Spark your life: Making kindness my mission and love my legacy

Our social love Sunday in Padre Pio Home
Spark your life: Making kindness 
my mission and love my legacy
Photo from Frances Nina Fernandez Bitang

“To Live A Meaningful Life, Spark Your World!”

I never thought that a simple day like Mondays of every week would become our kind of MonDates in Arrupe Social Formation 1000. This was my kind of ASF sacred story with my Class Code 5005 family. 

This is Teacher Nanan at your service. I will be your ASF Guide for this semester. I remember greeting this class on the first day high. 

From Day 1 I have been very passionate about each and every detail of this course. ASF is the heart of the university. In ASF, May Karamay Ka. So goes our battlecry. Thus we instituted Ignatian Prayer Buddies on week 1. In a nutshell, ASF would be their haven amidst the pressure of their acads.

Every week, I usher them into silence. In ASF, we come home to our quiet centers where the Lord dwells. Every Monday becomes a MonDate with the Lord. We not only tackle “Who am I” in this course but we also delve deeper into a more than 500-year-old legacy called Ignatian spirituality.

In ASF, we have a code. It is called Code S.P.A.R.K. We are daily reminded of the transformative power of self-donation: we are capable of sincere self-giving. 

P stands for Primacy On Prayer; A for Authenticity of Life; R for cultivating a sense of Responsibility as Ateneans in this amazing, epic journey; K stands for showing Kindness and Love always and in all ways. 

Our ASF methodology is simple. I use art, Jesuit music, and the Ignatian prayer buddy system. I am truly grateful to St. Ignatius of Loyola for such a great legacy. But we have not only entered an excellent university but a mission-oriented one. That is why in initiating our Ateneans into Ignatian leadership, we spend meaningful Sundays with our mission partner-communities. Thus, was born the ASF Social Love Sundays.

Last November 5, 2023, my code 5005 had a once-in-a-lifetime encounter with Padre Pio Home.

Putting to heart the key takeaways from Fratelli Tutti, Pope Francis’ social encyclical, our ASF family spent time with the kids at Padre Pio Home. The kids were ecstatic about this meaningful encounter. They shared their joys and sorrows. They listened to one another in deep charity and with utmost respect. They played simple games. Sr. Elsie and Sr. Rosa Pia of the Apostles of Jesus Crucified Sisters welcomed us and assisted us till the end. What was most touching in the encounter were two special sessions called the pray-over and public veneration of the Blood relic of St. Padre Pio. In the pray-over session, the Ates and Kuyas from ASF code 5005 prayed over their assigned kid or mission partner. It was solemn. It was powerful. It was touching. In pure silence, they elevated to prayer all their heartfelt wishes and dreams to the good Lord. And in turn, the Ates and Kuyas took their seats and were prayed over by the children in Padre Pio Home. It was indeed, heartfelt. It was amazing. It was sincere.

Code Spark was indeed experienced in a much deeper manner this Sunday.

As I often mention in my pep talks in class, Padre Pio Home is not merely an orphanage. It is a magnet of love. It is a home where every orphan child finds a real home. I should know. I have been a volunteer here since 2007. The magnet of love is such because here in our Tugbok chapel is the preserved blood relic of St. Padre Pio De Pietrelcina. The kids and the sisters here live out his spirituality of kindness and love deeply rooted in the crucified Christ. He teaches us that he who begins to love must be ready to suffer… He says, pray. Hope. Do not worry. Our God is merciful and will hear every prayer from the heart. The love and kindness that the Sisters showed to the kids are actually works of mercy and are therefore works of kindness, love, and peace. We are truly grateful to the Lord for such an amazing Sunday at Padre Pio Home. 

After we said our thank yous and proper goodbyes, we spent time in pure silence through a once-in-a-lifetime experience of a public veneration of the blood relic of St. Padre Pio. 

Thank you to my ASF student, Myk Gamil who sang Amazing Grace beautifully. I could not help shedding tears of joy and gratitude. Our Monday class became a magnet of love too. Love was gratefully given by the ASF code 5005 family. Love was also gratefully received by Padre Pio Home. We left the Home past 1 p.m. We promise to make kindness our mission and love our legacy always, and in all ways. We shall carry the lessons of this Social Love Sunday in our hearts forever. We will continue to live meaningfully each day mindful of Code SPARK. AD MAJOREM DEI GLORIAM! By Frances Nina Fernandez Bitang

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