MANILA, April 2, 2015— If Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle had one wish, it is clear and simple— that more priests devote themselves to the poor.
He made his desires known during the Chrism Mass at Manila Cathedral on Maundy Thursday, an event attended by priests of the archdiocese.
“I look forward to the time when our priests would be vying for assignments in the poorest parishes,” Tagle said in his homily.
Aside from being just church administrators, he reminded his brother-priests of their duty of serving the most in need, especially this Year of the Poor.
Tagle also waxed sentimental over a moving encounter he had with survivors of the fire that razed parts of Parola compound in Manila’s Tondo district last month that displaced more than 15,000 people, mostly informal settlers.
Despite the incident, he said, “you could feel their faith unshaken and stronger than ever amid the devastation.”
“You could read gratitude in their faces. You could see they were more than happy to know that God loves them regardless of what they have been through. They were thankful that the Church made an effort to be with them, to join them in their hardships,” Tagle said.
Among those present in the Chrism Mass was Fr. Jeremiah Adviento of the Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (Our Lady of Solitude) de Camba Parish, which has jurisdiction over Parola, and who was with the cardinal when he visited the area.
The young priest from Ilocos said besides comforting them, Tagle assured the fire victims that the Church will continue helping them.
“It’s significant that the reading that day was about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus. Notwithstanding the evil that the apostle did to the Son of God, the Good News prevailed. God always finds a way to make His presence felt in the most unlikely, even in the worst circumstances,” Adviento said.
In going to the depressed area, the priest said that Tagle rode a jeepney and had to hold the Eucharistic celebration in a makeshift
basketball court, given that the nearby San Ezequiel Moreno Chapel was also destroyed by fire.
Meanwhile, Adviento lauded the charity and generosity of the many donors and benefactors who helped his parishioners.
While he admitted the various pastoral issues he faces in Camba often takes a toll on his ministry, the priest of eight years expressed joy at the thought that Our Lady of Solitude always keeps him and his flock company.??“
After the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral, I saw my parishioners, simple folks whose dedication to the Church is boundless, waving at me from afar. I smiled, saying to myself: If these people go out of their way to serve the Lord, mindless of the fatigue and all that, how much more I, a priest? I have no excuse not to do my part for God,” he said. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCPNews)