Filipino Community Honors Patron Saint
By Lynne Conner, Observer Correspondent
October 6, 2022
LOVES PARK—The Greater Rockford Filipino American Catholic Community gathered in song, prayer and fellowship to celebrate the Feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz, Sept. 25, at St. Bridget Parish. 
St. Lorenzo Ruiz is honored as the patron saint of the Philippines, Filipino youth, people working overseas, and altar servers. He lived during the 17th century, was martyred in Japan, and was canonized by St. Pope John Paul II in 1987. 
“The story of St. Lorenzo Ruiz is not just a story of martyrdom, but it’s a great conversion story as well,” said Jason Sturgis one of the event’s organizers. “Lorenzo Ruiz was falsely accused of murder and fled the Philippines as a sailor. He had a great conversion that led him to preach the Gospel in Japan where he was ultimately martyred.”
Father Ariel Valencia, spiritual director of the Greater Rockford Filipino American Catholic Community said that the life of San Lorenzo Ruiz reminds Catholics of how God used an ordinary person for an extraordinary purpose. “More than anything, San Lorenzo Ruiz’s quote, ‘I am a Catholic and wholeheartedly do accept death for God; Had I a thousand lives, all these to Him shall I offer,’ serves to help us offer our lives, in one way or another, for the faith.”
“The feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz is a very big event for Filipino Catholics. He is a great example to follow, especially now when so many people are struggling in their faith life,” commented Olivia Sturgis, another event organizer.
The afternoon’s festivities included a San Lorenzo Ruiz procession around the grounds of St. Bridget Church, followed by a rosary and Mass celebrated by Bishop David Malloy. In his homily, Bishop Malloy challenged those gathered to pursue a deeper commitment to their faith in daily life. 
“That normal life of Lorenzo Ruiz was filled with prayer, filled with faith. As part of whatever else we are called to do, integrate the Catholic faith, which is such a gift, into family life, into work, and into school,” he said.
“The lesson we can learn from St. Lorenzo Ruiz is that we do not have to be perfect at the moment,” Bishop Malloy contended. “For the Filipino community and for all of us; there will be trials in life, there will be challenges and difficulties. 
“Can we not learn from Lorenzo and ask for his intercession? Even if there are flaws in our faith, there is still time to repent. God gives us grace and strength and the welcome, that we should never give up and never despair.”
The celebration concluded with a pig roast potluck held in the parish’s Mitchell Hall.
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