NAGA City, March 5, 2015 — “Carry them.” This was the message of Fr. Joey Gonzaga to 95 Parish PWD (People with Disabilities) Coordinators at the Gilean Ministry Archdiocesan assembly last Saturday, Feb. 28, Gualandi Formation Center.
No turning back. Move forward.
In his keynote address, Gonzaga, Dean of the College of Theology at the Holy Rosary Major Seminary, exhorted that these new coordinators must be adelante, a Latin term for forward or to move forward. “Do not turn [your] backs to the mission; instead, move forward,” he said.
“Make yourselves open to the working of God.” According to him, the mission entrusted [to them] is sacrifice perfected only through love.
Serving PWDs require being sensitive to their sufferings and being moved by their misfortunes.
By caring for them, one finds fulfillment and genuine happiness, but if and only if one gives his heart to them, Gonzaga explained. Thus, the challenge for these coordinators is to lighten a PWD’s burden and to help him carry his load by offering it to the Lord and by making him feel Christ’s love.
Suffering, a call to virtue
Further, Gonzaga pointed out that asking why one suffers is also a “form of prayer”.
St. Francis of Assisi and St. Ignatius of Loyola are just two of the many saints whose suffering brought them closer to God. Suffering must bring about conversion and the rebuilding of goodness in a person.
“Through faith,” he said “[one] discovers the meaning [of suffering].” Suffering is also a “call for spiritual maturity” and a “call for [the] virtues [of] courage, faith and patience,” Gonzaga explained.
Meaning of suffering
Like Jesus during His passion, a PWD is troubled with many questions like “Why me? Why do I suffer?”
Asking God is a “form of prayer”. “Often, the response takes time, even a long time,” Gonzaga said.
Through faith one learns to accept one’s suffering and condition. “A person who lacks faith will regard these sufferings as punishment,” he illustrated.
“Standing by the cross, the truth of love is revealed. Through this, [one] discovers the true meaning of suffering,” Gonzaga added. Fr. Jaime Danilo Viola currently heads the Gilean Ministry, the Caceres Ministry for PWDs named after the Patron of disabled and cancer patients, St. Giles.
Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona established the said ministry a year ago. (Natalie Quimlat/Mylene Velasco/CBCPNews)