In October 2020, My Pope Philippines launched an awards initiative that aims to recognize Filipino clergymen who live by the values of Pope Francis, exhibit a profound love for their calling, and encourage others to pursue their individual vocations.
Called the My Pope Philippines Outstanding Parish Priest Awards, the recognition is intended to be given to parish priests from across the Philippines who were nominated by their parishioners. Specifically, they are to be recognized for using their position to empower their communities, encouraging the youth to contribute greatly to church initiatives, and promoting a culture of collaboration among parishioners.
Now, after almost three months of deliberations, the results are finally in! My Pope Philippines is proud to introduce the nine parish priest awardees who exemplify the Catholic virtues and use their platform to inspire, motivate, and encourage Filipinos to pursue their faith. Our most heartfelt congratulations to all the awardees and their parishes!
Rev. Fr. Oscar Andal
Being a parish priest of a national shrine is no easy feat, but Rev. Fr. Oscar Andal has been handling it with grace and poise. Serving as a chancellor for 10 years, he has been replicating his projects to the Parish and National Shrine of St. Padre Pio. He believes that the youth has an active role to play in church ministry, thus he has spearheaded projects and tapped various institutions to train them. (Read: Three Times Padre Pio Interceded Pinoys’ Prayers)
Much like Pope Francis, Fr. Oscar treats everyone with respect and with equality. One of his notable projects in the parish is opening a mess hall for all employees, priests, and staff so that everyone will interact with one another.
Rev. Fr. Diogenes Barja
Rev. Fr. Diogenes “Joy” Barja lives by this belief: ‘You learn more when you immerse yourself in the community.’ And that’s exactly what he does, and encourages others to do, in the St. John the Baptist Parish in Legazpi. (Read: The 3 Basic Rules in the Reopening of Cagsawa Ruins in Albay)
Fr. Joy believes that by engaging with the community, you would get a different perspective which can teach you valuable lessons and help you find wisdom. And just like Pope Francis, he believes in the value of charity and giving back, especially to those who are living in poorer communities. One lesson he says he learned from his years of priesthood is that just because you are a parish priest doesn’t mean you know everything in your parish— it helps to talk to the people.
Rev. Fr. Melchor Ignacio
Rev. Fr. Melchor R. Ignacio has been serving as parish priest of the St. Peter of Alcantara Parish, Bulacan, for five years now. And in his years of leading the parish, he has been making sure that the youth in the community is involved in every church activity.
His hard work seems to have paid off— as just recently, their parish youth was nominated for the San Pedro Calungsod Award by the Diocese of Malolos. Not just that, but Fr. Melchor is also active in helping the community’s poor whenever challenges arise. His parishioners say that the priest has been actively raising funds to provide for those who were affected by the pandemic and other natural disasters that hit the country over the years.
Rev. Fr. Kenneth Maggay
Rev. Fr. Kenneth Maggay is loved by his parishioners because of his humble and equal treatment of everyone. Serving his first parish for four years, the Mary Mother of the Church Parish, in Tuguegarao, he has organized and spearheaded projects that cater to the betterment of the laypeople and the youth. (Read: Manila Cathedral Joins Petition to Save San Sebastian Basilica)
Fr. Kenneth’s young age is not a hindrance to his achievements and his charitable nature gave way for many improvements not only in his parish but in other parishes as well.
Rev. Msgr. Mario Josefino Martinez
If his parishioners were to describe Rev. Msgr. Mario Josefino F. Martinez, they would say he is an ‘amiable’ person. A priest and a canon lawyer, Msgr. Mario (‘Monsi’ to his parishioners) is not just good at giving advice, he is also easy to approach and open up to.
A resident plantito in Parañaque’s Our Lady of Unity Parish, Monsi makes sure that the church is taking the lead in environment-friendly living. He maintains the church’s garden himself, makes sure that the plants in the area are well-maintained, and as a matter of fact, he just recently made it possible for the parish to make use of solar energy!
Rev. Fr. Jeffrey Mirasol
If you’d scroll the social media page of Our Lady of Peñafrancia Parish, you’d see tons of pictures of Rev. Fr. Jeffrey Mirasol during his homilies and masses. Well-loved by his parishioners, he has established projects and programs for the benefit of many. He initiated livelihood programs and campaigned for the service of the youth in the parish.
Through his leadership and guidance, attendance during masses has increased and engagement in various sectors has improved. Fr. Jeffrey treats everyone with respect and equality– no matter the status gender, or position–as what his parishioners would tell you.
Rev. Fr. Antonio Molavin
If his parishioners at Manila’s San Ildefonso Parish would describe Rev. Fr. Antonio Molavin, SDB, they would tell you that this priest is so humble he doesn’t even have a car. However, he still manages to go to the parish’s poorest barangays and ask “how can we help you?” How does he get around? He bikes! (Read: The Types of Bike That Fit Your Need, as Explained by a Cyclist)
And during his bike sessions around, he usually gets scrapes and bruises because he converses with everyone! One anecdote that he would probably share with you was how he bathed a homeless man who came to the parish, asking for help.
Rev. Fr. Alberto Santiago
In his nine years of serving the St. Michael the Archangel Parish, Rev. Fr. Albert has been well-loved by his parishioners. When you ask his parishioners what they love most about him, many would say that it would be his involvement of the people in all church activities— from consulting about proposed projects to celebrations, parishioners are always consulted and involved. (Read: Meet the Three Archangels: Gabriel, Michael, Raphael)
Fr. Albert also follows Pope Francis’s steps in living humbly and simply, with his parishioners noting that he hasn’t changed his car ever since he assumed the post some nine years ago, despite it already breaking down at times.
Rev. Fr. Jose Tupino III
If there is one word to describe Father Jose Tupino III— Father Bong to his parishioners— it would be ‘encouraging.’ It’s because as parish priest of the UP Parish of the Holy Sacrifice, Father Bong has been constantly encouraging his parishioners, especially the youth, to participate in programs and activities being held by the parish. (Read: An Expert’s Tip to Instilling Faith in Young Children)
Having served in the parish for almost three years now, Father Bong has been dedicating his time not only to serving the Lord, but also serving others through their parish’s outreach programs, and forging partnerships with other churches that aren’t necessarily Catholic. And talking to Father Bong would make you feel like you have a friend that is always willing to listen and help in any way he can— someone we all need in times like this.