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Poor give ‘generous example’ on St. Josemaria feast

Poor give ‘generous example’ on St. Josemaria feast

The faithful gathered at the San Sebastian Cathedral, Bacolod City for a holy Mass on the feast of St. Josemaria Escriva. Thousands of devotees all over the world honored the saint who promoted the “ordinary life” as a means to holiness, June 23, 2018. GREG CRISOSTOMO

By Fr. Mickey Cardenas

July 3, 2018


A moving story that transpired in this city during the celebration of the feast of St. Josemaria Escriva demonstrated that everyone, including “ordinary people”: married or single; sick or well; young or old; rich or poor, can respond to God’s call to holiness and play an active role in the apostolic mission of the Church.

A beggar and a donation envelope

School teacher Gelkoff “Jeff” Calmerin, a devotee of St. Josemaria, volunteered to distribute Mass booklets to the faithful as they entered San Sebastian Cathedral for the Eucharistic celebration to be presided over by Bishop Patricio Buzon at 9:00 a.m. on June 23.

Aside from prayers for the Mass, each booklet contained a devotional prayer card to St. Josemaria and an empty envelope for voluntary contributions to support the social projects promoted by the faithful of Opus Dei in Negros Occidental.

“While I was distributing the booklets,” Calmerin related, “I handed one to somebody whom I eventually recognized as one of the beggars in the Cathedral. So, I suddenly thought of retracting it because I felt embarrassed, considering the man’s situation, if he might find inside an envelope asking him for a donation.”

Not about donations

“But a thought also came to mind,” the school teacher admitted, “that it’s not just about the donations but also spreading the message of the universal call to holiness and the apostolate. So I gave him the booklet.”

“Since I was at the front door of the Cathedral, the other beggars noticed it. They also asked for booklets.

“Free of any hesitation,” he continued, “I gave them the booklets thinking that somehow, the message of St. Josemaria would also spread among them. So, I continued distributing.”

‘Tears of joy’

“After a few moments, a beggar approached me carrying a donation envelope. I thought that she might have noticed that it had no money and that she came back to ask money from me,” he recalled.

“I was about to get my wallet to give her alms when suddenly she handed me an envelope which contained a few coins inside. I realized that I just received a donation from this woman. I was so moved. Then, after a few moments, I received another envelope, then another, all from the beggars.”

“Then, the inspiring words of St. John Paul II dawned on me: ‘Nobody is so poor he has nothing to give, and nobody is so rich he has nothing to receive,’” shared Calmerin.

According to him, his experienced that day moved him and his friends “to tears of joy” and made them realize that all are truly called to be saints.