Fr. Michael Guckian RIP A Daring Missionary to the Phillipines
It is with great sadness the Oblate Community announces that the death has occurred of Fr. Michael Guckian OMI.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. See here for funeral arrangements.
A Daring Missionary to the Philippines
From March 10, 1965 Fr Guckian served in various ministries in the Philippines: in parishes, Notre Dame schools, and the retreat house but the foremost of these were in Non-Christian communities. He was first assigned in Kidapawan, Cotabato for more than a year. Then he was assigned to take care of Dulawan (now Datu Piang), a dominantly Muslim populated parish in November 1966.
The following year, Bishop Gerard Mongeau, OMI, D.D. asked him to take care of a new school in Dalican, Notre Dame of Dinaig, without realising where Dalican was and that Dalican was another Muslim dominated municipality. However, several years later, he realised, “What a wonderful thing that was happening. The Dinaig Mayor approached a Catholic Bishop and requested him to open a Notre Dame School for his people – Maguindanaons.”
Helping students and farmers of different faith communities
In 1969, he began to study the Filipino language in Midsayap but went back to Dalican and on to Dulawan every Friday evening. He taught a bit at Notre Dame of Dulawan to get to know some students. He tried to build up the small Catholic community. He helped the farmers who suffered a great loss when the flood came. They wanted to cultivate their land but they had no plow, no carabao, and no seed. He presented the case to Bishop Mongeau who was most supportive and the farmers agreed to repay at harvest. He did a lot of visiting and discovered in meetings, Dulawan’s need for dikes. So the following year, dikes were started. This was his main entry into direct work with and for the Muslim Maguindanaons of Datu Piang.
Having gained experience in Dulawan and Dalican, in 1984 he was assigned to the Vicariate of Sulu whose population was overwhelmingly (97%) non-Christians; where the Oblate missions were isolated and reached through travel by small boats. He was assigned in Siasi and later to Notre Dame of Jolo College to be in charge of the Campus Ministry. Working with students and faculty members taught him many things about Muslim-Christian relations,
“It was there that my faith was strengthened that both faith communities must come together more to understand and respect each other’s belief and tradition.”
A true Son of St Eugene
A true son of St. Eugene, Fr. Mike Guckian, OMI accepted his assignments even when the Muslim rebellion was at its height in the Sulu archipelago. His daring missionary spirit in building peace among peoples of diverse faith in a foreign mission is a loving historic legacy bequeathed to the OMI Philippine Province. (Reference: The Mindanao Cross, February 25, 1989)
In 1990’s the security situation in the Vicariate of Jolo worsened to include threats to his life and kidnapping. He then was transferred to the seminary as spiritual director of the Philosophate and latter as Director of the retreat house in Manila. He then went back to Ireland in the year 2000 to discern his missionary direction.
Retiring to Ireland
March 10, 2003, he wrote a letter to the Provincial of the Philippine Province about his decision to go back to his home province. This was confirmed by Rome May 7, 2003. In his letter he said,
“I will always be grateful for my years in our Philippine Province – the happy memories, experiences, good friends, and many wonderful people that have helped shaped my life over 33 years. The Philippines must be one of the most alive, enthusiastic of OMI Provinces!”
His daring and valuable missionary presence and activities for the poorest of the poor in the most difficult and dangerous mission in the southern part of the Philippines for more that 33 years is a great inspiration. His uniqueness as a missionary with so much passion and enthusiasm for the poor will forever be remembered with gratitude.
The OMI Philippine province is deeply grateful to the family of Fr. Michael Guckian, OMI and his home province for your generousity in sharing him with us. May his soul rest eternally with God.
Reposing at the home of his nephew Gerard Guckian (Drumboylan) on Wednesday 15th May from 1 o’clock until 5 o’clock with removal to St. Patrick’s Church, Drumboylan, arriving at 7 o’clock.
Requiem Mass on Thursday 16th May at 12 o’clock with burial afterwards in Kiltoghert Cemetery.
Mass will be offered at 7 pm on Friday 17th May in the Oblate Church of Mary Immaculate, Inchicore.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
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