by ROMY UDANGA
AUCKLAND — The thousands of Catholic Filipinos residing in the diocese of Auckland have a new chaplain.
Fr Elmer Dimarucut, MSP, himself a Filipino, arrived in New Zealand on March 30. He was installed as chaplain of the Filipino community and parish priest of Good Shepherd Parish in Balmoral by Msgr David Tonks on April 29.
Fr Dimarucut, 43, comes straight from an eight-year posting as a missionary priest in Japan, where he served the churches of Saiin, Francis Xavier Cathedral, Nishijin and Fushimi in the heart of Kyoto City, and Omiya, Mineya and Amino in Kyotango, north of Kyoto. He was also on the diocese’s team in charge of the formation of seminarians.
He is brimming with enthusiasm for the task he faces but, for now, he said he is still “happy observing how the faith is practised in New Zealand”.
As a missionary priest, he said he is conscious that everything he does, or any activity he starts, “should strengthen our faith”.
Auckland Catholic Filipino Chaplaincy (ACFC) chairman Consuelo del Castillo said Fr Dimarucut is dynamic, full of fresh ideas and open to other’s suggestions.
“He is knowledgeable and has lots of experience that has helped him take on his role as parish priest and chaplain,” Mrs del Castillo said.
There are an estimated 20,000 Catholic Filipinos in New Zealand, and Fr Dimarucut said they should see themselves as missionaries, too.
“As Filipinos and as baptised Catholics, we have a mission to share our faith. But our way of being Catholics should enhance the Catholics in New Zealand. It should not take away what’s in there or change it to become a Filipino faith. It should be enhancing,” he said.
Fr Dimarucut hails from Pampanga, a province in Central Luzon in the Philippines. He gained a degree in economics when he, at 21, entered the seminary, where he specialised in pastoral ministry and human development. He spent his two-year pastoral regency in Daru Kiunga in the western province of Papua New Guinea, where he had his real foretaste of missions.
“The faith is a gift that we have received from God through missionaries. We’ve been Catholics because of the missionaries. So as a repayment for that debt of gratitude we owe to the Lord and also to the early missionaries, we should also share our faith, with a uniquely Filipino taste, to the rest of the world,” he said.
Fr Dimarucut took over the shepherding of the Filipino Catholic community and Good Shepherd Parish from Fr Ruben Elago, MSP, who has moved to serve a new Mission Society of the Philippines project in Sydney, Australia.
by ROMY UDANGA