March 21-24, 2013
San Fernando Rey Parish, Liloan
Pastoral Center (Patria de Cebu),
P. Burgos St., Cebu City 6000
ARCHDIOCESAN YOUTH CENTER
Words of Acknowledgment
Solemn Blessing & Inauguration of the Archdiocesan Youth Center
by Msgr. Arthur R. Navales
Good afternoon everyone. To His Eminence Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, to His Excellency Julito Cortes, to the Reverend Fathers and Sisters, to our dear collaborators and benefactors and to the young ministers of Cebu, maayong hapon!
At the outset, I would like to acknowledge Archbishop Jose Palma, the Archbishop of Cebu, who really wanted to join us today but regretted he could not come due to the demands of his office; as you well know he is now in Rome. I thank him for so many reasons!
My dear friends, I am truly, deeply and 'madly' grateful to each one of you. I simply cannot put into right words the feeling which expresses the sentiments of my gratitude to your kindness and generosity. In fact, I find this gathering as a reunion of generous people who attended the benefit dinner held last August. And I feel a similar support and collaboration by your presence this afternoon. This building would not have been realized without your help. I was asked, "nganong daghan man kaayo ang mga tawo karon?" I answered back, "Tungod kay daghan man ang nitabang sa pagtukod niining youth center." Salamat kaninyong tanan!
Building a sanctuary for our young people like this has never been quick and easy. With the limited resources since the beginning, we have learned to beg and we have become strong enough to dig. (Lk.16:3) By doing these, we have actually conquered the fear of the "dishonest steward" in the parable of Jesus. We literally begged for donations from anyone, rich and poor, professionals and students alike, recognizing the value of 25 cents these days. We begged even during masses for second collections; Bishop Cortes is our reliable witness. Salamat Bishop to allow us to hold a 2nd collection in your parish! We truly begged. But begging has taught us to be humble and to rely on God's providence.
Likewise, we became strong enough to dig ditches and scavenge in garbage, hoping to find trash which could lead us to fortune. For a time, we became opponents to real scavengers, squabbling for empty plastic bottles, tin cans and iron scraps. The only difference we have is that we foraged even within the hotels and airport's premises, because of our friends working there.
But I think we should continue learning this new-found-trade, for we still have - half a million pesos to raise. However, I assure you that we do not have plans this afternoon to surprise you once again with another "love offering" like what we did during the 'dinner for a cause.' Papahuwayon usa kamo namo makadiyot.
Anyway, I just could not forget those lowest and most trying times when we started this project until its completion. In his office, Fr. John Iacono would always inspire me by saying, "Fr. Arthur, handle every stressful situation like a dog; pee on it and then walk away." I made it sure that I followed reverently Fr. John's advice, and it really worked; I acted like a dog for a while but I never learned how to bark. Instead, I have learned to wait patiently the "scraps that fall from the table of the master." (Mt.15:27)
With me, who waited patiently anything that falls from our benefactors' bags is Tere. Therefore, I wish to thank personally Ma'am Tere Singco, my secretary who became my closest companion in moments when we shared each other's joyful tears and tearful joys. Tere or 'Erets' has never left me to share the burdens of our unpaid dues, showing her utmost concern that I should never lose my black hair before the project sees its completion.
Likewise, I would like to thank Engr. Michael Lureñana who does not only consider this center as one his mundane projects but who loves to claim this youth center as a sweet fruit and a labor of love. I thank him for accepting this project in spite of our financial scantiness. "Di gyud na siya maningil nako kay mauwaw, adto siya maningil ni Tere kay si Tere di man mauwaw maningil nako. Bitaw, Sir Michael, salamat!"
Finally, I am extremely happy and euphoric this afternoon because of His Eminence, Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, who trusted my worth and entrusted to me this wonderful and challenging project. The only reason why I continued to get inspired and be passionate in my work is because I have truly felt the Cardinal's support and trust in all my undertakings. Thank you Cardinal!
To my COY volunteers and youth district leaders, to our generous benefactors and to everyone who understands our ministry, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. May the Lord, in His infinite grace, who has begun this good work, bring it to completion! Amen!