“The people are so grateful to have their own parish church and two resident priests that their joy spills over into gracious hospitality.”
-Fr. Bernie Rosinski
Fr. Bernie Rosinski, SCJ, is back in the Philippines, teaching ESL as he did two years ago. He is periodically posting reflections during his time there; this was written on April 7:
Hospitality is frequently touted as a virtue that Christians should exercise. After all, the letters of Sts. Paul and Peter emphatically recommend it to their early Christian readers. However, those who are actually recipients of such hospitality know just how welcome it is, particularly when one is a stranger in a strange land and subject to all kinds of stresses and anxieties.
I was once again just such a hospitality recipient. This time the hospitality was not exercised by a large community of SCJ religious in a formation house where emphasis is placed on this virtue as part of the seminary training. Instead, it was exercised by a small, poor parish community run by two SCJ religious: San Roque Parish in the Diocese of Novaliches (a suburb of Manila) and found in Caloocan City. The parish was newly carved out two years ago in the midst of a squatters’ quarter. The people, however, are so grateful to have their own parish church and two resident priests that their joy spills over into gracious hospitality.
The entire seminary community and staff were invited over from Quezon City, about an hour’s drive through metropolitan traffic congestion, to Caloocan City. We traveled in two conveyances, an SUV and a minibus nicely decorated with an SCJ logo. We were greeted by Frs. Nonong and Patrick, pastor and associate respectively, who made us feel very welcome as did the parishioners and neighbors who filled the narrow roadway onto the property upon our arrival.
Fr. Nonong invited us to his small office where he turned on a window air-conditioner (“aircon” as the Filipinos call it). The unit had been purchased only the day before and was not yet properly installed in the office window. It took the parishioners two years to save up enough money to make the purchase. The cool air was intended to make us feel comfortable and welcome, all part of hospitality.
The invitees spent about an hour visiting the parish church and its features, which included ‘Year of Faith’ banners proudly displayed and a statue of the Risen Christ triumphant. While we meandered about as some parishioners prepared two tables for our repast: pork, chicken, fish and an assortment of fruits and vegetables. Sprite, Coke, San Miguel beer, and water were there to quench our thirst. Like their American counterparts in summer, Filipinos make year round use of outdoor charcoal broilers. Here it is a matter of necessity as natural gas for cooking is unavailable in this area and electricity is at a premium.
Departing, we encountered some difficulty in leaving because a motorized tricycle was parked across from the narrow entrance to the parish grounds. Neither SUV nor minibus had space enough to exit. To make matters worse, the owner was not present and the unit was locked. It was siesta time. Some attentive neighbors assisted in moving the conveyance out of the way by brute force and all the invited guests managed to get home safely.