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Homily at Fr. Kit's Final Vows




Fr. Kit Bautista, SJ; Fr. Jojo Magadia, SJ and Fr. Mon Bautista, SJ
Some of us here, may still remember well the “question.”
The question went something like this.
“Would you let go and change your religion (your faith), for the man you love?”
And of course, Miss Philippines (Shamcey Supsup), to whom this question was
addressed originally responded by saying:

“No, I would not let go and change my religion (my faith) for the man I love.
Why? Well, because I love my God first. And if the man I love also truly loves me,
then, he should love my God too.”

Many years ago, in the 1600’s, there was this young man in London, England.

His name was Francis Page.

Francis was a Protestant, an Anglican.

Bu then, he fell in love deeply with a woman who was – Catholic.

At one point, when he was still courting her, the woman told him:

“You want us to get married? Then give up your Anglican religion. Give up your
      Anglican faith first. Become a Catholic for me and I will marry you.”

      And so Francis, because he loved her so much, readily agreed.

      He gave up his Anglican faith in exchange for the Catholic faith.

      But then, as he started to study and learn more and more about the Catholic faith
      under his Jesuit teacher, slowly he realized how beautiful and wonderful this
      Catholic faith of ours is.

      And it did not take long for him to realize that he had a – vocation; a vocation not to
      the married life, but a vocation (yes) to the priesthood.

      And so in time, he told his Catholic sweetheart and fiancée:

     “My dear, I am very sorry. I love you, but I cannot marry you. I believe the Lord is
     calling me to “something else.” And that “something else” is the priesthood. Yes your
     God, and my God (our God), is calling me to be a priest.”

    Thus, this young man, Francis Page, became one.

    He became a priest – initially a secular, diocesan priest.

    Now it was during this time, because of the political and religious events unfolding
    then, that it became a crime (a very serious crime) to be a Catholic priest in England.

    And soon, Fr. Francis was caught and put in prison.

    And there in prison, he was tortured and sentenced to death.

    But then again, there in prison, he met another Jesuit, Fr. Henry Floyd.

    And he told Fr. Floyd, how much he had wanted to be a Jesuit very early on; as early
    as when he was first introduced to the Catholic faith by his first Jesuit teacher.

    And so, on the eve of his execution (on the eve of his death), Fr. Francis Page (the
    man who left the woman he loved for the God he loved) wrote down (on a small piece
    of paper) the Jesuit vow formula.

    And there inside his prison cell, in the presence of Fr. Floyd, acting as Superior, he
    knelt down with all reverence before him, and read aloud and pronounced his vows to
    the Society of Jesus.

    Now, at last, he was not only a priest.
    Now at last, he was a Jesuit as well.

    The next day, Fr. Francis was dragged out from his cell.

    And then he was hanged to death in public.

    And right after that, his whole body was dismembered, mutilated, cut into several
    pieces.

    His crime?

    Well, just being a good and devoted priest;
    a good and devoted priest of the Society of Jesus.
    My dear friends,
 
    it has been said that “love makes us do many things which we never imagined we
    were capable of doing (in the first place).”

    And this exactly was what happened with Fr. Francis Page.

    Surely, he could not have imagined and anticipated where love would lead him; and
    what love would dare to ask of him, prior to his falling in love with his God.

    Now, if this is true with many Jesuits of the past, (like Fr. Francis), then this also is
    true with many Jesuits of the present (Jesuits like our very own, Fr. Kit here).

    And that is why if we take a close look at the Jesuit life of Fr. Kit, he indeed has led a
    very interesting and very colorful life, in the Society of Jesus; a life which he could
    never (ever) have imagined and anticipated before 1983, the year he entered; a life
    full of trials, struggles and challenges; but also a life full of surprises, joys and
    consolations.

    As many of us know, Fr. Kit’s first assignment (as a priest) was in the far-flung
    bundoks of Miarayon.

    With no real proficiency in the languages there, no paved roads, no electricity, no
    clean running water, and of course, no regular companion (except his faithful horse
    whom he named Inigo – after our very Patron St. Ignatius); (and of course his many
    chickens and roosters) – he (almost) singlehandedly evangelized the whole area of
    Miarayon then.

    As pastor there for 4 years, his challenges ranged from dealing with abusive
    politicians and land-grabbers; to securing proper land titles for the native people
    there; to founding and running both an elementary and a high school; to raising funds
    for scholarship, especially for poor but deserving children; not to mention the
    demanding task of meeting the spiritual needs of the local people there.

    And to think that this was just his very first assignment as a Jesuit priest.

    And that is why, if we examine his 17 years of priesthood, Fr. Kit has had to take on
    various roles; often “not at all easy” roles – roles like Parish priest; or Founder and
    Director of two schools for the poor (which continue up to this day); or Vice-superior
    and Formator to our young Jesuits; or Spiritual Director, Retreat Director, Counsellor
    to many lay people; or Assistant Principal for Formation to our teachers and students
    here in our High School; and of course (his present mission now) Fr. Headmaster of
    this Grade School.

    And to think (again) that Kit has not yet even celebrated his 25 years as a priest.

   Which is why, if we ask him, “Fr. Kit where will you be assigned after Ateneo Grade
   school?; where do you go – two, three, five years from now?

   And surely Fr. Kit would answer: “I really do not know. We Jesuits do not plan our
   lives. We just go where we are sent. We just go where we are missioned.”

   Yes, indeed, how true – “love has a way of making us do many things which we never
   (ever) imagined we were capable of doing (in the first place).”

   My dear friends,

   in a little while, Fr. Kit will pronounce his final vows to the Society of Jesus.

   This will happen right before Communion time.

   Of course, for us Jesuits, taking final vows is different from taking first vows.

   Kit already took his first vows – 27 years ago.

   The difference lies (really) in their canonical implications.

   This simply means that this time (now), it is the whole, entire Society of Jesus that is   
   formally making the commitment –  that is canonically confirming and accepting the
   personal commitment Fr. Kit made – (yes 27 years ago).

   Thus, today, as Fr. Kit takes his final vows, the entire, universal Society of Jesus,
   (together with about 17,000 Jesuits all over the world) - we are all declaring to him
   and to the world that – “Yes Kit, today, we now formally and canonically commit
   ourselves to you, as our true, beloved brother, companion and friend in the Lord
   (yes, “for better or for worse”).

   On the part of Fr. Kit, he (once again) will be professing his love (for this is what our
  Jesuit vows are all about) – his love for the Society, and his love for his God.

  In essence, he will be declaring something like this:

  “Yes, I have loved this way (for the past 27 years).
  And I desire to continue loving this way.
  And now, with my full and total incorporation into the Society of Jesus,
  I promise that I will give up my right to own and that I will continue to be a poor, chaste,
  obedient Jesuit priest of the Lord (all the days of my life). Amen!”

  My dear friends,
 
 today also is the Feast of our Lady, Mary (the Feast of her Presentation in the Temple).
 
 And if we can describe Mary and her style of loving, we can describe her as this:

“Mary is that woman, who decided to let go (unconditionally) of her entire future, for the God she dearly love.”

And again, like people who fall so deeply in love, she never (ever) could have imagined or anticipated where her love for God, and God’s love for her would bring her (a life full of challenges and even sorrows; but also a life full of grace, full of consolations).

And so Kit, today, as you vow to be truly poor, chaste and obedient for the God you love, my prayer for you is this:

“May our Lord (through Mary), always continue to shower you with his blessings and always strengthen you – all the days of your Jesuit life.”

Mary – Mother and Queen of the Society of Jesus – pray for us!

Amen!  



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