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Building the Church in the Philippines, One Brick at a Time
PHILIPPINES | APOSTOLATE | TESTIMONIES
Michael and Amy Jensen have spent the last eight years working in the Catholic community of Biliran.

The Saint Mary Catholic center is still being built but is already in use as a parochial and catechetical center.
The Saint Mary Catholic center is still being built but is already in use as a parochial and catechetical center.

The website of the diocese of The Naval in the Philippines describes the island of Biliran as “bounded on the north and northeast by the Samar Sea, on the west by the Visayan Sea, and on the south by Casiguran Bay. The island is characterized by rolling hills, and its town-parishes along the shorelines are forever bathed by the sapphire-blue waters of the surrounding seas.” Sounds like a tropical paradise fit for a relaxing vacation, doesn’t it?

A tropical paradise it may be, but Michael and Amy Jensen’s apostolate there has been anything but relaxed. Since 1999 the Jensen’s have been engaged in an apostolate to build the Church in Biliran, both literally and figuratively. Their first project was to rebuild the island’s San Roque Chapel which was dilapidated and in sore need of repair. They spent the next two years on this project, going back and forth between the Philippines and their hometown of San Diego raising funds and tending to the construction process.

It was about this time, in 2002 that their son Curtis entered the Legion of Christ. Michael incorporated into Regnum Christi the same year and Amy followed two years later along with their two daughters Michelle and Mylene at the 2005 YFE in San Jose. It was at the YFE that the Jensen’s met Fr. Daniel Polzer, LC, and a few Filipino coworkers over lunch and learned of the Regnum Christi’s foundation and growth in Manila.

This resonated
Most Reverend Filomeno Bactol DD, Bishop of the Diocese of The Naval visited Michael, Amy and the faithful of Biliran.
Most Reverend Filomeno Bactol DD, Bishop of the Diocese of The Naval visited Michael, Amy and the faithful of Biliran.
with the Jensen’s own experience in the Philippines where they had a 3-hour audience with Bishop Filomeno Bactol of the Diocese of The Naval. His Excellency not only knew the Legionaries working in Manila, but had actually stayed with the Legionaries in Rome when participating in a retreat for bishops.

The rebuilding of the San Roque Chapel was completed, but the Jensen’s work had just begun. According to Michael “there is a great need for a fuller catechesis of our faith and for spiritual renewal in this portion of God´s vineyard for all people; adults, youth and children.” It was this apostolic drive which led to their next project: the St. Mary’s Catholic Center. The center, now 75% complete, will act as a catechetical and pastoral center for the Catholic population of the surrounding neighborhoods. The two-story center will include “a Eucharistic adoration chapel, a library and reading room, a great hall, a kitchen and six classrooms.” 

Although the center is already being put to good use by the community, construction is ongoing. The building is 80% finished with the 2nd floor and 3 outside walls remaining to complete.

On September 8, 2008, St Mary´s was solemnly blessed by Most Reverend Filomeno Bactol DD, Bishop of the Diocese of The Naval to celebrate the feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The chapel and Catholic center are a special work of love for Amy, who grew up in the Philippines, and for Michael, who after 41 years as a Lutheran came into the Catholic faith and felt “the great desire to give something back to God and the Church, as a way of saying ‘thank you.’”  The Jensens´ hope that this apostolate will bear fruit not only in the Philippines but back home in San Diego, where the parishes have been
St. Mary is nestled in the rolling hills of Biloran.
St. Mary is nestled in the rolling hills of Biloran.
very generous in contributing to their apostolate. Michael adds that “we hope our mission will inspire others to respond in charity to God and His Church by starting today their own mission and helping us in ours.”

The Jensens´ mission is a great example of building the Church. Michael tells us that “the sooner St. Mary´s Catholic Center Philippines can be operational the sooner the real work of building the Kingdom of God and enriching the lives of all people can truly begin. Authentic Catholic teaching programs for all people; adults, youth and children are needed in this area of God´s vineyard.  The faith is being marginalized by ignorance, it is being eroded by a lack of lay leadership to help the Bishop and priests propagate the faith, and it is being attacked by other faith traditions that prey on the weak in their search for hope.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Jensens and their work in the Philippines you can contact them at amyjensen72@gmail.com.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2007-03-01


 
 

Related links

Catholic.net web site
Mission Network
Our Lady of Bethesda Retreat Center and the Center for Family Development
Changing Hearts
Cancun-Chetumal Prelature
Challenge
ConQuest
Helping Hands Medical Missions


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