The Millbrook Diocese welcomed a new priest this summer.
Father Antonio (Tony) Barol arrived in Millbrook at the end of June after a five year stint in Powassan just south of North Bay. He joined the Peterborough Diocese in 1999 when he relocated from his home in the Philippines, joining a friend who had arrived earlier. Since then, Father Tony has served parishes across the Peterborough Diocese, but at the age of 70, he sees Millbrook as his final charge.
He relocated to Canada after serving for 20 years as a pastor in the Philippines. Seminaries in that country are booming, so experienced priests are encouraged to apply to North American diocese where they are in short supply. This shortage of talent also explains in part why priests like Father Barol continue their working life until the age of 75.
Father Barol explained that in many countries in Latin America as well as in his home country the Roman Catholic population base is strong and enjoys stable following, in sharp contrast to North American trends where attendance and support are on the decline. Father Barol believes the decline can be at least partly attributed to economics: in western countries, most material needs are met, so the need for prayer and spiritual support seems to be less pressing. This is not the case in the Philippines. Another contributing factor is different demographics: countries with younger populations and higher birth rates tend to have growing or stable church support.
The move to Millbrook seems to suit Father Barol, and he is fitting in well in the village. He spends most of his time in Millbrook at the Rectory, but is encouraged to stay in Peterborough as well, where he supports the pastor at St. Alphonsus on Western Avenue.
The Rectory he now calls home is a heritage house on King St., built in 1860. It was purchased by the Catholic Church in 1978 to house a resident priest who was the Chaplain of the former Correctional Centre.. The church itself is located across the street and was purchased in 1999 from the local Presbyterian congregation, making this the congregation’s 20th anniversary in that building.
Father Barol delivers three homilies each week- Saturday evening and Sunday morning in Millbrook and at 11am in Nestleton. He is also known for his wonderful voice which he is happy to demonstrate accompanied by his guitar. On the front porch of his new home, he displays exotic plants he brings with him from past abodes, including several mature hibiscus bushes and a fragrant jasmine bush. Bearing the national flower of the Philippines, it provides a daily reminder of his home which he continues to visit each year during his vacation. KG