Fr Michael, who comes from Iloilo in the Philippines, felt the first stirrings of a vocation to the priesthood appeared in his early teens. He came across the gospel of St Matthew, when cleaning the local library, and he became curious to know more about Jesus.

A desire to ‘want to follow and become a Priest’ welled up in his heart. But it lay dormant during most of the following long years of secondary school and then university studies.

If not Priesthood, then what?

At college in the Philippines Michael briefly toyed with the idea of becoming a sailor – two of his brothers were already at sea. But his siblings convinced him it wasn’t for him, and instead he studied business and administration. After graduation in 2007, he briefly worked in the accounting department of a Real Estate Agent. He had a steady girlfriend at the time but still was not sure about the direction his life should take.

‘I like adventure!’

He then met Fr Rex Fedelicio MHM, the vocations director of the Mill Hill Missionaries at the time. Listening to his story, Fr Rex advised him to continue with his job, sensing that some additional life experience would help him to come to a mature decision about the direction he should take.

Three years later, in 2010, Michael joined the basic formation programme of the Mill Hill Missionaries at age 25. He was supported and buoyed up by prayer and encouragement from the Mill Hill family.  ‘And I like adventure!’ he explains; ‘Mill Hill Missionaries travel far and wide’.

A taste of missionary life – and a big decision

Michael spent three years of Formation studying philosophy in the Philippines and another three studying theology in Pune, India. That was followed by two years of mission experience in Mbikko, Uganda. This gave him a chance to taste what missionary life involves before proceeding to ordination.

Michael had some tough decisions to make along the way to priesthood. One of those was when

‘I had to settle things with my girlfriend. I have experienced the pain of breaking up a relationship. I know what it is to be deeply in love.’

In the end though, Michael knew God was calling him, and that he would not ignore that call. He was ordained in May 2019 in his home parish in the Philippines.

The missionary journey

Fr Michael was initially posted to Pakistan, where he stayed there for three years. Then, because of visa issues, he was forced to return to the Philippines. He stayed there for a few months until his new posting was agreed, to Sarawak, Malaysia. He shares:

‘As Pope Francis states, “It is not intelligence, nor reason, as, alas, some continue obsessively to repeat; but the great enemy of faith is fear.”’

‘During that time of waiting in the Philippines, I kept pondering what my future would hold in Malaysia. Fear began to creep into my mind. I knew I would need to start all over again — learning the language, understanding the culture, making new friends, and much more, all of which filled me with fear about the journey ahead.’

Immersed in mission

Fr Michael arrived in Sibu Diocese, Sarawak, Malaysia in September 2023, and was initially stationed at St Francis Xavier Mission in Kanowit, approximately 45 minutes from Sibu City. He shares:

‘I remained at St Francis Xavier Mission for only a few months, until January 2024, to experience its beauty and immerse myself in the new environment. My perspective on our ministry here, specifically in the Sibu Diocese, has given me a broader vision of our mission. It has enriched my ministry as a young missionary, transforming my initial fear into an opportunity to expand my service to humanity.’

A new community; a new opportunity to share the Good News

Now, Fr Michael is at St. Herbert Mission Station in Song, and is taking every opportunity to immerse himself in his ministry. He shares:

‘Occasionally, I travel by paraw (long boat) to visit riverside and upper river longhouses where roads are inaccessible. While at the main mission station, I endeavour to visit areas accessible by road, although some still require 4-wheel drive vehicles, especially the logging roads.’

School ministry is another important part of his mission, and Fr Michael helps teach catechism to primary and secondary school students in the area. Despite restrictions on Catholic schools in the country, the Diocese has managed to maintain its Catholic identity.

Faith that grows


The St Herbert community in Song is growing fast! In fact, the church buildings are full to bursting these days with so many faithful Christians.

Since last year, Fr Michael’s colleague Fr David and a group of local volunteers have embarked on a project to expand and update the old church, making space for the growing parish and reinforcing the identity of Christians in this area. The main structure of the extension is nearly complete, and they are hopeful it will be finished before too long. How wonderful to see faith so evidently growing in the community!

‘In the end all is grace’

‘Formation is a continuous process’, Michael reflects, looking back over his vocational journey. ‘I have learnt a lot about mission and what it involves. As Pope Francis says, “Faith is a gift to be welcomed — the first gift — and it must be welcomed and asked for daily, so that it may be renewed in us.”

‘I urge you, my dear friends, to keep all of us missionaries in your prayers, that we may not let fear undermine our mission to proclaim Christ wherever we are sent. May my mission here in Sarawak be more fruitful through God’s grace and Mother Mary’s intercession.

‘My charism is relational: to smile, talk, walk with people and learn from them. As a priest you are part of the community, not apart from it or standing above it … In the end all is grace’.

Missio and Mill Hill

In England and Wales, Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries work together through the Red Box partnership. We jointly make parish appeals for prayers, donations and support through regular giving. For over 80 years now the Red Box has been a symbol of faith, hope and love in people’s homes. The income from the Red Box is shared 60/40 between Missio and the Mill Hill Missionaries. Missio’s share supports faith communities and the sharing of the Gospel message in dioceses where the Church is still young or poor overseas. The Mill Hill Missionaries’ share supports the formation and training of its future missionaries.

This article draws on a previous update from the Mill Hill Advocate, and a recent letter from Fr Michael in Malaysia.

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Between Ascension and Pentecost, we’ll be sharing the amazing work of the missionaries we partner with through the Red Box. These inspiring missionaries dedicate their lives to following in the Apostles’ footsteps: proclaiming the Good News and serving our sisters and brothers who are most in need of God’s love.

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