spirituality that is inspired by the preferential option for the poor, seeking the Kingdom as its primary rule, a spirituality that shares the Good News in the midst of deprivation, hope in situations of cynicism and pessimism (PCP II #280), and a spirituality that listens to and heeds God’s word, discerns and follows the Spirit in the Scriptures, in the Church and in history (PCP II 281).

Social Transformation as an Integral Part of the Christian Faith

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As mentioned above, the Christian faith is not pietistic and individualistic. It has a social or public dimension as this is witnessed in the context of a community. Evangelization is not only about saving the soul but saving the entire person with body and soul. Moreover, a person is not an isolated individual. S/he is a social being who lives in society. S/he influences society, but society also influences him/her. The Church preaches total salvation as the individual is intrinsically linked with the liberation of society from structural sins. Thus, to save the individual implies saving society. Now one cannot liberate society without having a spirituality of social transformation. If the orientation of the individual believer is purely pietistic and individualist, then it is less likely that s/he engages in social actions inspired by the Christian faith and by the teaching on the preferential option for the poor.

The Major Problem in Achieving the Spirituality of Social Transformation

The major problem with the concept of the spirituality of social transformation of PCP II is its lack of indicators of what exactly this spirituality is and how it can be lived out in a structured way by Christians in practical life. The priests and religious seem to have a structural privilege with regard to practicing their spiritual and prayer life. Their spirituality and mission are guided by the charism of their founders and religious orders and by the institutional teachings and rules of the Church. The institutional Church as well as the structures of religious orders have laid out some sort of structure that provide the fundamental principles and methodologies which support and sustain the kind of spirituality they want to live. Since the Church has already been bureaucratized, a fairly fixed structure has already been established by the institutional Church on how priests and religious can generally nurture and live out their spiritual life. In short, the kind of spirituality priests and religious want to pursue is aided by some formation or socialization structure to fully actualize it.

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But this structured spirituality enjoy the religious and the clergy seems to be not the case for lay people. Structuring their own spirituality is not that easy, given the secularization of the world they live in and the diverse nature of their job, family, culture, and social class. There is no clear socialization structure on the kind of spirituality they want to pursue. It is still largely individualist in approach compared to priests and religious. Of course, they can always join some religious organizations or lay institutes to nurture the spirituality they aspire to achieve. But most of the time, the great multitudes of lay people are thrown in the world without being attached to some kind of a religious structure that continually nurture their spirituality. Given secular character and preoccupation of their vocation, lay people are often left alone to pattern their own spirituality with much the aid of a structure to regularize their formation process. With regard to the social teachings of the Church, they are often in their own personal discretion on how to actualize in the world what they learned from the Church’s teaching authority. Given the low level of awareness among Christians on the Catholic Social Teaching, it is uncertain whether the lay people do care at all to pattern their spirituality according to the Church’s social doctrine.

Some Practical Problems of a Spirituality of Social Transformation

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First of all, the spirituality of social transformation proposed by PCP II sounds foreign to the religious and cultural awareness of many Filipinos who are more personalistic and kin-based in their cultural understanding of a community. This is one reason that they have a difficulty of understanding the Church as a “community of believers” who come from different ethnic, kinship, and cultural background. For most Filipino lay Catholics, the Church is the “sambahan” or “place of worship” and not the baptized community. A sociological research by Ricardo G. Abad on social capital reveals that Filipinos has difficulty of relating with the social world beyond the family, relatives and friends. This narrow and personalistic view of the community prevents Filipinos to be involved in something impersonal and abstract such as the state, the Church, government, or the society at large. That is why many Filipino Catholic do not find it necessary to do social or transformational action beyond the social circles of relatives and friends. If people are not well catechized on the CST, particularly on why and how the spirituality of social transformation be achieved and sustained, then this injunction of PCP II of seeing God in social liberation would only remain theoretical.

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Another obstacle in the development of this spirituality, as pointed above, is ignorance of the laity on the social teachings of the Church. Correct theory or understanding is necessary in order to achieve correct or appropriate social action. How can people create and live out this spirituality of social transformation if they are ignorant of the social doctrines of the Church and their proper applications in society? And how can they learn these doctrines if they are not enough priests, religious, or lay teachers in the Church who can teach them? Sufficient and updated knowledge of the Church’s social teachings, a sound sociological knowledge and analysis of the social situation, a strong commitment to prayer life, and a social structure that guides social action as well as an ongoing Christian formation to believers and advocates are necessary to create a sound spirituality of social transformation. These are some of the important requirements in achieving the spirituality of social transformation.

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Becoming a Christian Leader

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Introduction

Among all models on leadership, there is one significant image that can be used as a template for all Christians who want to understand leadership and become a leader–the servant model. According to this model, a servant must always be a person who serves other people and not the other way around. A leader is, above all, a servant to his/her followers or constituents! The teaching of the Gospels on leadership is still the best model for all those aspiring to become Christian leaders in their chosen field.

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Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the last of all and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Matt. 20:26).

John Maxwell on Leadership

John Maxwell, a well-known Evangelical Christian pastor and popular guru on leadership knows more about the Christian model of leadership, being an expert on the Bible and Christian ministry. Maxwell is a leadership expert, speaker, and author and founder of INJOY, Maximum Impact, The John Maxwell Team, ISS and EQUIP, organizations all focusing on leadership development to help business leaders. Overall, Maxwell basically applies the servant model in the field of business management and aims to form Christian leaders.

Qualities of a Christian Leader

The Biblical model of leadership transcends all other theorizing on leadership. The Christian model has the following important characteristics as illustrated by some Biblical stories:

  1. The Story of the Good Shepherd (John 10:11-12). A Christian leader protects his/her followers from external threats to their personal and social security. With great faith in God, a Christian leader is ready to die for what is good for his/her constituents. A Christian manager, for instance, knows how to protect his/her employees from retrenchment, unjust accusations, violence, threats, politics, and unfair labor practice in the workplace.
  2. The Last Supper (Mt. 26:17–30, Mk. 14:12–26, Lk. 22:7–39 and Jn. 13:1–17:26) . A Christian leader joyfully serves his/her followers. S/he does not desire to be served by those who depend on him/her. Christ washing of the feet of the apostles symbolizes a humble leader who does aim for public praise and social prestige of becoming a leader. A Christian leader does his/her job as a shepherd to his/her followers because it is part his/her response to  God’s calling that those want to be the greatest must be a servant to all. Christian leadership is not driven by the desire for success or wealth but to establish God’s Kingdom in the workplace or society. It requires a strong spirituality of work and a drive to follow what Christ said that He came to earth to serve and not to be served.
  3. The Story of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-12). The story of John the Baptist in the Gospels implies that a Christian leader must also be a prophet to society. To be a prophet is to preach the Christian message in the midst of oppression and exploitation of people in the workplace or society. A Christian leader must have a strong social awareness of what is going on in his/her social environment and courageous enough to point out to powerful people and enemies the social injustices they have done to his/her constituents or followers. This personal courage of the leader emanates from his/her strong faith in God.

For Christians, there is no other model but Christ Himself who died on the cross to save humanity from personal and social sins. Christ does not expect people who want to imitate Him as a leader to live a comfortable life. There will be persecutions and all forms of suffering for Christian leaders who aim to establish God’s Kingdom on earth. But Christ assured them with these words:

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“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3, NKJV).

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