Filipino Priest Heals Body and Soul

Text and photos by Basilio Sepe

On Sundays, one finds Father Jaime Roa preaching in a suburb in the city of Makati in the Philippine capital. On other days, he is seen wearing a lab coat in a small clinic.

The 64-year-old priest hails from the province of Iloilo in the central Philippines. His mother would sell goods in the market while his father was a fisherman.

In his early age, Father Roa spent time in the church. “I've always wanted to be a priest,” he said.

He finished high school in 1973, and through scholarships, he was able to attend college. With the help of friends and his own efforts, he was able to study to become a doctor.

Still, his dream of becoming a priest continued. “There was something missing. I had to respond to this. I had to answer to this call,” he said.

In 1993, he joined the Order of the Servants of the Sick, popularly known as the Camillians. After eight years of formation, he was ordained priest in 2002.

He was assigned in the city of Makati in 2004 and later in the city of Calbayog in the central Philippine province of Samar where he became a hospital director for six years.

In 2013, he came back to Makati to serve in his congregation’s clinic.

“I was able to fulfill my dream to be a doctor and a priest,” he said, adding that he can now minister to people’s body and soul.

Patients consults with him not only about their health but also to seek spiritual guidance.

“There’s really joy in doing this, but it is also a little difficult,” admitted the priest.

“I realized that it is also hard to take care of both the body and the soul at the same time especially at my age,” he said. “It will drain you.”

His message to the people is to be always close to God. “All our activities should be directed to Him,” he said.

The priest said he noticed that the pandemic brought many people back to God. “They learned to pray. They became closer to God.”

On April 25, the Department of Health reported an additional 8,162 new COVID-19 infections in the Philippines.

With the new cases, the country inched closer to the one million mark for confirmed COVID-19 cases at 997,523.

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