The CBCP announces that the only Anglican/Episcopal town in the Philippines, Sagada will get its first Roman Catholic place of worship. Sagada may be the last town in the country to have a Roman Catholic church. This doesn't mean that Sagada is not a Christian town in fact it is. Sagada is a mission town of the Episcopal Church. In 1904 the first Christian mission was established there with the Rev Fr John Staunton as first priest-in-charge. By 1911 it was a flourishing mission. Rev Staunton was staunchly Anglo Catholic and his spiritual journey was one of our first blog posts here.
Thus as the present vicar of Sagada says that the people of Sagada are Catholic. In a large sense this is true. They are in the Anglo Catholic tradition so close but yet separated from the Catholic Church. Despite the rapid changes in society of the 20th century, two world wars, national independence, martial law, a democratic restoration, environmental crisis, secularism etc, the people have fully conserved the Anglo Catholic traditions of Father Staunton. And part of this is a strong Marian devotion. Roman Catholics who have visited the place and prayed at St Mary the Virgin may have noticed how more Catholic the Sagada people are than most Roman Catholics!
Nonetheless Sagada faces the challenge of tourism that will affect the traditional values of its people. Ms Danilova Molintas has written about it here. A Roman Catholic presence is needed in furthering Christian witness in this town, especially for the lowlanders who come here to find meaning and spiritual direction. Also, there must be a place where Catholics can celebrate the sacraments. The Roman Catholic presence should never be seen as competition to the Episcopal/Anglican presence and witness here. The Catholic presence should be seen as a complement or even a celebration of the Anglican/Episcopal witness of Fr Staunton, without which there would be no church here.
The Episcopalians tell us that the Roman Catholic church here will be dedicated to Our Lady of Mt Carmel. This is an appropriate title for Mary under this title encourages us to be contemplative, exactly the reason why a lot of people stay in Sagada for a while.
Carmel also has its roots in the English Church. The scapular is said to have been received by St Simon Stock from the Virgin herself. Formal devotion to the Lady of Mt Carmel started in Cambridge, England in 1374. From Cambridge, devotion to Carmel spread to the European mainland, to Spain and her colonies including the Philippines.
So in these days of Anglicanorum coetibus, the Lady of Mt Carmel among the pines of Sagada is a sign or portent of things to come. Are Anglicans and Roman Catholics with their own eyes are seeing the fulfillment and completion of Father Staunton's work?
Palm Sunday is a sign of our sinful fickleness which will see its logical end on Good Friday.
And here is the Collect for Palm Sunday according to the Anglican Use of the Catholic Church
Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love
towards mankind, hast sent thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ
to take upon him our ﬂesh, and to suffer death upon the
cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his
great humility: Mercifully grant that we may both follow the
example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his
resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who
liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God,
for ever and ever. Amen.