| At 91, Tita Ising cherishes the opportunity to serve
Tita Ising used to walk to St. Joachim Church every day to fulfill her responsibilities as sacristan. But when she found it hard sometimes to catch her breath, her alarmed children insisted that she no longer walk to church. That hasn't stopped her from going to church every day.
"I have friends pick me up and take me to church," she said. And when she is ready, "I have someone take me home."
While someone else would have stepped down from this ministry decades earlier, Ising, at age 91, cherishes the opportunity to serve God.
When people ask her, "How do you do that at your age?" Ising said it is because she prays every day. "Mamma Mary is always with me, taking care of me," she said. "It is God who keeps me strong and healthy."
Tita Ising, whose real name is Felicisima Buendia, has served God all her life. Born in the Philippines, she was the eighth of nine children in her family. She married at age 19 and they lived a happy life with the nine children that she bore.
In addition to her own kids, Ising took an interest in providing education and imparting her Catholic faith to the many poor children living near her home. Her ministry in serving God didn't stop there.
Ising, along with her husband, sponsored the education of two priests and one nun. And as a member of the Mother Butler Guild, an organization of Catholic women who live a life of service to God, she played an instrumental role in providing chasubles, altar cloths and purificators to many churches in the Philippines.
In 1984, after her husband's death at age 53, Ising moved to the U.S. where a number of her children already lived, getting their education or working. After joining two parishes briefly, the family finally settled in at St. Joachim Parish in Hayward in 2000.
Since then, Ising has been a fixture at the parish church. "She takes exceptional care in providing neat and clean altar cloths for all the Masses," said Pat Ludwig, an administrative assistant at St. Joachim, who described Tita Ising as one of the most loved parishioners at St. Joachim.
"Even though she does not drive, she sees to it that she is present in the sacristy much ahead of time to arrange everything needed for the 8:30 a.m. weekday Mass and the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass," Ludwig said.
Ising said that that sentiment goes both ways. "This is a very nice parish."
She said that she never forgets to call on God when she first wakes up.
"I thank God for life every day, God is so good to me," Ising said. "As long as He gives me life I will serve Him."
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