|Thanks to Fr. Aris Sison for this photo of the evacuation in the Holy Family Parish|
Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!
The day has come at last when my tenure in this parish must end. Tomorrow, I will be leaving for a new assignment and it is time for me to say goodbye to all of you. I find it significant that my last day as your parish priest should coincide with the gospel reading wherein the Lord Jesus sends his disciples on a mission. They were to journey without anything except a walking stick and sandals on the feet. They were not to stay for long in one place but the disciples must keep moving on like Jesus who had no place to lay his head on. As they go from one place to another, the disciples live on the hospitality of good people: “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.” 3 years ago, I entered this house and here I stay until I leave tomorrow. I stayed here because you welcomed me. As the good Lord pointed out, I lived on your hospitality and for this, I am very grateful. Thank you for welcoming me. Thank you for listening to what I have to say. You listened because you believed that I was sent to you by the Lord. By listening to me, you welcomed me not only in your home but in your hearts as well.
If there is one legacy which I wish to leave you, I hope that it would be the legacy of the open door. In my term as your pastor, I opened the basketball court to our neighbors who wished to play. I also opened the gates even during school days to welcome everyone who wished to pray. In times of calamities, I opened the Church to those who sought refuge from the storms. I kept repeating to you what Pope Francis constantly reminded us: that the doors of the Church must be kept wide open to welcome all people. Access to the Church must not be limited to the few students of the parochial school or to the few devout and decent people who come to pray. The Church must also welcome the poor, the dirty, and the sinner. At times, welcoming these people may compromise our security, our hygiene, or even our silence but still we have to open our doors because the Church must be a good neighbor who imitates the example of Christ the Good Samaritan.
As we have opened the doors of our parish to welcome all for the past 3 years, I beg you to keep opening your doors. Be always a welcoming parish. I beg you, do not lock the basketball rings to make it difficult for people to play. Always keep the gates open to welcome those who search for the Lord. Open the doors to welcome evacuees in times of crises. Open your doors to Christ who knocks and who redeems.
When we welcome Christ, we welcome the Father who blesses us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. Pinagkakalooban tayo ng Ama ng lahat ng pagpapalang espiritwal dahil sa pakikipagkaisa natin kay Kristo. Salamat sa malugod na pagtanggap ninyo sa akin. Aalis akong baon ang magagandang alaala ng inyong pagmamahal at pagsisikap na maging banal. Patuloy kong isasagawa ang iniatas sa akin: ang mangaral sa mga tao na pagsisihan nila’t talikdan ang kanilang mga kasalanan, ang magpalayas ng mga demonyo sa mga inaalihan nito, at ang pagpapahid ng langis sa mga maysakit. Sa aking pag-alis, manatili nawa sa inyo ang kapayapaan ni Kristo, ang kapayapaang inilaan niya sa mga malugod na tumatanggap sa kanyang mga isinugo. Salamat po at paalam.
Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.