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Filipino Catholic Community Commemorates First Filipino Saint

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On September 23, 2012, the Filipino Catholic community of the Diocese gathered to celebrate the Feast of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the first native Filipino saint. Monsignor David D. Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese of Raleigh, was the principal celebrant and homilist at the bilingual (English/Tagalog) Mass held at St. Eugene in Wendell. Concelebrating the Mass were Rev. Julian Jagudilla, OFM; Rev. Ray Donaldson, S.J., Pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Durham; and Rev. Ryan Carnecer, C.I.C.M., Associate Pastor of St. Eugene.

The celebration began with an outdoor procession of about 200 faithful carrying lit candles and singing hymns in Tagalog, the Filipino native language. 

St. Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Manila in the early 1600s to a Chinese father and Filipina mother. He grew up and was educated under the influence of the Dominican Fathers, serving as an altar boy and later as a clerk sacristan in the Church of Binondo. It is believed he and 15 others left the Philippines for Japan in 1636 with the aid of Dominican Fathers, because they were wrongly accused of a crime against a Spanish colonist. In Japan, where Christians were being persecuted, the authorities offered to spare St. Lorenzo’s life if he would denounce his faith, but he refused. After suffering imprisonment and torture, in September of 1637, he and his companions were martyred.

In his homily, Msgr. Brockman noted that St. Lorenzo had a singular quality shared by all saints: “Their life is about one thing; all that they are and all that they do are tied to the One to whom their life belongs, God in Christ.... When asked if he would renounce that very center God had given him to spare his life, St. Lorenzo said those famous words: ‘I am a Catholic and I wholeheartedly accept death for God. For if I had a thousand lives, I would offer them all to Him.’” 

Remarking on St. Lorenzo’s heroic virtue, Msgr. Brockman offered three ways in which the faithful could emulate the saint: “Invest yourself in love, cultivate a life in God’s spirit and make public your Catholic faith.”

Following Mass, there was a reception with traditional food, music and entertainment. “This celebration of our first Filipino Saint strengthens my faith even deeper,” said Maria Romp, Liturgy Coordinator. “We are a people of many colors and we live in a very diverse world and keeping our faith, our bond and our community as one is very important.” 

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Above: Procession to mark the Diocesan celebration of the Feast of St. Lorenzo Ruiz held at St. Eugene Church in Wendell. Click photo to view larger.

Above: Msgr. David D. Brockman, main celebrant and homilist, during the Mass commemorating St. Lorenzo Ruiz. Click photo to view larger.

Above: Faithful attending the Feast Day Mass on Sunday, September 23, 2012.