Fr. Anthony Paul Bicomong, SDB, was just been installed as the 10th Provincial Superior of the Salesians in the Philippines. What follows is a piece I wrote for the June-August issue of St John Bosco Today (formerly Salesian Bulletin).
In the rector’s office of Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati, one cannot but notice the coffee table book featuring Michael Jordan. No doubt, the office is owned by someone who is himself a basketball fanatic, Fr. Anthony Paul Bicomong, SDB, DBTI’s rector for almost five years now, and the 10th Provincial Superior of the Salesian Philippine Province (FIN) since it was made a Province in 1963.
But if one thinks that basketball is only his thing, think again.
Fr. Ariel Macatangay, SDB, Fr. Paul’s long time seminary companion since their elementary days, recalls that Fr. Paul was “more easy-go-lucky and thought more about sports, he became a diligent and serious student as a high school aspirant.”
Through and through a Salesian, he did not just excel in music and sports, but also in studies. He has been teaching general and special ethics to Philosophy majors in Don Bosco College in Canlubang.
“In the seminary, he was responsible in any job given to him. He was known for his punctuality and exact fulfilment of his duties,” adds Fr. Ariel.
Ms. Mel Hernandez, long-time registrar of Don Bosco College affirms this, “He arranged with us some adjustments in his teaching schedule upon getting the news that he will assume the responsibility. Fr. Paul is responsible in the things entrusted to him.”
Fr. Paul has an elder brother who happens to be a Salesian priest as well, Fr. Jun Bicomong. In his characteristic humor, he quipped that Fr. Paul has publicly acknowledged how his elder brother inspired him to enter the seminary. However Fr. Jun revealed how his younger brother also encouraged him to remain in the seminary, especially when he thought of leaving when the Salesian brothers’ seminary in Makati was about to be closed.
Ms. Imelda Benitez, local coordinator of the Salesian Cooperators of Makati Center, notes that Fr. Paul is “a serious believer of the big spiritual family envisioned by St. John Bosco… He always emphasizes this during monthly meeting of Salesian Cooperators.”
She was also impressed how Fr. Paul managed to be present in their monthly gathering and how he would even stay to finish all activities. She understands how hectic the life of Salesian priests is; she understands that an SDB local delegate of Salesian Cooperators usually stays for some time, celebrates the Mass or give some words and leaves. “Pero siya commitment niya talaga is to be with us ‘pag third Sunday,” Ms. Imelda quips.
Among other things, Fr. Paul also showed his support in their apostolate to the female migrants (counterpart of the all-male Ampons), simply because he believes that they, too, have souls to be saved.
The six years will be an exciting treat for FIN, just like a basketball game. But surely, a tad more than that.