Monday, June 22, 2009


Come 28th of June, our parish will celebrate our 11th Feast Day, with Mary, the Mother of Perpetual Help being our patroness. This year's theme is "
Maria, Kalakbay, Kaagapay at Gabay tungo sa pagkakaisa" (Journey to Unity alongside Mary, our Companion and Guide)

You could imagine how everything and everyone are being accomplished in a hurry. Aside from our altar being refurnished, with granite tiles laid on its wall set to be finished before Sunday, all ministries are busy coming up with their own presentations for an inter-ministry competition as part of the festivities.

The Ministry of Altar Servers, headed by a good friend, the ever feisty kuya Darwin, is so sure about winning the competition while I, their adversary, is trying everything to demotivate and discourage them, so that our own youth ministry would win. Sounds so unChristian, no?

Anyway, I am so excited to see the new stained glass icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help courtesy of our Congressman Oscar Malapitan, which will replace the original stained glass that was already damaged. At least, one of our longtime prayers was answered. I remembered that we started to notice the damage sometime in 2004 during the time of a former parish priest. A small crack appeared on the face of Mary, which I believed hit by a stone, perhaps accidentally by some mischievous kids. During that time, a "damage" within our church also emerged until it grew bigger even after that priest left. A problem within the parishioners and in their relationships with each other occurred: there appeared for the first time, a great division among us. The division was a clear line between a group (ministry) headed by a particular nun and another group (ministries) which is comprised of many marginalized ministries at that time. I was not spared of this trouble. We were actually one of the casualties.

About 2007, when a new parish priest was installed, I noticed that the damaged in the icon has gone even bigger. I personally brought this to the attention of our parish priest then, but because he has other things for priority as a project, especially the livelihood of the people, the repair of the stained glass was for a time taken for granted. During that time, the division between us parishioners has gone worse. There were already two factions, one for the priest (the marginalized who somehow felt vindicated with the arrival of a new parish priest who never tolerated that reign of this nun) and another (that particular ministry) for the nun who used to be a powerful figure during the time of the prior parish priest.

Eventually, the faction went worst. The nun-headed ministry was not so pleased about the emergence of the marginalized people in the limelight of parish life, while they are being "chastised" for what seemed to be arrogance on their part, they did everything to depose our poor priest. They went to the bishop and made every possible slanders against him. Expectedly, the other group (marginalized) reacted, for they felt that the priest they hold dear is being attacked. This problem reached its peak when one day, the nun-headed group succeeded in their rallies against the priest marked by betrayal, slanders and hatred, and the marginalized group heared that the bishop has decided to act. Rumors has it, that the bishop would soon transfer this priest. The marginalized group felt betrayed, and wanted to do everything to save the priest, to the extent of even rallying to the bishop's house and office for a dialogue, all in a peaceful means. But fate proved otherwise.

The bishop in his prudence, believing that the priest failed to unite the parishioners by condoning the existence of two "warring" factions, decided to transfer that priest -- and ordered that nun to leave the parish as well.

At first that decision was bitterly taken by the marginalized group. They were asking why the priest was not spared when in the first place, it is the priest who is needed in the parish and not the nun. The other group, the nun-headed, appeared so pleased because they thought that the nun was just "asked" by the bishop to stay away from the parish for a month, and they believed that the nun shall come back soon after that period. And so they thought.

For one who has not seen it all, it may be so unfortunate and saddening to think that this kind of conflict is happening in a church, involving priests and nuns themselves, when they should be models of unity and love among other values they should possess. But the truth is that, even within the church, the devil really operates. He can influence even people we think should be immune from his ploys. In this case, one would be tempted to think that the poor nun was used by the devil to sow the seeds of division, attack a priest, and attack the community of God in us.

To think that this nun used to be so powerful she seemed impervious that not even a priest could tame her, and she was even able to get rid of the priest in order to get what she wanted is the most convincing fact that she was unfortunately used to mock the people of God.

But then, God is really good. He allowed that poor priest to be a "sacrificial lamb" in order for this nun to be taken away from his flock and therefore keep her from harming them more. He took that priest, so that he could take the nun, and save them both from spiritual ruin caused by the devil himself. Somehow, that decision by the bishop, which was took as an act of betrayal by some people including me, was actually, God's blessed decision in disguise.

Now, a new parish priest was installed, and he has been with us for about half a year already. New signs of hope is emerging. It seems that the division will be healed, not momentarily though, but in due time. This priest, albeit young and newly ordained, has a strong personality that he does not seem to be easily swayed by other peoples' influence. And so we pray.

As I have noted earlier, I am excited to see the new stained glass icon due to be installed on Thursday that will replace the damaged icon and which seemed a "portent" of sad events that happened in the past few years. Yes, I believe, Mary, wanted to say something to us, when that cracks appeared and grew bigger. Now, the stained glass is to be replaced. May this be a sign of the good things to come, may this tell us of the start of true healing and unity. May this event truly a start of turning back to God so that he may heal our land.

I think our theme really said it all,
Journey to Unity alongside Mary, our Companion and Guide.

To Jesus Through Mary, the Mother of Perpetual Help.

1 comment: