Saturday, January 22, 2011

Stand up for what is right even if you are standing alone...

Today was the seventh annual West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco. Just as it was last year, the experience of taking part of this walk was a moving one. We arrived at St. Patrick's Seminary the night before after a 12-hour bus ride. After praying vespers in their magnificent seminary chapel, we headed towards their "refectory" (dinning hall) for a social. It was a great time to catch up with old friends that graduated from Mount Angel Seminary.

This was my second pilgrimage to San Francisco for the West Coast Walk for Life. The first time I was here, I had to be my own tour guide. I am grateful to Manolito Jaldon for being my host, tour guide, and taking me to University Avenue of Stanford University to drink some Starbuck's.

The summit of our pilgrimage was on Saturday. Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Niederauer in a packed Cathedral along with several Bishops of California. Priest, religious, seminarians and they laity gathered to pray for the end of the cultural of death in our country. Right after mass, our bus took us to the start of the walk at Justin Herman Plaza in Downtown San Francisco.

A short line up of speakers helped motivate the crowd of more than 40,000 pro-life activists. Immediately after the speakers, the short 2.5 mile walk began along the waterfront. Along the way, there were a small group of Pro-choice protesters on the sidewalk. I realized that the crowd of 40,000 peacefully walked, some with rosaries in their hands, and the small group was screaming and yelling for "choice". What sadden my heart was seeing a child not more than 7 years of age holding a sign for abortion on demand and with her parents yelling to the Pro-life activists. How can parents bring their child to a pro-choice protest?

We walked past the tourist ridden waterfront and my attention was caught by the stores, restaurants, and sidewalk attractions. My bliss was broken when I almost tripped on someone. Towards the end of the walk, the way became narrower and slowed down. In order to get to Marina Green you have to walk up a hill. A profound moment was when I got to the top of the hill and looked back, I saw a mile long trail of people behind me like an ant colony. This sight was an illustration of the body of Christ for me.

When we got to the end of the walk, I decided to go to Safeway to grab a bite. Out of nowhere a woman starts calling my name. At first I said to myself, "Other than seminarians, who in San Francisco know me?" I turned around to the source of voice and saw Elma Amboy (Rivera), a woman that I met in Hawaii many years ago through Blessed Sacrament Prayer Group. The last time I met her was last year at the walk for life in the midst of the crowd. Before this year's walk for life, we connected through Facebook and hoped to see each other again. Unfortunately we weren't able to make any plans to meet. So unexpectedly seeing each other at the Safeway was truly providential.

The West Coast Walk for Life this year was a moving one filled with many profound moments. It was disappointing to see that the news highlighted the pro-choice side only and failed to report the number of people gathered at the Walk for Life.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hawaii Catholic TV- Our home away from home...

On the feast of St. Sebastian, Martyr, the Diocese of Honolulu celebrated its annual "Red" mass in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace. Legislatures, Police and Fire Personnel, and even Governor-elect Neil Abercrombie, were among the faithful and clergy gathered for prayer. After the post-communion prayer those gathered were addressed by USCCB Attorney, Anthony R. Picarello Jr. on the topic "Truth and Freedom: Made for Each Other." Mass ended with the congregation singing "America, the Beautiful."

Viewers, like us Seminarians, were able to be part of the Red Mass all the way from here in Oregon. It was made possible for us through the new initiative of John Fielding called Hawaii Catholic TV - HICTv for Short. Today's broadcast was a huge success compared to the previous attempt in live-streaming Deacon Anthony's ordination last month. Just as John was praying for 98-99 percent broadcast, it worked. The only glitch that happened during the mass was right after the start of Mr. Picarello's speech. The broadcast went off-air for just about 5 mins. Despite this minor technical difficulty, overall the live-stream went well.

It is with a grateful heart that HICTv brings the Diocese of Honolulu beyond the geographical lines right into our homes, schools, work, and even my seminary. I hope that we will be able to continue to use this valuable resource as a diocese to really "Witness to Jesus". Great job to John Fielding and this crew and keep it up! HICTv is my home away from home.

Belated Christmas Update.... Sorry

Christmas 2010

Last Friday night, a few seminarians and myself attended the annual Portland singing Christmas tree. There, many Christmas favorites were sung. It truly got the whole audience in the mood for the Christmas season. As Catholics, we know that we are not yet in that season but in Advent. Amidst all this Christmas spirit, I am challenged to “stay awake and be ready”. What should I be ready for? This advent I am reflecting on the things that keep me from being awake and ready or those things that clutter the inn of my heart. The advent candles burn bright in our homes to remind us that we are children of the light. I wait for the Lord’s “coming” into my inn. This past year has been quite a journey.

In my last Christmas letter, I mentioned that my mother was going through tough chemotherapy treatment and was very weak. On December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, our Lord took away her bodily suffering and called her to eternal life. We laid her to rest on December 19. Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. This year has been an emotional roller coaster for me.

In June, I traveled to the Great Salt Lake for the first time. I attended the ordination of Fr. Joey Frez. The mountains were covered in snow and were gorgeous. I got to visit a cloistered Carmelite convent and the Trappist monks. Following that trip, I attended the ordination of Fr. Ysrael Bien in Portland, OR. The highlight of these trips was seeing these two celebrate their thanksgiving mass.

My summer was spent at St. Stephen’s Diocesan Center. I was able to discern my vocation and work on my human formation. I interned at the Diocesan Religious Education Office directed by Jayne Mondoy. This experience gave me a better outlook of administration from a diocesan office point of view. I enjoyed the times I spent with the staff and the priest there.

I returned to the seminary in August to begin my 3rd semester. So far, I am enjoying the courses that I have. I really enjoy my Latin and Greek classes. The semester really went by quick. Next week is already finals.

For Thanksgiving, I drove up to Seattle to see family. This was my first experience of driving in the snow. My jeep is not 4x4 or all wheel drive so it was difficult. Thank God I made it safely back to the seminary.

As the days are counting down to my return to Honolulu, more and more I am getting anxious. But there are a lot of things yet to do. Things such as Formation meeting, Spiritual direction, term papers to write, final exams, oral finals, and more. But I must not lose sight to the real reason why I must do all this. That is to serve you and lead you as your priest. I pray and hope that this advent season will be full of turning away from darkness and turning to joyful anticipation.

I extend my greetings for a holy Christmas season (not just a day) and a happy New Year. As my spiritual director always says, “oremus pro inviciem.” (Let us pray for one another).