The calendar

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Thursday, January 9, 2014


WHY would a priest come up with a personal calendar, one that shows pictures of some of his foreign travels? Why not?

This isn't the first time Msgr. Roberto Alesna came out with a personal calendar. The one last year showed photos of him with past popes. This year, it's pictures of his travels to Thailand, Jerusalem, Egypt and Rome.

Only this time, someone brought the calendar to media's attention.

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If some people can saturate their Facebook walls and Instagrams with their selfies, why can't Msgr. Alesna use a calendar to post his selfies? It's only four selfies, one for each quarter of the year. That's way too few by the standards of some selfie junkies.

Besides, his calendar provides us with useful information such as the dates, church feasts, Bible readings for the day, and tidal and lunar movements.

We can't say the same of those FB and Instagram selfies. But true to selfies, Msgr. Alesna has quotes too. He picks quotes from Attitudinal Healing Center founder Gerald Jampolsky and Bicbic Medez who couldn't be found in Google and Ambrose. And he injects his own that affirms his faith
and self worth.

It is a beautiful calendar, actually, if only we see beyond the propriety of a high-ranking monsignor coming out with one amid a call by Pope Francis for members of the clergy to observe simplicity and humility in their priestly life.

The calendar reveals Msgr. Alesna’s human flaw: vanity. The pictures, after all, capture his best angle. It has to be said that in fairness, cute si Monsignor. Before I had gone over the calendar 16 times, I wouldn't have recognized Msgr. Alesna. But now, maybe I could if he would be angled close to his poses in the calendar pictures.

Msgr. Alesna had told Sun.Star Cebu reporter Justin K. Vestal that those trips he took were compliments of a travel agency that had invited him to serve as chaplain in pilgrimage tours abroad, and that he had not used parish money for those trips. His high standing in the Cebu Archdiocese makes him a favorite chaplain in these tours.

He also said that he regularly produces a calendar, which he gives to his parishioners. The calendar bears photos of important events of the previous year that he was part of.

Msgr. Alesna is an influential man of God. He holds sensitive positions in the Cebu Archdiocese and has served as chief priest of the "rich" parishes in Cebu. His current assignment is the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

He was one of the prime movers in raising funds for the canonization of San Pedro Calungsod. He knows whom to ask for help for major, major church projects. The business people cannot say no to him. I have this on good sources.

Back to the calendar. What's the fuss about it? None, Msgr. Achilles Dakay told Justin yesterday. Msgr. Dakay said Msgr. Alesna’s calendars were made as a build-up to the celebration of his 40th year as a priest.

Msgr. Alesna has no intention of showing off, Msgr. Dakay said. Msgr. Alesna should not be judged on the basis of a calendar, he said. Like Msgr. Alesna, Msgr. Dakay is a favorite choice for chaplain of pilgrimage tours abroad.

A parishioner has complained about the calendars. He has had enough selfies of Msgr. Alesna. The poor guy probably has a similar disdain for the Facebook and Instagram selfies.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 10, 2014.

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