April 18, 2010
Christos Anesti! (Christ is Risen!) There is a lot of news to share with you since my last letter. After writing to you in December the major change in my life was losing my mother. Her battle with breast cancer ended on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Although her passing was a surprise to all of us, I felt a sense of peace because she no longer suffered. This was the beginning of my Lenten season.
When I got back to the seminary, it was the middle of the annual silent retreat. It was difficult to keep the silence because everyone wanted to know how I was doing. When the second semester started, I had another challenge. I had to complete all my courses from last semester. With the grace of God, I was able to complete all my assignments by the incomplete deadline.
The first major event for the Filipino Community was the Santo Nino feast day. We had the privilege of having Bishop Oscar Solis, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, as the presider of the mass. It was a successful event and the weather was in our favor through the intercession of St. Clare, patroness of good weather. J
Spring break started on Wednesday, March 31 and ended yesterday Sunday, April 11. Holy week was the culmination of my Lenten season. I decided to stay at Mount Angel Seminary for half of my break. On Holy Thursday I spent my afternoon with Bishop Kenneth Steiner, Auxiliary Bishop of Portland. I interviewed him for my ethnographic writing project. He shared many of his experiences and even shared a meal with me. I stayed for mass at his parish. For Good Friday, I had the opportunity to serve in the Abbey church. In the cross that we venerated, there was a relic of the cross of Christ. This service was so profound because it reminded me of my mom’s suffering.
(On the night before her passing I surrendered to God’s will. That night we had an Advent reconciliation service and asked God to forgive me for not being the best son I could be. I also told the Blessed Mother in prayer that if the Lord was to call my mom home, it was ok but she had to be my mother now. Totally unexpected, I got a call from my sister in the morning that mom passed away. My heart was pierced as I began to weep and scream into a pillow. When I was able to compose myself a sense of peace came over me. I realized at that moment what my prayer was the night before and remembered that it was the Feast of our Lady’s Immaculate Conception.)
The rest of my spring/Easter break was spent in Washington State. Fr. Balizan from New Mexico wanted to spend time with me while he was there for speaking engagements. He let me serve at the masses that he celebrated throughout Western Washington. We stayed at the home of Bob & Bobbie Brown, members of the Western Washington Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Their hospitality reminded me of the Benedictine spirit of receiving guest as Christ.
I got back to Mount Angel on the last day of the break and can’t wait till summer. J
The first year of Seminary has been such a roller coaster of emotions but I survived. I have made a lot of friends here that I will definitely miss over the summer break. Some of them will not be returning because they are graduating and moving on to other seminaries, getting ordained, or go on their pastoral year. I know that someday God will make it so that our paths will cross each other once again.
I am excited to be going home early May for summer break. The first thing on my to do list is to pay a visit to Zippy’s. But before then, I have to complete all my assignments and finals for this semester. Please pray for all the seminarians that will be completing their academic year.
In honor of the Year of the Priest, I am attaching the following prayer:
Father God, we give you thanks and praise for the gift of Holy Priesthood. We pray for all priest everywhere, but especially those in our parish and for those from whom we have received grace. Sanctify them in holiness and protect them from all evil and hold them in the depths of your Sacred Wounds. Amen. (Catholic Prayer Cards)
I remain yours in Christ,
Alfred Omar B. Guerrero
Seminarian for the Diocese of Honolulu