March 5, 2022 – The Saint Hannibal Formation Center – Cebu warmly welcomed Rev. Fr. Herbie Cañete, a Filipino Rogationist missionary in Poland for almost 16 years. He came to the Philippines for his religious vacation and stopped by first at the seminary before heading to his hometown, Toledo.
Taking the opportunity of introducing the seminarians about himself and his missionary life, a short yet inspiring conference was held. He described the missionary life in Poland as something “quite challenging but doable.” The Rogationist presence in Poland started in the year 1992 during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, who himself was of Polish origin. The community first made presence in Krakow where they worked for vocation promotion and awareness, charities for pilgrims and the poor, and parish apostolates. In the later years, the Rogationist community in Krakow extended to Warsaw, where they opened a soup kitchen and children apostolate. With Fr. Herbie’s missionary labor, Poland gained four ordained Rogationists and some novices. One Polish priest now works at the Rogationist mission station in Slovakia.
Fr. Herbie describes the Polish culture as almost similar to the Filipinos, especially to its Catholic roots and practices. The only challenge he admits that he finds the greatest is the language. “One has to learn the Polish language seriously,” he said, “before working among the Poles because no one speaks English there.” Aside from that, one will face many trials and difficulties along the way, especially with feelings of loneliness and homesickness. Thankfully, he has now Filipino confreres working with him started last year, namely Rev. Fr. Ronie Gumagay from Oslob, Cebu and Bro. Gee Beei Cantarona from San Fernando, Cebu.
Vocations, according to Fr. Herbie, in Poland is already depleting. Thus, there is a great need for continuous prayer for vocations, especially to the Rogationist mission. As Rogationists, it is then our role of praying for vocations and promoting this prayer among the faithful. May the missionaries working the Baltic-Slavic countries be safe and persevering in laboring for the harvest, especially amidst the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict.
“Poşlij, Panie… Świętych apostołow ło twego Kościoła!”