‘He could have saved himself but chose to stand by priest’
Youth inspired by Filipino saint’s bravery in face of dangerBy Niña Calleja
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Some of the Catholic youth attending the celebration of Pedro Calungsod’s sainthood had goosebumps while hearing the story of how the young catechist of the 17th century nearly escaped death in the hands of angry natives but chose to come back to help an old Jesuit priest.
“I’m still having goosebumps when recounting his story,” said Richard Roy Tañada, a full-time volunteer for the Salesian Youth Movement, a group educating the young of Christianity,
The life of Calungsod from his voyage to Guam with missionary Jesuit priests, when he was 14, up to his death in the hands of the Guam natives at 17, was reenacted in a performance as part of the daylong activity of the Federation of the National Youth Organizations (FNYO) in joining the rest of the Catholic Church in celebrating Blessed Calungsod’s canonization as a saint on Sunday at the Vatican.
“What was so touching for us was when he came back for Fr. Diego (Luis de San Vitores). He could have escaped and saved his own life. But he chose to stay,” Tañada said.
Around 300 students and members of different youth organizations joined the event called “Pedro at Ako” where they would declare Calungsod as their patron saint.
“Pedro Calungsod symbolizes every charism or gift that our youth organizations have. He, a missionary, a catechist, and acolyte, is the right inspiration for us,” Tañada said.
FNYO is composed of 21 active Catholic youth organizations across the country that are recognized by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Youth.
The members of the youth group also watched the live feed of Calungsod’s canonization held at the Vatican.
Julie Ann Regencia, a 21-year-old engineering student of the Rizal Technological University in Mandaluyong City, could identify herself with Calungsod.
“He was just like us, young catechists,” Regencia said.
For her, Calungsod’s sainthood was a good way to reach the youth and tell them his good deeds and heroic acts.
“In the future, we can do what he had also done. We could be like him in one way or another,” she said.
A fourth year high school student of Don Bosco, Shayne Espiritu said she thought at first that Calungsod was older.
“It was amusing that he was 14 years old then,” she said, recalling how young Calungsod was when he joined the Jesuit priests in their mission and thinking that at her age, she could also do something for others.