The guest preacher at Christ Church Cathedral (CCC), Sunday, June 18, Second Sunday after Pentecost was the Very Reverend Lucresia Turtem, dean and rector of All Saints’ the Cathedral Church of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines (EDNP) located in the city of Bontoc. The EDNP has been in an official Companion Diocese relationship with the Diocese of New Westminster since May of 2016.
Padi Lucresia arrived with her colleague, the Reverend Elvie Tulingan on June 8, the primary purpose for their visit was to attend the 2017 week long version of the Diocesan School for Parish Development held June 11-17 at VST.Padi Elvie was scheduled to preach at the Children and Youth Service, June 18 at St. Laurence, Coquitlam.
Padi Lucresia began her sermon at CCC with an admission that she was very nervous at the prospect of speaking to people that she did not know, and she also apologized for her English. She brought greetings from her parish, the companion parish to CCC and from her bishop, the Right Reverend Brett Alawas.
Early in her address, Dean Turtem said that CCC is always in the prayers of the people at All Saints’, EDNP. She went on to describe the role of “Prayer Warriors”, approximately 20 (mostly women) members of retirement age and beyond who gather at All Saints’ every morning at 6am for Holy Communion and prayers. In EDNP (as in many dioceses throughout the Anglican Communion) churches are often closed from Sunday afternoon until the next Sunday morning but the 20 women at All Saints’ keep the light of Christ burning all week. Anglicans don’t just gather on Sunday and then do their own thing the rest of the week.
For Padi Lucresia this trip to the Diocese of New Westminster is a blessing. “It gives more sense to what we are doing (as companions)...” in connecting with the people whom they are praying for, it “gives a feeling words cannot explain…it is so powerful praying with a partner.”
Padi Lucresia’s disclaimer that her facility with English is poor was not born out by the content of her homily. Using the extended metaphors of a cooking fire that is never extinguished and of a box of matches kept in a darkened room she developed metaphor into parable as she connected the Gospel reading for the day Matthew 9:35 – 10:8 to our goal as Christians to share the Light of Christ. She connected the feeling that she is currently experiencing of meeting the people in the Diocese of New Westminster (whom she and her community pray for) with Jesus’ actions of travelling from village to village, synagogue to synagogue, and sending people out in pairs to share the Good News.
“Our world is getting smaller but our task (in mission) is getting larger”, she said as she told the CCC congregation about the campaign to encourage people in the EDNP who believe they have a call to ministry to enter seminaries. She also pointed out that the most enthusiastic reaction to the campaign comes from those people living outside of cities, in tribal communities who are burning with the Light of Christ. More “labourers” are needed for “many people are yearning for Jesus.”
When she had concluded her address, the Very Reverend Lucresia Turtem received an enthusiastic burst of applause from the CCC congregation.
Her homily also included an open invitation to all to come and visit the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines “to visit and worship” and to perhaps experience the “feelings” that she is experiencing while here in the Diocese of New Westminster.