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Cardinal Tagle Keynotes Make Sad Eyes Smile Fund-raiser in Pennsylvania

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle was the keynote speaker at the Make Sad Eyes Smile Fundraising event in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The Make Sad Eyes Project is for the benefit of poor children in the Philippines. The event aims to raise funds for a medical van to help volunteers extend medical services to the poor.

Here’s a report from Sue Braff of the Barnabite Heart to Heart Ministry, proponent of the Make Sad Eyes Smile Project:

The Cardinal, who is known for his great calling to serve the Lord by caring for the poor, was elected president of Caritas Internationalis, the church’s organization representing 164 Catholic charities around the world, in July.  Due a meeting at the UN in New York that he must attend, he  had to change the date of  his fundraising appearance for the Barnabite Heart to Heart Ministry from September 26.  This change from the weekend of the Pope’s visit to Saturday, September 19 allowed Bishop John O Barres, Bishop of Allentown to attend the events with  Cardinal Tagle.

Recently Bishop Barres joined Father Robert Kosek CRSP, founder of the sponsoring organization, for an interview about the event held to serve the poor and the involvement of Cardinal Tagle.  “Part of the Catholic Church’s global mission of evangelization is to reach out to the needs of the poor, the needs of those that suffer,” the Bishop said. He continued saying that organizations such as Caritas Internationalis, the Pontifical Mission Society, of which he is the Episcopal Liaison for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Relief Services all have the goal of bringing the “compassion and mercy of Christ to those that suffer most in this world.”      

According to Father Robert, the goal of the Barnabite Heart to Heart Mission is to spread God’s love through service to and communion with the poor by providing support for a long and honorable life. “Make Sad Eyes Smile will help the poor street children in the Philippines by giving them medical and dental care,” Father Robert stated.  Continuing he said “by doing that, we are showing them God’s Love and helping them feel and live better.” The group needs to raise $100,000 to obtain the van, build the interior, equip it and operate for the first year, which is the reason for the visit of Cardinal Tagle.

In commenting about Cardinal Tagle’s visit Bishop Barres said “We are so excited by the Cardinal’s presence in the Allentown Diocese in September.  He is a global figure and has a beautiful contemplative spirit as Archbishop of Manila.  He has experienced the suffering of the people in the Philippines. He is deeply connected to Pope Francis. I think his presence among us is an expression of the Pope’s vision and approach to global poverty.” He went on to say that the approach in that the church is similar to a combat field hospital that tends to all of the different wounded in humanity.

In a way the mobile medical van it like a combat hospital for the hurting.  It was the idea of Father Robert, the group’s founder when he returned in 2014 from the Philippines.  The Father had been stationed previously in the Philippines as rector for the Barnabite Seminary when he realized the immense poverty and he started the House of Care of Fr. Semeria, or a school for the poor children which provided at first just education then it added health and food. “I noticed that beside just education there was a great need for poverty and health, then really after my recent trip and talking to Cardinal Tagle, we thought about how can you reach, and as the Bishop spoke about reaching the needs of the children. This became wonderful opportunity for us (Heart to Heart) to be a team with Bishop Barres and the Diocese of Allentown,” stated Father Robert.  According to Father Robert simple things such as a vitamin and some food can make a big difference.  He tells about when he was just there in 2014, he took some time to bring rice out to the poor.  “The look on their faces when they got the rice was unbelievable, “he said.  When he saw a very sick child he asked the mother about going to a doctor, she explained that she did not have the money.  After asking how much (the amount she said was about $7) he gave her money,  she thanked him saying said that she couldn’t take it because there was no money to even take a tricycle to the Doctor.  The money needed all together was equal to about $10 in US dollars. So little to us can do so much for the children of the Philippines

Bishop Barres added “Cardinal Tagle’s  presence among us, his support of the raising of funds for the medical van is a wonderful opportunity for the people of the Diocese of Allentown to raise their consciousness of the people of the Philippines.”

Cardinal Tagle also celebrated Mass at 5 p.m. at St Anne’s, Easton and Washington Ave, Bethlehem with Bishop Barres as co-celebrant.