Wednesday, 24 July 2019 02:58

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!


Homily delivered by Most Rev. Leopoldo Haosian, SVD, Bishop of Bangued during Mass for the 6th Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE 6) at the Quadricentennial Pavilion, University of Santo Tomas, on July 20, 2019.

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord! " says Bishop Leopoldo Haosian of Bagued, Abra during his homily for the 6th Philippine Conference on New Evangelization at the University of Santo Tomas on July 20, 2019.
Photo by RCAM-AOC

To my brother bishops, we thank God for the gift of Cardinal Chito, the very reason that we have PCNE. May we give him a big hand! (clap) Thank you, Cardinal Chito. Bishop Nes of Cubao and Bishop Afable of Digos, may we acknowledge my brother bishops.

My brother priests, reverend sisters, all the youth ministers who are here, the youth leaders and sa lahat ng mga kabataan minamahal ng simbahan, ng Santo Papa, mga obispo, minamahal ang sambayanang Filipino. Mabuhay! The Filipino Youth in Mission: Beloved, Gifted and Empowered.

Tatlong bagay gustong ibahagi ni Bishop Pol. Three things that I would like to share. 

The first is, from the moment of my ordination as a priest, I’ve been involved in the youth ministry and six years as chairman of the CBCP, how do I recognize young people? That’s the first.

The second, today, the Mass and also the Readings especially the Gospel as Pope Francis encourages all of us to focus on the life and example of Mary, our supreme model not only how to discern the will of God for us especially in taking good care of the young, of youth ministry.

And finally, the third point that Bishop Pol would like to share with you is the joy of serving the young.

Sa una po, as a Bishop of Abra, Bangued, the diocese, in my first time to visit the farthest, the poorest mountain mission place of Abra, I have to walk ten hours. Wala pong daan only trail, to cross rivers, to climb mountains, and after a long walk, nalo-lowbat na si Bishop Pol, sumasakit ang mga paa at nagtatanong ako, “Malayo pa ba ng pupuntahan natin?” And my companions would tell me, “Ilang bundok pa, bishop”.

Pagkarinig ko yung mga gongs because most of the people belong to the… tribe, when I heard the sound of the gongs, I told myself, “malapit na tayo”. At sabi ng mga kasama ko, “Isang bundok pa ang aakyatin natin, bishop.” But on the top of that mountain, I saw lights  e, wala namang kuryente sa lugar na yun. And I told myself “Malapit na nga tayo, nakikita na natin may mga ilaw”.

And you know my brothers and sisters when we reach the place, whom that they see? It was the young boys striking the gongs to welcome the bishop. It was the young girls with flashlights on their forehead to give light to the way of the bishop and his companions. That, has a great impact on me, for young people. That, with the sounds of their gongs, I see in the young that their giftedness, their creativity, their talents become the music, the sounds that give light for the Church. And their freshness becomes light that gives hope for the church.  

Kaya noong I launched the Year of the Youth in Balanga, Bataan with the Central Luzon Region, I declared Pilipinong kabataan, kayo ang kayamanan ng simbahan, kayo ang ligaya ng simbahan at kayo ang lakas ng simbahan. 

My dear young people you are the treasure of the church, you are the joy of the church, and you are the power of the church. Palakpakan po lahat ng mga kabataan. (clap) 

Pangalawa po, alam nyo nung Synod of Bishops pinag-uusapan kung saan ilalagay ang Inang Maria sa dokumento. Kadalasan, traditionally of all the documents, Mary was always placed at the end of the document. Para bang, let us ask Mary to intercede for us. But in this document, Christus Vivid, Pope Francis in order to place Mary focus, he placed it on paragraph 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48 and only on the last, one of the last paragraph, 289, because Pope Francis would like us to put Mary as experts of Mariology would tell us, Mary is not only statue that we offer flowers, that we offer our novenas. To the experts they would say, Mary as Pope Francis in Christus Vivid said, she is a young woman from Nazareth. She was a historical person. She journeys with us. Our joys is her joys. Our sufferings is her suffering.  So, hindi lang pala si Hesus ang kalakbay natin sa buhay, Inang Maria nakikiisa sa paglalakbay natin sa buhay.  

At in the Readings today, Mary and they would say even Elizabeth as she confirms the will of God for her when Elizabeth was so excited, “Blessed are you among women and how is the mother of my Lord came to visit me”. And only then also, Mary as she opened her eyes to the will of God for her upon the announcement of Angel Gabriel to her and had the courage to say Piat, I am the servant of the Lord, may His will be done. So, together Elizabeth became the spiritual director of Mary. Accompanying and confirming the will of God for her and later on she claimed, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord”.

Pope Francis in preparation for the World Youth Day in Panama, January of this year had three years of preparation focusing on Mary. 2017, the theme was, “The Lord has done great things for us, holy is his name”. Pope Francis invites all the young people to see the good things, the great things that God has done for them. And 2018, the theme was, “Do not be afraid, Mary, this is a Work of God by the Holy Spirit”. 

Pope Francis would like to invite the young people to acknowledge, to know, ano ung mga kinakatakutan nila sa buhay? Because when we face challenges, Mary, even asked questions upon hearing that she will be the mother of God’s only son and said, “How can this be?” 

My dear young people, sa ngayon, ano yung mga kinakatakutan mo sa buhay? Mawalang wifi? Mawalan ng boyfriend? Magkakahiwalay ang pamilya? What are your fears? And sabihin nila there are three things to face fear: either you face it, you freeze, and you flee. But Mary upon knowing and learning, she opened her eyes that this is the will of God for her and have the courage to stand up and say, “Yes Lord!” Piat.

My dear young people, we, be like Mary that amid the challenges of life, with her we have the courage to always discern the will of God for us and together with Mary say, Yes Lord!

Finally, the joy of serving the young. After ordination, I was a missionary to Taiwan and assigned as an assistant parish priest and I was in charge of the young. Afterward, I went to a high school also a campus minister. And now, six years as chairman of the CBCP. A lot of people are asking me, “Bishop Pol, bakit mahal na mahal mo ang paglinkod sa kabataan?” And allow me to share kung bakit?

Ang hirap ng buhay pinagdaanan ni Bishop Pol. Elementary pa lang, tumira po ako sa lolo’t lola ko sa Victoria, Tarlac. Pag gising sa umaga maglalampaso, magwawalis hindi lang sa loob ng bahay, sa labas. Magdidilig ng mga halaman, maghahanda ng pagkain, maghahain, maghuhugas ng pinggan. Ang lola ay may tindahan sa harap ng elementary school, sasamahan ko ang lola dala dala ang paninda. Every break time I have to leave and help her sell her goods. Pagkatapos ng school, sasamahan ko naman ang lola dala dala ang paninda sa kanyang bahay.  That was my elementary.

My high school, I have to stay again with my lola and lolo, the parents of my tatay in Urdaneta, Pangasinan. Doon ko talaga natanto kung gaano kahirap ang buhay. Darating ang examinations, hindi pa nakabayad ng matrikula. Magpapagawa ako ng mga promissory notes para lang ako maka-take ng exam. Nakaraos din. Naka-graduate ng highschool.

It was my dream. It was my prayer to continue on college. After attending a Sunday Mass after graduation sa Divine Word College sa Urdaneta, the school director after the Mass had the compassion. He stopped and asked me, sabi niya, “Pol, anong plano mo sa buhay?”At sabi ko, “Wish ko lang father, gusto kong magpatuloy ng kolehiyo, walang kakayahan ang aking mga magulang”.  At sabi niya, “Gusto mo bang irekomenda kita kasi naghahanap ang Christ the King Mission Seminary sa Quezon City ng full-time sacristan? And I saw in that proposal sabi ko, “Ah, magwo-working student ako. Father rector, kindly write a recommendation letter”.

And on my way on a Pantranco bus pa noon, from Urdaneta to Cubao, I was making a bargain, praying to the Lord, “Lord, if you will give me this job I will offer my life, magpapari po ako”. Pag dating ko po sa seminary, binigay ko ang recommendation sa father director at pagkabasa, ano ang reaction ng father rector, sabi niya, “Ay salamat sa Diyos, may nag-apply. Tanggap ka na!” And that was June 1976 but I have to stop schooling to be a full time employee of the SVD. But while waking up early morning para buksan ang simbahan, maglinis, iprepara ang Misa, kung di darating ang seminarista, mag-se-serve, magbabasa pagkatapos maglilinis ng altar, ng sakristiya, ng crypt. Yan ho ang buhay. Pero habang nakikita ako ng mga misyonerong SVD, sabi nila, “Pol would you like to join us?” Sabi ko sa sarili ko, “Wala ngang pang kolehiyo seminaryo pa?” But two American old missionaries promised, “We would find, look for a benefactor for you”. 

On my second year, I applied, I was accepted. I entered first-year college Philosophy sa Christ the King Missionary but I have to remain working as a sacristan.  A full-time pa rin na empleyado ng SVD. And that I entered the seminary June 1977. Miracles of miracles, mga kapatid.  

Exactly almost 30 years, March 26, 2007, I went back to the very altar where I claimed it was there I was ordained a bishop.  Isang sakristan pwede pa lang maging obispo. All because I was able to open my life to the… to the love of God and Mary helped me. So it’s always a joy serving the young. At sabi ko sa sarili ko kung gaano kahirap ang buhay, iaalay ko ang buhay ko para maglingkod sa kabataan. 

It has been joy to serve ECY for six years. More so, if one or two of my staff would say, “Bishop Papasok kami sa seminary”. Mag-se-search in either sa religious life, meron ding sa religious women at last Sunday lang po nasa AMRSP ako sa Iloilo. And last Sunday, I told the youth of Jaro, I would like to meet the designer, the maker of the logo for the Year of the Youth. Kenneth is his name. Pag dating niya sa …sa isang parish, lumapit siya sa akin at sabi niya, “Good news bishop”.  “Ano yung good news mo Kenneth?” “Papasok na po ako sa seminary”. Sabi ko “Anong nangyari sayo? Sabi niya, “I was so inspired while making the design, that logo for the Year of the Youth. And that inspired me that I have to offer my talents not only for me, for my family, I would like to share it in service of the young.”

Kaya ngayon itong si Kenneth by the start of school year papasok sa seminary. So, meron din pong mga youth ministers na kilala ko po na sabi nila because of my service to the young and their love for the young, marami na pong pumasok sa seminary.  

This is Pope Francis would say, that vocation is not only for the priesthood, for the religious life, but if they discern in life, ano bang kagustuhan ng Diyos sa aking buhay? That is a call. That is a vocation of life. 

Pang huli po, bago ako naging obispo ako po’y parish priest sa St. Jude national Shrine ditto malapit sa Malacanang. Tuwing Sabadao kasama ko ang mga kabataan bumibisita sa charity ward ng Chinese General Hospital dito sa Dimasalang. 

One Saturday afternoon, pagpasok namin sa charity ward nakakita kami ng isang matandang Tsinoy, very sick paralyzed. Pag bukas ng pintuan nakita niya mga katolikong kabataan bumibisita sa kanya at nagsisigaw, “Yes …. Jesus is coming, dumarating si Hesus”. Akala naming nakakita siya ng vision ni Jesus. Nakikitingala din kami wala naman kami makita. But when I got near, that old man sabi ko, “Lolo where is that Jesus you’re crying?” and then he immediately raise his right hand and pointed to all the catholic young people in his room and said, “Hindi ba kayo? Hindi nyo naman ako ka ano ano, ka-relihiyon, I’m a Buddhist. Hindi nyo naman ako kapamilya and yet at this very moment you find time to show your love and concern for me. Ang nakikita kong dumadalaw ngayon ay inyong pinapaniwalaang Hesus.What I see coming to visit me now is your Jesus”.

Ito ang huling tanong ni bishop, pakitingin yung mukha ng katabi mo at tatanungin mo, “Nasan si Hesus kapatid?”  At this very moment dito sa Quadricentennial Hall, where is Jesus? At naniniwala ako sa pamamagitan ng inyong mga ngiti, hawakan ninyo ang kamay at sabihin ninyo, “Kapatid, in your face I see Jesus is alive”.

God bless us. Together with Mary, we say, my soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, Amen. (RCAM-Office of Communications)

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