NYD delegates challenged by Cardinal Quevedo

NYD 2017 ZamboangaWords were like hands of the beautiful sunset that melt our hearts along the boulevard as lovely sunset along R.T Lim Boulevard, Zamboanga City towered all the delegates during the 4th day of National Youth Day held in Zamboanga on November 6-10. Words of Orlando B. Cardinal Quevedo, OMI D.D. Archbishop of Cotabato were like hands of fire that melted most of their arid hearts. The ‘shortest’ cardinal among cardinals, as he identified himself, reminded the young people about four things:

1. Challenge of love and friendship
“Friendship does not limit on knowing others. Let us transform this love into a deeper love. Have a heart of one love.”

2. Environment
“Stephen Hawkings said that the earth will explode in 600 years, and he was even an agnostic. There is an intergenerational justice. What we do now, is for the future generations. Stop burning plastics, and many more.”

3. Proclamation of the Gospel
“Know what the Gospel is all about. Use cell phones to proclaim the word of God; a simple text will do. Use your digital language. You have a challenge. You are idealistic, you have experienced goodness, therefore be good to others by simply stopping gossips. As Pope Francis said, ‘gossip terrorists,’ say positive things, never negative. Destroying others reputation is not good.”

4. Be bearers of peace
“So many people have been killed in Marawi siege. There are deaths because of unpeace. Peace is at stake because of terrorism and insurgencies. Peace comes from God. I give peace, the peace that comes from God. No one can make a difference in this world unless God allowed him to do so. If we are to make a difference, let us acknowledge our poverty of mind and heart so that we recognize that it is God’s gift. We become vulnerable and dependent to God. The person in love is always ready to help others, everyone, even of another faith.”

Gaspar Salem

Gaspar Salem

An NYD story
Physically incomplete out serving God completely.

Do we serve God because we are complete, or we feel lacking, that’s why we are serving? There’s a common saying that says, “There is a hole inside each of us that only God can fill.”

Meet Gaspar Salem, a head turner during the National Youth Day held in Zamboanga. He was the only Person with Disability (PWD) at the event.

I wouldn’t blame him if he got too much attention during that national conference, however, his state of special need did not intimidate him or stop him from joining.

Born without hands and feet, Salem, 22 years old, is a very talented person. Youngest among two siblings and with ¼ muslim running in his blood, this man can sing, dance, draw, bake and loves volleyball which is the sport of his family.

Baptized as Catholic, Salem is now on his 3rd year serving the youth ministry and as a choir member in Our Lady of Assumption, Culianan.

“Noon ko pa gustong sumali kasi gusto ko talagang magserve kay God,” he said in an interview.

I wondered what happened to him on the 2nd day when everybody had a long walk (almost 3 hours) in going to the famous shrine of Our Lady of the Pilar, the patroness of Zamboanga City.

“Hindi naman ako nahirapan, supportive din naman kasi mga friends ko, maraming nagtulong sa akin,” he added.

I asked him on his thoughts about his condition.

“Hindi ako nag-struggle, kasi ito na po ang binigay ng Diyos sa akin, kaya hindi ko na po kinukwestyon.”

When I asked him about his NYD experience, “na-inspire ako kahit po na first time…enjoy at marami akong natutunan dito.”

Indeed as the theme goes, the mighty One has done great things for Salem and Holy is his God’s name!

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