Bishop Gerard Mongeau was born in Epiphany, a small town in the French and Catholic province of Quebec, Canada, on February 4, 1900. His vocation as a child grew without being conscious of it. He went to the Oblate Junior Seminary without being conscious that he was on the road to priesthood and to the Oblate missionary life. He made his first vows on September 8, 1919. He was ordained priest on June 14, 1924 in Texas. His first assignment was in Mexican community in Austin, Texas. In 1939 the greatest turning point in his life came, when he was called by God to the Philippines. He was assigned as Superior of the newly opened mission in Cotabato and Sulu. He arrived in Manila on September 25, 1939. I have been here in Cotabato ever since… 50 years. Gerard Mongeau, OMI, a retired bishop of the Archdiocese of Cotabato died at the Notre Dame Hospital on October 29, 1994 at the age of 94. He was buried at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Cotabato City.
A Generous Man with Great Humor
Father Joseph Boyd belonged to the original 4 Oblates who worked in Cotabato in 1939. He came from the Oblate Eastern Province (U. S.). When he volunteered to come to the Philippines, he was not exactly a young man. He had been ordained in 1929. He had done parish work in Lowell, especially with the youth. His first assignment in Cotabato was to attend to the Catholic settlement located along the coast all the way to Glan, South Cotabato (Glan now is part Sarangani Province). In 1940, he was permanently assigned to Cotabato City to take charge of the De Mazenod Hall. He was the one who suggested to Archbishop Doherty to allow the Oblates to open a new parish at Grace Park. He was named parish priest of Our Lady of Grace Parish. He died on September 11, 1974.
The Media Man
Father Cuthbert Billman was the silent and the tallest among the seven OMI pioneers to come in the Philippines. He was ordained priest in 1938 and the following year he was chosen to join the first group of OMI missioners in Southern Philippines. His first assignment was in the Sulu mission. Together with Frs. Bolduc and Dion, he embarked on a mission in the heartlands of the Bangsa Moro. He took charge of the islands. He was the first resident priest in Siasi. In February 14, 1959, he came out with the first edition of the Sulu Star. The Sulu Star was again another story of success in the media history. But in 1972, because of Martial Law and the very tense situation in Jolo, the paper folded up. The papers he published and edited would always enflesh that motto which the Mindanao Cross still carries today: “A Little Paper with a Big Cause”. He died in Oakland, California on July 27, 1974.
Founder and Builder
Bishop Francis McSorley belonged to a large family of 14 children: 2 Jesuits, 2 Oblates, and 4 nuns. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1939 and was sent to the foreign mission on that same year. He came with the second group of three Oblates who arrived in Manila on October 26, 1939. He was the first Director of Notre Dame of Cotabato in 1945. In 1946, he established Notre Dame of Marbel; in 1947, Notre Dame of Lagao; and in 1948, Notre Dame of Mlang. He died in Jolo on November 20, 1970. His death was a great loss to the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He had been one of the leaders in the pioneer days of Cotabato, the founder of many Notre Dame Schools, the builder of Sulu missions, a friend of the Muslims, both the simple folks and their leaders, and a chief engineer of the “Bridge of Peace”.
A Simple Man With a Big Heart
Father Emile Bolduc was one of the 7 pioneer Oblates who arrived in the Philippines on September 25, 1939. He came from Lowell, Massachusetts, an Oblate town, an Oblate parish, and very Catholic. All his life he wanted to become a priest and never thought of anything else. He had great regard and admiration for priests and he maintained this all his life. Fr. Bolduc was already 43 when he joyfully volunteered to come to the Philippines in 1939. He spent 13 years in Jolo, 3 years in Grace Park, and 20 years in Tamontaka. He died on February 8, 1982 and was buried at the Oblate cemetery at Tamontaka in Cotabato.
Architect, Broadcaster, & Founder
Bishop George Dion was born in Central Falls, Rhode Island, USA on September 25, 1911. He was the youngest of three children who all entered the religious life. He arrived in the Philippines with the first batch of pioneers on his birthday, September 25, 1939. He was assigned as assistant to Fr. Bolduc in Jolo. In 1945, he started his missions in Sulu together with Fr. Emile Laquerre. In 1951, they started Notre Dame of Tawi-Tawi in Bongao; and in 1955, they opened Notre Dame of Ungus Matata. On February 17, 1957, DXMS, the first catholic radio in the country was established. Fr. Dion put all his energy to this task. He continued his belief in the media when on June 24, 1986, DXMM was officially blessed in Jolo. He was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Jolo in 1980. He is indeed a man of many talents. As his priestly motto says: “that which pleases Him, I strive to do always.” He died on February 12, , 1999 in Cotabato City.
Father Egide Beaudoin was the eldest boy of a familyof 15 children. Of the post war Oblates, he was the least known among the 7 pioneers who arrived in the Philippines in 1939. The post war generation of Oblates have only known him in picture. And what strikes them is his enigmatic “Mona Liza-like” smile. He was assigned in Midsayap, province of Cotabato where he established the first church and first convento. He stayed in the country only six years, three of which in the concentration camp. He was a sick man for the last twenty years of his life. The last ten years he spent nailed to a bed where he could not move even his little finger. He died on November 21, 1972 in Lowell, Massachusetts.