Global Day Of Prayer Set; USP4GG Calls For End of PH-China Row On Ayungin Reef

by Rodel Rodis

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — For the third year in a row, the Global Day of Prayer for Peace in the West Philippine Sea will be held on Wednesday, August 21, to coincide with the death anniversary of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. in churches throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, Saipan and the Philippines.;

The “Worship, not Warship” event calls on people to pray for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the West Philippine Sea between the Philippines and China.

This year, the August 21 prayer day event had a jump start on July 24 when a special mass was concelebrated at the St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco with Bishop Daniel Walsh as the main officiating priest. Celebrating the mass with Bishop Walsh were Fr. Francis Garbo , Fr. Dennis Barlaan, Fr. Marvin Felipe, Fr. Art Albano, Fr. Rey Reyes, and Monsignor John Pernia.

THE HOMILY OF BISHOP WALSH

In his homily to a mass audience that included Milpitas Mayor Joe Esteves, Bishop Walsh said: “We gather today as disciples of the Lord to reflect on a dangerous situation: the dispute between the Philippines and China over the sovereignty and ownership of the Ayungan Reef and other islands in the West Philippine Sea that may have oil in it. Because of the potential for oil, China has claimed sovereignty and ownership over what has been part of the Philippine Nation. We gather to pray for peace and justice in this problematic situation that threatens the peace and security of the region.”

USP4GG National Chair Loida Nicolas-Lewis explained that it is no coincidence that the global day of prayer for peace coincides with the death anniversary of Ninoy Aquino “because it was his sacrifice for the country that inspired the Filipino people to confront a power that was deemed invincible and to defeat it without violence through People Power.”

THE BLOOD OF NINOY AQUINO

To emphasize this connection, Fr. Abraham Alonzo, USP4GG spiritual adviser, wrote a special prayer that will be read in the pulpits of the participating churches. An excerpt of the prayer reads: “On this day, we re-dedicate and re-consecrate ourselves by the blood of the martyrdom of Ninoy Aquino as well as all our heroes who gave their lives for our freedom. And most of all by the blood of Jesus on the cross who redeemed us by his unconditional love that never shall any local despot or foreign invader take away our freedom and dignity from us.”

In New York City on August 21, the main site of the Global Day of Prayer for Peace will be a noontime mass at the Church of the Epiphany on Second Avenue and 22nd Street officiated by Fr. Jose Marabe. At 6:30 PM, later that day, a special mass to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Ninoy’s death

will be held at the Chapel of San Lorenzo Ruiz located at 378 Broome Street in Manhattan. Coordinating the New York prayer masses will be Jose Ramos. There will be a reception with food following the mass.

LOCAL PRAYER MASSES SET

On the same day in Los Angeles, a special mass to mark the 30th anniversary of Ninoy’s assassination will be held at 6 PM at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church (at 4954 Santa Monica Blvd. officiated by Father Rodel Balagtas. The event will be principally sponsored by the Overseas Filipinos for Good Governance under the leadership of Romy Baylon.

In Saipan, 20 churches – Catholic, Protestant and Iglesia ni Kristo – are set to hold Global Day of Prayer for Peace masses. “We expect a large turnout this year,” said Dr. Celia Lamkin, chair of the local chapter of the USP4GG. 

According to Charito Benipayo, the San Francisco Bay Area coordinator for the August 21 Global Day of Prayer masses and forums, the following convenors are coordinating the August 21 events in their cities:  Bernadette Roco for Alameda at St. Philip Neri Catholic Church; Myrna Zabala for Berkeley at St. Joseph Church; Laymon Jones and Isagani Pugao for Oakland; Ruby Munoz for Castro Valley at St. John Church; Josie Otto, Rudy Fernandez, and Fr. Abe Alonzo for Concord & Antioch at Seafood City in Concord at 1PM; Rad and Ofelia  Abarrientos for Daly City.

Also coordinating the Bay Area prayer masses are: Demos Punsalan for Fremont; Phil and Edna Esguerra for San Jose; Ramon Bunag for South San Francisco; Myrna Brown and Becky Parma for San Leandro;  Joe and Lynn Santos and Fr. Bart Bartolome for San Mateo; Manny Barameda for St. Epiphany Church;  Nimfa Gamez for San Ramon; Ofelia Castro for Santa Rosa; Vince and Lorna Llamas and-Rev. Fr  Baraan for Union City; Fr. Mark Reburiano for Marin County; and Noel Calisa and Hermy Sunga for Vallejo.

The culminating mass will be held at 6:30 PM at the Philippine Consulate at 447 Sutter Street in San Francisco.

HEAR OUR PRAYERS

Catholic churches in archdioceses throughout the US have been requested to include in the Prayer of the Faithful a special prayer for peace in the West Philippine Sea. The prayer, written by Fr. Mark Reburiano, states:

“We pray for God’s enlightenment for a peaceful and just resolution of the West Philippine Sea dispute especially between the governments of the Philippines and China, we pray to the Lord” to which the faithful will respond “Lord, hear our prayer.”

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