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MOBILE — The Filipino community in the Archdiocese of Mobile comes together every first Saturday of the month to celebrate Mass at St. Monica Parish. But the celebration on Sept. 23 was a little more grand.
Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi joined the community to commemorate San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod, the first two canonized saints from the Philippines. Both were laymen catechists who were martyred in the 17th century, but only recently canonized — San Lorenzo Ruiz in 1987 by Pope John Paul II and San Pedro Calungsod in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. San Lorenzo Ruiz’s feast day is Sept. 28.
Philippines natives Rev. Lito Capeding, pastor of Shrine of the Holy Cross Parish in Daphne, and Msgr. Leonardo Guadalquiver, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish on Mon Luis Island and St. Edmund-by-the Sea on Dauphin Island, along with St. Monica Pastor Fr. Cu Minh Duong, concelebrated the Mass.
The Vigil Mass included a procession with statues of both surrounded by flowers as well as hymns and readings in Tagalog.
In 1636, under the assistance of the Dominican Fathers, San Lorenzo left the Philippines for Japan where he was captured, imprisoned and tortured.
He was given the opportunity to save his life if he renounced his faith.
“One of the beautiful adages attributed to him is “if I have 1,000 lives, I will gladly offer it to the Lord,” Fr. Capeding said.
San Lorenzo is patron saint of the Philippines and overseas Filipino workers and of migrants.
He was beatified during Pope John Paul II’s visit to the Philippines in 1981 and it was the first Beatification outside Vatican City.
“It’s very important for us because he’s the first. Even my son is named Lorenzo,” said Stephanie Gapud, executive director of Filipino Catholic Ministry of Mobile. “He tells us who we are as Filipinos. We are very authoritative followers. We follow to death, just like him. He did not give up his faith and most Filipinos are the same.”
Like San Lorenzo, San Pedro Calungsod was murdered while preaching Christianity in Guam in 1672.
Following Mass, faithful took part in a potluck dinner and celebration that included singing and traditional Filipino dancing.
The potluck dinner normally follows the monthly Mass and the occasion gives those from the Philippines an opportunity to have a taste of home.
“That’s my mom and that’s my grandmother,” Gapud pointed out.
“Mainly we’re doing it for our elderly who long to be home. They get to speak the language and feel at home while being uprooted. They get to hear the Mass in their language. It’s like healing almost to have spiritual communion with the community.”
And Gapud said it’s important to pass the culture on, which is why Saturday’s celebration included singing and dancing.
“It helps the kids be attached to their culture. We want to celebrate the culture because that’s the only way to pass it on,” Gapud said.
She added: “We want them to have it in their heart.”