What goes around comes around

I was born in the Philippines as the son of a Lutheran missionary. One of the names I heard growing up there was Alvaro “Al” Cariño. He was the Filipino pastor who started Lutheran missionary work in the Philippines. The American missionaries that I knew while growing up there all came after him.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I found out more details about Al Cariño’s career. There is a Facebook page for the Lutheran Church in the Philippines that provides some details of his life. I also have other sources for these details (see bottom of page) but I’ll just give a brief overview here for the purposes of this blog.

Al Cariño moved to the United States in 1928. There he came into touch with a Lutheran church and soon became member in the congregation. He decided to become a Lutheran minister and to study to become a pastor at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. He prepared for the seminary by attending preparatory school at St. Paul’s College in Concordia, Missouri. He graduated there and enrolled in St. Louis in 1933. He graduated from the seminary in the spring of 1937.

He then worked as a chaplain in the Cook County Hospital in Chicago from 1938 to 1940, where he also met his wife, Letty Jane Monroe.

In 1938 the convention of the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod resolved to look into establishing missions in the Philippines. In the spring of 1940 Al Cariño travelled back to his home country to take the first steps in achieving this goal.

What particularly caught my eye in this narrative was the fact that Al attended preparatory school at St. Paul’s College in Concordia, Missouri. This is where Franz Julius Biltz comes into the story.

In 1860 Franz Julius accepted a call to be pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran church in the area. In 1865 he became postmaster there and named the post office “Concordia”. The town itself later took that name.

Franz Julius served in Concordia until 1901. During that time he not only founded other congregations in the area, he and his congregation were also instrumental in the forming of St. Paul’s College in 1883, the preparatory school that Al Cariño would later attend.

Then many more years later, in 1958, one of Franz Julius’ great great grandchildren set off on a freighter together with his wife to cross the Pacific and become a missionary in the Philippines, joining Al Cariño and other LCMS missionaries who had been there since the 40’s. This descendant of Franz Julius’ was my father.

I don’t know for sure but I wouldn’t at all be surprised if my father and Al Cariño knew each other personally. I somehow doubt, though, that either of them realized that they had something in common: a connection to Franz Julius Biltz in Concordia, Missouri.


  • Web site for St. Paul High School, current incarnation of the college, showing a picture of the campus including Biltz Hall (number 7).

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