Image Source: Vanderbilt News – Vanderbilt University

[quote style=”boxed” ]And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” — Luke 17:5-6[/quote]

The Michigan chapter of the Filipino Cancer Network of America Inc. (FCNA-MI), in collaboration with the Kapulongan ng mga Katolikong Pilipino sa Michigan (KKPM), co-sponsored and dedicated a cancer survivor Mass on the first Saturday of October at St. Rene Goupil Church in Sterling Heights.

Cancer survivors from all over Michigan were invited to participate in the celebration.

To lay the groundwork, Tony Kho, executive director of the Philippine American Cultural Center (PACCM), was asked to send out invitations to anyone, relatives and friends who have been diagnosed to have cancer. A letter was also sent asking for the names of those who have succumbed to the disease.

At the beginning, there was slow response. But by the middle of September, the number of cancer survivors who responded to the call increased, and by October 1 there were 27 who showed up together with their guests and relatives.

The celebration started with the registration at 6 p.m.  Each cancer survivor was given a cancer lapel ribbon. Seats were reserved for the survivors and their families.

Members of the KKPM Choir sang at the mass and were recognized by their lavender kimono which was very attractive.

Prayers were offered for those who had passed away. They were Luz Algenio, Danilo Apuada, Elizabeth Calbay, Virgilia Capobres, Joy Corvo and Naty Jimenez.

The Rosary started at 6:30 p.m. Afterwards, the cancer survivors formrf a line at the foyer of the church and got their candles from Theresa Alzate-Cabanilla who donated the candles. As members of the community lined up for the procession which was held inside the church, led by the Cancer survivors and their families, there was silence and a feeling of awe.

Each cancer survivor was given a stem of rose which was offered to the Blessed Virgin Mother at the side of the altar.

All readings were in Tagalog. The first reading was done by Oscar Dechavez; the Second Reading by this writer, and the Prayer of the Faithful by Flor Sitchon. It was a very moving experience.

As I reflected on the mass celebration and the homily of Monsignor John Vargas, I remembered my acquaintances who have gone before me and are now with the Lord.

I told myself, “Let me always be guided by my mantra” which follows:

“I will stop to smell the roses. I will celebrate life. I will make a difference. I will appreciate the small things. I will pick up my heels. I will smile even if it hurts. I will explore my own backyard. I will take time for my family. I will enjoy the journey. I will unlock my potential. I will take every day as it comes. I will make the most of my day. I will forget about chores. I will swap worry for wonder. I will keep on learning. I will take life head on.”

Let’s remember our sisters and brothers in the community, especially the sick and suffering who need our prayers. May God bless us all!