By: The Rev. Vicky Esguerra
Retired Priest, Diocese of Greater Manila Area

For the second year in a row, the DGMA’s annual memorial celebrating the lives of the two IFI great leaders, Isabelo (Don Belong) delos Reyes Sr. and his son, Obispo Maximo Beluco, was conducted with a quiet solemn Holy Eucharist amidst pandemic protocols last Sunday, October 10, 2021, at 10:30 am. The “Taunang Pag-alaala, Pagkilala at Pagpaparangal” (yearly remembrance, recognition, and celebration of honor) was meaningfully feted at the esteemed leaders’ resting place in the Maria Clara Church on Concepcion Street, Santa Cruz, Manila.  The main and only celebrant was the Rt. Rev. Vicente Salvador R. Ballesteros, diocesan bishop, and assisted by the Msgr. Cesar Emmanuel R. Ballesteros, domestic prelate and diocesan vicar. 

The father-and-son death anniversaries, destined coincidentally on the 10th of October, golden or 50 years for OM Beluco and 83 years for Don Belong, underscored the significance of their contributions to the IFI. Don Belong is the “Father of Philippine Unionism,” who together with the people (Union Obrera Democratica) proclaimed the establishment of the IFI and was instrumental in the unification of the country and the promotion of religious freedom and toleration in the Philippines.  Meanwhile, the Obispo Maximo Beluco is the “Father of Philippine Ecumenism,” who jointly with leaders of other member-churches organized the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. The latter also put the Philippines, through the IFI membership, on the world ecumenical map by joining the World Council of Churches.  

Bishop Buddy Ballesteros, in his homily, recalled their lives and contributions, and extolled the virtues of both the father-and-son leadership as worthy of pride and emulation not only for the IFI faithful but also for the Filipinos, especially the local and worldwide ecumenical community, as well.  His re-echoing phrase was, “May we always remember, and may we never forget,” referring to these two great IFI patriarchs. 

This simple Double Ten Ceremony was beamed via fb/zoom for the diocesan faithful in their homes and parishes. Also present as witnesses in this celebration included the Rt. Rev. Gregorio delos Reyes (former diocesan bishop) and his immediate family; and the diocesan clergy seated at the pews: The Reverends Ricardo Aliwalas, Orlando Concepcion, Victoria Esguerra, Severino Ismael, Fedelino Ofdi, and Vincent Marie Taguinod.  

Subsequent to the Holy Eucharist, the launching of the DGMA Vocation Campaign commenced as Bishop Ballesteros invited and encouraged potential aspirants to join the church ministry and to solicit donors to help finance the studies of the seminarians.  The Rev. Fr. Ricardo Aliwalas, mission priest of Birhen Balintawak in Sucat, Paranaque, and chairperson of the Vocation Campaign Committee, explained the details on the entry requirements to the ministry beginning with the application, the seminary studies, and other expectations from the postulants, etc.  Campaign materials will be disseminated through tarpaulins, brochures, and solicitation letters.  

Assisting Fr. Aliwalas in his duties in this Vocation Campaign include the following:  Msgr, Manny Ballesteros, Father Severino Dancel Ismael, and Rev. Erahvilla Maga-Cabillas. Interested parties may inquire from any of these members and/or check the diocesan website (www.dgma.ph) for further information and clarifications.




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