HONG KONG (SE): Father Louland Escabusa of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM), was ordained to the priesthood on February 1 in Bohol, the Philippines, by Bishop Prudencio Andaya CICM, the apostolic vicar of Kalinga.
While still a deacon in 20019, Father Escabusa served at the Holy Redeemer Church, in Tuen Mun. He will return after his vacation and join his missionary community to continue his ministry in the diocese of Hong Kong.
Before his diaconate ordination in May last year, he recounted to the Kung Kao Po that his parents are devoted Catholics who fully supported his vocation. He is the fourth of six siblings. As a child, he often accompanied his father, an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, in bringing the Holy Communion to remote villages, where they would read the Bible and pray together.
He joined the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary at the age of 16 after graduating from secondary school and received philosophical training for four years.
In 2005, at the age of 21, he left the seminary and engaged took on a stable job. He tried various things such as clerical work, teaching English, customer services, and later joined the International Children’s Action Network (ICAN) to take care of street children.
The plight of street children in the Philippines is dangerous as they are left unattended by their parents. Many of them end up in taking drugs together with their parents and often fall prey to the influence of gangsters.
Father Escabusa recounted that he spent a lot of time looking for street children in the evening and invited them to the parks to chat, sing hymns and pray. He also encouraged them to develop personal hygiene.
Some of them told him that they wanted to leave the street life, so he helped them enter a children’s centre and find a school. But leading a normal life is not easy for such children as some of them are traumatised after being abused or harassed, while some find it hard to catch up with their homework without support.
His job then was to journey with them to make them feel being loved. “The job rekindled my desire to pursue my vocation,” he said.
He reentered the seminary in 2010. “After leaving the seminary, I realised that I do not only need to serve the people, but also God.” After making his first vows, he went to Cameroon, Africa, to receive theological training. He returned to the Philippines in 2016 and was assigned to Hong Kong in December the same year.
Father Escabusa said he was grateful for the opportunity to work in Hong Kong as the congregation was established by its founder, Father Theophile Verbist, to spread the gospel in China. But learning Chinese was especially difficult for him and it took him two years before he could communicate and share the Word of God in Chinese.
He was assigned to the Holy Redeemer Church in August 2018 as a deacon and often visited hospitals during this period of pastoral.
As a missionary, he said there were challenges and surprises and he could not go through them without the help of God. “I can only rely on God and walk with him,” he said.