In contrast to years of a jam-packed San Jose Mangmangged Church with Josephians cheery faces, the immense space welcomed several mass goers, with the students nowhere in sight. Showing a glimpse of the reality of classrooms with empty tables and chairs, the Holy Spirit Mass was celebrated with an incomplete SJCBI community for the first time on October 8, 2020, with the President, Rev. Fr. Gerard Ariston Perez as Presider and CECM Director, Rev. Fr. Leifmark Butacan as Preacher.
Nostalgic for the days when students fill the pews of the Church, Fr. Leifmark acknowledged the presence of the members of SJCBI faculty and staff: “My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is always our joy to celebrate this Mass of the Holy Spirit to begin the academic year of our beloved school. It has been our custom to celebrate it with our beloved students. However, time has changed that today we will celebrate it among us – their teachers.”
The Spirit that sustains
Assuring the community of the role of the Holy Spirit in the hardships of the pandemic, the parochial vicar of the Parish said that “we cannot deny the fact that change gave us the opportunity to accept new system, new ways of teachings and new ways of learnings. We are now living in the “new normal” atmosphere. Thus, as we continue our mission in providing good quality of education to our beloved students, let us be reminded to ask God to fill us with His Holy Spirit, and so unite us in love and peace and guide our learning.”
Further, the homilist recalled the words of Jesus to his disciples: “The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. These words of Jesus will also be a reminder for us that the Holy Spirit will always teach us many things that He will always be there for us to guide us. Thus, the Holy Spirit never leads anyone away from the truth.”
The mission of the gifted
Despite the darkness that looms in our society today, the CECM Director said that we still receive gifts of the Holy Spirit, but reminded that “each of us who accepts Jesus as Lord is challenged to share the faith. We follow the call of Pope Francis: that we are to be missionary disciples, that we are to be evangelizing disciples.
“Today, my dear brothers and sisters, we are facing different kinds of challenges in our life. Our life as educators is to be harbingers of truth and as proclaimers of the good news of the Lord. Let us not forget that the Holy Spirit empowers and transform us,” he adds.
Boldness, compassion and joy
To remain steadfast in our calling as evangelizers in this turbulent times, the SJCBI alumnus emphasized three gifts that “we must have in us such as boldness or courage, compassion and joy. All of these are the expressions of the outpouring, anointing and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are empowering spiritual gifts given to the baptized and confirmed for the building of the body of Christ, the Church.”
“Boldness or courage: we can see that after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The apostles were given the courage and boldness to preach the good news and stand for the truth. Today my dear brothers and sister, we are being challenged to show the similar gift of courage or boldness borne of confidence in Christ. We cannot be lukewarm, but must be on fire with the Spirit,” stated the priest.
Moreover, Fr. Butacan explains the need for compassion that “to be an evangelizing witness of God is to freely extend the merciful hand of God to other people as we already received the bounty of God’s forgiveness. Let us bear in mind that in mercy, the gift of piety is above all manifest as the tangible manner in which Christ’s faithful and tender love reaches out through his disciples.”
It is in the context of these dreadful days that the preacher underlined the gift of joy: “to be an evangelizing witness of God happiness will always be our goal in life. We work hard, we sacrifice a lot and we feel fulfilled in our work. Our joy is rooted in the fact that God has looked on us and shown us great mercy. May the mercy and compassion we show to others be a manifestation of our joy.”
Concelebrating with Rev. Fr. Gerard Ariston Perez and Rev. Fr. Leifmark Butacan is College Chaplain Rev. Fr. Brien Mark Catabay, assisted by Rev. Deacon Christian Dave Remudaro, Sem. Aristotle Maggay, Sem. Jesly Lagua and Bro. Salvador Castillo.