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Ok Lang ‘Yan

Fr. Carmelo O. Diola, SSL

Spaces of Hope

The moment was totally unexpected.

From a human standpoint, one can come up with an explanation. My take is this. A group of construction workers come upon a pile of papers inadvertently left behind by the previous occupants of an office being demolished to make room for a much bigger building.

The pile contains two prayer cards for a departed woman. One shows the picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the other of Jesus Christ. The workers decide to construct a makeshift altar using the two prayer cards that have been nailed to a piece of plywood. In between the two cards, one of the workers, using a paintbrush, writes the words: “Kahit anong mangyari, laging iisipin, Ok lang ‘yan. (Whatever happens, just remember, everything will be fine).”

With the completion of the new building, the makeshift altar fall into disuse. It is left on the floor of one of the office spaces of the new building as the workers demobilize. One day, a group of people were being given a brief tour of the building. They chance upon the makeshift altar.

These turn of events are unremarkable in themselves except that the prayer cards were for my mother, Elena, who died on Oct. 21, 2012 and that I was with the group who chanced upon the makeshift altar inside a room in the Pavilion of the 51st International Eucharistic Congess.

The painted message spoke millions to me, like a refrain from a psalm of lamentation. Somehow, in the mysterious workings of the communion of saints, my mother managed to see through my many concerns to put in an assuring word. It worked.

My brother Raddy believes this is not the first time our mother’s nurturing presence made itself felt this year. Last August, as he was preparing to pay for a trip to Gudalupe, Mexico, with Carole, his wife, he had received his share of the payment for an estate our mother held in common with her siblings. The round-trip plane fare of the couple amounted to Php 112,000.00 while Radddy received a check for Php 112,200.00. This was the plane fare with something extra for taxi!

Coincidence or a fruit of intercessory prayers from on high?

*******

The turnover ceremony of the 51st IEC Pavilion last Nov. 21, 2015 was fruit of intercessory prayers. This was emphasized by Archbishop Jose S. Palma, president of the 51st IEC as he noted, amidst strong emotions, that this was not “about business but an act of faith.” He was echoing the sentiments earlier voiced by the owners of Duros Construction, Fe and Lito Barino, who undertook the construction of the Php 500 million project relying only on a usufruct agreement with the local church of Cebu.

Several individuals shed tears of joy during the turn-over ceremony as they recalled the seemingly bleak beginnings of the project when cash flow was very limited and encouraging words from some individuals and quarters were hard to come by. Now the edifice was standing right before their eyes with about 7,000 chairs of bright blue, red, and yellow colors. Nothing is impossible with God.

Soon the pavilion was put to good use. A day later, the Feast of Christ the King was celebrated inside the pavilion with about 5,000 people in attendance. This was a dress rehearsal for the IEC and a way to test the systems in place.

Last Nov. 26 and 27, the clergy of Cebu did a fund-raiser for the coming congress with a concert dubbed “400 Priests in Concert”. Monsignor Rudy Villanueva, nationally-recognized Church musician and – this is a little-known fact – a classmate of Barry Manilow, led the effort. The songs were arranged as a decade of the rosary: an Our Father, followed by ten Hail Marys, and ending with a Glory Be.

Rehearsing 400 priests is not easy. Fr. Benny Tao, who assisted Monsignor Rudy, patiently conducted the rehearsals. With help from the Mandaue Children’s Choir, the mixed choir from the Cathedral and the Sto. Niño Basilica, and the college and theology seminarians, the priests managed to sound good.

We also felt more united with our local ordinary smiling from ear to ear.

*******

I had a chance to talk over the phone with Heidi Mendoza before she left for New York City to assume her role as undersecretary for the United Nations Internal Oversight office, the international body’s equivalent of our Commission on Audit. This is a non-renewable five year contract.

“The real antidote for corruption is faith”, she told me as she recounted her stint as a COA commissioner. It had not been an easy ride for her. Her return to COA was not expected. It was her role as expert witness to the Gen. Garcia corruption case that brought her into national limelight and a return to public service.

As commissioner, she had organized a daily rosary and Mass in her office. It would be interesting what surprises the Lord has in store for her spiritual nourishment in the Big Apple.

Meanwhile, we pray for her. Heidi, “Okay lang ‘yan.”

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