MANILA, Aug. 24, 2016 – Calbayog must truly be a “blessed place” for on Dec. 31, 1986, a soon-to-be-saint arrived in Samar and stayed here for four days. With the help of Calbayognons who had a close encounter with Blessed Mother Teresa, this story can be told after almost 30 years ago.
Fr. Lito J. Capeding, who at the time was newly-ordained by Archbishop Pedro Dean, happily shared his beautiful meeting with Mother Teresa. He was then only a day-old priest, who was introduced to her by Monsignor Basiling Rosales. Rosales, who was serving as a priest in Oquendo, had invited the founder of the Missionaries of Charity to Calbayog. Upon learning of Capeding’s recent ordination, she asked for his hands, kissed them tenderly, and said: “I would like to have your blessings from your hands, still fresh from the oil of priestly ordination.”
The priest, whom Rosales asked to be part of the welcoming entourage for the visiting sister, admitted Blessed Mother Teresa’s gesture had an unexpected effect on him.
A kiss and a blessing
“I was [dumbfounded] and truly dignified with her humility and awesome aura of holiness!”, shared Capeding, who presently serves as a pastor at the Shrine of the Holy Cross Parish and St. John Mission Church in Daphne, Alabama, US.
Asked about the sister’s message to Calbayognons, Capeding recalled it was all about the love for the poor, Jesus’ image in them, and the importance of prayer.
“My prayers were all granted when I asked her intercessions. Maybe, she remembers me on that fateful day of December 31, 1986,” revealed the priest. “She is indeed the Saint for this Year of Mercy.”
A regular writer for the Calbayog-Manila Fiesta Program before he passed away, Jose R. Pandong, also shared excerpts of a rare interview with Mother Teresa, which were initially published in LRA Bulletin in 1987.
Pandong quotes her as saying: “The sick and the dying, the lepers, the drug addicts, the alcoholics, anybody who is left alone, unwanted, the victims of AIDS, these are the people of our society that we want them to feel that they are brothers and sisters created by the same loving hand of God to love and be loved.”
According to the same article, she added: “To the homeless, we give a home. To the sick, we take care of them. To the hungry, we give food. To the naked, we clothe them. And this is what makes us really contemplative in the hearts of the world because we have twenty-four hours with Jesus, remembering what Jesus has said: You did it to Me.”
Asked by how world peace can be achieved, Blessed Mother Teresa, who was interviewed after her visit and meeting with the cloistered sisters of the Monastery of St. Clare in Calbayog, responded: “The world today is hungry for peace and the only way to bring back the peace again is to pray, because prayer gives a clean heart. With a clean heart, we see God in each other and love one another. Then, in loving, we will have peace.”
Prayer in Families
She said, “Love and peace begins in the family. That is why it is necessary that family should pray together to stay together.”
When asked for a final word or message, she never forgot the importance of prayer. Blessed Mother Teresa stressed: “Bring prayer into your families. When you look at the cross, you know how much Jesus loves you. Go to Jesus and ask Him to give you the joy of loving one another as He loves you.”
Blessed Mother Teresa, who died on Sept. 5, 1997, is scheduled for canonization on Sept. 4. Then Pope St. John Paul II beatified her six years later, on Oct. 19, 2003. (Carl Jaime Simple Bordeos / CBCPNews)