Parish youth group to stage play on Lorenzo Ruiz life

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San Antonio de Padua Parish in Paranaque City. (Oliver Samson)

PARAÑAQUE City, Feb. 23, 2014—San Antonio de Padua Parish youth will recount the life of St. Lorenzo Ruiz in a theatrical production in a bid to attract young people back to church, Youth Commission Coordinator Marie Joy C. Lumbad said. 

“We came across with an image of his (Lorenzo Ruiz) on our visit to St. Padre Pio in Batangas,” she said in Filipino. “We also saw his name (in San Lorenzo Ruiz Steps) on our trip to Taal Heritage Village. We feel he is after our trail.”

Lumbad’s group had already staged a play on the life of St. Pedro Calungsod. They feel it is also about time that they present a similar play on the first Filipino saint. Lumbad admitted it took them a while before the idea to depict his life in a theatrical performance crossed their mind.

The group, whose hashtag #Choose to be Brave is gaining thousands of followers on the web, anticipates to also draw a long line of “unchurched” young people into the encounter with San Lorenzo Ruiz through the theatrical play. Lumbad hopes the experience may inspire youth to retrace their way back to God.

With a theater group called Theatre of the Word, the Youth Commission is eager to tell young people, who for one reason or another have lost hope and accepted a life without direction and isolated from God, that only by choosing to be brave in faith can they find the right direction. 

They also wish to tell young people, as well as other ages, that since most people may not parallel the martyrdom of San Lorenzo Ruiz, they can be good Christians and “heroes” in their own ways.

Eyeing to lead more “unchurched” young people, Lumbad’s group is outlining a plan to reach out to them in the remotest segments of the parish.

“Nag-iisip na rin kami na lumabas para i-evangelize ang mga bata through theater,” she said. [We are contemplating on going out to evangelize young people through theater.]

San Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Binondo, Manila to a Chinese father and a Filipina mother, who were Roman Catholics.  He was taught to speak in his father’s tongue.  He was an altar boy in a church in Binondo. He married Rosario, who gave him two sons and a daughter.

The Dominican friars schooled him for a few years. By mistake, the killing of a Spaniard in 1639 was blamed on him, forcing him to seek asylum in Japan. Backed by Dominican fathers, he left for Okinawa on June 10 of the same year.

During the dark moments of Christians in Japan in the 17th century under the Tokugawa Shogunate, Ruiz was killed for refusing to leave Japan and abdicate his Roman Catholic faith.

Before he was executed, he was tried and tortured in Nagasaki, hung upside down a pit at Nishizaka Hill. Refusing to turn his back from his faith, his persecutors let him die from blood loss and suffocation.

He was beatified by Pope John Paul II during his visit in the Philippines, and canonized in Vatican on October 18, 1987.

The play recounting his life will run in September this year, Lumbad said. About 300 to 500 people of all ages, especially youth, are expected to come. Viewing is free. (Oliver Samson)

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