Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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WSU Newman Center students use summer break for Philippine mission ‘adventure’
by Msgr. Kevin Codd, for the Inland Register
(From the July 18, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)
Karina Silva of Othello, Wash., visits a family in one of the shanty neighborhoods of Tondo, Manila.
Seven Washington State University students, members of the St. Thomas More Newman Center, undertook a remarkable adventure in the Philippines; they gave up the first two weeks of their summer vacation so that they might experience their Catholic faith with a Filipino accent.
Accompanied by Msgr. Kevin Codd, their pastor and organizer of the mission experience, the seven Catholic Cougs spent one week in Manila, guests of Immaculate Conception Parish in the underprivileged neighborhood of Tondo. There they took part in the parish’s month-long Flores de Mayo program, the local version of Vacation Bible School, in which several hundred small children were catechized with stories, songs, and activities.
They also spent a morning each assisting the Missionaries of Charity, the Religious congregation founded by Blessed Mother Teresa, in their asylums for abandoned elderly and abandoned children. They spent one morning being welcomed into the small and dark shanty homes of several families living on the edge of destitution; the families there shared openly about their struggles to survive with few resources, some families living on just a few dollars a month.
Among many other activities during their busy week in Manila, they participated as foreign observers in the national elections that took place during their visit, were honored as reinas and escorts in the annual “Santa Cruzan” festival that commemorates Queen Helena’s discovery of the True Cross in Jerusalem.
The Pullman students spent time with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila.
One of the highlights of the week in Manila was the opportunity to meet Cardinal Antonio Luis Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, who warmly welcomed them to the archdiocese and offered them his blessing.
The group’s second week in the Philippines was spent in the rural province of Sorsogon, where the students were hosted by the bishop and priests of the Diocese of Sorsogon. After the hectic days in Manila, the more tranquil rural environment of rice fields and coconut plantations surrounded by sea was a pleasant relief.
Among other activities, the group spent a full day painting tables and chairs for the children of the parish elementary school in the town of Bulan. The following day, Sunday morning, they attended Mass in the remote village of Buena Vista and afterward enjoyed a lengthy conversation with the local youth of the parish in which they shared their varied experiences of their Catholic faith in very different worlds.
All of the travelers were deeply impressed by the warm welcome they received at every stop along their way, by the wonderful food offered them, and by the richness of the Catholic culture and zeal of the Filipino young people for their faith. One member of the troop commented just before leaving Manila to return to Washington State: “The example of the young Catholic people here has moved me to reevaluate my own faith and I promise to be much more active and committed in the years to come!”
Those participating in what one called “the journey of a lifetime” were Michael Johnson, (Issaquah, Wash.), Nick LaFrazia (Milwaukee, Ore.), Julissa Anguiano (Snohomish, Wash.), Jonathon and Matthew Waldrip (Joyce, Wash.), Karina Silva (Othello, Wash.), and Ethan Roemeling (Juneau, Alaska).
(IR photos courtesy of Msgr. Kevin Codd)
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