By Theodore Kabundi,sx –
Sunday November 10, 2013 was a special day for our Xaverian International Theologate of Asia and the African Community in the Philippines. In fact, the Cameroonian Community along with the Congolese Community in the Philippines (CCP) has set this day to officially end in accordance to their culture the funeral of the Xaverian Brother Martin who died on October 22. Organized by the two communities and the Xaverian Missionaries, many Filipinos also joined the gathering that has turned around three moments.
The first moment was the thanksgiving mass presided by the General Superior of the Xaverian Missionaries, Fr. Luigi Menegazzo and concelebrated by 5 other priests (3 African). Animated by the CICM and Xaverian students of theology, the mass had a particular African touch regarding the songs and dance during the celebration. In his homily, Fr. Menegazzo thanked God for having given us such precious gift in the person of Martin. The celebrant made a distinction between two kinds of deaths: dying with Christ and dying without Christ. He went on saying that Martin died in a special state of grace as he was having one of his best retreats according to Martin’s last words. He urged all of us and specially those who have lived with Martin to put into practice what we have learnt from him. For him, Martin is now the great intercessor not only for his religious family and country, but for the whole people of God.
The second moment was punctuated by many testimonies regarding Martin’s life. Many people who had met Martin willingly shared about how they had been touched by his attitudes and behavior. Among them Fr. Eugne Pulcini (former rector of our theologate), Mam. Josie (Miriam College educator), Anna (Catechist), Heritier Mesa (Xaverian Brother) and the representative of the Cameroonian community. The common denominator of all their testimonies was the recognition of some spiritual virtues; spiritual sensibility and the joy that Martin was able to propagate wherever he passed. For Fr. Eugene, Martin had a kind of amazement and contemplation that belong only to mystic people. For Mom. Josie, walking and being just beside Martin was source of joy and inspiration due to the words usually uttered by him. For Anna, Martin was someone of deep understanding, compassion and empathy. Whenever she met him, she was delighted and happy to find someone who listened to her without stereotypes. As she was speaking, she could not finish her testimony due to unceasing weeping.
The sharing of food and the African dance constituted the third part of the gathering. As usual, the African expressed their joy and thanksgiving to God and to the Xaverian Community which housed the event by showing a path of dance and singing traditional thanksgiving songs. The gathering which started at 3:00pm ended at 9:00pm with the signing up of an address list, so to facilitate the organization of other African gatherings. In his final address, the representative of the Cameroonian Community thanked the Congolese Community through its president Fr. Didier Badianga, cicm for having sent to them a condolence message for the sudden departure of one of them. He kept on saying that this gesture, which was happily welcomed by all the Cameroonian living in the Philippines has shown us mutual care and concern among the two communities.
To conclude this sharing, we cannot refrain from saying that the death of holy ones have always positive effects on the living. During Martin’s funeral, Fr.Aldo, sx the rector stated, “As Martin was generous; the community is also experiencing the generosity of many people living around us.” Through Martin’s death, let us also think of our own death: which kind of testimony will people bear on our behalf? Are we ready to meet God at anytime? May all these interrogations bring us closer and closer to God.