QUEZON City, August 17, 2013—Exhorting them to embrace the married life as means to holiness, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas presided over the wedding rites of four pairs of former street kids in a simple, yet compelling ceremony this morning.
“You are precisely the ones being used by God to confer graces upon each other, that’s why it is so beautiful,” Villegas, chairman of Tulay ng Kabataan (TNK), a non-governmental organization which helps get children off the streets, told the couples before the wedding vows.
“Whatever problems, whatever hurts may come, no one gets left behind. Jesus will never leave you no matter what. God will never move, God wil never change in loving you,” he said further, reminding the young brides and grooms that this is the same promise they give each other in marriage.
The incoming Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president also told the five pairs, which included two TNK staff members, that married life is a path to sanctification.
“Love your spouse completely, even more than your own life. If your love is not total, you will not be holy,” he added.
Villegas also took the time to give a bit of catechism to the TNK kids at the EDSA Shrine, explaining why co-habitation or “living in” is considered a sin and why civil weddings fulfill social requirements, but remain invalid in the eyes of God and the Church.
Quite a few tears were shed as Villegas invited the couples, all of whom had started living together before the ceremony, to leave all bad experiences, hurts and pains behind, receiving the peace and love of Christ for a fresh start as husband and wife.
“Open your hearts and receive peace in your hearts, life and love for each other,” he added.
From the streets to the altar
The mass wedding revealed more of the family spirit of TNK, which celebrated its 15th Anniversary today.
A timely tribute to TNK is the story of Paulo Gumero, who left a life on the streets as a child to grow up in a TNK shelter. There he met Maria Lyn, whom he married this morning. Recently, Gumero decided to work as a TNK staff member to help contribute to the advocacy that turned his life around.
In operation since 1998, TNK has several programs to address the plight of thousands of underprivileged infants, children and youth in the slums, dump sites and streets.
Through the years, they have also cared for and rehabilitated sexually exploited and mentally-challenged young people.
Donations to TNK may be deposited to Bank of the Philippine Islands, España – Quezon Avenue, branch 304. For peso donations, deposit to #3043-6397-21, for dollars, dollars: #3044-0104-36. For additional information, anyone may contact telephone (+632) 435 59 12 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. (Nirva’ana Delacruz)