Well my morning at the Cathedral in Baguio didn't turn out quite as I expected. While I was told I'd be preaching, and indeed the readings were sent to me, when I reached the Cathedral this morning the Dean told me that the third Sunday of each month is when the retired clergy take the service at 9:30. He told me he hadn't had the opportunity to talk to the person set to preach for that day, but was going to find him (he didn't know who was selected that day) and ask him to allow me the opportunity to preach to the congregation.
Right before the service started the Dean asked me to join him in his office. He told me that the retired priest was not willing to give up his preaching spot for me. I gracefully said that I understood and told Ada Wong Nagata who is traveling with me about the situation. I also told Fe, the wonderful woman on Bishop Pachao's staff who coordinated our trip what had happened.
As the service started, even though I was neither celebrant nor preacher, I was escorted to the Cathedra.
Well, the retired priest who preached is blind and walks with a cane. He was seated next to me after he preached and talked with me a bit about his blindness.
At the time of the Liturgy of the Table, Ada and I were asked to go up to the table to concelebrate. Another retired priest from Maine presided at the Eucharist. I was then asked to distribute communion. What a great joy that was! The Cathedral was packed! There must have been 90 young children lined up to receive communion! Ada later found out that there are between 90 and 100 children enrolled in the Sunday School.
At the end of the service I was asked to say some words to the congregation and to offer the closing blessing. I spoke briefly to those gathered, but quickly shared about my encounter with the border patrol agent and especially when he said those now famous words to me: "Ma'am, it's just not right to leave Jesus In the Parking lot." I told those gathered that God knows no borders and that God's love and grace breaks through any border. At any rate, they clapped for me when I was done. I said a bit more, but the message was very brief.
I met the mayor of Baguio who is also the Chancellor of the diocese.
Here we are! With the Mayor standing to next to Bishop Zabala, with Ada Nagata on the other side of Bishop Zabala. Bishop Zabala then said to me that my brief words were very powerful. That meant so much to me coming from him.
I then had lunch with the Dean, his wife and the Cathedral Board. The building we were in is part of the Cathedral complex, and it houses a restaurant as well as a dormitory for University students. The building was built due to the generosity of a UTO grant.
Lots of talk during lunch about multicultural ministry. People shared some of their experiences in TEC when they lived in the United States and we talked about how to make the church around the world more welcoming to all.
After lunch I was given a tour of the dormitory. What a great ministry! Afterwards, we visited the convent on the Cathedral Grounds and spoke briefly to the sister working in the garden. She was harvesting what looked like chard to feed her rabbits. Her garden was incredible!
I wonder when and if I ever have the chance to return to Baguio what I will find when I go to the Cathedral?
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Location:Baguio City, Philippines