April 13, 2024

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all the people shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. (Isaiah 40: 1-5)
The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any would perish but that all should come to repentance. (Peter 3:2)
John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. I have baptized you with water, he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1: 1-8)
After the long walk from Barangay Tocucan, Bontoc, Mountain Province, we reached St. Catherine of Siena Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC). We were welcomed by children with their gong beating and little girls dancing around.
Since we arrived at noon, the people were already eating lunch which was a good decision. After meal, we rested before we started the Holy Eucharist integrating the Rite of Baptism.
Ten children were baptized on Dec. 10, 2023 at St. Catherine of Siena Chapel, Chapyusen, Can-eo, Bontoc, Mountain Province.
My homily revolved around three topics with the acronym SMB, which stands for simbaan, misyon, ken bunyag.
Caneo, Chapyusen, and Betwagan(in Sadanga, Mountain Province) were the communities with 100 percent Catholic before. I asked if Chapyusen is still 100 percent Catholic and they answered no. Other religious denominations have entered the community already.
Anyway, the more important thing is we collaborate as churches for the good of the community. But if other sects will bring chaos and division, then we have to rectify through ecumenism.
Here is an excerpt of my homily:
In baptism, we are incorporated to the church and it is in baptism we are cleansed from the original sin but we must be vigilant since there are baptisms that are not valid. It is in baptism that we will have rights and responsibilities in the church. It is in baptism that we become the children and church of Christ.
Our mission here as a church is to listen to the word of God and to act it out in our communities. I keep on reiterating even if you will hate me for this, gambling will never do good to yourself, your family, and the community. As Catholics in this sitio, we must stand firm in our faith and unite to overcome gambling.
We are strongly opposing gambling in the communities but we must also look into what alternative activities we can collaborate to help one another.
The Couples for Christ (CFC) in 2019 started to encourage the community to fix the front yard of the church for activities. They were successful. Now, they are encouraging the community again to collaborate for the paving of the ground and putting of screen fence for the basketball court. Some women remarked:It’s difficult because our gentlemen are all busy looking for jobs.
I tried to encourage them though to think again and with the hope that in 2024, they will collaborate for the good of the community.
We need alternative activities to replace gambling. If gambling becomes a lifestyle and culture, it will be difficult to correct.
Thank you to St. Catherine of Siena BEC for the lunch. I asked them, “How were you able to slaughter a pig for the community lunch?” They smiled, “We contributed. Every family donated something.” Wow was my reply and it’s a good sign of maturing BEC.
The parents of the newly-baptized promised to prepare for the mass wedding in April 2024.
I extend gratitude too to the CFC, especially Bro. Franklin Castañeda and wife, Freda and Virgie Afidchao Manuel for the pandesal, Bro. Felix Falag-ey and wife Mary, the giftpacks from Stela Chumacog, and to Tomasa Longbabe for preparing the candidates and their parents.

Happy Birthday to Fr. Benedict Castañeda Dec. 16 and Fr. Andrew Claver on Dec. 17. God bless.

Please support Marcsongs: Lagsak Nan Paskua Christmas concert on Dec. 23 at Bontoc Central School at 6 p.m. The proceeds will benefit Chatol, Barlig and Betwagan.
Reach Stela Chumacog at 0919-826-2222 and Shyla Mogigi at 0910-486-2615. Thank you!