"Carissimi, yesterday we met by Regions to make the discernment for the new regionals. Fr Gianni Mazzali facilitated the process. From the straw voting two outstanding names came out: Fr Francis Gustilo and Fr Andrew Wong. We immediately contacted Fr Francis. It was 6pm (1:00am Philippine time) he begged off for health reasons. When we asked Fr Andy whether he will accept should he be the one chosen, he said he was open!!! That was all that was needed – his openness. We were certainly aware that he is at the middle of his term as provincial and that he has a lot more things to do. But sometimes, God has other plans for us. We might think ourselves indispensable where we are. God may not necessarily see it that way. When we did the final straw voting, Fr Andy got the majority votes. The Holy Spirit was really accompanying us during that discernment. Fr Andy remained calm and serene. And we, the EAO delegates and provincials were all very happy of the result!
This morning, before the voting, we were given the list of all the candidates for every region and their corresponding number of straw votes. The list would give each chapter member an idea who the preferred candidates are in the respective regions. When we voted for the East-Asia-Oceania Regional, it was a landslide in favor of Master Wong! He got the highest convergence of votes of all the regionals. The voice of God was loud and clear through the voice of the chapter. The Rector Major expressed his joy that finally the Regional of East-Asia-Oceania is an Asian himself. Fr Andy is also the first Filipino in the General Council. This certainly brings us great honor.
In his acceptance speech, Fr Andy thanked the members of our Region and the whole assembly for the trust and confidence shown to him. Then he said: 'Accetto.' [I accept]. The whole assembly broke into a loud applause. Something historic was unfolding before our very eyes. We are deeply grateful to God!
Of course we felt sad for the 'loss' of Fr Andy in the Philippine Province. Actually we felt the loss since yesterday. And it was a triple loss. First we lost our Regional. Then we lost the 'calcetto' against the African+Madagascar Region; then the loss of Fr Andy! Napakasakit talaga.
After all the Regionals have been elected they were immediately called for a meeting by the Rector Major! Right after the Chapter the General Council will begin to meet for at least a week. The new council members are expected to be in Rome by May 28 to be ready for the June Session of the General Council. Pretty tight, don't you think so?
When I asked Fr Andy how it felt to be a Regional, he simply responded: 'I am at peace!"
FIN Provincial Fr.Andy Wong with the out-going East Asia Oceania Superior Fr. Klement Vaclav