Rev. Alexander Q. Castillo
January 27, 2016
Gifts and mission
Today (Jan. 27) we had “Parish day” at the International Eucharistic Congress in The Philippines. After the morning catechesis and testimony, all the delegates were shuttled to 14 different parishes throughout Cebu City to spend the afternoon with parishioners, enjoy dances, food and what is most important: the celebration of the Eucharist.
About four months ago, I got and email from the committee in charge of the congress, inviting our bishop, Michael C. Barber, SJ, to be the celebrant of one of those 14 Masses. He gladly accepted and we worked together with the parish to plan the liturgy. Along with Bishop Barber, another six bishops concelebrated (including Bishop Larry Silva, from Honolulu), as well 24 priests. All of the Oakland delegates, lay and clergy, were there. We celebrated what is called “a votive Mass of the Eucharist,” with special prayers and readings.
We were hosted at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, a really big parish whose church was completely full. The love and devotion was overwhelming, and the liturgy was vibrant. Our bishop preached a powerful homily. Let me share two ideas with you:
· What are the two main gifts the Filipinos have given to the world? First, the gift of the family, rescuing the values of what family really is, and how important is for our lives. And second, the gift of faith … the Catholic faith.
· And we should not be afraid of sharing that faith, we should not refrain from speaking about the Lord always and everywhere. That is our mission. And that mission is to be rooted in the contemplation of Christ, especially in the mystery of the Eucharist. Bishop Barber quoted St. John Paul II in this regard.
After the Mass, we had a “faith sharing,” an opportunity for some delegates to share their own experience with the Lord through the Eucharist. Two delegates from Oakland and one from the parish spoke, and their testimonies truly touched our hearts.
This was another amazing day for all the delegates, but I think the Oakland participants have been enjoying extra blessings. The only sad one is probably me, as I am flying back Jan. 28 to the US … however, I hope to share one last post with you.
Maraming Salamat po.
— Rev. Alexander Castillo
Special to The Catholic Voice
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