By Mary Ann Deduque
With the theme “In Praise of God’s Merciful Kindness,” the Missionaries of the Poor (MOP) Naga marked its 25th year of serving the homeless, abandoned, neglected, and destitute of Naga City from September 22 to 28, 2018.
On Saturday, September 22, MOP offered free medical & dental consultation, services, and medicine through a Medical and Dental Mission held at Nazareth School. A team of medical doctors, dentists, nurses, and other volunteers from Naga, Manila, Cebu, and Australia, assisted by the MOP Brothers and staff, tirelessly attended to the health concerns of all who came from 8am to 4pm on that day.
The first-ever Grand Alumni Homecoming of the Nazareth Pre-school followed on Sunday, September 23. At 7am, a motorcade of Nazareth Pre-school’s former students and current parents made its way around Naga City. Mass officiated by Fr. Lawrence Mendoza, MOP, Director of the school and MOP Regional Superior for the Far East Mission, followed at 10am. Dinner and dancing in the evening was the highlight of the event. Alumni and parents gathered together to reminisce the events of the past twenty-four (24) years since this school began operation.
On Monday, September 24, the residents of the Divine Mercy Apostolate, pupils of Nazareth School, faculty and staff, MOP Brothers, and visitors from Manila, Cebu, and Australia were feted to a day-long MOP Festival and Sportsfest at the Heart of Mercy Monastery Grounds. It began with a parade. A program that showcased the talents of all groups, ending with the singing of the Jubilee Song and the symbolic releasing of doves followed. Packed lunch was served after this. In the afternoon, the residents and children had games, prizes, and various treats. Volunteers in food stalls then distributed ice cream, “taho,” hotdog on sticks, rice cakes, cotton candy, and French fries to everyone.
In solemn and beautiful rites, twenty-five (25) couples received the Sacrament of Matrimony on Tuesday, September 25 at the Divine Mercy Apostolate Chapel. This mass wedding, which began at 3pm, was officiated by ¬¬¬¬Fr. Lawrence Mendoza, MOP. Reception followed at Nazareth School.
No less solemn and beautiful were the Blessing of the Christ the Redeemer Silver Jubilee Bell & Belfry and the Profession of Vows of Bros. Patrick P. Becher, Joni Widodo G. Sarmento Fario, and Emmanuel Papu, MOP on September 26, Wednesday at 10am. This was celebrated by the Most Rev. Jose R. Rojas Jr., D.D., Bishop of Libmanan, at the Christ the Redeemer Church.
On Thursday, September 27, 2018, MOP awarded 106 individuals with special plaques of recognition for their “benevolence, generosity, and continuous giving of support to the mission houses and ministries of the MOP.” These formal ceremonies with dinner was held in Hall C of the ALDP Commercial Complex. It was graced by Hon. John Bongat, Mayor of Naga City, Hon. Gabriel H. Bordado, Jr., Congressman of the 3rd District, and the Most Rev. Rolando Octavus J. Tirona, O.C.D., D.D., Archbishop of Caceres, who gave the keynote address.
Capping the week-long celebration was the MOP 25th Anniversary Thanksgiving Mass at 530pm on Friday, September 28, 2018 at the Heart of Mercy Monastery. The Most Rev. Rolando Octavus J. Tirona, O.C.D., D.D. was Celebrant and Preacher of this mass that brought together more than a thousand people from all walks of life to MOP. They came to heed Arbp. Tirona’s invitation to “remember how far God had brought the work of MOP among the poor here in Naga, rejoice over God’s redemptive work in the lives of the poor through the MOP Brothers and their partners, and renew their faith in the Holy Trinity and their commitment to follow Jesus as His disciples.” After the mass, dinner and a program that lasted until midnight continued to bind all the people who came to celebrate MOP’s Silver Jubilee.
As the weeklong celebration wound down, Fr. Lawrence said: “Like our Blessed Mother – our Ina – I can only exclaim: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.’ As a Community, we now look forward to the future with hope as we pray to grow even more from strength to strength.’”