Brother Mauricio celebrates his golden anniversary in religious life
by: Jun Mercado, OMI
Brother Mauricio L. Zuyco, OMI is a missionary, mystic wanderer in the land of perpetual journey.
In the late afternoon on the Feast of the Sacred Heart 1958, Mauricio Zuyco was making his way to the Midsayap Convento when he was picked up by Fr. Cyril Canning who gave him a warm welcome. Mauricio remembers the day very well because the sole purpose of his trip to Midsayap was to inquire about the Oblate Brotherhood which he had read about in the Mindanao Cross. When Mauricio was in fourth year high school with the Marist Brothers, Bishop Mongeau gave a talk and the conviction and dynamism of the Bishop influenced him to think of becoming an Oblate.
On the 19th of March 1959, Mauricio was a novice at the Novitiate in Midsayap with Fr. Jan Kuilboer as Novice Master. Fr. Jan and the novices were just setting up the house. The Old Chapel was converted to provide a small chapel, a dormitory, a refectory which also functioned as a Conference Room and a kitchen with an oven that was great for baking "hollow block bread". Maurico recalls those early days with fondness, "they were really pioneering days in Oblate Brother formation, maybe things didn’t look like a novitiate but we knew simple living and the people of Midsayap helped us very much".
He survived his first live-live experience with the Oblates and on March 19, 1960 he knelt before God and generously vowed poverty, chastity and obedience as a n Oblate. His first assignment was to the new Novitiate site at Tamontaka and so once again he was part of the "novitiate construction team" under the capable guidance of the Dutch engineer and architect, Fr, Jan Kuilboer. The construction was completed by 1962 and the Lourdes Grotto was well underway. Mauricio moved to Notre Dame Press where Fr. Bertlesman was the manager.
In 1963-1964, he studied printing techniques and offset technology at the SVD owned Catholic Trade School. This knowledge served him in the Press until 1968 when Fr. Joseph Milford asked him to prepare for a new assignment – Catechetical work among Tirurays in Upi. Mauricio willingly went back to school at the Notre Dame University sponsored Institute of Catechesis in preparation for his new mission. Of graduation day he can only remember that famous remark, "Brother please don’t terrorize the Tirurays". Well, for the following nine years, he lived among the people of Upi area and their love and respect for him are the certain signs that he did not "terrorize" anyone.
Fr. Jan Kuilboer, his former Novice Master, was the Parish Priest in Upi and they worked together in the parish, in the school and in social action programs. For the people in the remote barrios, Mauricio was educator, superior and founder of Notre Dame schools in Tubuan, Fantil, Mandalay, and Kusiong which withstood the famous earthquake and tsunami of 1976. He didn’t terrorize the Tirurays but he was with them in the terror-filled days of a troublesome year – 1974. Together Mauricio and Fr. Bernard Brekel, parish priest. they were a source of comfort and strength of the people.
It was a blessing and a break when he was invited to the chapter of 1974 which elected Fr. Fernand Jette as Superior General. This was the occasion when Mauricio made his memorable visit to Lourdes and then on to the U.S. where he met Fr. Brekel in Colorado.
After nine years of traveling the hills of Upi, tiredness began to creep in and his assignment to the Press in 1977 was a happy and welcome change. He was back at his old skills again until 1979 when he was chosen as Assistant Vocation Director to Fr. Cyril Canning. He moved from school to school in province after province, diocese after diocese, making known the Oblates to thousands of young boys and helping them discern if God is calling them.
Then for a decade from 1985 to 1995, Bro. Mau was assigned in Kulaman. While most of his time was spent at the service of the Dulangan Manobos, he also reached out to the settlers who were mainly Ilonggo and Ilokano. He was with Fr. Richard Wiexelman OMI and together they collaborated on a few projects with the settlers including the setting up of Notre Dame of Kulaman.
At present, Bro. Mauricio is assigned to the Novitiate community with Fr. Zaldy Orola, the Novice Master. He tries to help accompany the novices in his own little way through work and prayers.
As he celebrates his golden jubilee of religious life, he looks at the future with much faith and trust in the mighty hand of God. He would quip that he has done enough and he is ready to go. (ERM)