On the first day of its Eucharistic Days of Mercy, Lay, Religious, and Clergy flocked to the La Mesa Ecopark before the first rays of dawn on June 11, 2016 for “Laudato Si‘, Mi Signore”, an Eco-Eucharistic Celebration with Solemn Blessing of the La Mesa Dam and Tree Planting in celebration of the 75th Birthday of the Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D. and in echoing the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in the Diocese of Novaliches.
The Faithful of Novaliches, out of love for their Bishop, walked with candles and flashlights at four in the morning for almost a kilometer from the Ruby Parking Gate of La Mesa Ecopark to the Administration Building–where the salubong of the Our Lady of Mercy and Divine Mercy took place–to the Petron Ampitheatre where the Dawn Mass presided by the Most Rev. Antonio R. Tobias, D.D. was held.
During the Eco-Eucharistic Celebration, Rev. Fr. Dexter Toledo, OFM explained Pope Francis Encyclical “Laudato Si” to the more than 500 members of the Laity, Religious, and Clergy of the Diocese of Novaliches who gathered for the the first time in La Mesa Ecopark‘s open ampitheatre. He emphasized three important things to make the encyclical easy to remember: contemplation, community, and compassion.
He said “contemplation” is a call to revere once more in awe God’s creation which we should treat with utmost regard for it is made with Love. This is why, he gave as example, St. Francis of Assisi would often call and respect everything God made as “brother” or “sister”. With contemplation, we are able to have a sense of “community” or oneness with nature, which bears forth “compassion”. True compassion, he expounded, should not be limited to pets and nature, but to the highest of God’s creation: man–that is our friends, family, kasambahay, neighbors, and everyone we deal with. When we have compassion, we are able to practice the teachings of the Catholic Church on Social Justice.
Before the end of the Dawn Mass, Vicar General for Administration Msgr. Jesus Romulo Rañada thanked everyone for coming and gave a rundown of activities for the rest of the day and for the entire Eucharistic Days of Mercy. The Bishop was then greeted by the assembly in a song for his birthday complete with a cake and balloon lighted with a sparkler.
Then the images of the Our Lady of Mercy and the Divine Mercy were blessed by the Bishop before he and the rest of the Clergy and Religious Men went to La Mesa Treatment Facilities 1 & 2 for the Solemn Blessing of La Mesa Dam.
After the Blessing, the Bishop and his companions gathered for breakfast in Manila Water’s Function Hall. The Engineers of Manila Water Company thanked everyone for their visit and invited everyone to a simple oath taking to be Water Warriors of La Mesa Dam. They also gave an orientation on how the Tree Planting should be done.
Immediately afterward, Vicar General for Administration Msgr. Jesus Romulo Rañada lead a short prayer for the dedication of the seedlings that will be planted in the forest within the La Mesa Ecopark. Everyone then proceeded to said area for the actual tree planting. Each parish, 68 in total, was assigned a seedling to plant and were given name tags to put near their seedling after its implantation. A total of 75 seedlings were planted coinciding with the age of the Bishop.
The Eucharistic Days of Mercy will end on Monday, June 13, where a whole day Symposium will be conducted on God’s Mercy, the Eucharist, and the Priesthood by expert speakers like St. Vincent School of Theology’s (SVST) Rev. Fr. Danny Pilaro, CM; Loyola School of Theology‘s Rev. Fr. James Kroeger, MM; San Sebastian College-Recolletos‘ Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Cruz, SThD; and the Diocese of Pasig‘s Most Rev. Hubert Mylo Vergara, D.D.
The Symposium will take the place of the Clergy’s Annual Retreat supposed to be scheduled on June 14-16, 2016. A Holy Mass and Dinner Reception follows the Symposium on Monday, Feast of St. Anthony De Padua and actual birth date of the Bishop. (~Minnie De Luna)