Last Saturday, July 25, 2020 was the third and last recollection of a series of three recollections organized by the Philippine Jesuit Prison Service Foundation, Inc. (PJPS) to celebrate its 26th founding anniversary. The topic was “Amare et Servire”, with Fr. Manoling V. Francisco, SJ as speaker. Father Manoling gave a rundown of Tanging Yaman Foundation, Inc.’s (TYF) (in collaboration with Ateneo de Manila University and Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan) donation drive/distribution activities since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. While it was disheartening to see how many of our countrymen are in need of basic necessities to survive, and to be reminded of the plight or difficulties our medical and other frontliners undergo daily in the fight against Covid-19, it was nevertheless encouraging to know that there are generous people who are always ready to respond to the call for help of those in need. We applauded and were amazed as we learned of the thousands of meal packs distributed by TYF to the frontliners and the thousands of care packages they have given to the poor. We marveled at the creativity and willingness of corporations and private individuals to quickly pivot and adjust their operations to make relevant products in demand, like PPE suits, alcohol, face/”faith” masks. We were inspired by the magnanimity shown by schools, religious and other institutions as they opened their doors to our homeless brothers and sisters.
For those of us at the giving end, it is easy to think or feel that we are God’s answer to the prayers of those less fortunate in life than we are. But, are we really? I think it could easily be just the other way around. One of Father Manoling’s realizations – the hungry teach us how to feed the hungry – for me, brings home some important points – when we give, we open ourselves to more of God’s blessings, as we learn to be humble, to treat the needy with dignity, to realize that we do not have the monopoly of good ideas on helping others, to see the face of God in those we help & in those who help alongside us, even in people we do not see eye to eye with.
Father Manoling also introduced us to a brave doctor – not war-combat-battle-brave – but regular/everyday-father/brother/son-brave person who sheds tears as he fears for his life & those of his loved ones, yet continues to risk his life daily to serve other people. Amare et Servire.
There were other things Fr. Manoling shared and talked about that touch the heart, like the Ateneo guards who voluntarily opted for reduced hours of duty, receiving less pay as a consequence, just so their fellow guards did not have to get laid off. I’m sure that the Ateneo guards’ selfless act and the other inspiring stories that Father Manoling shared were in the minds of the 150 attendees as they went to their break-out sessions, or as some proceeded to spend time with the Blessed Sacrament.
To cap off the afternoon online activities, the celebration of the Holy Mass followed, with Rev. Fr. Primitivo “Jun” E. Viray, Jr., SJ, Provincial of the Philippine Jesuits as presider. Father Jun gave a fresh, simple, and down-to-earth perspective to the gospel of Matthew 13:44-52 as he talked about having to sort their pantry’s contents as part of his “new Cook duties” during the pandemic – how he had to take out some old canned goods and put in some new ones. And on a more serious note, he also shared about how he prayed and how God answered his prayer when he was assigned as the President of the Ateneo de Naga University, having in mind King Solomon’s prayer in the scriptures for “…an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong…”.
It was truly an inspiring afternoon spent in front of the laptop, computer, tablet or other gadgets – one, we hope will move everyone to, in the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola, “Go forth and set the world on fire”.
You can still watch the recollection points of Father Manoling via the link below.