(Said during the Fourth Anniversary Eucharistic Celebration at the Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz, April 19)
Your Eminence: we would like to present to the good Archbishop of New York, through your kind representation, the result of the Strategic Planning, as well as the Manifesto of Support both for the administration and operation of this worthy institution, which is your treasured gift to our expatriate people. (May I request Angie and Cecile to please present the folders to his Eminence). This little book, Your Eminence, contains in summary form the hope, fear and joy; the plans and projections; the core of our faith experience guided by your inspired vision.
As Horace describes in his Ars Poetica, 8th century BC, an anniversary is “Singula de nobis anni predantur euntes,’ the years as they pass, he says, plunder one thing after another, meaning by it, that Time originates now, not from yesterday; it wells up into existence in the present moment and flows away into the past. Different from the time-warp of Einstein, for the poet, Time flows backwards – anni-vertere; anniversary.
For when in 2009, when the good Cardinal transferred administration into our charge, it will appear to us as the most challenging, the most productive, if, from today we resolve that they shall be so, the most complex and yet the most fruitful in the history of the Chapel and the Apostolate.
Once again it becomes the story of the blind man, who in the shadow of the temple, sits alone but is considered the wisest man of their land. A passerby chanced upon him and said: “Forgive me, sir, if I may ask you; but since when hast thou been blind?” “From my birth,” he answered. Said the inquirer, “And what path of wisdom do you follow?” The blind man answered: “I am an astronomer.” Then he placed his hand upon his breast saying, “All my days, I watch all these suns and moons and stars.”
Truly, my dear friends, obedience, though called blind, is effectively the organ of sight. He who obeys sees Ever compliant with the directives of the Archdiocese, from the beginning, we see the wisdom of the ministry among our com-patriots in this host country.
Now that Spring has come – with our brand new Pope – I ask you to walk together among the little hills of progress we made here; for the snow of indifference has melted and life is awakened from its sleep and wanders through the valleys of various responsibilities. So, come, let us ascend the heights and look upon the greenness of the plains of possibilities. For the dawn of Spring has unfolded its beautiful garment concealed intermittently by winter nights of doubts, freezing intrigues, stifling factionalism, and outright malice. The flowers of friendship are bursting forth from the heart of the Filipino community. Let us drink of the last year’s tears and join our spirits with the joyful songs of the birds. Let us breathe the sweet scent of incense in the breeze and kneel by our pews as by yonder rock where hides the violet, giving praise to our heavenly Father; thanking His Eminence, who has benevolently envisioned this all like that wise man at the temple.
Sure enough, this Chapel has been called “a gift”. But every honor is a responsibility: Honor est Onus. It is also called – “home away from home.” But every home needs daily housekeeping. Money can repair a house; love builds the home.
But, with this show of unity, I am confident we will be equal to the trust; we shall have convinced ourselves that really there is no place like home.
After the final blessing, we shall proceed to the Royal Seafood Restaurant, a few blocks along Mott St. This will be our testimonial dinner for the Archbishop Emeritus, Cardinal Egan, who has journeyed with us since. May we now stand – for the final prayers.
(Said during the testimonial dinner at Royal Seafood Restaurant)
Your Eminence: Earlier in the Church, I described our ministry and community in terms of the beauty of Spring.
Now, awaiting Summer we are excited for the days of harvest that are come and the time of reaping that is near.
Dear friends: There are three bins, or harvest baskets, that are waiting to be filled: One is the Automated Clearing House (ACH), initiated and to be later explained by David Serana and wife Mary Sue; another is the Packet Pledge, which was started last year, to be reported on by Linda Bolano, Dr Inno Santos and his wife Cathy; and Jr. Galang and Erna will explain to us how the Credit Card Swipe and cell-phone commission work globally.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention, our desire to maintain the Chapel makes us imaginative and more generous.
Your Eminence, for now, we do not envision a bigger church, although we need one with a bigger social hall and a parking lot; we just need a homey place to worship; to plan and to gather; as much as we would want to own the church. While other churches are closing, the Filipino community are committed to keep the chapel open, as testified by the numerous supporters who signed the Manifesto of Support. Perhaps a surprise donor will just knock on our door, as what happened with St. Bridget’s; or sheer luck by hitting the plum prize, or through efforts of the global Pinoy.
We are aware that the Soho/Nolita area is fast becoming the haven of tourist shoppers and the watering-holes of bar-frequenters. We will feel sad if our chapel will be purchased by developers and converted to profane use in honor of Mammon, instead of converting people for the glory of the true God, though commercially profitable to both seller and buyer. Till now, a liquor store and pub is earnestly waiting for the church to close so that it could open a liquor store and pub because their property is located right at the corner just 20 feet from the church door. Beside that housing witnessing, prophetically located in China Town, this Fil-Am church in honor of Filipino Chinese Saint could very well be a mission post on this part of Manhattan for a new evangelization through this Year of Faith and beyond.
Once again, we would like to thank your Eminence, for your gracious presence with your prophetic vision. In year 2000 you accepted me to serve at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and at the Metropolitan Tribunal for only three years with automatic renewal – that term has already run to 13 years. You decided in 2009 that I administer the chapel and apostolate for and in behalf of the Filipino faithful in this part of the flock of God. Like the Chief of the tribe who went to his retiring place, happy over his ingenuity and warmed with the wine of friendship and fidelity of his people, we honor your noble soul and your pure heart. You will be forever to us the burning torch upon the emerald lamp sustained by the oil of our prayers and our love.
God bless you all. Thank you.
Rev. Dr. Joseph G. Marabe, JCD