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Building a Legacy of Faith, Unity, Service

Message of Dominus Est Editor-in-Chief Margaux Salcedo

in celebration of the 45th Anniversary

of Knights of Columbus St Lorenzo Ruiz Council 7344 

Binondo Chinese Parish of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary

Grand Knight Mr. Henry Go, Chairman Edgard Cabangon, RAMONCITO A. OCAMPO

Past Luzon South State Deputy Emeritus, and the council and distinguished Knights of Columbus St. Lorenzo Ruiz 7344 at Binondo Chinese Parish of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, good evening!

Before anything else, happy 45th Anniversary!

I will leave it up to you to determine if the Knights of Columbus St Lorenzo Ruiz Council is older or younger than me!

Thank you for the honor of choosing me to share a message with you on this very special milestone of the Knights of Columbus.

I am well aware that this is an all boys club, that you are “Catholic men who lead, serve, protect and defend” … and “share a desire to be better husbands, fathers, sons, neighbors and role models”. And so it is not lost on me that—being a woman—this is a rare privilege, indeed. My father, Ephraim Salcedo, who I think wanted me to be born a boy, would be very proud of me!

Thankfully, faith, unity and service—the legacy that you seek to build as you state in today’s theme—are gender-blind. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, young or old, male or female—we can all benefit from and live a life of faith, unity and service.

And this order is correct because it all begins with faith. Everything follows when we have faith.

Faith, as you may know, must be the root of our existence. It is only when we are rooted in faith, that we can grow and blossom and bear fruits that are proof of God’s glory. It is only when we are anchored in faith that we can find inner strength and even inner peace amidst life’s most turbulent storms.

And it is also only when we are rooted in faith that our service—even as lay persons—begins to have any meaning.

In my own experience, I realized this when I was offered the role of Undersecretary of the Department of Budget and Management. I could not give an immediate yes. It certainly would be a dream job for me because I would be handling communications—which I really specialize in— and even better it would specifically be for advocacies that I feel passionately about: promoting transparency and accountability through the open government partnership; helping promote sustainability through through the Green, Green, Green program, a project to build parks and open spaces around the country; supporting inclusivity by reaching out to our kababayans in the farthest regions of the archipelago. But I was still hesitant to work full-time as Undersecretary. It took me almost a month to decide.

What made me finally say yes was the homily of Fr. Rany Geraldino at the 6:00 p.m. mass in St. Alphonsus Mary de Liguori during my discernment. He said, Christify wherever you are. If you are in the workplace, Christify. If you are in government, Christify. I took this NOT just as a reminder but as a marching order from Above.

And so I pass on that message to you today as you seek to build a legacy of faith, unity and service: Christify wherever you are.

This has been my guiding light in all my actions as a public servant. Even in the seemingly small things, such as making sure that you begin each meeting with a prayer.

I have noticed that prayer is something that is brushed aside so often nowadays. People just get into a meeting head on, charging full speed ahead. Why don’t you take a minute to pause for a prayer and be blessed with the stardust of the heavens, so that your results are not just good but brilliant because you are guided not just by your own instincts but by the Holy Spirit, from above.

The value of prayer cannot be underscored enough. We need to realize in humility that there are so many battles that are beyond us. At the same time, we need to also realize in humility the incredible graciousness that has been gifted to us. So it is important for all of us to reinforce the habit of prayer on those we can influence, as much as we can. We have received our faith as a gift; so in our own small way—such as teaching and reminding people to pray—let us pass it on.

In fact, I know this is your advocacy, too. When I was reading up on the Knights of Columbus, I was inspired by the United in Charity project mentioned in your website wherein 3,000 prayer kits were sent by the Knights of Columbus to Ukranian soldiers. One would ordinarily send food or money for charity. But the Unity in Charity project of giving prayer kits was brilliant, because those soldiers who would receive these, in the middle of war, need prayers above all. And this not only reminds them to pray but reassures them that we are praying together—that while they may be alone on the ground, they are certainly not alone spiritually. We are together in prayer—or as the Knights of Columbus say, UNITED in prayer.

This is a valuable offering. Msgr. Esteban ‘Bong’ Lo, whom some of you may know very well, in his reflection for the 7 Last Words Special of Dominus Est last Good Friday, emphasized this. He said that sometimes people are almost ashamed to say that all they can offer are prayers. No, do not diminish the value nor the power of prayer. Because when you pray, you enter the communion of saints. You are no longer alone in your battle. You are united with Christ. Suddenly the Lord is with you.

Unity is in fact an advocacy of Pope Francis today, with his initiative called the Synod on Synodality. I call it an initiative because it has never been done before.

As some of you may know, the Synod is an assembly of bishops. The Holy Father—the Pope— is the president of the synod. There is also a secretary-general, whom we had the pleasure of welcoming to the Philippines last January, Cardinal Mario Grech. The current Synod on Synodality is the 16th Ordinary Synod of Bishops which started in 2021 and will conclude this 2024.

Traditionally, only bishops gather for the synod. But this time, for the first time, instead of having only bishops, the Synod, which will conclude this October in Rome, has included lay persons, with delegates representing various sectors—from social workers, to the youth, to the media, including women, both religious and lay—emphasizing listening as part of the process of discernment and mission. (Maybe he was inspired by the motto of our very own Cardinal Jose Advincula, Audiam—listen!)

The Pope has essentially been reminding everyone of what the Knights of Columbus call unity. That we journey together. Mary journeyed with Joseph as she carried Christ in her womb. Jesus journeyed with the apostles. And our Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Charles John Brown, when he speaks about the synod whether in his homilies or in his talks, repeatedly reminds us that as Catholics, we journey together not just with those who are with us physically, but we journey with those who have come before us, bringing to life the concept of the communion of saints.

I believe that it is only when we apply this concept of journeying together, of synodality, of unity, i.e. this concept that we journey not just amongst ourselves but with the saints and even with Christ himself, that our unity finds purpose and direction and meaning.

Otherwise your journey would be without Christ. Without Christ, even if you find yourself with others, while you might not be alone, you would still be lost—as many others are today.

And that is why we—we who are blessed to be journeying with Christ—we need to step up not just as active Christians but as pro-active Christians into a life of service, as the Knights of Columbus do.

I am very blessed to witness people who do this everyday. Our Catholic website Dominus Est, which received the St. Pope John Paul II Award from the Catholic Mass Media Awards last year, and Best Website as well from the CMMA for 3 years, is run completely by volunteers, on zero budget, fueled purely by the Holy Spirit, out of service for the Lord. We have a religion teacher as content manager, a social worker as a resident writer, a government employee as Instagram manager, a caregiver in the US as livestream director, and an Undersecretary as editor-in-chief. But at Dominus Est it doesn’t matter what you do, what matters is that we come together as a community of faith. The only qualification is for you to give your yes.

And that in fact is the formula—as I learned from my spiritual mentor—in building a legacy: the key is not what you do, the key is to be.

When you allow yourself to BE, the Holy Spirit works it out so you are correspondingly able to do.

What does that mean, to be?

It means, first of all, to give your yes, as we were reminded when we celebrated 500 Years of Christianity. Saying YES will allow you to be present, be willing, be filled.

Then you become like Christ. That just like in the Road to Emmaus, when people see you - filled with the Holy Spirit - they would say, Dominus Est! It is the Lord!

Now the Holy Spirit - as we remember this Pentecost Sunday - has the incredible mission of having to fill everyone up. Because it is when we are filled with the Holy Spirit that we become—in the brilliant words of the Holy Mass—co-heirs to Eternal Life. That is why we pray to the Lord in Mass for the Holy Spirit to come upon us like the dewfall.

When this happens - when you are filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit - you will become ever so motivated to Christify wherever you are, in full service of your whole being to the Lord.

This fire, I believe, is what ignites the Knights of Columbus.

A knight is known for his shining armor. In fairy tales, it is the knight in shining armor who is usually heralded as the hero.

But for the Knights of Columbus, it is not just the armor that shines.

The Knights of Columbus shine from within. The Knights of Columbus shine because of the fire of the Holy Spirit that fills each of you. The Knights of Columbus shine because you are filed with the light of Christ, our hero.

As long as you all have this light, we can be confident that you will continue to build a legacy of faith, unity and service in the next 45 years and beyond.

May the light of Christ shine ever so brightly through the Knights of Columbus today and always.

Happy Anniversary to the Knights of Columbus!

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