CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No. 11

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No. 11

My dear Friends in the Word,

After sending Link 10 yesterday, I got these updates from our friend:

May 28, 2008. Last night, 27th May I went through the Video taken during the BBS in the diocese of Pathein last year in June so that the sisters will point to me the priest who was missing and later found his decomposed body. However, I was shocked that in the same diocese three priests (all joined the BBS, the largest number of priests who joined the BBS- 58 participants) died on May 2, the day the cyclone hit the country.

The first, Fr. Joseph. The following day and the day after, there was no way to have a funeral or vigil. There were no electricity, no phones to inform people about his death, no buses, few taxis but the fare went sky high. So he was cremated. Then Fr. Andrew who was the parish priest of the area which was badly hit, was missing and after a few days he was presumed dead.  Shortly after  that Fr. Emmanuel also died. The first and the last were sick for sometime.  All three were in their 50’s. On May 6, there was a mass in Pathein Cathedral for the three of them, with the ash of Fr. Joseph, and the coffin of Fr Emmanuel; at that time Fr. Andrew was still missing only a few days later, his decomposed body was found.

Imagine, I just learnt about this last night and I felt very sad looking at their faces in the Video during the BBS.  I had a very good impression of the priests and sisters participation of the seminar.  This diocese could be as strong as Myitkyina in BPM in the future.  It is Pathein priests and sisters who have been longing to have a Diocesan Core and so after the BFS and CTFW Courses February – March, to their delight a Core Team was formed.  Three members of the Core Team offered to help in the translation and editing of BPM materials into Burmese.  Msgr. Maurice, the vicar and parish priest of the Cathedral, Fr. Bosco, an assistant to the Rector of the Minor Seminary and Sr. Slyvia, a member of the General Council of the SFX Sisters. All of them offered their help in spite of their own responsibilities.  This week, May 26-30, was our schedule for the proof reading and editing of the BBS Manual in Burmese but we could not do it now since they are all busy taking care of the refugees in the diocese.

May they rest in peace.

I would like to suggest masses to be offered for them. You may send your message of sympathy to: johnsane@baganmail.net.mm Bishop of Pathein Diocese, he is in Rome for ad limina and if you like to send a message to Archbishop Charles Bo here is his email address:  maungbo@baganmail.net.mm, Archbishop of Yangon.  Thank you very much.

Aung San Suu Kyi, the woman revered internationally, remained in custody even her term was over the day before yesterday.  People loyal to her marched toward her house, 18 people were arrested. This you can read in the newspapers.

Refugees in the camps were advised to go back to their villages but they pleaded not to return because they have no shelter, no safe water and food to survive there.  Some were brought back by boats and later they left by boat to go to other camps – monasteries. Did not the UN offered to give $ 2 billion  to the leaders here for rehabilitation projects?  Why let people go back without anything prepared for them to sustain life in their respective villages?  Does the UN allow itself to be fooled by them? Oh, there is a lot of prayers to be done – a change of heart in the leadership and the power to bring change witnessed by good people in the leadership.

A woman from the City who wanted to offer sacks of  rice had to bring  them back because she was told there is no need to give them rice, porridge is enough for them.  The salted fish, she wrapped some amount into some clothes she distributed to the people. The authorities just want these people die.

Today, I met a woman working with the Caritas Internationales Myanmar.  She told me that the people from 9 villages with 20,000 households have been sent back to their villages and others to other locations with temporary shelters.  They get supplies of food, etc every week for three months.  I think, after this, they would have settled in their places.

In the Lord,

yours Sr. Emma Gunanto, osu.

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No. 10

CBF-SEA BA Link 2008 No. 10

My dear Friends in the Word,

Here is the long awaited letter from our friend in Myanmar:

Dear Friends, I left Yangon on April 30 to renew my visa and planned to go back on May 2. After many difficulties, finally I was back at Yangon International airport on May 6.  It was a shocking scene to see all big tress, the pride of Yangon were all down, uprooted everywhere except some coconut trees and young trees standing.  On the way, people were busy clearing the roads, repairing roofs that were blown off by the cyclone.  When the CBCM procurator saw me, he told me to see my office.  The roof of the building where my office is located was blown off and the water from above leaked down to my office, it softened the glue that held the wall so it was detached from below leaning towards the other office next door.  Thank God, the 1,720 Burmese Bibles, the computer and the copying machine were spared from getting wet.

Desperate situation: The cyclone began on the early morning of 2nd May at 12:00 A.M. and ended at 12:00 noon which means twelve hours of battering of wind and rain.  People were frightened because never in their life they experience such a thing. It was a blessing that the cyclone started and ended when all people were indoors or else, there would have been loss of lives in Yangon if they were caught outdoors since they never knew even typhoons and cyclone is worst.  There were two reports of deaths as far a I know, a child was pinned to death when the tree fell down on top of their house but all the rest of the family were safe.  A man was slashed to death by a flying sheet of zinc.  When the cyclone ended, people were in awe to see the destructions around.  But all of these destructions are nothing compared to the number of deaths, missing persons and desperate survivors waiting for help as you saw on TV.  The sad of all is  the different approach China dealt with the earthquake victims compared here.  If not because of BBC and CNN, we would not know the real situations here but there are many more stories that are not on T.V. that need to be heard.  I am sure there will be books written to tell true stories from the victims themselves.

People who are in the camps with the Buddhists, Churches, NGO’S are well taken cared off but with the authorities, they are like prisoners, no one is allowed to visit them and God knows how they are treated.  Hundreds of people were taken to unknown location there are fears that that they are killed.  People who are affected by the cyclone are mostly Karens and they are hated by the authorities because the Karen rebels have not yielded their arm struggle.  Many of them are Catholics but mostly Buddhists.  It is no surprise that the authorities did not make any effort to rescue them.  One diocesan priest was missing and later his decomposed body was found. Life for the authorities is nothing, all they care is themselves.  Instead of helping the people they take advantage of the aids sent for the victims, some of the goods are sold in the markets, other goods are changed with poor qualities, some goods bear the names of the leaders.  There is an opening, as promised, to allow foreign aid workers to enter the country but to see it happening is still a question.  Being here in this situation is not easy. International pressures have been exhausted.  What’s next?

We are very grateful for your concerns and prayers for Myanmar people who are suffering for many years.  What is worst is that families, who have lost members of their families who were killed like the 1988 student uprising and the September 2007 incidents where monks and ordinary people were killed, have no way of knowing the missing loved ones out of fear.  The people here are not united, their ethnic identity is stronger than their own National identity. They don’t want to be called Burmese or Myanmarese as others coined the word.  When you ask them their nationality, they would say: I am Kachin, Karen, Shan, etc.  Some people here do not like the democracy that USA is advocating, which most of us can sympathize.

I mentioned that I saw some photos of destructions and casualties brought by the recent natural calamities that hit Myanmar.  It was awful to see dead bodies of people and buffalos bloated floating on the water; bodies pinned down by concrete blocks (concrete buildings) people rescued by small and big boats and brought to Refugee centers, destructions of buildings, and trees.  Thank God, it is not harvest season so no farm crops are destroyed.  I showed the VCD to the local sisters last night with whom I am staying with, the SFX Sisters and they told me, the photos were taken in some areas only and many of the places are not there including the badly hit town of  Bogale, which was hit by a tidal wave.  It was estimated just that place alone, 100,000 people perished.  What BBC and CNN as well as the photos I saw were nothing compared to other places that were not documented.

As you have heard human aids from abroad are now in the capital, this is one of the good things the UN Secretary general did in his recent meeting with the authorities. The affected areas belong to the Archdiocese of Yangon, in Pathein diocese. Archbishop Charles Bo opted not to go to Rome for the Myanmar Bishops ad limina visit to the Vatican.  The Bishop of Pathein is in Rome now together with the other Bishops, but Archbishop Charles Bo left for Pathein yesterday to visit the affected areas and the refugee camps.

This is all for now.  Our hearts and spirits are untied with the people of China and Myanmar for these terrible tragedies that hit the two countries as we pray for the dead, for the survivors and for those who are out there to lend a hand to help rebuild the lives of the people who are in daze and shock, wounded physically and emotionally.  May God be merciful to them at this time of crisis in their life.

Thank you for your prayers offered for us especially, for some of you, not knowing our whereabouts due to lack of communication facilities.

United in love and prayers,



ere are some letters of solidarity with the cyclone victims in the Philippines and the terrible earthquake in China .

Thank you, Alexander, Claudio, Fr. Ayoub Chahwan and Fr. Gabriel Naranjo Salazar.


Dear friends in the Philippines,

It fills me and indeed all our friends in the CBF with great pain to receive the news of another natural catastrophe which – after Myanmar and China – has struck the Philippines now! The loss of possessions, of dear ones and of lives evokes our deep feelings of sympathy and solidarity. In the name of our entire Federation be assured of our unceasing prayer!

May you be able to experience the hope expressed in the words of Psalm 139: If I say “surely the darkness shall cover me and the light around me become night” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.
With deep sentiments of solidarity I remain

Yours in the Risen Lord,

Alexander M. Schweitzer
General Secretary


Thanks for the mails, I was really shocked by the pictures and I am praying a lot for the victims of this terrible earthquake. Let us pray that the damaged dams will withstand the waters.

Claudio Ettl,



I stay speechless in front of such captures. What a disaster!

We join our hearts, souls and prayers to yours, and raise them to God.

We praise Him also during such tragedies, because we trust Him, and trust his plan for us; He knows better what is good for those people who are suffering.

God also be with all those who sympathize with someone in his grief, meaning tender-hearted people like you are.

Fr. Ayoub Chahwan,



Me has golpeado con el adjunto. Las fotografías muestran una realidad inimaginable y tocan el corazón de cualquier ser humano.
Este mensaje es una especie de Corpus Christi para quienes hemos celebrado hoy en la Iglesia católica este misterio eucarístico de fe.
En la celebración dominical de esta mañana  he compartido con un numeroso grupo de fieles los que nos comunicas y hemos orado por todas las intenciones que nos propones; veremos cómo podemos hacer más efectiva nuestra solidaridad.

You have struck me with the enclosure of your mail.  The pictures show an unimaginable reality and they touch the heart of any human being.  This message is a symbol of Corpus Christi which we have celebrated today in the Catholic Church with the Eucharistic mystery of faith.  In the Sunday celebration of this morning I have shared with a numerous group of faithful the information you communicated and we prayed for all the intentions that you proposed to us; we will see how we can express our solidarity even more effectively.

Gabriel Naranjo Salazar,

Latin America


We are very sorry that due to the cyclone in Pangasinan, Philippines, our website https://cbfsea.wordpress.com has been paralyzed for sometime, Fr. Doms is trying his best to connect himself to the web with a desired speed to maintain this website.

In the Lord,

yours Sr. Emma Gunanto, osu.

CBF-SEA-BA Link 2008 No. 9

CBF-SEA-BA Link 2008 No. 9

My dear Friends in the Word,

Typhoon Cosme hit Pangasinan, Philippines

Fr. Doms and Fr. Oscar wrote about the calamity in Pangasinan , Philippines.

Greetings of Peace!

Thank God we are still alive after that strong typhoon Cosme that directly hit the Province of Pangasinan. Urdaneta City was miraculously spared from heavy destruction unlike the neighboring places that were really flattened to the ground or under water until now. The president of the Philippines just declared our place as calamity area and needs help badly. You must have viewed our situation on the TV or read the reports from the newspapers. Many places look like the pictures of what had happened in Myanmar .

Our internet line just came back this morning but still in erratic mode, sometimes it comes and disappears when you need it most. I don’t have any line in my room as the connections were really destroyed beyond repair. The office of the president at least is online now with the same erratic service.

Doms O. Ramos, SVD

The typhoon damaged a lot last Saturday – Sunday. Two provinces in the North were declared in a state of calamity because of the damages. Rice has become expensive and scarce. And the price of gas is going up as well as the transportation. Our prayers for one another keep us going and growing in the Word, God bless you always and keep you healthy.

Oscar alunday, SVD

We thank Fr. Gabriel Naranjo, Fr. Wim Wijtten and Fr. Oscar for their reactions to Link no. 8

Gracias por esta información tan oportuna, tan realista, tan motivadora… La compartiré entre los miembros de América Latina y El caribe. Y me uno al sufrimiento de este pueblo, pidiendo a Dios que lo ilumine con la luz de su Palabra.

Thank you for this information timely, so realistic, so motivating … The sharing among members of Latin America and the Caribbean . And I join the suffering of these people, asking God to enlighten with the light of his Word.

Gabriel Naranjo

In fraternal prayer we are with the Myanmar people and with those who serve the people, like Tammy. Yes, we are in solidarity with the suffering poor in Myanmar .

Wim Wijtten

The early wind of typhoons we are beginning to feel now is nothing in comparison to the suffering, hungry and dying people victimized by the killer cyclone in Myanmar compounded by another interior typhoon inside the country. We pray and sacrifice for their intentions. We really hope to hear from Tammy. Greetings to you all. In the Word,

Oscar Alunday

Due to the typhoon, our website https://cbfsea.wordpress.com cannot be updated yet.

In Indonesia we have reached a critical point. The sharp rise of prices which has become untolerable, has brought people to the streets to demonstrate. If there is no solution, we fear for the worst.

Please let us ask the Lord for mercy.

In the Lord,

yours Sr. Emma Gunanto, osu.

CBF-SEA-BA Link 2008 No. 8

CBF-SEA-BA Link 2008 No. 8

My dear Friends in the Word,

Much has been written in the mass media about Myanmar. We are anxiously waiting for some news from Tammy. But there is none so far after the latest one in Link 7. Here is an urgent appeal from Archbishop Bo which reaches us through Zenit:

“You know our peoples’ pains and you sympathize with their brokenness, and I am confident that you will stand by the poor of Myanmar at this darkest hour of total shatteredness. We need very prompt, robust help to save lives.”

Dear friends, what can we do for our neighbors? Let the Archbishop’s appeal not fall on deaf ears…

Myanmar Prelate: We are Running Out of Resources

Local Church Training Volunteers as Junta Rejects Foreign Help

YANGON, Myanmar, MAY 19, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A Myanmar archbishop is appealing for help so that the Church can continue offering aid to the cyclone-devastated nation, even as the ruling military junta is still barring most foreign relief workers.

Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon affirmed that the Church has been at the forefront of aid delivery since Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar on May 2.

The ruling military junta has made an international relief effort practically impossible, claiming for days that it had the operation under control.

State radio reports 78,000 people were killed and another 55,000 remain missing following the storm. But aid groups estimate that the re! al number is closer to 128,000, with another 2.5 million left homeless. As these people suffer starvation and the lack of shelter, relief organizations worry epidemics could bring many more deaths.

Archbishop Bo thanked the international community for their efforts, noting the world’s concern “about the lack of adequate access and response.”

He explained that the local Church’s network has nevertheless “reached some of the remotest villages with the first delivery of aid.”

The prelate continued: “We are indebted to the solidarity shown by the universal Church, service organizations and the committed professionals. Thank you.

“Many thousands look toward the Church for assistance in Myanmar . But sadly we are fast running out of resources. We are a poor Church. The violent cyclone damaged most of our churches including our cathedral, orphanages, clergy houses and convents and despite all this, the Church has! been reaching out to the woeful cries of the thousands.”

“Most of the pledges of support need to reach our people and children,” Archbishop Bo said. ” Myanmar should not once again be forgotten by the world. You know our peoples’ pains and you sympathize with their brokenness, and I am confident that you will stand by the poor of Myanmar at this darkest hour of total shatteredness. We need very prompt, robust help to save lives.”

Scaling up

Meanwhile, the network of Caritas Internationalis, which works with and through local Churches, announced today that it is scaling up its emergency response in Myanmar despite ongoing difficulties with access for international aid teams.

The international Caritas relief effort is now targeting over 60,000 people through local partners with food, temporary shelter, health care, and other aid items in four of the most seriously impacted areas.

“We are reaching 60,000 people in the worst affected areas of Pathein and Yangon, which were badly hit by the storm,” said J.P. Nelson, coordinator of the Caritas Internationalis Emergency Response Support Team for Myanmar .

Caritas aid is being distributed through small teams on the ground, who are sourcing food and other supplies locally. More than 400 volunteers have been trained in assessment, logistics, emergency response and accountability.

“It continues to be extremely difficult to operate in the affected areas,” Nelson lamented. “The extensive networks we are able to draw on through religious and other organizations within Myanmar allows us access to many of the people who have received little assistance.”

“The amount of aid we are getting through remains significant but is far outweighed by the enormous need that exists particularly in the Irrawaddy Delta region,” he added. “We are still unable to conduct mass distributions and this is raising the growing threat of malnutrition and spreading of disease.

“We are very glad to see the government of Myanmar is allowing more Asian disaster relief experts in. Fortunately with the wide network of Catholic medical and community organizations throughout Asia and our strong record of working through recent disasters such as Cyclone Sidr and the Tsunami, we are hopeful that we can draw on this expertise to assist the many, many millions of people in Myanmar who require it.”

For updates, visit our website https://cbfsea.wordpress.com

We double our prayers as the Plenary Assembly is approaching fast.

In the Lord,

yours Sr. Emma Gunanto, osu.

CBF-SEA-BA Link 2008 no.7

CBF-SEA-BA Link 2008 no.7

My dear Friends in the Word,

We all know what is happening in Myanmar after Cyclone Nargis hit the country last May 2nd. The cyclone left more than 60.000 people dead or missing. The UN estimates at least 1.5 million have been severely affected in the military run country, with many still struggling to receive rations of food and clean water. A big setback revolves around the ruling junta’s refusal to open the door to international aid.

Certainly we are thinking of our friend Tammy. I received two letters from her:


Bangkok, May 4th, 2008

Dear Sr. Emma, 

How are you?  I am stranded in Bangkok due to the strong typhoon in Yangon.  I am told that Yangon Airport is still closed and I will have to phone again at 2:00 pm.  I came to renew my visa, supposed to leave yesterday.  I don’t know when I can leave because it is possible that the people in Yangon have no electricity and without that airport will remain closed.


North Myanmar, May 9th, 2008 

Internet connection is very bad here. You know our situation. Please pray for us. I arrived saferly last Tuesday and I am in the north for our meeting with our sisters. We are expecting a strong storm around the weekend towards the north where we are. Please pray for our safety.
We cannot be sure if the internet will still be on considering our situation at the moment in Yangon .  

Dear friends, let us pray for God’s mercy for the people of Myanmar and for our friend Tammy that they may be relieved from their suffering and hard trials. 


Here is a letter from Fr. Doms Ramos, SVD


This is to inform you that Fr. Jaimelito “Nilo” Gealan, SVD is the new director of the John Paul I Biblical Center for Northern Luzon . Thank you very much for your prayers, moral support and for journeying with me for the past six years of mission in Northern Luzon Biblical Apostolate through the JPIBC.

My new assignment effective May 15 will be as president of the Divine Word College of Urdaneta. Let us continue to journey with each other in our life and mission. Rest assured I will continue to pray for you.

In the Word,

Doms O. Ramos, SVD
Divine Word College of Urdaneta
2428 Urdaneta City


Together with the JPIBC staff and the people in Vigan, we thank Fr. Doms for his untiring service for them and for us. We remember and appreciate all that he has done for our SEA sub region during the workshops in Tagaytay and Cagayan de Oro. And now, true to the SVD mission spirit, he has accepted another mission in a new place.

Many people are awaiting you there, dear Fr. Doms, that they too may be inspired and their hearts set aflame by your love for the Word. We pray that the Holy Spirit grant you health, strength, joy and peace to serve in the new place with much laughter which is so typically yours.

This is not a goodbye, since Fr. Doms is still with us. He will participate in the Plenary Assembly, and now amidst the packing and farewells he is still working on our presentations in Tanzania .

Let us pray for him also, especially these days.

We also pray for the people in China who are a victim of the most devastating earthquake in three decades that killed nearly 9.000 people. May the Lord have mercy with them, and with us and all mankind… 

Yours in the Lord,

Sr. Emma Gunanto, osu.





CBF-SEA-BA Link 2008 No.6

PentecostCome, Holy Spirit
                Come, O Father of the poor,
                Ever bounteous of Thy store,
                Come, our heart’s unfailing light.
                Come, Consoler, kindest, best,
                Come, our bosom’s dearest guest,
                Sweet refreshment, sweet repose.
                Rest in labor, coolness sweet,
                Tempering the burning heat,
                Truest comfort of our woes!

        Come Holy Spirit!

My dear friends in the Word,

        I wish you all a happy and blessed feastday of the Holy Spirit, and in a very special way the SVD’s among us. May we again experience the outpouring of the Spirit upon us, so that all that we do for the spread of the Word may yield an abundant harvest for the Kingdom.

        As we are drawing closer to the Plenary Assembly (less than 2 months from now) we intensify our preparations and prayers. We thank Alexander for his latest letter with the “last instructions” before taking off. I’m sure the letter which I received last night, has also reached you.

        We are now busy preparing our SEA presentations for the Plenary Assembly. Please pray for us, and if you still want to contribute something on the activities of your Center for the power point presentation, don’t hesitate to do so.

        For updates, visit our website

Thanks so much. We remain united in the Word,

Sr. Emma Gunanto, osu.