Saturday, January 8, 2011

Grace and Gratitude Dinner - Dec. 30, 2010

Mon David, Nicole David and Carlo David singing their own compositions!
My neighbor's heart-shaped lilac ground flowers bounded by pink cactus flowers - it is my inspiration!

Chianti-braised filet mignon with mushrooms and sauteed red peppers

It was instinctive, actually it was a thought of the moment to thank folks who made my life lighter with  laughter, with graceful, thoughtful demeanors of service, and being sources of inspiration.  Let the photos speak for themselves.
The entire spread of steamed okra, chayote, green papaya, kalabasa, green beans, mustard greens, okra with mangoes, roasted eggplant, grape tomatoes, salted egg, shrimp paste and bagoong.  Side entrees are chianti - braised beef, garlic - braised adobo, steamed striped bass with lemon zest, ginger, tomatoes and onions and La Maison du Pain's cheese bread.

Steamed Okra

Steamed Green Beans and Mustard Greens
Here is Ruben Nepales' writeup of the evening.

P.S. Here are truly my intentions and what moved me to do it...

The dinner was instinctively planned. I did not even have a theme until one morning, my heart said " gratitude and grace " -- gratitude to the folks who love you, who help make your dreams come true, who give you a lightness about life and grace to bring in new blessings for 2011, for I believe that 1/1/11 = 4 which is unlucky in Chinese mythology, it means death, but it means death to 2010's greed, selfishness, and bringing in 1/1/2011 = which when multiplied is 22, a double dose of grace, gratitude and good blessings, just like the double rainbows we got in LA the other day.

Kazuyo's fundraiser was a miraculous success.  After waking up early to do simbang gabi, the parishioners and friends of Immaculate Heart, all 71, paid $50 for a fundraising dinner where the priests sang a total of 11 songs, where each of the five priests, Fr. Rodel Balagtas, our pastor, Fr. Camilo Pacanza ( Associate Pastor of IHMC, the broadway priest, with theater background, he was organizing plays during his school days, he went to see Oberamaggau, the passion play executed every ten years, he was trained in Ateneo, and been assigned to 7 parishes in 30 years as a priest ), Fr. John Era ( was not at my dinner ) Fr. Kenneth Masong, Fr. Anthony Carreon, and Fr. Adrian San Juan ( was not at my dinner ). I am not sure how much was raised, but it was a positive fundraiser not just in terms of unifying the core of the parish, but also raising funds for the capital campaign.

Hmm, the simbang gabi is another miracle, every morning at 430am, the church fills up, rain or shine. Some of the parishioners are caregivers, they take the bus, but they are first at the gate, like me, I was lining up with them to wait for the church gates to open at 4am.  It did not matter that it was cold, it was gray or it was raining, the parishioners were there.  In the last day, they overflowed.  But the Christmas mass at night overflowed to the sidewalks, patio, streets, and every available space, including exits and entrances had folks standing.  From over 600 to almost a thousand was the increasing attendance.  This is a phenomenon, as in St. Brendan's, Monsignor Fleming complains of decreasing attendance of their simbang and singles out the Filipino families ( which is why I stopped going there - not quite hospitable ), but Fr. Rodel has worked hard in nurturing pastoral and community unity in his parish - he holds retreats, he encourages passion plays during Holy Week, there are over 65 ministry groups, and now IHMC school started a musical program to attract more families to go to the school. 

I got to the church last Dec. 2009, so I was impressed seeing the banners that $1.9 million has been pledged, involving 80% of the parishioners. I asked Fr. Rodel how many families are those - he told me 400 families, but I suspect that has increased as they have now collected $400,000 or 21%.  When I joined the parish, Fr. Rodel reported 11% has been collected at that point, in a year, during a recessionary period when families lost jobs and some their houses, the parish increased their capital campaign collection by 10% in one year.  So, that it is in my book, miraculous. The church by the way was built during 1940s, arguably post - depression and world war II hardship years.  The church is now starting its renovation, first with the roof, again in the midst of two wars: Iraq and Afghanistan.  So, I believe there is an underlying peace and renewal mission behind this church renovation!


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