I DON'T know what it is about invitations that I always manage to misplace them. Earlier in the morning of the 11th at the 6:00 a.m. Mass, the birthday intention for Monsignor Vic Rivas was mentioned and PRAISE GOD I was reminded.
The past weeks have not seen me in the pink of health with the recurrence of my osteo anthritis in my neck. So, literally, I have been suffering with a pain in the neck. They say when one reaches midlife, there are no obligations to attend parties or be guilty of missing one especially when one isn't feeling well but I knew I wanted to be there to greet Mons Vic!!! So, off I go to Sum-ag. Upon reaching the John Paul II institute, I knew I didn't read the invite well.
Practically everyone was in their Hawaiian outfit so, nonetheless, I said my Alohas to the guests and looked for Mons Vic who still had a commitment and came in latish. It was sweet of Mon Vic's angels, Bopeep, Menchu, Fati and more who had ready-made leis for the likes like me who were not properly attired!!! The party was a surprise and hosted and prepared by Mons' angels for which he is truly grateful!!!
The crowd started to swell and there were guests from near and as far as Kabangkalan!!! Food was aplenty and I could see lechons coming one after the other. There was a huge cake made by Mons Vic's sister with every layer a different flavor which was totally yummy. It was a beautiful night with nary a hint of rain. Although the whole ambience was truly Polynesian with a stage in colored flaglets, the MARI Teves Group provided just the right music to make the event festive and a genuine celebration.
Mons Vic table-hopped as more guests came. Priests from the diocese headed by no less than Bishop Navarra came to celebrate another year of life for the Vicar General. It was likewise the birthday of Fr. Dodoy who turned 42. There were Marian priests and nuns and the many people whose lives have been touched by Mons Vic.
Personally, Mons Vic is one priest who no matter how busy his schedule is makes himself available. When I knew that a friend was nearing the terminal of his life and requested Mons Vic to pay him a visit, there were no excuses of a fully loaded schedule. Upon my friend's death, he still accommodated with saying the funeral Mass despite having another appointment immediately after. On many occasions when I needed counsel, Mons Vic was always there and had something profound to say. Fr. Bernard would say that Mons Vic doesn't say much but when he utters something, you can be sure it is meaty and meaningful and he has many witty remarks too which I always enjoy listening.
To the Esteban family, Mons is practically a member of the family. Nini says he is caring to a fault and their family is honored to enjoy a close relationship with him. She continues that he is an achiever and a very wise man. Miling told me once that Mons Vic will share with everyone whatever it is he has-even the shirt on his back. He keeps nothing to himself. That's why he is loved because he lovable and very principled.
To the Tanpinco sisters Fati and Maridel, they affirm that Mons Vic is a good priest and a good man. He is generous to the people he comes in contact with. Again Fati reaffirms that he is principled and a person who works hard for his diocese, cares and loves his priests and diocese more than anybody else. No wonder when the abandoned Redemptorist Church was endorsed to him, in no time, he was able to breathe life again to the church to the joy of the parishioners who willing gave their kind assistance and support.
Fr. Raymond Asoy contributes to my impromptu interview through text about Mons Vic. The other half of the twin priests says that Mons Vic is a dedicated pastor with a brilliant mind, generous to the poor and a faithful shepherd.
The de Leon sisters Gene, Millet, Teret and Annette were present during the dinner and asking Annette about Mons, this is what she knows. He is generous and helpful to the poor and has helped many to finish schooling. Anyone who goes to him will never leave empty handed because he will look for ways and means to help one way or another. He is very charismatic that's why he is loved much!!!
I have time constraint for this deadline but if I had more time to interview more priests and friends, I know I will occupy the whole weekend issue. In a nutshell, we have a glimpse of this benevolent wise man, friend, priest, pastor, shepherd and Vicar General of our Church with a big heart!!! Indeed, at 65, he has done many missions that the LORD has set him up to do and there will be more in the years to come because Mons Vic totally lives each moment in sync with OUR LORD and MASTER!!!
Happy Birthday Mons Vic and Fr. Dodoy!!! We pray GOD gives you both more birthdays because the Church truly needs priests like you!!!!