Rotorua’s John Paul College is building relationships with Lasallian organisations in the Philippines to take part “in future outreach programmes to promote cross cultural interaction and support networks”.

John Paul College Rotorua builds relationships with La Sallians in the Philippines.
John Paul College Rotorua builds relationships with La Sallians in the Philippines.

The college’s religious education teacher Owen Kowalewski and deputy principal Maree Stewart, with five year 12 girls, visited the provinces of Cebu, Negros Occidental and Bacolod, where they were immersed in several Lasallian programmes.

“We spent some time at Bahay Pag-asa (House of Hope), a juvenile detention centre run by the De La Salle Brothers,” Mr Kowaleski said. “These youth are convicted criminals who the court have given one last chance at rehabilitation. They are looking for volunteers to help them, which we may get involved with in the future.”

They painted the exterior of a new house at GK Lopue Legacy Village, in Bago City (Negros Occidental), as part of the University of St La Salle (USLS) Balayan Outreach Programme. The programme, facilitated by the university, helps people move out of slums and into
their own homes.

“Each house cost $NZ4000 to build, but prospective families must do 1500 hours work to earn a place on the waiting list. Our plan is to raise $4000 this year and go back next year to work there,” Mr Kowaleski said.

Students and officials were hosted in Cebu by relatives of the New Zealand students. Their visit was hectic and included Sunday Mass at the Santo Nino Basilica, the oldest church in
the Philippines.

They also interacted with students at Cebu Public High School, went on a pilgrimage to the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist, helped with the Missionaries Sisters of Charity feeding programme for malnourished children and visited the Catholic School for the Hearing Impaired.

“The highlight of the trip for us was how Catholic the Philippines is, including praying the Angelus in the shopping malls.”

The people are very Catholic, very friendly, caring and considerate “and made us feel very welcome. We were very proud to be Catholic,” said Mr Kowaleski.