Fr. Jean Eddie, currently a missionary in the Philippines, first came to know the Missionhurst order when he was in minor seminary in his home country of the Congo. The Cardinal of his diocese was a member of ICM and the young Fr. Eddie was inspired by his holiness, so much so that when it came time to choose an order, he knew he wanted to join the Missionhurst priests.
For the past nine years, Fr. Eddie has served the poorest of the poor in a remote part of the Southern Philippines. He primarily works with the members of a local nomadic tribe who are cut off from mainstream culture by prejudice and lack of access to basic services like education.
“The people are good and intelligent,” he says, “but don’t have the opportunity for education.” Fr. Eddie took the time to learn the tribal language so that he and his fellow missionaries could visit families, accompany them, and help them see their dignity. The missionaries also try to encourage the rich and powerful Filipinos to help their poor brothers and sisters, “to realize that we are all one.”
The tribal people live a very simple life, often in one room houses, but their families are united by love and the simplicity of their lives allows them to do things like eat together every day. And when political and societal forces in the Philippines try to divide these families, the missionaries do what they can to protect them.
In order to empower the tribal families to continue to support themselves, the Missionhurst missionaries try to get scholarships for the young people so that they can go to college and feel more integrated into Filipino society.
Fr. Eddie tells the story of two sisters who finished high school but couldn’t afford to go to college. Sadly, he could only find enough money for a scholarship for one of the sisters. When it came time to decide who would take the scholarship, the younger sister, who was more intelligent, sacrificed the opportunity so that her older sister could go to college and come back to take care of their family. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
Although Fr. Eddie’s entire life is oriented toward bringing the Gospel to families on the fringes of Filipino society, he believes that introducing others to Christ’s love is the mission of every Christian.
When asked how Missionhurst supporters can help the mission in the Philippines, Fr. Eddie asked that those who are financially able consider giving money toward the education of the young people that he serves. But first and foremost, Fr. Eddie insisted, “Pray for us.” Pray for strength, perseverance, and protection for the Missionhurst community. It is the least--and the most--we can do for them.
Would you be willing to give $5 a month to help support Fr. Jean Eddie’s work in the Philippines?