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

This Easter, Catholics Come Home!


It’s kind of hard to believe that we are already in the fifth week of Lent. Just two more weeks to go until the great and solemn feast of Easter begins. As the “high holy days” approach this coming Sunday with Passion Palm Sunday leading up to Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil we as the Church and as an individual walk with our Lord on his journey to Calvary. We all share in his bitter passion and even more in his glorious resurrection. Through His death, we have life. As we have journeyed through the desert these last 40 days we have focused on our relationship with Jesus deeply through our prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. We have also journeyed with our Brothers and Sisters who are preparing to profess our faith and begin living new lives as members of Christ’s holy and apostolic Church.

However, this is also a great time to walk with our brothers and sister who are no longer practicing the faith or who may have left the Church for whatever reason. Some may have been hurt, and rightly so, it’s ok for them to be angry with the Church. In these cases, all we can say is “I’m sorry.” Others may have just fallen out of the routine of going to Mass on Sundays. Well, it is our duty to follow through with the mission given to us from Christ to be his disciples and spread his gospel to “the ends of the world.” Why don’t we start with people we know and invite them back to Church. Statistics show that 1 of 4 Catholics attend Mass faithfully on Sunday. Personally, I find that a little alarming! So, in these final days of Lent, let’s go out there and simply invite someone back to Church this Easter and show them the joy in the risen Christ through the Catholic community. This Easter, Catholics Come Home!

Below is a brief video welcoming Catholics home. More information can be found at www.catholicscomehome.org 

“Pardon the dust, we are under construction.”

Signed by Ashes

“Pardon the dust, we are under construction.” Today, we are told that over a billion people will receive ashes on their heads as a start to the lenten season. “Pardon the dust, we are under construction,” was a line that was woven into our penance service last night by one of the priest faculty members here at the seminary. He said that we can look at the Season of Lent as a construction site. While a building is being built, dust is always around. But, the building still gets built and eventually the dust will be removed and cleaned up. Lent is a time for on going construction of our lives. We are dusty and dirty but still have hope that our buildings (bodies and souls) will be constructed and cleaned for the glory of God.   Today the Bishop emeritus of Santa Rosa, CA led our annual day of recollection. The ashes we are signed with today have several purposes.

First they are a sign of our mortality. We are “from dust and to dust we shall return.” All things on earth are temporary, even our lives. For truly all of us yearn and strive our best for that perfect communion with our Creator. Let us not be attached to the things of this world for that is all dust. Rather, let us attach to the things of the world to come.

Secondly, these ashes is a sign of repentance. In the early days of the church and even in scripture it says that those who have offended God are to wear “sackcloth and ashes” and beg for mercy. Today we do just that. In the first reading of the Mass of Ash Wednesday, we are told from the Prophet Joel, “…return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord your God.” – Joel 2:12. No one is perfect and these ashes is a sign to admit our failings and with complete trust in God try our best to make amends for our sins and avoid any occasion of sin.  We do this by fasting, prayer, and charity.

Thirdly and finally, we are told in the second reading today from the letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians that “We are ambassadors for Christ” 2 Cor 5:20. The Bishop took light of this. During lent, yes, we walk in the desert with Christ. We make penance, fast, and take part in his death and resurrection. The Bishop suggested that while we do this, it is important to look at those who are crucified in our own world today in 2012. They are our brothers and sisters too. They too, have “dust and is under construction.” We need to walk with them just as we walk with Christ. To see Christ in the unwed mother, the alcoholic, those in abusive relationships, drug addict, homeless children, the hungry, the poor, the immigrant and so much more may be hard to see and even fathom, but, they are being crucified and we must help them carry their crosses.

May these ashes we wear today be a sign to the world that we are not perfect but we are trying. May it be a sign of hope for a hopeless world as we see the suffering Christ in all. May this season of dust construct our lives into a new building this Easter. Happy Lent 2012!

Lent is upon us…

Lent, a Liturgical Season of the Roman Catholic Church 40 days before the great Feast of Easter. Lent begins this coming Wednesday February 22 with the celebration of Ash Wednesday and ends at the Easter Triduum on Holy Thursday on April 5. This 40 days, 7 weeks is a time when the Church walks with Christ in the desert. 40 is a very important number in scripture. These 40 days is a time of purification and realization for the self and the Church at large. Christ was tempted in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights after his baptism in the Jordan, where it was revealed that he was the “Son of God.” Jesus went into the desert  to know his mission on earth. These 40 days lead us to the Passion and Death of Jesus and then to the Glorious Triumphant Resurrection from the dead, saving all of us.

Lent is a time for a person to do just that. To rekindle his/her relationship with God and Jesus and the Church. It is a time to ask God for forgiveness of ones sins and a time to do good for others. Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. Many people decide to “give up” something for lent and in place to do something good for themselves or another. It’s good to make that sacrifice, but I think that if one does give something up that at the end it should make him/her a better person spiritually and even more important strengthen his/her relation with God. The act of giving something up in a sense is dying to oneself and rising to new life with Christ at Easter.

On Ash Wednesday when being signed with ashes on your fore head, you will hear the minister say “Remember, you are dust and unto dust you shall return” or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” Lent is that. We must remember that our life here on earth is for life in eternity. All is temporary (dust to dust) and by following Christ and his Gospel on earth, we hope to obtain the eternal reward of heaven with Jesus the risen Lord. Happy Lent 2012!

“Lucky, Come Hawaii!”

“Lucky, Come Hawaii,” is a phrase that I grew up hearing all the time. My dad said it as a way to tease my brother and I that we were ordered from the Philippines and both of my grandfathers would say it all the time too. My Paternal Grandfather immigrated the family from Cebu Philippines in the 1970’s. My dad was in his early teens when they came over. My maternal grandfather was a first generation Portuguese. His father, my Great-grandfather immigrated from Portugal in the early 1900’s.

This afternoon, the Portuguese Community here at the seminary went out for an authentic Portuguese Lunch for a brief meeting and celebrating a fellow brothers birthday.  The restaurant we went to was Baccalau Grill and Market in “Little Portugal” of San Jose, CA. I didn’t know that there were many Portuguese here in the Bay Area. I was also amazed as to how preserved the Portuguese culture is here. The lunch was great, service awesome, and company even better. It was a wonderful afternoon.

As I was sitting there taking part in the conversations, listening to the Portuguese language of other patrons in the market, hearing the beautiful music, smelling the Baccalau, Garlic, Sweet Bread (Massa Sovada), tasting the different custards, and of course the vino. I couldn’t help at this moment to think of home. It was a nostalgic felling of homesickness. Maybe it was the food or the strange resemblances actions of people here and comparing it to my own Portuguese family members back home. I thought “it’s a shame!” that the Portuguese in Hawaii haven’t really preserved our culture besides the food. I wished my grandparents would’ve taught us to speak Portuguese and do the Festas and dances etc. I wished I would’ve learned to speak Visayan too!

Then, I thought of that famous saying “Lucky, Come Hawaii.” It wasn’t that we Portuguese or Filipinos or Japanese or Koreans have lost our cultures, we enhanced the beauty that which makes Hawaii, Hawaii. And actually, the Portuguese have really been influential in Hawaiian History. For example, we not only brought Bean Soup, Malassadas, and Sweet Bread but we also were pillars of  the Roman Catholic Faith in the Islands. We brought the Ukulele and added to the comedy of local living.

I left the restaurant an even prouder Portuguese (Yes I am proud to be Portuguese!) and more importantly a prouder Hawaiian. In a deeper sense I am thankful to my Dad who came from the Philippines and my Papa Joe who came from Portugal to Hawaii to provide for us a better lifestyle and instill in us the values of our cultures. Yes, the Portuguese culture may not be as active in Hawaii, but we are still there. Our love for family, work ethic, passion, and great faith in God is still seen under the skies of Hawaii. As as they say, forgive my spelling, but Bunza Dersh, Lucky, Come Hawaii!

Below is a Video about immigration to Hawaii. It focuses on Puhi Camp where my family still resides. The video is made by a desendent of one of the original immigrants to the Sugar Plantation Camp. My Uncle the late Billy Texeira is on there speaking about the Portuguese culture. May this video give you a better understanding of Hawaiian Culture and a greater appreciation for all that our ancestors did for us.