The incorrupt heart relic of St. Camillus
The incorrupt heart relic of St. Camillus of Lellis visited our Diocese of Kalookan; the second time that the Relic visited the Philippines, the first was in 2013. St. Camillus is the patron saint of the sick, doctors, nurses, health workers and hospitals. I thank God and St. Camillus for giving me the rare opportunity to kiss the Relic twice: first when we welcomed the Relic at Sto. Niño de Pasion in Daanghari, Navotas City and second, when we accompanied the Relic to its next destination, St. Andrew Cathedral in Parañaque. For making this possible, I sincerely thank Fr. Dan Vicente Cancino, MI, Executive Secretary-Director of the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Health Care, Fr. John Paul Alvarado, MI, Executive Director of Camillian Philanthropic & Health Development Office of St. Camillus Pastoral Care Center, and Fr. James Anthony Del Rosario, Quasi Parish Priest of Sto. Niño de Pasion.
In his Homily in the Farewell Mass at San Roque Cathedral, Bishop Pablo Virgilio “Ambo” David, D.D., Bishop of Kalookan, compared St. Camillus to San Roque, the patron saint of the Diocese. St. Camillus cared and treated the sick as “living images of Christ” and considered serving the sick as serving God. Thus, he was bestowed with the gifts of healing and prophecy. During the period of pestilence in his community, San Roque did not leave those who were afflicted and sick; he cared for them until he himself got sick.
Bishop Ambo challenged the Camillian fathers to do their apostolate and share their 4th charism in the Diocese of Kalookan. The Diocese has been looking after the surviving families and relatives of EJK victims. They are suffering not only from physical sickness but spiritual and depression as well. He said, the Diocese badly needs a person who could direct and supervise the several projects it had opened to care for them: Task Force Salubong (a community-based rehabilitation program of persons with substance use disorder), Children Scholarship, Orphans’ Fund, Widows’ Fund, Sanctuary Program and the Mission Stations in the different parts of the Diocese’s three cities of Caloocan, Malabon and Navotas, bringing the Church and caring for those in the peripheries not only of society but also of the Church. On our way to the next destination of the Relic of St. Camillus, I asked Fr. Dan to say YES to the challenge of Bishop Ambo. We hope and pray that their Superior will agree.
St. Camillus was born in 1550 in Chietti, Italy; he died in 1614, and was canonized by Pope Benedict XIV in 1746. He was the founder of Order of Clerks Regular Ministers to the Sick. The Heart Relic is from Saint Camillus’ major shrine, the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Rome, Italy, where he was buried.
I thank the Lord for the gift of life, the gift of family and the gift of faith. It was an unexpected surprise that Pope Benedict XVI appointed me as a Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (for the Church and for the Pope) Awardee 11 years ago, on May 3, 2008. As such, it made me a member of the Papal Household. All the while, I have the impression that only rich people can become Papal Awardees because of the donations they give to the Church. I was proven wrong; years of commitment and service to the Church were the most important criteria to be appointed by the Pope. On the occasion of my birth, I thank the Lord for all the blessings. I renew my commitment to serve the Church and its community. I pray that He would continue to give me good health and more years to serve Him, always, Fiat… Thy will be done.
I will not be who I am had the Lord not given me, rather, lent me life. I will not be who I am were it not for my family, especially my parents Benito Sr. and Gloria Santiago. They raised all of us, their 7 children (we would have been 8 but Deborah was still-born), to be good children to them and be faithful members of the Catholic Church. We are now all professionals and actively serving the Church and the community.
In the early years of our life, both my parents were hands on in teaching us the basic rules of life. They taught us how to read and write; how to tell the time from the calendar and the wall clock; how to distinguish different colors and sizes; how to determine the five senses of the body – sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell; taught us the value of these senses in our relationship with our family, relatives, friends and acquaintances. They also taught us about our Catholic religion. They told us that we were born Catholic and we will pass on as Catholic. They taught us the Scripture: that God created the earth in 7 days; the disobedience of Adam and Eve; the enviousness and hatred of Cain that led him to kill his brother Abel; the faith and belief of Noah that saved his family from the great flood; the obedience of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Joseph; the public ministry of Jesus Christ and the proclamation of the coming of the Kingdom of God; the many miracles performed by Jesus, his sufferings and death in order to save us from our sins and to redeem the world; Jesus’ glorious resurrection which gives hope to us.
We spent our childhood days in the province, in Hagonoy, Bulacan. My maternal grandmother whom we called Inang Donie (Dionisia Angeles). She told us that we must learn how to pray the rosary so that we could accompany her in the Block Rosary in the neighborhood. Either they prayed in Tagalog but we would complain when they prayed the Hail Mary in Latin “Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, Benedicta…” (Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed…) ending with “Ave Maria Purisima sin pecado concebida” (Hail purest Mary, conceived without sin). During our childhood, the best part of the Block Rosary was eating the lugaw (congee), sopas (elbow macaroni soup) with either ensaymada (bread topped with sugar, butter and cheese) or puto (a kind of rice cake).
After classes in school, we played with our cousins and neighbors. The strict rule: once we heard the ringing of the church bells of our Sta. Ana Parish Church, built by Agustinian priests more than 400 years ago and now a National Shrine, we must run home and pray the Angelus with our family. Inang Donie would always tell us that anything we asked for in deep prayers will be granted because Apo Ana, our patron saint, will ask her daughter Mary and grandson Jesus, to grant our prayers.
After praying the Oracion (how we called the Angelus), my mother would clean us, washed our feet in a basin of warm water and we would giggle afterwards and checked whose feet are dirtiest depending on the dirty water in the basin.