Interview with Fr. Jay
On Fr. Jay: Full name? Date & place (town & province) of birth? Date ordained?
My full name is Jay Daet Gapayao. My birth place is Daraga, Albay, Philippines. I would also like to mention my parents, My parents name is Sofronio Gapayao, Jr and Teresita Daet. I have one brother and two sisters. They are very supportive, especially during my (Priestly) formation and even up until now. I was ordained on the 29th of July 2006.
To share an unforgettable experience in serving the migrant workers. Number of people reached approximately?
I think I have already forgotten (Laughs!!). I don’t remember actually. But most of the times when I see people in distress I feel their pain and situation too. Sometimes, it would even bother me for days or a week. I would feel so pressured and stressed out regarding some of problems the people would experience. So that would be some of the number of experiences that I have had and it’s a very humbling experience.
I feel as if I am not even sufficient enough to help. There are times I couldn’t do anything and was not capable of doing things but by just being there for them, I think it helped them a lot.
The other thing would be the way the community supports us in the centre is also one of the experiences.
Also it’s the way they greet me when Im around them (The people will be like), “Fatherrrr!!” Or even when Im at a distant they say “Father!! Come here or Father join us.” They just swam around you. And I think its because of the situation around here, they (people) need more presence of the Priest. Somehow these have been the good experience that I have had.
Its not only the Filipinos but people from other nationalities and other groups. These gestures I really appreciated a lot.
No. of People helped? I don’t know. Im not a figure person (Laughs!!)
How many members does Fr. Jay’s community (SOLT) have in Macau?
As of now there are three assigned Priest since October. In November I was supposed to leave Macau but I asked for extension for a month so we are four (including myself).
When, Where and By Whom was the SOLT community founded? Countries they serve?
The SOLT community was founded by Fr. James H. Flanagan. He was an American, a WWII veteran and a sports person. I think he played football. He started the community in Santa Fe in New Mexico in 1958. He started this with a group of lay persons. They were sort of a pious group and later on with the help of Archbishop of Santa Fe, Edwin Byrne invited Flanagan to his diocese where he met his co-worker, Father John McHugh. Later he had some Priest and Nuns helping him and it grew.
In the Philippines it was started by Thomas Gear and it spread in other regions in the Asia Pacific. We have Thailand, Papa New Guinea, Vietnam, Australia and here in Macau.
In other parts of the world our society servers in Belize, United Kingdom, Guatemala, Ghana, Italy, Mexico and of course U.S.A.
What is their charism and main apostolate?
Our ecclesial charism is to work as a team, we work as a community with the Priest, Sisters and Lay. Especially here (in Macau) we don’t any Sister’s community or a Lay community. We usually have Lay persons and a community of Sisters as well. The SOLT consists of three communities, the Priest, Sisters and the Lay. We work together in one mission area. But since we don’t have any Lay members or Sisters here, we collaborate with other lay communities, especially with the lay people here. We have different apostolates. Our mission is “Working in areas with deepest Apostolic need.” Some of the areas we work are with migrants, parishes. We also work with drug addicts, aids victims, families, schools (educational programs). Almost everything.
Approximately how many priests, how many seminarians worldwide?
In Asia pacific around 80 priest, Im not quite sure. And the Seminarians were around 80 or so before I left Philippines which was three years ago. Worldwide I do not have the statistics.
On the Centre:
How long have you worked there?
– I have worked there for three years. I started working there in June 2012 until recently.
How does the centre run from an organisational point of view? (i.e., How many core members handle the work and events; How can they finance themselves; and how do they manage the resources?)
We are subsidies by the diocese for our house hold operations, for the lodging, food and other operations. For our programmes, the donations and the collections we get from our Masses in St. Augustine. Those are the finances that we use.
The head will always be the priest who acts as the team leader and that is Fr. Andy who is in charge. His also the head of our apostolic house. For the whole migrants community and ministry we have him as the leader as well. We have this pastoral coordinator his in charge of everything in the programme etc. We also have this finance officer that was Fr. Art before.
We also have ministers as well, members of the pastoral council for the migrants and they have different committees as well who are lay people and some nuns.
We have a liturgy committee that handles different ministries under the liturgy committee, the choir, lectors ushers etc and all these committees get together and work as one.
Some of the coordinators aren’t event Catholic but we coordinate with them.
Any particular services the Centre would like to render in future? (Somewhat like future plan…)
Before I had already asked the Bishop (Jose Lai) if we could have a bigger centre so we can facilitate more activities. The current centre is too small, if we could have a bigger place we can have a structured office and we could really function. That’s one the things
We also have some of a program of things. We had this program before, we just have to push the Pastoral plan that we have. Last year we had this organising thrust for the community and now we are having this evangelising thrust for the community. One of the activities we were having before was the evangelisation of families, at the same time making the families more and more active in the pastoral centre and at the same time in the dioceses. That’s why last year on November first we had a gathering of families just to see the realities of families here in Macau, especially the migrant families. These were some of the suggestions I also had with the Bishop before when he approved it so we could have a regular dialogue with families and not just wit migrant families here in the dioceses of Macau.
Fr. Jay’s future plan:
So after go back to the Philippines, what’s next?
I have asked (my superiors – regional priest for the Asia Pacific region) for a short time vacation break. I was given an assignment but it hasn’t been formalised I guess. It’s an assignment back in the Philippines. I’m not quite sure about it yet. Maybe it may change, because I was supposed to report earlier before mid of September but we spoke about it and was later given the direction and recalled again and then I had to report again in November but I asked for a one-month extension.
So for now I will take a break and spend some time with my family maybe for a few months depending what will be the direction (my superiors) will give me.
Are you going to miss Macau?
Not really! I think its normal, I have accepted it. But I was very comfortable here in Macau. However, before coming to Macau I was not very much interested to come on a mission here because I was assigned as a Vocation Director in the Philippines. I thought before I was doing well as a vocation director. But I had to come here as a necessity because Fr. Ronald Mazo, SOLT, he had a hypertension attack with led to a stroke. So I had to replace him at the request of Fr. Pedro. He needed some help and personally he was very drained during that time. He was very stressed with what had happened to Fr. Ronald. But anyway, after my six months stay in Macau I got very much in to the things and now after 3 years I received this recall letter. Somehow, it wasn’t easy to accept it. I did speak with my superiors as to why I should be here in Macau and not back in the Philippines. But they have their plans for me and the society as well. And thats part of being a missionary…..