Parish
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For my Friends…

33 was something else. I thought it was the beginning of the end. There was never a time in my life when I became ever conscious of my health and future. I visited the Doctor’s office over 10 times and was afraid to hear any closing remarks. In fact, my primary physician exclaimed, you’re sick again! St. James must be putting you to work. It’s just the change of weather, I replied. I was in constant check of my cholesterol and was advised to cut on rice, reduce red meat, increase fluid intake and regular exercise (something unrealistic and needs interpretation), if I were to live for the next 4 decades. I also bought all sorts of protection for my injured ankle and knee aiming to score high in hoops and move quickly in a tough black environment. After each pick up game, I would walk to my car in a limping mode, drive home with bruises, nurse it dearly even in exhaustion and wrap my swollen ankles with several ice packs  while tuned in to the evening news. Fearing it was my last, I decided to entertain myself with electronic gadgets within my means, real plus except the Wii.

When I started receiving timeless greetings and personalized messages in my FB wall from old and new friends and mere acquaintances, my worries suddenly disappeared. Many of whom were folks I have not seen and spoken for years, back in grade school, home parish in Virac and the Diocese, High School, College and Theology, and Mundelein, except OMOS and St. James, of course. They have become sophisticated leading decent lives and thought they have forgotten me already, not in FB though. They remained close to my heart and taught me to be and not to be. Every encounter even with the dull and  the insignificant has shaped me the way I am today. In over 20 years in school, I learned education is not about grades. I can’t remember my marks in individual courses and GPA (a real shame) but I still have vivid memories of each act of priceless kindness shown me by simple and ordinary people. As my Seminary Formator once said, “behind what we wear, there is a person in need of love, affection and attention.” Life is cheap. It’s the little things with extra labor of love that speak volumes and not the loaded words and flowery expressions, devoid of any action. With my work load, I can’t promise to reply to each post but rest assured I’ll keep you in my prayers.

It seemed like yesterday. As I turn 34 walking like a 70 year old with a memory as fresh as a junior high, friendship matters to me most more than anything else. I can live a life without the perks of a lovely and intimate partner, someone special that much of the world are crazy and hungry about, a mere human need that must be fed, without kids, money and $M possessions, even gadgets, but never without the care and concern of a friend and the surprising rescue of a suspicious looking stranger. I’m filled with gratitude about what God has in store for me and what life has to offer in the next 365 days. It remains to be seen. Everything is in God’s hands. For now, I will stay tuned to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, spend a dearth of time to the God of my childhood years and beyond, and discipline my body, mind and spirit, the mark of a dedicated Priest. Amen.

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A Filipino Catholic Priest, born and raised in Virac, Catanduanes, Philippines, ordained for the Diocese of Tucson, AZ, eleven years in ministry and counting, currently assigned as Pastor of St. Christopher Catholic Parish, Marana, AZ.

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