In Basilan, southern Philippines, a priest sells fish to help build a church – and his efforts have earned him praise not just from his parishioners but also on social media.
Located in the heart of Lamitan City, Basilan, the small congregation of San Antonio de Padua of Sta. Clara is small and surrounded by Muslim communities. The small Christian community thrived amid the thick Muslim population in the area but the wooden church built in the 1980s has since become dilapidated.
The parish priest, Fr. Joel Silagpo, took the initiative to have the church updated but because money was tight and the churchgoers are small, they really can’t afford the repairs if nothing is done to raise funds.
One day, while buying fish at the ‘Bagsakan’, he suddenly had the idea of selling fish to raise funds for the church. When he told the parishioners about his plan, they thought he was joking. Many asked whether he wouldn’t be ashamed of selling fish, considering that he’s a priest but he was vent on raising money for the church and was willing to do anything.
“I told them, I can sacrifice for the church because our church is dilapidated and we need to source out funds,” Fr. Silagpo revealed.
Realizing the priest was serious, the parishioners lent him Php7,000 ($140) as start-up capital. Within just a week, Fr. Silagpo was able to pay up the borrowed capital. Every day, the priest earns at least Php1,000 ($20). He earns more money during paydays when the locals buy more food; in those days, he could earn as much as Php3,000 ($60).
With this money, Fr. Silagpo was able to pay up the salaries of the construction workers doing the renovations.
Aside from earning money of the church, the pries also felt happy that he’s gaining new friends from the Muslim traders who are giving him a special price after learning he is a priest doing this for the church.
Those who wish to donate for the church construction can send their donations to San Antonio de Padua via account #53-493-680002-8 on Philippine National Bank of Basilan.