The Southern Cross



Bishop Joins Filipino Catholics to Celebrate San Lorenzo Ruiz

By Denis Grasska

RANCHO PENASQUITOS — With a procession and Mass, the Diocese of San Diego marked the feast day of the Catholic Church’s first Filipino saint.

San Lorenzo Ruiz, a Filipino Catholic missionary, was martyred in 17th-century Japan. The annual diocesan observance of his feast day was celebrated Sept. 10 at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Rancho Penasquitos.

Bishop Robert W. McElroy presided at the Mass with Archbishop John Du of Palo, Philippines, and Father Ignatius Kipchirchir, associate pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish.

An estimated 750 people attended the Mass and about 600 were present at the fiesta that followed.

“As with any significant event in the life of Filipinos, San Lorenzo Ruiz’s canonization in 1987 — the first Filipino saint — was cause for prayers, and fellowship, and pride,” said Charlotte Fajardo, chair of the Diocesan Commission for Filipino Catholics, which advises the diocesan Office for Cultural Diversity on matters pertaining to pastoral ministry for Filipino Catholics in the diocese.

Vice Chair Art Teodosio and Treasurer Athena Besa told The Southern Cross that, within a year of the canonization, the commission had organized a plan for sharing the story of San Lorenzo Ruiz with novenas in the parishes, culminating with a diocesan-sponsored fiesta. It has become an annual tradition.

“As the first canonized saint of the Philippines, San Lorenzo gives such great hope for Filipinos,” said Roland Santos, secretary of the Diocesan Commission for Filipino Catholics. “Probably the biggest reason for such intense devotion to him is his willingness to give everything, even his own life, to the Lord.”

In his homily, Bishop McElroy compared the life of San Lorenzo to that of the Church’s newest saint, Teresa of Calcutta, who had been canonized only six days earlier.

Though some might say Mother Teresa discovered her vocation when she became a Sister of Loreto and ministered as a teacher at a convent school in India, the bishop said, it would be more accurate to say that she found her true vocation only when she answered God’s call to found the Missionaries of Charity and to use her talents in service to the poorest of the poor.

Similarly, San Lorenzo seemed to be already living his vocation as a husband and father, the bishop said. But, “in a deeper way, his vocation came in the midst of that life” with the call to be a missionary and a martyr.

Unlike San Lorenzo Ruiz, Bishop McElroy said, “Neither you nor I will be called to be martyrs for our faith.” Unlike Mother Teresa, he added, “Neither you nor I are going to found worldwide religious orders.”

But we all have a common vocation: to use the gifts God has given us to make this world a better place through our presence in it.

“As we celebrate San Lorenzo ... let us remember that, in certain ways, we are not so different from him,” Bishop McElroy said, “because we too are called in our daily lives, in our ordinary lives, to listen to that soft, gentle voice of God, which is saying to us ... ‘I’ve got a mission for you at this juncture in your life. I want you, in a particular way, to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.’”

The Southern Cross

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