EARLY ON, I told Ate Jojie and Kuya Jun (UCC CEO and Fides GM, respectively) I won’t be able to finish the former’s reorientation on Governance and Leadership because of a PREX meeting of the Secretariat with San Jose ang Tagapagtanggol Parish’s new priest, Rev. Fr. Jerome Ponce, OFM. I, therefore, sneaked out of the Coop quietly a little before 4 pm to head towards the church.
Fr. Jerome greeted us all with a smile before saying the opening prayer and rolling the ball. Chair Couples Ate Jackie and Kuya Rey were ready and gave him the heads-up. Appreciative, the priest was all ears and only spoke when he was thoroughly apprised of the PREX situation. He liked what he heard and was visibly supportive of the movement, specifically the upcoming Weekend Encounter on August 24 and 25. After all, in the homilies that I’ve heard from him, he never missed to mention evangelization as the key word in the Church’s efforts toward rekindling the fire in the hearts of God’s children. His closing prayer wrapped up our short and sweet first-ever audience with him.
From the parish of Mary’s spouse, we proceeded to the Shrine of St. Paul the Apostle in Casa Milan, where another first awaited us. It will be the first time that Monsignor Romy Rañada celebrates Mass for us PREX faithful in that venue (since he was reassigned from Mary the Queen Parish thereto) and, immediately thereafter, resumes his 7Ps teaching.
His homily was about false prophets who shall be known by their fruits. He gave as examples Brothers Mike Velarde and Bo Sanchez as their opposites.
Understandably, his talk focused on Santuwaryo ni San Pablo, na dinadalaw dahil sa santo, like Antipolo and Manaoag, he qualified, both shrines being sanctuaries of Mary. A convert to Jesus, St. Paul’s letters figure mostly in Sunday’s second readings, the favor attributed to the saint’s devotion to the people of Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossae and Thessalonica, whom he wrote to when he could not visit and evangelize them.
Like I don’t believe in accidents, Monsi said the word evangelization again, as an echo of Fr, Jerome’s exhortation a while ago. Monsi added that St. Paul is the favorite of Protestants, while, we Catholics, prefer Peter, for obvious reasons.
Shrines, he offered, are interesting places to entice people. Which explains why the country has them plenty. Unlike in Europe, he cited as an example, where there are more shoppers and soccer fans than churchgoers. And we are not spared of the phenomenon, he added, because we also have (basketball and Pacman fan) churchgoers who are not evangelized. Because evangelized Catholics are evangelizers, like PREX graduates, like St. Paul, which is why his cathedral is called the Shrine of New Evangelization. And with these parting words, blessed us.
Thereafter, the PREX contingent from Sacred Heart Parish in Kaybiga, Caloocan City, host of last night’s assembly, took their positions, regaled and renewed us with their ACTS and the solemn space that Monsi vacated transitioned to an interchanging adoring, contrite, thankful, supplicant and joyful celebration. Amen.