TO MAKE MATTERS simple, Ate Relly and I agreed to meet at the bakery on the corner of BF Road and Commonwealth Avenue. We were going to commute going to Madriñan to attend the Mass preceding the installation of the new Delegation Superior, Fr. Norwyn Baydo, and his Councilors, Frs. Paul Arnel Lucero and Santiago Casing, SMM all. As soon as she got out of the tricycle, she happily announced that we are getting a ride from Sis Gelly, whose presence in Madriñan meetings has been scarce lately. Daughter Angelica gave birth to Baby Ben a week ago and Granny Gelly, still doting on (the baby’s sister) Peanut, assumed the dual task of ministering to her burgeoning nursery, to say nothing of the recuperating mother. She could not believe that Gel was letting her leave even before hubby Jay arrives so she could make it to Mass, more than anything else. She pulled over as Ate Relly and I paused in recalling the pilgrimage last Saturday. We tried to resume once we got inside the car but Sis Gelly was not going to be overtaken from her account of how blessed she was for being rid of responsibility. From there, tales of Peanut’s precocious progress filled the car air and our eager ears. The pilgrimage recall will have to wait another while.
When we got to Madriñan, Montfort’s shepherds were abuzz, assisted by the brothers, while their others dotted about the grounds and around tables, happily exchanging pleasantries, filling the air with good, expectant feelings.
Soon, they were attired in their flawless finery (I always envision a covey of cardinals every time they are so arrayed). The brothers have drawn early attention to their crisp navy blue shirts (purposeful for a Sister Act presentation later). Then the processional started.
Fr. Marko’s homily was short, simple and solemnly sweet (made more so by his sunny manner). He spoke of servanthood and slavery, making the dual characteristics of a Totus Tuus journeyer blend beautifully into a singular humility. After all, one can never humble himself enough unless he is divested of all and everything that he is and has. Then and only then can he face up to God and confidently lift up a face that somehow (we can only approximate a smidgen of holiness) resembles His likeness. And he can only do this as he vows his faithfulness, and manifests his heart to it, to Jesus though Mary.
Earlier, when Fr. Fed introduced Fr. Marko to Sis Gelly and me, it was clearly evident he was the tallest person and priest in the throng. He was made taller by the fact that he didn’t crouch (I notice many tall people do this) and was, at first glance, earnestly sincere in his conversing, as most Montfortians generally possess the gift. His gaze direct and open, he does not look down on or through the person, but at him, right between the eyes, so that when you meet his gaze, you agree that it is the look of amity coming from an act of faith in the other fellow, a shake further than the hand, because from the heart.
It was opportune that the installation of the new Superior required that he make a vow of service and submission to the delegation and to their communities, which the reading and the Gospel earlier highlighted. Fr. Norwyn, as far as I remember him from the only TTJ session I heard and saw him at, never altered in his demeanor. He still wore his austere smile and, probably boosted by new confidence, assumed a voice that sounded amiable if authoritative, complemented by light banter, reminiscent of the isa-dalawa-tatlo dynamic he entertained us at his session with. Judging from the transition of speeches, both incoming and outgoing personages defied competition; the comparison of their speeches (meaty, meatier) only came from the joking, jovial audience). As in any assembly of these charismatic clerics, the overall ambiance was nothing short of elated. The “departed” (these priests can cook up hilarious adjectives instantly like they were born comics) Fr. Richard (the predecessor) gamely gave his valedictory; nobly responded to by his successor. All these properly punctuated by the entertaining program that featured the skill, talent and wit of the missionaries.
Indeed, if we gave all that we are and have to Mary, even the everyday will be extraordinary. That evening was decidedly laden with delightful glee.