Recognizing Christ in the Children

Fr. Eduardo Emilio Aguero, scj

On a Saturday morning, I went to visit my brother priests, Fr. John Karl Cabaluna, scj and Fr. Rechie Guier, scj. They are the pastors in our parish of the Immaculate Conception in Aluba, Cagayan de Oro City.

As I was about to leave, I noticed a group of women outside the church. They were wearing blue uniforms and told me they were preparing to go feed some children on the city outskirts. They were very happy when I told them that I would be glad to accompany them and interview them about their activity.

Upon reaching a place where there was a chapel, they rang the bell and the children began to pour in. The women had brought bread and cooked some noodles with chicken meat. I approached the ones whom I knew; two pious women: Mrs Virginia Santillan, 82 years old, and Mrs. Dawn Florendo, 75 years old.

This was our conversation:

Fr Eduardo: What moves you to do this kind of service for the children?

Mrs. Virginia Santillan: Earlier, I was a lector in our Church. Later, I also conducted seminars for couples preparing for marriage. I also served in the Pre-Baptism ministry preparing people for baptism. I have served the church for many years in different ministries. I am happy serving the Lord; I can see Jesus in these children.

Fr. Eduardo: What are the women of your organization doing here today?

Mrs. Virginia Santillan: We are here reaching out to these poor children and elderly to show them our concern and love. This is part of the trust of our organization. The Catholic Women’s League (CWL). We are feeding more than 50 children and some old folks.

Mrs. Dawn Florendo: I became a member of CWL when I was still in my thirties. I really enjoy this outreach activity. Sometimes, we also do some medical outreach. We went to many faraway places. This is the mission of the Church and it fills me with joy. I have five children.

Fr. Eduardo: What about you Ma’am Virginia?

Mrs. Virginia Santillan: I have eight children, and we are very happy doing this service! My children are very supportive. Wherever I need to go, they will drive me there. In the afternoon, one of my sons will take me to another parish where we have to deliver a formation talk.

Fr. Eduardo: What is the situation of these children here?

Mrs. Virginia Santillan: Most of their fathers are construction workers. They are very poor and do not always have work. Others come here from the countryside looking for some job opportunities. Many children are malnourished. Fortunately, the parishioners of this chapel are also involved in this feeding program. The leaders of this community are very religious and are very much involved in helping the poor children and the elderly.

Following this conversation, they asked me to lead the prayer and bless their food. It filled my heart with joy to see these women interact with the local leaders of the chapel to serve the poor. I thank the Lord for this opportunity I had to witness once again the beauty of our Catholic Church.