Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bayambang Priests Return

Bayambang --  St. Vincent Ferrer Parish is receiving the grace of  the return of her son-priests from Bayambang.  

Fr. Gerardo Reyes Frias, also known as Fr. Gerry, is from Malimpec, Bayambang. He is the son of Jose Frias, a farmer, and Trinidad Reyes, both Catholics. He is the second child of 7 children, but the eldest died in birth. He has 2 brothers and 4 sisters. He was born on October 12, 1930.

Fr. Gerry is now 80 years old and he does not remember now why he entered the seminary, but he said his mother used to bring him to church in Bautista to hear Mass. He was not a sacristan or altar server, but one day he presented himself to Fr. Leon Bitanga, the then parish priest of Basista, and told him that he would like to enter the seminary. 

He was accepted in the Mary Help of Christians in Binmaley and finished high school and one year in philosophy in 1952. Then he entered the Immaculate Conception School of Theology in Vigan, Ilocos Sur to continue his philosophical and theological formation. He graduated in 1958 and was ordained a priest on March 22 that same year. He became the first priest of Bayambang. Four of his classmates became priests: Msgr. Antonio Aldana, Fr. Benjamin Mones, Fr. Bienvenido Castillo, Fr.Jaime Neri.

Fr. Gerry was assigned to the following parishes:

Calasiao - as assistant priest in April to October (1958)
Binalonan - as assistant priest (1958-1959)
San Carlos - as assistant priest (1959-1965)
Aquilar - as parish priest (1965-1971)
Agno - as parish priest (1971 -1977)
Burgos - as parish priest (1977 -1981)

After Lingayen-Dagupan was divided into three dioceses, Fr. Gerry remained in the Diocese of Alaminos.

Salasa - as parish priest (1981 - 1986) where he celebrated his 25th sacredotal anniversary
Mabini - as parish priest (1986 - 1987)
Anda - as parish priest (1987 - 1994)
Alaminos - 1994 - 1995
Infanta - as parish priest 1995 - 1996 
Alaminos - 1997 until retirement in 2006

He celebrated his 50th sacredotal anniversary at the Resurrection Church in Chicago, Illinois in 2008. He has been living now in the Teachers' Village in Bayambang Poblacion Norte since 2007.

Now Fr. Gerry is a regular con-celebrant on Wednesdays and Fridays. Sometimes he takes the extra Masses.  He shares a happy breakfast with the other two balik-bayans: Fr. Rolando Salosagcol and Fr. Anthony Layog, from Bayambang. Fr. Primo gladly joins in like a son of Bayambang too.

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