A new year brings new growth for the ACC in the Philippines

May 11, 2015 by Jonathan Foggin

Father John Benedict serves dinner at a parish gathering in the Philippines.

The Anglican Catholic Church in the Philippines is a relatively new foundation, but one that makes up for its small size in enthusiasm for the gospel and missionary zeal.

Originating out of the work done in the early 2000s by the Right Reverend Terry Lowe (now Bishop of the Diocese of New Orleans), the ACC in the Philippines was formally conceived and organized as Missionary Diocese by the College of Bishops in 2011.

Growth at that time was small, but it was hoped that this would change when the congregations there received their first Filipino bishop, the Right Reverend Rene Canillo, following the Newport Beach Synod of 2013. Unfortunately, Bishop Canillo was shortly thereafter unable to continue his work with the ACC and responsibility for the diocese feel back to Bishop Lowe.  Though his commitment to the Diocese of New Orleans prevented Bishop Lowe from returning to the Philippines on a long term basis, he was able to provide guidance and help to those who had embraced Anglicanism during his time there.

Bishop Lowe's continued involvement bore fruit in December of 2014 when, with financial assistance from the Diocese of New Orleans, Deacon Felipe Bello, Jr. and his wife, Ma. Anna Liza opened a mission house and celebrated Christmas in the neighborhood in which they live.  Word spread that the ACC was still active and in February of this year, Bishop Lowe together with Father John Benedict, Governor of the Congregation of the Good Shepherd, visited Philippines, where they were warmly received. 

While there, Bishop Lowe blessed and dedicated the mission house and ordained two men to the priesthood: Father Eduardo Panulin and Father Melvin Lebria. Two other clergy were received to be in full communion with ACC: Father Rogel Cruz and Father Aries Aguilan, both of whom  have existing parishes.  It is hoped that the upward trend will continue as more Anglicans in the Philippines hear that the ACC's presence in that country continues, and that despite last year's setback, they can count on the support of the coreligionists in the US and across the world.

In the early years of 2000, The Right Reverend Archbishop Terry Lowe (Archbishop of New Orleans) came to the Philippines as a missionary. With the help of a Filipino bishop Rene Canillo, Archbishop Lowe founded the Missionary Society of St. Jude (MSSJ) in the southern part of the Philippines, a group imbibing and living the Anglican Catholic tradition.

The Anglican Catholic Church came to existence in the Philippines through MSSJ. Archbishop Terry Lowe and Archbishop Mark Haverland of the Original Province based in the United States worked hand in hand to establish Anglo-Catholicism in the Philippines. In 2007, The Very Reverend Lowe ordained 2 Filipinos to the Order of Diaconate: Deacons Felipe Bello, Jr. and Eduardo Panulin. However, ACC in the Philippines has its birth pains and went through rough times for couple of years. But God’s plan has to be materialized.

 In 2011, ACC Philippines was formally conceived and organized as Missionary Diocese of the Anglican Catholic Church by the Metropolitan Very Reverend Mark Haverland of the Original Province through the College of Bishops and The Right Reverend Terry Lowe was commissioned to be its Episcopal Visitor. In the next few years, however, Archbishop Lowe became the Assistant to the Metropolitan and eventually the College of Bishop appointed him Bishop Ordinary of the Diocese of New Orleans. The College of Bishop appointed Bishop Rene Canillo to take over the Missionary Diocese of the Philippines. But the Filipino bishop became inactive in the ACC. And so, despite of heavy godly responsibilities in his diocese, Archbishop Lowe cannot afford to give up what he had started in the Philippines few years ago as missionary. He then placed the Missionary Diocese of the Philippines not only under his leadership again but also become the sister Diocese of New Orleans as voted by the synod of the diocese.      

December 24, 2014 marked the rebirth of ACC Philippines when Deacon Felipe Bello, Jr. and his wife, Ma. Anna Liza initiated a small gathering of people in their own place, Barangay Don Jose, Sta. Rosa, Laguna.  With the financial assistance of the Diocese of New Orleans, a mission house was opened where the first Christmas party was celebrated. The neighborhood then become aware of the presence of ACC.

In February 2015, The Right Reverend Terry Lowe together with Rev. Fr. John Benedict, Governor of the Congregation of the Good Shepherd, visited the Missionary Diocese of the Philippines. They were warmly received by the faithful there.  The Archbishop blessed and dedicated the mission house followed by the Holy Mass.   

Furthermore, 2 Filipinos were ordained by Archbishop Lowe to the Order of Priesthood namely; Rev. Fr. Eduardo Panulin and Rev. Fr. Melvin Lebria. Another 2 Filipino clergy were received to be in full communion with ACC namely; Rev. Fr. Rogel Cruz and Rev. Fr. Aries Aguilan. Both of them have existing parishes respectively before they were received to the Missionary Diocese of the Philippines of the Anglican Catholic Church. All ACC clergy in the Philippines are oblates of the Congregation of the Good Shepherd led by the Very Reverend John Benedict, the CGS Governor and Canon of MDP.