José Roel Lungay
|José Roel Lungay|
José Roel Lungay
|Birth name||José Roel Lungay|
|Born||March 11, 1960|
|Origin||Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines|
|Occupation(s)||Roman Catholic priest, songwriter, arranger
|Labels||Fro's Music, PB Records
Foreign Brain Music
José Roel Lungay Jr. (born March 11, 1960 in Manila, Rizal, Philippines), also known as Father Roel, or more widely as Fro, is a Filipino priest from Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines. He was ordained to the priesthood on December 7, 1984 at the Immaculate Conception Parish, Catigbian, Bohol, Philippines and is currently the pastor of St. Genevieve Church in Slidell, Louisiana, U.S.. Father Roel has also made a mark in the field of music as a songwriter, arranger and record producer.
José Roel Lungay, fondly called Father Roel or Fro, was born to José Racho Lungay of Balilihan, Bohol and Amelia Fernandez Galicia of San Jose, Mindoro Occidental. His father, a product of FEATI University in Manila, was a long-time public servant having served as Area Equipment Engineer of Region 7 of the Department of Public Highways (DPH) until his retirement, while his mother, a St. Paul College alum, was a devoted homemaker tending all 10 of her children. Father Roel, born in Manila, was raised in Tagbilaran City, Bohol. He attended kindergarten (1964–1966) in Marulas, Bulacan and Sampaloc, Manila. For his elementary education, his Grades 1 and 2 (1966–1968) were at Catigbian Elementary School Annex, Catigbian, Bohol. His Grades 3 to 6 (1968–1972) were at Cogon Elementary School, Tagbilaran City, graduating from elementary at Cogon Elementary School. He attended the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Tagbilaran City for both his secondary school (1972–1976) and college (1976–1980) where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Arts major in classical philosophy, minor in English. He also took up a few subjects in architecture at the University of Bohol before deciding to go back to the seminary. For his post-graduate studies, he proceeded to the Saint Augustine Major Seminary (SASMA) and the Divine Word Seminary in Tagaytay City where he earned his degree in theology.
While still a student at the Divine Word Seminary in Tagaytay City, between the years 1981 to 1985, Roel became involved with works among the underprivileged. As a seminarian he always chose for his apostolates an opportunity to be with the poor or the so-called grassroots people. For four years he worked in different areas like Ternate; Bagong Bayan, Dasmarinas (a Resettlement area); Malagasang, Imus; Andrea, Bacoor and Rosario, Cavite. Both as a seminarian and as a priest he took part in organizing, between 1984–1986, the first People Power in the Southern Tagalog and Central Luzon Regions.
After finishing his third year in theology studies he was ordained, at age 23, a deacon for the Diocese of Tagbilaran on February 28, 1983 at the St. Joseph Cathedral, Tagbilaran City. He went back to the seminary the following year and was ordained to the priesthood, on December 7, 1984, at the Immaculate Conception Church in Catigbian, Bohol by then bishop of Tagbilaran, Most Rev. Onesimo Gordoncillo, D.D., currently the Archbishop of Capiz. He became the first priest ordained in that town. Shortly after ordination he went back to the seminary again to finish his studies until his graduation on March 1985. He received his first pastoral assignment when his bishop, now Archbishop of Capiz, Most. Rev. Onesino Gordoncillo, D.D., sent him to the Diocese of Cabanatuan which was in need of priestly help. He was assigned as assistant priest of St. Nicholas de Tolentino Cathedral in Cabanatuan City for one full year.
Back when the Diocese of Tagbilaran was being split into two ecclesiastical Dioceses in 1986, Father Roel came home to Bohol for reassignment. Since the Bishop of Tagbilaran at that time was already being named the Archbishop-elect of the Archdiocese of Capiz, he deferred assigning Father Roel to a new station and told him instead to wait until the next bishop to arrive. The Diocese finally split that year and two new bishops were named for both the old Diocese of Tagbilaran and the new Diocese of Talibon: Most Rev. Felix Zafra, D.D. for Tagbilaran and Most Rev. Cristian Noel, D.D. for Talibon. It was during this time that Fr. Roel opted instead to visit with his family in San Francisco for which he was granted permission by then Diocesan Administrator, Msgr Pelagio Dompor, J.C.D. with the approval of the Priests Consultors of the Diocese.
Father Roel began writing lyric and poetry in college while attending the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary. It was when he started playing the guitar more seriously that he slowly translated his lyrical works into full-pledged songs and it has been a long journey from then on.
After spending a year of sabbatical from the seminary in 1980 and working with evicted squatters at San Jose Resettlement Area in Carmona, Cavite, Father Roel entered the St. Augustine Major Seminary (SASMA) in 1981. There, he started writing liturgical settings of the Mass both in English and in Tagalog. He was one of the first composers to write a musical setting for the new Tagalog Missal, Bagong Misal, which was approved in 1982 but initially faced a considerable amount of opposition in its early years, especially in the Manila area. However, his new setting continued to be taught and sung at SASMA and in some Dioceses where SASMA seminarians came from. In 1983, the Archdiocesan Commission on Liturgical Music (ACLM), Archdiocese of Manila  published some of his songs in its third hymnal publication, Hosanna III, approved by Cardinal Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Sin. Fr. Roel was also voted by the seminarians as music director of SASMA in 1982 during which he initiated the publication of the seminary's hymnal, SASMASSONGS (MISASMA). In 1984, along with Fr. William Abas who was the lyricist, he wrote the music and arrangement to Handog-Paglilingkod (Service Offering) which became the official theme song of SASMA that very year. Some of his works were included in the Diocesan hymnal of the Diocese Cabanatuan, while serving there as an assistant priest of the Cathedral. He was also inserted as a member of the Diocese's singing group of young priests that included Fr. Monet Mangahas from U.S.T. Central Seminary, Fr. Rene Mangahas from San Jose Seminary (Ateneo) and Fr. Edwin Beley, also of San Jose Seminary, who played bass in the first studio recording of the Philippines Jesuits, the Himig Heswita.
In the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Father Roel helped the formation of the Singing Priests of Louisiana together with three other Paring Bol-anons: Fr. Jaime Apolinares, Fr. Danilo Digal and Fr. Joel Cantones, as counterpart to the pioneering Singing Priests of San Francisco. The group debuted in 1988 during the 3rd Paring Bol-anon, USA Reunion with a concert in Brooklyn, New York, followed by a performance at the United Nations Auditorium in 1988. As the group's accompanist and arranger, Father Roel engaged himself to more vocal arrangements for the group, which eventually landed them a spot in New Orleans' WWL-TV Channel 4's Christmas Around The World program back in 1989. The group also performed at various Filipino Community functions as well as traveled to neighboring states of Texas and Mississippi doing Christmas carols and helped raise funds for the needs of the Diocese and the seminary in the Philippines. The Singing Priests of Louisiana finally disbanded in August 1990 after a performance at the IHMS Silver Jubilee Celebration in Tagbilaran City. Father Roel's last recorded performance was on August 2000 during which he sang the popular Dan Schutte composition, Here I Am, Lord, with the Singing Priests of Tagbilaran and IHMS Neo-Jeduthun Chorus, and TQ Solis' original composition, One Heart, One Mind, in a two-night concert dubbed as Jubilaeum 2000, celebrating the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary's 50th Foundation anniversary.
As an avid songwriter, Father Roel had also participated in some songwriting contests over the years. Besides writing the winning song for 1984 SASMA Theme, he also won first place in the 1995 NFCMWA Christian Music Songwriting Contest in Jacksonville, Florida with the song Dear Jesus and an honorable mention in the Trailblazer Category of the 1995 Airplay International Country Songwriting Contest, Nashville, Tennessee with his song, Sailboat. From 1992 to 1996 Father Roel has also produced and released four compilations of original songs written by him, Mass of St. Rita (1994), Dear Jesus (1994), Music Revisited, Vol. 1 (1995) and one he did with other Paring Bol-anon or PBs like Frs. TQ Solis, Jr. Elpidio Biliran, Jr. and Arnold Zamora, One Heart, One Mind (1996).
Since becoming pastor of St. Genevieve Church in Slidell in 1991, Father Roel has focused most of his time on pastoral duties. He helped in the establishment of the new Gospel Choir in the parish and the transition of a children's choir to a youth choir.
Missionary to America
Father Roel left the Philippines for the United States on December 17, 1986 by way of Tokyo, Japan. He arrived in San Francisco on December 18 and was met at the airport in San Francisco by another Paring Bol-anon, Gabriel Mision, who then brought him to his aunt's house in South San Francisco. He spent his first ever Christmas in America with his mother's family and the few Paring Bol-anons who were in the Bay Area at the time. Right after Christmas, upon invitation of another Filipino priest, he headed for Denver, Colorado then to New Orleans, Louisiana where he eventually made a new home and ventured on a new mission.
Father Roel spent his first 6 months in Louisiana as a guest priest at St. Lawrence Church in Kramer or Bayou Boeuf to locals. It was there where he immersed himself to a new culture, that of the French Cajuns. It was during his stay in this area where he finally got a taste first-hand of what Southern hospitality is about, foods he previously only heard in a song or read from a travel book, such as Jambalaya, creole gumbo, crawfish boil, alligator sauce piquante, turtle soup, soft-shell crabs, and places such as Thibodaux and New Orleans.
In June 1987 Father Roel received his first official canonical assignment from then Archbishop of New Orleans, Most Rev. Philip Hannan, D.D., as Associate Pastor of St. Philip Neri Church in Metairie under Msgr. A. Charles Kenney. He served there from 1987 to 1990. During the tenure of Archbishop Francis B. Schulte, he was also stationed at St. Rita Church, Harahan, LA, from 1990 to 1994, under the Rev. Willie Meridier and, later on, Msgr. Frank Giroir. Then from 1994 to 1998 he was assigned at St. Ann Church and National Shrine in Metairie under two long-time pastors, Msgr. Charles Duke and Msgr. Joseph Bourgeois, and finally at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Church (1998–2001) in Chalmette under the Rev. Warren Cooper. After excardinating from the Diocese of Tagbilaran in 2000, Father Roel officially joined the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 2001 when he was made a first time pastor of St. Genevieve Church, Slidell, in eastern St. Tammany.
Post Katrina life and ministry
In mid-July 2005, Father Roel underwent surgery for his thyroid at Northshore Hospital in Slidell. Having lost his voice as a result of the surgery, he had to spend a five-week official leave of absence by the Archdiocese to rest his barely heard voice and to recuperate. It was while he was in the Philippines, on August 29, 2005, when the biggest natural disaster to ever hit the United States - Hurricane Katrina - struck the whole gulf south region that annihilated almost everything that stood by its way. Suffice it to say, that Father Roel not only lost everything he owned but also the very church he was given charge of and the rectory that he lived in. St. Genevieve Church is gone and no more!
As an ecclesiastical parish St. Genevieve in Slidell is a close-knit faith community on the northeastern part of Lake Ponchartrain just west of Mississippi. It comprises some 1,500 to 2,000 Catholic households, a local airport, the one and only mall in Slidell and other commercial entities. Built in 1958, the church building had been a long-standing center of many activities of the local people as well as newcomers to the area. It is considered to be one of the most scenic of churches in and of New Orleans by the mere fact that it stands right on the bank of Bayou Liberty, one of many tributaries of Lake Ponchartrain, across an old marina. The surroundings, too, is well-adorned with centuries-old oak trees and a vast marshlands and waterways Louisiana is known for.
A week or two after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the people, scattered all over the country during the evacuation, started to come home slowly to pick up the pieces and commenced the road to recovery. On Sundays, parishioners gathered on the church ground where Mass is celebrated with priest helping from a nearby parish. For almost two months St. Genevieve, without its pastor, Fr. Roel, was reminiscent of the old mission church that it used to be, celebrating liturgy on the very spot where the old chapel was in the early 1900 under the hot humid sky.
Father Roel came back home to St. Genevieve on Tuesday, November 1, the Feast of All Saints. He celebrated his first post-Katrina Mass that weekend which also happened to be the last Mass being celebrated outdoors as parishioners readied themselves to move indoor, inside the dilapidated Parish Hall, in preparation for the winter season. Father Roel reminded the parishioners that even without the buildings they are still a church, emphasizing that the people who gathered in the Lord's name is what truly comprised a church.
- Mass of St. Rita (1993) - a compilation of original Mass settings and selected Psalms
- Dear Jesus (1994) - a compilation of 16 original songs and spoken prayers
- Music Revisited, Volume 1 (1995) - a compilation of original works
- One Heart, One Mind (1996) - a compilation of original Paring Bol-anon musical compositions
- Music Revisited, Volume 2 (1997) - a compilation of original works
- Christian Art Songs (3 Volumes) (1997) - a compilation of Salesian poetry set to music by J. Roel Lungay; downloadable files click here
- Revelry of Christian Music (1998)
- The Mark of Priestly Bliss (2009) - 25th Anniversary to the Priesthood Compilation
- Big Bang! (2010) - a collection of 15 original songs in collaboration with Boholano musician, Romeo C. Mascariñas
|Dear Jesus Dear Jesus (1994)
All songs arranged, recorded and performed by Fr. J. Roel Lungay, Fro Audio, Metairie, LA 70006
|Christian Art Songs, Volumes 1-3: A 71 Prayer and Poetry Collection set to music by Fr. J. Roel Lungay (1993–1997) Christian Art Songs, Volumes 1,2,3
All text used by permission of Sara Tarascio of New Hope Books and Salesian Missions (except as noted otherwise) and by Kate Watkins Furman. All rights reserved.
- Hail Mary - Recorded by Brian Klause for Mary's Helpers Albums (New Orleans)
- Dear Jesus - Recorded by LeNaye Pearson
- Touch of Heaven - Recorded by Juli Maners
- Greatest of Gifts - Recorded by Juli Maners
- An Act of Contrition - Recorded by Ray Barnette
- So You Think I'm Cazy - Recorded by Steve Thomas (Nashville, TN)
- Our Father - Written by Bishop Zacharias "Ites" Jimenez; recorded by Ray Barnette and Juli Maners
- Livin' It Up - Recorded by The Jaycees (Steyr, Austria)
Contests and awards
- Handog-Paglilingkod, choral piece written with Fr. William Abas, Theme Song of the Year, 1984 SASMA, Tagaytay City, Philippines
- Dear Jesus, 1st Place, 1995 NFCMWA Christian Music Songwriting Contest, Jacksonville, Florida, USA
- Sailboat, recipient, Country Song Trailblazer Award, 1995 Airplay International Songwriting Contest, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
Words and music by Fr. J. Roel Lungay
1st Place, 1995 NFCMWA Songwriting Contest, Jacksonville, Florida
Dear Jesus, I love you.
How, I don't know.
Please show me the way.
Dear Jesus, my Savior,
My friend my Lord.
You're all that I want
And all that I need.
Take me with you, O Lord,
Carry me through
For in you, only in you,
Can I find my peace.
Keep me in your goodness, Lord,
This I pray.
Yes, in you, only in you,
Can I find my peace.
Dear Jesus, I love you;
I come to you.
Take good care of me.
Dear Jesus, I give you
Myself, my soul;
Al that I am
And all that I'll be.
(Repeat Refrain twice)
Dear Jesus, I thank you
And I love you!
Copyright © 1993 Fro’s Music. International Copyright Secured. Used by permission
- SASMASSONGS (MISASMA) (1982) - St. Augustine Major Seminary Tagaytay City, Philippines 
- Hosanna, III (1983) - Archdiocesan Commission on Liturgical Music, Archdiocese of Manila, Philippines 
- Papuri ng Nueva Ecija (1986) - Commission on Liturgy, Diocese of Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines
- Mass of St. Rita (Youth Mass) (1992) - St. Rita of Cascia Church, 160 Imperial Woods Drive, Harahan, LA 70123 
- Songs of Ayechemes (Musical Notations of PRECES) (2000) - Tribute to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary 50th Anniversary
- Fro's Music 2000 (2000) - Collection of original compositions by Fr. J. Roel Lungay
- The Mark of Priestly Bliss (2009) - 25th Anniversary to the Priesthood compilation
- Big Bang! (2010) - Collaboration of original songs with Romeo C. Mascariñas
- Works of Father Roel
- Paring Bol-anon
- Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary
- Archdiocese of New Orleans
- St. Genevieve Church
- Diocese of Tagbilaran
- Arnold Zamora
- Who, What, Where,When
- Clarion Herald July 19, 2001
- Parish Poutpourri
- Priests Whereabouts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
- Clarion Herald October 1, 2005
- Clarion Herald October 8, 2005
- Clarion Herald December 3, 2005
- Clarion Herald August 26, 2006
- Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio
- Times Picayune on Bayou Liberty
- Shell/motiva give to Bayou Liberty
- St. Tammany News
- Times Picayune on Renewal
- Inside Northside
- Thanks, Katrina
- Webshot Photos on St. Genevieve Church
- NOLA Photo Galleries
- The New Orleans Channel
- MSNBC News
- WAFB Channel News
- St. Tammany News February 20, 2007
- Catholic World Mission
- Times Picayune: A Changing Church
- MISASMA (SASMASSONGS) (1982), the official hymnal of St. Augustine Major Seminary (1982)
- Hosanna, III (1983), the official publication of the Archdiocesan Commission on Liturgical Music (ACLM), Archdiocese of Manila, Philippines
- Original live version of Handog-Paglilingkod performed by SASMA Seminarians 1984
- Papuri ng Nueva Ecija (1986), the official publication of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission, Diocese of Cabanatuan, Philippines
- One Heart, One Mind, Theme Song of the 8th Paring Bol-anon, USA Reunion, Toronto, Canada; written by TQ Solis, Jr.
- Bayou Liberty Post-Hurricane Katrina Photos Retrieved online 16 January 2007
- Times Picayune Retrieved online 16 January 2007
- Mass of St. Rita (Youth Mass) (1992), the official songbook of St. Rita CYO Youth Choir