by ROWENA OREJANA
AUCKLAND — A mysterious death threat turned Filipino priest Fr Elric Jorquia’s path towards New Zealand.
A young priest from a sleepy town in Malaybalay, Southern Philippines, Fr Jorquia was surprised by a call from a journalist
friend who informed him of the threat.
“Until now, I don’t know the exact motive and who was behind it,” he told NZ Catholic last month.
In October 2012, the Malaybalay police conducted an operation where a killer for hire was killed. Recovered from the killer’s belongings were pictures of his targeted victims, some of whom were already dead. Fr Jorquia was in a group photo and his chest
was marked with an x.
“I wasn’t concerned at first. It felt unreal and I didn’t think there was any reason for anyone to want me dead,” he said.
“”I tried to evaluate my life asa person and as a priest. I felt I wasn’t that bad.”
Fr Jorquia said the experience didn’t scare him, but it made him wary, especially when meeting people he didn’t know.
His bishop pulled him out of the parish for three months. In a general reshuffling in the middle of 2012, it was decided
that he would be sent to Auckland diocese.
“I told my bishop then that I was willing to be reassigned outside of the diocese or even out of the country,” he said.
But he admits he was a little apprehensive at the time. He didn’t have any training in ministering to people of other
cultures.
“Then I realised my Lord in the Philippines is the same Lord in New Zealand. He will guide me,” he said. “God moves
in mysterious ways. I didn’t dream to minister outside my country. I was happy to minister to my people there. But it
happened for a deeper reason.”
He said there are a lot of differences that he had to adjust to. For one thing, Auckland is very multicultural.
“What I have learned is, I am not a priest for my own sake but for the people of God. Coming here to New Zealand
has given me a wider perspective of the Universal Church,” he said.
Fr Jorquia has two more years to serve in Auckland diocese. He arrived in January last year.
“For me, things have become simple. I know that wherever I go, the Lord will be there. I like this country. It’s
beautiful. But I will go where God leads me. I will be happy,” he said.

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