by Russell Fleur F. Gallego
September 5 is a sad day for Quiapo Church as it said goodbye to its rector for 7 years, Msgr. Hernando 'Ding' Coronel. However, it is with joy that they welcome their new rector, Fr. Jun Coronel Sescon, along with a number of "attached" priests. One of the attached priests is Fr. Hans Magdurulang.
Fr. Hans is not new to the Quiapo Community since he had been presiding Friday masses at the Basilica every 3:00pm even before the pandemic.
He is known for having been one of the first priests to go out of the comforts of their parish convent to go to hospitals, comforting those afflicted by the COVID-19 virus and giving spiritual help to frontliners as they battled the effects of the virus.
He is also seen regularly on the TV Maria show "Tastemonies," a cooking show where guests share their experiences.
Those who know Fr. Hans describe him as a happy person with a good outlook in life.
photo by Renee Nuyda, Dominus Est
On joining the Quiapo family, he says he is happy with his new mission and thankful to the Lord. "Personally, I felt a little nervous and afraid since Quiapo is a big church," he said. "Big not only in its structure but also in the moral and spiritual aspect. Because of my health I also have apprehensions. But at the end of the day, I am grateful to the Archdiocese of Manila and to God who had entrusted me to be a part of the Quiapo Community."
He has also been tagged as the "most awaited" priest in Quiapo, and this was even announced by Msgr. Hernando Coronel during a Mass. On this, he replied, "I am grateful to Msgr. Ding for his love for us. I had been volunteering as a priest here in Quiapo since I was ordained as a priest. All the rectors of Quiapo had been very kind-hearted to welcome the other priests who are devotees of the Nazareno. Of course, I was pressured with the way Msgr. Ding had introduced me, also pressured in the sense that people are looking up to me on what i can do for the community and to the parish. Because Quiapo is not just in Manila, the whole devotion is spread throughout the country. My new position is not just higher but wider. In this way, the pressure is not on the higher position but on the wider chance given for evangelization. But that pressure is needed as we look back on what we have promised during our ordination: to go not where we are comfortable but to go to where we are needed."
Going where one is needed is something that Fr Hans has dutifully followed. During the pandemic, he was one of those who went out to continue the mission despite the COVID-19 scare during that time. On why he did this, he shares, "This was the best time to be a priest. I was also apprehensive at that time because I know my body. Everyone was nervous, my family was nervous. But they all decided to leave it in God’s hands. But I was also puzzled on how I did it during that time and where the inspiration to do it came from. But maybe it was because I wanted to get the opportunity. Every day, everyone is given an opportunity, and we must grab it. When the pandemic started, I saw it as an opportunity from God as a priest, and as people were looking for the Church and asking where the Church was during the time of the pandemic while I was watching the news. I said that I would try it with the help of an organization in my former parish, the San Felipe Neri Parish in Mandaluyong, the Hands to Heaven volunteers. The pandemic had also been the best time not only for us priests but for all the baptized to be a better Christian."
file photos from Quiapo Church Facebook page
Fr. Hans is also often seen on social media. On using social media, he explains, "I believe that the best way to promote our faith is through witnessing. That is also true with vocation promotion. It is hard to invite the youth to become a priest. Inviting the youth to answer the call for vocation is like being a parent. The child will follow the parents not because of being afraid but because they see it. Hopefully what they see - not just in me but also for all those who are serving in the church - is that they have a higher meaning, a higher purpose, and that is to serve and save lives. And even if the pandemic ends, I hope that I can still continue to promote our faith and vocation. It is a reminder for us, my fellow priests and I, as well as the laity, that the best way for us to promote our God is to share, promote and witness."
This time, as he joins the Quiapo family, his mission is clearer. "Before I went here… it was clear to me that I am a devotee of the Nazareno. (Now) my devotion has deepened. Also because of the pandemic, the devotion gave a clearer picture of my mission. Our devotion is useless if we do not have a mission in life. The devotion that we have learned, that has been taught to us, handed down to us, should bear fruit. Devotion can have a face and it can thrive if we have our mission. As a devotee of the Nazareno, we should not only have a deep devotion but also have an active mission."