THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF FILIPINO PRIESTS – USA

I. History

The organizational process of the National Assembly of Filipino Priests Serving the Church in the U.S.A. (NAFP-USA) began in 2008 when the Most Rev. Oscar A. Solis, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and Chair of the Subcommittee on Asian & Pacific Island Affairs (SCAPA) of the USCCB then, invited 24 leaders among the Filipino priests in the country to gather in Orlando, Florida for a national consultation.

During this consultation process, the following concerns were discussed:

1. the current status of Filipino priests in the country

2. the contributions of Filipino priests to the Church in America

3. the gifts & talents brought to bear on ministry

4. the many ways to increase effectiveness as missionaries and ministers in the Church

After a thorough survey, it was discovered that there are 800+ Filipino priests serving the Church in the USA in various arch/dioceses and Catholic institutions. Many are involved in parish ministry, some in healthcare and related agencies, in the military, in catholic schools and universities, and in arch/diocesan leadership roles. A good number of these priests have multiple degrees from pontifical and local universities, most have been formed and trained in the Philippines, and many are very gifted in various fields.

A plan of action was developed and an Ad-Hoc Committee was formed to implement the plan of action. Representing a cross-section of church leaders scattered throughout the country, the 20 member Ad-Hoc Committee met from the beginning of 2009 until the end of October 2011 to (1) create and write the “Vision and Mission Statements” of the national assembly, (2) to polish and implement the plan of action and (3) to organize the national assembly for Filipino priests.

II. The National Assembly

“Paring Pinoy: Celebrating Our Gifts” was the chosen theme; Westin Hotel Los Angeles Airport Hotel was the venue, and the date was November 8-11, 2011.  The renowned speakers and presiders included Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop Jose Gomez, Bishop Randy Calvo, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Bishop Robert McElroy and Archbishop Luis “Chito” Tagle.  A total of 11 Workshop/Dialogue Sessions relevant to priestly ministry were offered.

The historic first national assembly attracted 355 priests from all over the country with 8 prelates in attendance. Two other hotels accommodated the overflow of unexpected participants. The involvement and participation of the Filipino-American lay communities and pastoral leaders in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles were mainly responsible for the resounding success of this assembly in collaboration with the local Filipino priests.

At this national assembly, the participants elected their regional representatives (20 representqtives) and gave them the mandate to:  (1) organize the National Association for Filipino Priests in the US (NAFP-USA), (2) continue exploring how they can bring to life the “vision & mission” statements presented at the national assembly; and (3) plan to second National Assembly for Filipino Priests.

This national assembly demonstrated clearly that the Filipino priests love the Church in America and they would like to serve her to their fullest capacity.

III. The Future of the NAFP – USA

The National Association of Filipino Priests Serving the Church in the USA (NAFP –USA) will become the umbrella organization of all Filipino priest organizations & associations already in existence in the country. The plan is to legally incorporate as a non-profit organization.

The first organizational meeting of the new Leadership Council of the NAFP-USA was held in New Orleans, LA on February 15 & 16, 2012. The Very Rev. Vic DeLa Cruz from the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, LA, the outgoing Convenor of the former Ad-Hoc and Steering Committees facilitated the meeting and handed over the leadership of the NAFP to the new council.

At this meeting, the Leadership Council elected the members of the Executive Board and they are: Rev. Engelberto Gammad (President) from the Diocese of San Jose; Rev. Patrick Longalong (Vice-President) from the Diocese of Brooklyn; Rev. Rafael Lavilla, OSJ (Secretary) from the Diocese of Monterey, and Rev. Albert Avenido (Treasurer) from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

During this meeting, the members of the Leadership Council evaluated the recent national assembly, gathered feedback from some participants, and identified areas of concern. The Council members prepared a plan of action for the 4 quarters of 2012 which includes:

a. the formulation of a Constitution Committee to draft the Constitution & By-Laws of the NAFP

b. to update the Database of the NAFP

c. to develop the website and improve networking/communications

d. to follow up on regional gatherings and post-assembly meetings

Immediately following this meeting, the new website of the National Assembly was launched http://www.nafp-usa.org./ for all the members of the NAFP to share information. The official contact person for the NAFP-USA is the Rev. Engel Gammad at egammad@dsj.org or (408) 627-1172.