Christ is Risen!

Wishing all a very Happy Easter! May Peace, Hope, and Joy in our Risen Lord be given to you and your families this Solemn Season. In the Words of Our Holy Father Pope Francis on Easter, “Accept the Risen Jesus in your life. Even if you have been far away, take a small step toward him: he awaits you with open arms.” Here is a great Easter Video from the Be the Straw Ministry here in the Bay Area.

 

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Twas a Good Summer!

Saint John the Baptist Church Honolulu, Hawaii

As I sit here an hour into my flight from Honolulu to San Jose and as I look out the window I see the deep blue Pacific Ocean 35,000 feet below and soft white fluffy clouds guiding us on this journey. My departure from my Island Home is always emotional for gone are the days of Summer. Gone are the days of waking up to clear blue Hawaiian skies, Chickens crowing, and warm smiles of Aloha. Still, I know I shall return to you, my Hawaii. I take a deep breath and sigh and think, twas a good Summer.

With Pastor Father John Fredy Quintero and Baptism Ministry Leaders Aunty Naty and Aunty Cora

This Summer I was blessed with many graces. I spent time with my family and friends at home on Kauai, but, I also made new friends, no not friends, but a new family at the Parish where I was assigned to. Saint John the Baptist Church in the heart of Kalihi is where I spent my summer months living, working, praying, learning and laughing with its parishioners, my new family.

“Ike & Tina Turner” at the SJB Feast Day Celebration

When I arrived at Saint John the Baptist (SJB) I must admit I was a little nervous. I mean a Kauai boy moving to the City of Honolulu, and let alone Kalihi. Yes I had my own view of stereotypical “Kalihi.” However, that changed almost instantly when SJB’s Pastor Father John Fredy Quintero greeted me warmly and welcomed me to the Parish. We met to discuss my projects for the Summer as well as expectations from both me and him. Father John told me, “you are here to learn from us, and to share with us your life, gifts and talents.” I think we formed a very special bond and I consider him a friend and look forward to one day serving along side him at the Altar of Sacrifice. He is a good, holy, passionate, and loving priest and I know SJB will benefit from his leadership.

SJB is a very active, vibrant, and culturally diverse Parish, a very special parish in the Diocese of Honolulu. It ministers to the large Samoan, Hispanic, Micronesian, and Filipino cultures. Still, they all blend together to make the mission of God here on earth continue. It’s people are warm, loving, and faithful. They love God and his Church and they love their Parish.  It was refreshing for me to see the pride they take in calling SJB home.

2012 Ministry Fair

One of the first projects I was asked to undertake was the annual Saint John the Baptist Feast Day Mass and reception to be held on Saturday June 23, 2012. With only a week and a half to plan this event I needed to get crackin’ in meeting people who could help me with this event. Everything fell into place and went smoothly. A Solemn Vigil Mass in honor of our Patron Saint and an awesome dinner reception and entertainment for the parishioners. I couldn’t have done this without Mr. and Mrs. Ray and Tyra Lamb of course, and need to give them a shout out in this blog. Ray and Tyra helped me out with organizing the program and entertainment for the evening. Tyra and I co-hosted the program (something of which I haven’t done in years). Tyra asked me “you down to have some fun?” and thought “sure why not?” Anyway, between acts we would do duets and dances from famous couples like “You’re the one that I want” by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John, “Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina Turner, and our grand finale of “I got you babe” by Sonny and Cher. It was truly a memorable and fun evening!

R.E. Teacher Day of Recollection at Saint Stephen’s Seminary Kaneohe, Hawaii

Now, of course it was not only fun and games. I also organized a “Ministry Fair” for the various ministries of the parish and then along with Father John and the ministry leaders to organize days of recollection and training. These days would be focused around my studying and presentation on the document “Porta Fidei” on the “Year of Faith” being declared by Pope Benedict XVI.

Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary

Aside from these my days would begin with my prayers with Father John and then Holy Mass. I would spend my mornings helping out in various ways in the office. Wednesday’s would be spent at the food bank distributing food to the hungry and I spent the weekends serving at Masses. I also found time for exercise, swimming, and hiking. But most of all my summer days were spent, forming relationships and making memories with the wonderful people of SJB. Twas a good, no, a great Summer SJB. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for the prayers. Thank you for your love.

MORE MEMORIES & LAUGHS!!!!

Brian and Odie, Youth Ministers

Uncle Alex & Aunty Pat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She yelled at me my first day at SJB and I knew we would become great friends. A friend who became like a little sister to me. A young woman of faith, my friend Vanessa.

My coffee drinking buddies Sinita and Bertha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Truly Blessed!

 

It was a feast with the Gimong Ilocano Novena Group!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These young women of faith truly inspired me by their dedication and witness to Christ

 

 

 

 

Friends & Family

 

 

 

 

 

Twas a Good Summer!

 

 

 

In the footsteps of Damien and Marianne

Diocese of Honolulu Seminarians with Bishop Larry Silva at Kalawao

On Tuesday July 10 to Wednesday July 11, 2012 I along with my fellow Brother Seminarians and Bishop Larry Silva and a few other priests of our Diocese embarked on a two day retreat and pilgrimage to Molokai; Damien and Marianne’s land. We departed Honolulu Airport on Island Air a little propeller plane for a quick 20 minute flight to Molokai. We were greeted with the typical “Friendly Isle” greeting by the Pastor of Molokai Fr. William Petrie SSCC and other members of the one Parish Island. From the airport we went to the new Saint Damien Church and had light refreshments. Here we listened to a talk from Fr. William which was very inspiring. Father did some intensive work for the Sacred Hearts Order (Picpus Fathers) in Rome as well as served as a Missionary in India along side Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I believe he was also a spearhead in the cause for canonization for Father Damien. So, as one can imagine Father William not only smart and knowledgeable about the lives of Saint Damien, Blessed Marianne, and Blessed Teresa but he is also very passionate in his life as Priest and Servant of God. He is truly a holy and humble man. One thing I got out of his talk was a story he told of his work in India. He said there was one day that there was no medicine to give to the afflicted patience and he and Mother Teresa did not go because of that. When they did reach the area with medicine a few days later a patient asked them “why did you not come to see us?” to which they responded, “because we did not have medicine.” The paitent told them, “still, you should’ve come.” The importance of “Ministry of Presence” as a Priest and pastor of souls is so important. He also stressed the importance of prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament and as Father said that he learned from Mother Teresa, that, “if one does not spend time to recognize Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, how is one to recognize Christ in his fellow brother or sister?”

From there Bishop Larry gave an opening invocation, invoking the intercession of Damien and Marianne on our pilgrimage and for blessings on all of our vocations. And then, we were off to visit two Churches built by Saint Damien himself. Saint Joseph Church and Our Lady of Seven Sorrows. At Saint Joseph’s we all crammed into this tiny Church which is now only used for special masses for some quiet prayer. Bishop read from scripture “Joseph’s dream” and said a prayer to Saint Joseph. Then we intoned the “Doxology” which sent chills down my spine as I thought of the hundreds if not thousands of souls that worshiped there over the last 150 years. We prayed Vespers at Our Lady of Sorrows Church and then headed back to Saint Damien Church for Holy Mass and the installation rite of Father William Petrie SSCC as Pastor of the Island. We were then treated to a wonderful dinner and hosted by the wonderful people of Molokai.

Saint Joseph’s Church, Kamalo

Father William Petrie SSCC, Pastor of Saint Damien Church Molokai, Hawaii

Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Church

Inside Saint Joseph’s Church

Inside OL7S Church

Holy Mass in the new Saint Damien Church, Kaunakakai HI Bishop Larry Silva assisted by Deacon Mike Shizuma

Wednesday July 11, 2012 We were up by 4:45 a.m. Today was a day of pilgrimage. Today we would make the 3 and a half mile down the Pali into the Kalaupapa Penninsula. After getting a quick bite to eat we were brought to the trail head and began our hike down. One cannot imagine the wonderful views of God’s creation we were graced with that day. By the time we got down (1 hour) the midmorning Hawaiian Sun was scorching. We were greeted by the Pastor of Saint Francis Church Sacred Hearts Father Patrick Kililea as well as members of the National Park of Kalaupapa. We toured by Blessed Marianne’s grave monument and then Saint Francis Church where Mother Marianne worshiped. Then we were off to Kalawao and to Saint Philomena Church for Mass and installation of Father Patrick as Pastor. We joined in Mass with patients of Kalaupapa and park rangers. Following Mass we were given some time for quiet and personal prayer. I spent my time at Damien’s grave (the relic of his right hand is buried here) and brought to his intercession my intentions and in a special way my vocation. I prayed that I may live up to my Confirmation name of Damien. To always do good and care for all. To give until it hurts and to love unceasingly. After lunch in Kalawao we began our trip up the steep pali. There were moments on that hike up that were very difficult. I thought, “Father Damien, how the heck did you do this every week?” and then I remembered it was his love for God, the Church, and the people that he did it. It almost seemed at point where I could hear Father Damien saying, “Come on boy, get moving!” When down in Kalaupapa there is such a powerful presence. You feel the mana of the land and the people who have dwelt there. So much suffering from a dreadful disease made peaceful through and with the love of Damien and Marianne. Imua Saint Damien and Blessed Marianne!

Kalaupapa Peninsula from the top of the Pali

Kalaupapa Trail – Happy to say I did it once. Again? Maybe.

Walking in the steps of Saint Damien and Blessed Marianne

The Pali ~ Yeah we did that!

Inside of Saint Francis Church Kalaupapa

Saint Philomena Church in Kalawao

Inside Saint Philomena Church

replica of Altar Damien built

Bishop Silva celebrating Mass in Saint Philomena Church

Kalawao. It is said that patients would be thrown overboard here and have to swim in. Many, so sick did not even make it.

Easter Triumph! Easter Joy! Easter Nostalgia! ~ A Seminarian’s Easter


Joy to the World! He is Risen, Alleluia!

Here we are, Easter Thursday, the fourth day in the Easter Octave. Yes! the Easter Sunday is so big for our Church that we need eight days of Easter. This Easter was a time of triumph, a time of joy, and a great time of Easter nostalgia. For me, it was a time of great emotion as I participated and served at the various Triduum Masses. Many people say that Christmas is a time of nostalgia and sentiment and true it is. Call me the hopeless sentimental, but this Easter was even more a time of sentiment and nostalgia.

I spent my Easter break serving at Saint Anne’s Church in San Francisco with my friend and confer JR Jaldon. Sometime during the week, while having our “Starbucks” moments and walking around the city, JR asked me a question. He asked me “EJ, what’s your favorite day of the Triduum?” I had to think about that for a little. Everyday from Thursday to Sunday has a very special moment for me. While all of the liturgies have their beauty, I shared, my favorite moment of the Triduum is the “Gloria” of The Great Easter Vigil. The lights of the Church are turned on, candles are lit, and the bells ring. It sends shivers done my spine! Death has been conquered and I have been redeemed by the passion of the Cross and the Risen Christ.

Over the last few days, for whatever reasons, I have been thinking of my Easter’s past. As a child I remember being so excited when asked to Serve at the Masses. I remembered my late Grandmother Dorothy Texeira and how she would forbid us to do anything on Good Friday. “No T.V., No Radio, No Work, No go out! Sacrifice, Jesus is on the cross!” is what I remember her saying. In many ways, that has been instilled in me on Good Friday. To make sacrifice even if it is turning off the t.v. for a few hours. Then I remembered waking up early on Easter Sunday to attend the 6:00 a.m. Mass at Hanamaulu Beach where hundreds of people would gather to welcome the “rising son.”

However, this Easter, while I still felt that joy during the “Gloria” at the Vigil, it was at the 10:30 a.m. Family Mass which came to be a reality for me in my discernment. After a wonderful celebration all were invited for fellowship and the Children did their egg hunts with the Easter bunny. It was wonderful! Then the families began to leave together for their Easter celebrations. It donned on me the reality of my call to the Priesthood. I had no one to go home with. This was an amazing moment, because I grieved the fact and accepted that I will never have my own family, a wife, and kids. It’s a struggle but then I realized, that in this moment of loneliness I was not alone. The risen Jesus was with me to help me with this struggle and I have my fellow confers too. Yes, there are sacrifices and struggles, but I joy that I experience serving my King and His people trumps it. Truly another grace filled moment in my journey to the priesthood. Easter night, JR and I treated ourselves to a steak dinner in celebration and relaxation. We both agreed, that this is what the priesthood is about, Prayer, Service, Friendship and Joy. Happy Easter to you. Pray for your Priests and pray for vocations!

A special shout out to JR Jaldon and the beautiful people of Saint Anne’s Parish. God Bless You all in the Risen Christ. He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!

High Altar of Saint Anne's Church ~ After the Easter Vigil

Manolito "JR" Jaldon and I after Serving Easter Masses