By: Sr. Emie Dolina –
“Wala na ba tayong party?” This was the lament of Msgr. Salvador Jose, seeing the sadness in his eyes, as I handed to him the Shrine of Jesus’ Christmas package from Msgr. Roberto C. Canlas and the FREPS (Friends of the Retired and Elderly Priests).
Through the years during Christmas season, Msgr. Bobby Canlas, Rector of the Archdiocesan Shrine of Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, would organize and invite the retired and elderly priests to the Shrine of Jesus for their traditional Eucharistic celebration, agape and bonding. The get-together is Msgr. Bobby’s way of expressing his love and gratitude to the priests for dedicating their lives in faithful service to God and His Church. Our retired and elderly priests always look forward to this event each year and, together with the FREPS, the occasion is truly always happy, fulfilling, and meaningful.
Though truly disheartening not to be able to celebrate the annual occasion this year due to our present situation because of COVID-19, Msgr. Bobby, despite the scare of the pandemic and the restrictions that go with it, find ways to continue the gift-giving tradition and, together with the FREPS, packed Christmas treats as early as November for delivery to the retired and elderly priests. And since the joy of Christmas cannot be put on hold, gift giving will continue minus the gathering. 55 Christmas packages were delivered to the priests within NCR and far-flung areas like Sorsogon and Cagayan.
Our priests deserve our continuing love and care, especially those who are now in the sunset of their lives, as they continue their journey through life, for their untiring care and guidance and as a way of thanksgiving to them.
And as I bid Msgr. Jose good day, I told him “tuloy na tuloy pa din po ang Pasko”, and he smiled with glitter in his eyes.
The priests who received the Christmas packages expressed their thanks and gratitude to Msgr. Bobby for still remembering them in this time of pandemic.