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Monday, September 25, 2006

my speech during richie fernando exhibit launch

Good afternoon. Let me start with a story. One night, while Weyms, Shio, and myself, were having dinner with Fr. Provincial, ideas were popping out on how to celebrate the 10th Death Anniversary of Richie Fernando. One original idea was a youth camp for the Socially Oriented Organizations in the Loyola Schools. I was so eager to spearhead the idea. While I was moving around the groups in Loyola Schools, trying to sell the idea, I was sadden to hear the question: “Bro, who is Richie Fernando?” Then I realized, indeed it has been ten years.

So we decided to start with this simple exhibit with the conviction to rekindle that spirit in which Richie echoed one October ten years ago. Let me share with you some thoughts about Richie…

There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (John 15:13)

On 17 October 1996, Filipino Jesuit Scholastic “Richie” Fernando laid down his life for his friends at the Jesuit Refugee Service’s school for disabled called Bataey Prieb (Center of the Dove), near Phnom Penh, Cambodia. A disturbed student was about to throw a hand grenade into a classroom of other students. Richie grabbed him from behind. The grenade fell of the ground and exploded. Richie was killed instantly, while everyone else survived.

Those students were truly Richie’s friends; he loved them and wished to dedicate his life to their service. Even the one who caused his death said of him, “Richie ate rice with me, we were friends.” The others, on wheelchairs and crutches, formed a guard of honor at his wake. Days later, as his body was being buried with his fellow Jesuits at Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, his friends in Cambodia solemnly carried an urn containing cloths soaked in his blood to a Buddhist burial mound sculpted by themselves.

The instant in which Richie grappled with the student rather than saving himself was his moment of truth; it revealed what was deepest within him. There was no time to think. He acted by instinct, an instinct honed by values learned in a loving family, by two years (1988-90) of coming to know himself better and Christ better in Arvisu House Jesuit Prenovitiate, by his vows and retreats as a Jesuit, by his response to his missionary call.

Thus, he could say it all in a letter written four days before his death, “I know where my heart is. It is with Jesus Christ, who gave his life for the poor, the sick, the orphan…”

The items from the exhibit are taken from the collections of the Fernando Family, Arvisu House, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Loyola House of Studies, collections of Fr. Jojo Magadia and Sch. Robbie Sian, pieced together here by the Juniors, Sch. Jason Dy, and myself. This exhibit will be displayed in the Loyola Schools, the High School, in Xavier Schoolx, and other possible areas until December. Having said all of these, without formalities, I welcome you to the opening of the Richie Fernando 10th Death Anniversary Exhibit here in Loyola House of Studies.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

10th death anniversary of richie fernando

if i told you

This is really a good song from the play the wedding singer broadway musical ost. Enjoy.

Standing here underneath your window
Searching for some kind of sign
Every move, every tiny gesture
Only proves that you're not mine
I could write you a thousand love songs
Search the world for the perfect tune and rhyme
But what good would it do when it seems I'm out of time

If I told you
All the words I've yet to say
Would they matter
Or would you simply turn and walk away
If I hold you
Will you tell me I should go
Do I chance it
Or would it just be better not to know

Who's that girl with the perfect future
Her reflection says it all
Trying hard to pretend she's eager
Searching for some way to stall
So unsure of the road she's chosen
Faced with feelings her heart should not allow
One thing's certain, it seems
That she just can't turn back now
If she can, tell her how

If I told you
All the words I've yet to say
Would they matter
Or would you simply turn and walk away
If I hold you (if I hold you)
Would you tell me I should go
Do I chance it
Or would it just be better not to know

Would it just be better...
Not to know

a community in love

Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon and companions
14 August 2006

Before I would begin my sharing, I would just like to make two points clear. First of all, as some of you have asked me, this sharing is not about my love life or anything that deals with relationships that are “more than friends but less than lovers.” Second, this sharing is not a Papal Bull or some sort that I am passing down or it is not intended to single out any ACLC member for that matter. This sharing, though how difficult it will be for me as a moderator, is simply a reminder to all of us on how we can grow as an authentic Christian community. Having said all of these, I begin my sharing.

A Good Shepherd sister-friend of mine told me a story about the sinking of a ship. It was called the MV Cassandra, and it sunk en route from Butuan to Cebu more than twenty years ago. The ship never reached her destination. The MV Cassandra went down into the sea bringing several hundred passengers with her.

There were four Good Shepherd sisters on that ship: Sisters Consuelo, Consolacion, Concepcion and Virginia. At one point during the sinking, they were given their own individual life vests. They immediately took them and put them on. However, when they started going around the ship, they realized that many of the passengers did not have any life vests simply because there were not enough for all.

Thus, what these four sisters did was, without any hesitation, they courageously took off their own life vests and gave them to people who had none. In the end, when rescuers started recovering and counting the bodies of the victims who had drowned, they included the bodies of these four sisters – Consuelo, Consolacion, Concepcion and Virginia.

My friends I started with this story because it tells us so much on community life which is an integral part of being an ACLCer. Community life is not simply meeting together in a certain place at a certain time, doing communal activities like prayer and apostolate, then afterwards go home. No. Community life is more than just a gathering. Community life involves acts of love especially listening and companionship. But to do either without love is an empty gesture and bears no fruit. In ACLC, we are invited to love one another, not in a romantic way but in Christ-like. The most helpful thing one member can do for another is to love him or her, and this is as valid for Christian relationships as for any other kind.

This is my second year as your moderator. And perhaps part of my job description, and perhaps most of you already know this, is to take care of members with “special needs.” Often times, it is sad to hear their stories how they fall in love with a fellow ACLCer. Let me give you a ficticious example. It started out with happy relationship. He likes her and she likes him. Happy. Then when difficulties and challenges come, it is really a struggle to keep such a relationship. Then you ask yourself: “Paano na lang ang PS ko kasi nan doon siya? Paano ang area? Ang retreat? Ang welcoming night? Ang caroling? Ang EvSem? Ang paglalaro ng paborito kong bridge? Paano na lang?” What makes the situation worst is that, your unitmates, your areamates, and no doubt the entire community got involved already in various forms. There seems to be no escape when you are in such a situation because for the reason that we are simply a community.

This kind of loving is our way of loving that is initially be self-centered. Our way of loving may be self-seeking, self-serving. Many times, perhaps, we are too concerned with “what will I get in return? What will I receive in return? Ano kapalit nito?”

In ACLC, we have this term called the “grace of waiting.” And I do believe in this. There are greater fruits in waiting. And what better place to practice authentic love than in ACLC. That is why we need to realize that our quality of loving needs to be given time – time to grow, time to deepen. This is so because we do not immediately begin to love God with all our heart, with all our mind, and all our strength. And surely, we do not all of a sudden just begin to love our neighbor as we love our selves. That is why we go to prayers sessions and area despite whatever feelings we have because we are called to love when love seems to be empty. Indeed it is quite apparent that we are not natural-born lovers.

However, after much practice – after much daily, constant regular practice – our quality of loving may slowly, gradually begin to become better and better. Our quality of loving may slowly, gradually begin to become more and more radical – more and more Christ-like even – and less and less self-serving, less and less self-seeking.

My friends let me go straight to the point. I am not saying that you must not fall in love with a fellow ACLCer or I am not saying it is forbidden to be an ACLC couple. No. Look around you, such relationship do work. And perhaps you also heard the sad stories how it didn’t work and brought even more problems to many members. No one will ever stop you. But, but, but before you enter such a relationship in ACLC, please, please, please, think and reflect upon the reasons you entered ACLC. Did you join ACLC to be in a relationship? Or did you join ACLC to have relationships? If you have the answer to this question, then I do believe you have embraced what true love really is. And I think you are helping the ACLC community this way.

To end this sharing, let us go back with our story of the Good Shepherd sisters. What those four sisters did at the sinking of the MV Cassandra was not an isolated event. They had been loving much even before this disaster. They had been caring much long before this tragedy tool place. What happened in that boat was just a culmination, a climax to all the acts of loving in their lives.

Practice. Waiting. This is what love is all about. This is how the art of loving works. This is how, in the end, we can learn to love with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That is why we should not belittle our simple acts of loving. We should not belittle our very capacity to love. Giving thank, forgiving people – especially those who have hurt us – giving our time and our presence to others, affirming them, telling them “You’re ok!” This is how we begin.

And if we start this way, I’m sure whatever ship, whatever sea, and whatever weather you are in, I am sure you are one of those who can easily give out your life vests away. Amen.

Copyright © 2006 er2ol. All rights reserved. Patent Pending.