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Archives Massena welcomes Father Nick Revilla

February 15, 2023

By Darcy Fargo

MASSENA – For Father Nicolas J. Revilla from the Archdiocese of Caceres in the Philippines, a lot of things are new right now.

Father Revilla, 51, is new to the United States, new to Massena, new to snow and new to parish life.

“I always tell people, ‘it is different,’” he said. “Different in the sense that I used to live in the other side of the globe that is totally different in weather, in time zone and the culture of people. But the North Country, and Massena in particular, is such a gorgeous place. It is still wintertime, and for me, experiencing winter is like being transported and be right in the middle of those Christmas lyrics we hum during Christmas in the Philippines, ‘the winter wonderland.’ Now that I am here the winter wonderland truly becomes a reality, and not just words we sing in Christmas. I have already heard wonderful stories about the kind, warm and welcoming hearts of the parishioners of St Mary’s and Sacred Heart Churches in Massena. And, in a few days I have been here, I can rightfully say it is so. I have been treated with utmost kindness and warm welcome by the people in our community. And, of course, the Bishop of Ogdensburg, Bishop Terry LaValley, who is the father of the Church here, has welcomed me with great joy, and has afforded me with everything that I need for my mission here in the diocese.”

Though he’d visited Long Island previously, Father Revilla says he was also surprised to see how close he is now to Canada.

“I couldn’t believe the river is actually the border of U.S. and Canada, and I am literally seeing it with my own eyes,” he said. “It’s surreal for me! I am just glad that I am here.”

Father Revilla noted that while he’s only been the North Country a short time, he is glad to be part of an active parish and on a team with Father Mark R. Reilly, pastor, and Father Severinus Torwoe, parochial vicar. He said he looks forward to learning about parish life.

“I guess I am still learning the ropes of parish life,” he said. “Being a seminary formator practically all my priestly life, I need to make adjustments here and there. But parish life is the heart of the local church. It is where we meet our fellow brethren who are journeying with us in the way of following our Lord Jesus.”

One of nine children, eight boys and one girl, Father Revilla said his parents hoped one of their sons would become a priest.

“They would have wanted the older boys to enter the seminary, but they were not called for the priesthood,” he said. “I believe God puts us in situation wherein it would be easier for us to follow his call, and that is what happened to me. I believe when my mom brought me to Church to serve God (as an altar server), God is using her to open my eyes to the reality of Catholic priesthood. Four of those altar boys from our parish entered the Minor seminary that particular year, and I was the only one who made it to the priesthood. Being 12 years old, we know nothing about what a real vocation is all about, but I know deep in my heart that I am being called to something. And I think that is how my vocation has started. It begins like a seed that is planted in the heart of a young person. The seed needs to be nourished and taken cared of to grow to maturity. I have that vocation as a young boy, and in the seminary it grew and was nourished by my devotion and prayers. Like the apostles of Jesus, 12 of us from that group of high school seminarians became priests. And we are doing the work of God in different parts of the globe, two in Canada, four in the U.S. and 6 in the Philippines.”

While here, Father Revilla said he looks forward to sharing his love of Christ and his devotion to the Blessed Mother here in the North Country.

“We have a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother way back home,” he said. “We call the Blessed Virgin Mary ‘Ina’ in our dialect which literally means ‘mother.’ I think is the reason why we still have a good number of vocations to the priesthood. This devotion to Mary in her title ‘Our Lady of Penafrancia’ is unique in our region, and this devotion has really made the faith of the people stronger and more committed. We believe that this devotion to the Blessed Mother will lead us to Jesus, her Son. We believe in God’s help and protection under the mantle of the Blessed Mother’s intercession. The Blessed Mother has truly guided the faith of our people through many crises and calamities that come to us. Our region in the Philippines is in the path of what we call ‘typhoons’ back home. These are seasonal storms that come in different intensities. Yet we are assured of God’s protection and help because we have our ‘Ina’ who looks after us and accompanies us in our life here on earth.”

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