Priest leader of ‘suppressed’ Society of San Pedro Calungsod submits himself to Diocesan order

SAN CARLOS CITY. Catholic priest Noel Froilan Maravillas (center), the leader of Society of San Pedro Calungsod, along with his members.
SAN CARLOS CITY. Catholic priest Noel Froilan Maravillas (center), the leader of Society of San Pedro Calungsod, along with his members. (Photo from SSPC Facebook page)

THE priest leader and members of Society of San Pedro Calungsod (SSPC), an association of religious lay Catholics in San Carlos City of Negros Island region, have submitted themselves to the suppression order issued by Diocese of San Carlos City Bishop Gerardo Alminaza in its June 10, 2024 circular.

“Generally, I see the decision of the Bishop and Board of Consultors as a good decision and that they are generally wanting to help me as their priest. They wanted me to grow more and be a better priest soon,” Reverend Father Noel Froilan Maravillas said.

As a form of obedience to the order, SSPC deactivated their social media page and started to demolish their “simple and humble" meeting place in San Carlos City.

Alminaza, in an earlier report from CBCP News, maintained that “It has become clear that continuing to recognize the SSPC would not serve the best interests of our faithful or the unity and pastoral care of our diocese.”

The report cited that SSPC, despite being given over seven years for a trial period to demonstrate its “charism and mission,” failed to accomplish the foundational requirements, such as its “written constitutions detailing their nature, purpose, spirit, governance, and discipline,” along with its “financial viability and the ability to support their members and mission.”

According to Maravillas, the diocese has “their own way of looking at us and weighing things according to what they observed, but I am okay.”

“Ad experimentum is only a try but actually there was nothing to suppress because we were not yet officially approved. It was somewhat like a withdrawal of allowing us to just exist and experiment our charism and way of life,” he told Sunstar Philippines on June 17, 2024.

The priest reiterated that they “humbly submit everything because we understand it as part of our sacrifice in following Christ, obedience to the Will of God in our Bishop.”

Humble origin

The Society of San Pedro Calungsod was established on January 25, 2012, the date when the Catholic faithful celebrate the Conversion of St. Paul.

It started in Boni, Mandaluyong in the capital region of Manila, with six members before they grew to 17 members.

“But when we entered the Diocese (of San Carlos) only six went with me in 2017. I was the one who went ahead because I applied in the Diocese of San Carlos as a Diocesan Priest in 2016,” Maravillas said.

In 2018, the priest said they were accepted and received recognition from the Diocese as Pious Union "Ad experimentum” for three years.

Asked about what inspired him to form the society, the priest said they “started to live the charism inspired by the life and example of St. Pedro Calungsod as Pew Parish Extension Workers.”

“We train sacristan, choirs, teach catechism, organize Basic Ecclesial Communities, give seminars on Pre-Jordan, give recollections and retreats to youth. But we also have a passion to help people come closer to Christ, especially the wayward and youth from broken homes,” the priest said.

Asked if they are going to apply again in the future, Maravillas said that he is placing his decision “in the hand of God if He wills us to surface again.”

“It’s not me but I will leave everything in the Hands of the Almighty because this is not mine, It’s His. Time will tell, here or there,” he added.

“We are not yet international, not yet approved. We don’t have properties, vehicles, buildings of our own and even enough funds. We only live according to the Divine Providence that mostly others cannot fathom why we survived and how,” the priest said.

Message to the faithful

“For everyone who read and saw us published, thank you so much for the support and prayers,” Maravilla said, as he disclosed that he is on an ongoing formation in Tagaytay at the Focolare Priests program.

“Rest assured of my prayers and ask you to pray for me and the rest of the Calunsodians. We will not be gone, we are still one in Spirit though we separate ways for now,” he added. (Ronald O. Reyes/SunStar Philippines)

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