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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The chapel and the chaplain

I went to my old alma mater to get some requirements and I got there around 12:15 noon. The guards would not let me in the campus and said I had to wait till 1:00 pm. I knew that the offices there would resume work at 1:00 but there are a lot of places you could sit while waiting and besides I also wanted to visit the chapel. It has been a long while and I wanted to be in the chapel again. The male guard said "no" and I asked the lady guard if I could come and she too said "no". I noted her intonation and asked if she was Ybanag. She said yes and I said my mother is from Isabela and we talked a bit in the dialect while she was asking the place mama was from. I asked her again to let me in and she said “okay!”.

Ahh the magic password…

I got in! I walked slowly, checking out the places. The university is different. Well, almost the same buildings but more spaces now. There used to be thousands and thousands of people there during my time and it was crowded but now, there were a lot of spaces to breathe in. The office windows, I used to transact in, used to be in grills and now they are all glass windows… the stage in the quadrangle that used to cover one part of the building is gone and instead there is the statue of the lady that used to be in the second floor open area…

Finally I saw the small chapel. There was a mass going on, the priest has just started reading the gospel (hmmm, if they immediately let me in I could have started the mass from the beginning) and I felt nice being in that chapel and attending the service. It was really very small compared to the size of the campus but that small chapel and the chaplain then had a big impact on my life!

There seemed to be few people in the chapel compared to my time but I felt good knowing that there is still an active prayer community there. The choir and the mass servers were active and seemed to be fired up. I remembered how me and my 2 friends were also fired up during the masses. At one point the three of us were serving, one was the lector and 2 of us were the choir. We sang our hearts out and we listened to all the sermons of our Chaplain.

He was really the best chaplain. One of the best thing that happened to me in that university is knowing Fr. Esbroeck. He loved the university students so much!

I remember the first time, I listened to him, I was touched that I went to mass everyday! One time, I made my two friends a rosary each and I asked him to bless it and he immediately showed me to his office. Well It was not really his office, since his office was still in a separate room but a prayer area. There he introduced me to some ladies, they were Lilies of the Lord. He told them I was a nice girl (my ears went big!) and asked me to join the other Lilies. I asked my two friends too and we became Lilies! Father would sponsor us in retreats and he would give talks or make us listen to tapes of Fr. Fulton Sheen! He gave me so much and I am really thankful to him.

I went to a catholic high school and the nuns there taught me a lot too but Fr. Esbroeck really brought me closer to the Lord! He has been gone for 10 years now but I think he still watches the university chapel in heaven... praying for all those students going there.

I look at the chapel and i remember the love that Fr. Esbroeck shared with us. I don't know the new priest. He is also an old priest, heard his name is Fr. Martin and that he was there prior to Fr. Esbroeck and came back when he was gone. I think he is a good chaplain too since there is still a good prayer community there.

It was really good to be in that chapel again.


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