An extended stay in the Philippines
On 25 February 2020, FR. FRANCIS BARNES, First Assistant General, arrived in the Philippines to visit the communities of Cebu and Malalag. Following this visit, he was foreseen travelling with John Gould, Superior of the Section of Asia, to India to visit the communities of Bangalore and Sollepuram. However, COVID19 had other ideas.
Like many other people, Francis found himself stranded in the Philippines, unable to travel to India or to travel back to Rome. In the Philippines, the Emergency Community Quarantine (better known elsewhere as a lockdown), shut everything down. Adjustments had to be made and Francis had to find ways of making the best of a difficult situation. He kept in contact with the other members of the General Council, who were in similar situations in different places in Africa, via video conferences. Even COVID19 could not stop the work of the General Council! While unable to go to any of the shopping malls, Francis had his daily walks within the Village of Sto. Nino, where we have our community, as well as the opportunity to experience the food of the Philippines. He gave some inputs to our students and joined our community for prayer as well as social activities and recreation. Francis was finally able to travel back to Rome on 14 August 2020. This extended visit was unexpected both for Francis and the community, but we hope he enjoyed his stay with us. We thank him for his presence in our community and for sharing some insights into the wider aspects of our Society. We thank him and all the members of our General Council for the work they do behind the scenes to ensure our Society runs as efficiently as possible even in the midst of difficult times. Francis is most welcome to return to the Philippines for a much longer (and more permanent) stay following his term as a member of the General Council.