Written by: Bernadette Springer
On February 4, I attended a Lenten Retreat organized by the Caribbean Catholics of North America, Inc. (CCNA), an organization set up in response to the call for “Welcoming the Stranger “ by the USCCB. This Retreat is one of the CCNA’s annual events to help support the spiritual growth of Caribbean Catholics and Catholics of Caribbean descent residing in the United States.
The Retreat was held at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Silver Spring, Maryland under the theme, “Merciful like the Father,” and was directed by Rev. Collin Anthony Henriques from Jamaica.
Father Henriques emphasized forgiveness and the need to empathize with people whom we are likely to judge. We were urged to engage people and listen to their story before we cast judgment, so that we can understand their behavior and be more compassionate and forgiving. During one exercise, Father Henriques had each one of us hold a Crucifix and meditate on the love and compassion of God through the offering of His Son, Jesus, even when we did not deserve it.
I found the Retreat to be a very useful experience because one of my Lenten resolutions was to forgive someone whom I had a difficulty in forgiving; after the Retreat I felt more courageous and strengthened in my resolve to forgive. I have been able to forgive the individual and every time negative thoughts come up, I picture the Crucifix and remember God’s compassion and mercy to me for all the times I offend him.
This helped me enter the Easter season with tremendous joy and peace.
This past Saturday, April 2, the diocesan Filipino-American community came together at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Vienna to celebrate the Feast Day of San (Saint) Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino Catholic martyr. San Pedro Calungsod was killed as a teenager while doing missionary work in Guam and is now known as the Patron Saint of Filipino youth, altar boys, the Philippines and overseas Filipino workers. San Pedro Calungsod was beatified on March 5, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.
The Principal Celebrant of the Mass in honor of San Pedro Calungsod was Reverend Ramel O. Portula, CICM, and other celebrants included Rev. William J. Metzger, OSFS, and Rev. John Dolan, OSFS. The Serenata Choir from the Our Lady of Good Counsel Filipino-American Ministry sang joyously at the Mass, in their native language of Tagalog.
Our Lady of Good Counsel recently installed an icon of San Pedro Calungsod in their middle
school. Ms Robin Williams, a middle school Religion Teacher at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic School, shared the impact that the San Pedro Calungsod icon has had on her, personally, “What an inspiration it has been to have the icon of San Pedro in our middle school Religion classroom. The OLGC students relate to San Pedro because of his youthfulness. San Pedro’s stoic actions of ‘teaching the Faith in the midst of hostility’ give our youth courage to do the same. Even though they are not being asked to lay down their lives, they sometimes have to lay down their wills to each the Gospel message. San Pedro is a daily reminder for our students to LIVE JESUS in all the things they say an do. We have been blessed to house the beautiful icon of San Pedro this past year and thank all those who have allowed us the opportunity to come to know San Pedro on a more intimate level.”
The Feast Day of San Pedro Calungsod is on April 2 of every year. Join us next year in celebration of his devout faith and Filipino heritage!