A 67-year-old Lisu priest wishes to unify Lisu hymns and prayer books in Myitkyina and Lashio Dioceses of Myanmar.
Father Francisco Guta is the first Lisu ethnic priest in the world. He was born on February 25, 1955, and ordained on April 24, 1984. He is the first Catholic missionary as a priest among the Lisu group in Lashio Diocese.
“Guta practices poverty as his patron Saint Francis of Assisi. Sometimes, Guta got criticized as a stingy priest. He is spending all his energy and assets on the poor. He is praiseworthy,” says Father Dominic Win Soe, an assistant priest in Mogok Parish in Lashio Diocese.
Guta had hundreds of students educated throughout his 36 years of priesthood. In 2011, he founded a Francisco boarding house in which 25 students live and study.
“It is not a hostel, but it is known as a home where the students learn to pray in Lisu and to get quality education,” Guta told RVA News.
“Without this house, I cannot do mission effectively. Lisu people here are living in the hills where there are no high schools. When they put their children in standard boarding houses, it is extremely expensive. My Lisu people are poor,” he added.
There are a few Catholic Lisu people in Lashio, Myitkyina, Bamaw and Taunggyi dioceses in Myanmar. There are 1500 Catholic Lisu people in Myitkyina diocese, 1450 in Lashio diocese, 200 in Taunggyi diocese and 100 in Bamaw diocese. There is (a 600,000) Lisu population in Myanmar. Most are Baptists.
From 1986 to 1990, Guta went to the Philippines for further study where he got a Master's degree in pastoral sociology.
“I accept that everything is the will of God. Without God nothing will happen, with God everything is possible,” Guta says.
“I took my motto from the Saint Matthew gospel 16:26 ‘if a man loses his soul what does it profit from gaining the world.’”
Guta sent several students to seminary and catechist institutes.
“Sometimes things are not going as we expected. I did my best in serving God and the poor. I accept everything as the will of God.” Guta said.
According to him, helping the poor in their education is not easy and full of challenges.
“Something is better than nothing. Though they could reach university, they have learned something for their lives.”
Some of his students graduated and worked in various fields.
There are two new Lisu priests and a lot of Lisu catechists now in the Lashio diocese because of his support.
“Now, I have a great desire that I want to unify Lisu hymnbooks, prayers and Missal book into one, because we are using one thing in Lashio diocese and one thing in Myitkyina Diocese. Now, I made myself available for this mission.”
Guta is now living in Lashio Cathedral, doing Lisu literature work. - Chwar Thar/Karen Lisu
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