A few months back, I wrote about a miracle I had witnessed. It was the story of Lambert. Now his story moves on and this time, another fellow seminarian from our common past enters the picture and becomes a heartwarming part of the story.
There is something about studying in the seminary. Something happens to a person that seems to be indelible and becomes part of his personhood, never to be erased. I guess when priests are told on their ordination day, “Tu es sacerdos in aeternum.”, the indelible imprint starts being seared into a man’s character as early as his seminary formation. Ed and Lambert may have left the seminary; but the seminary never left their hearts.
I guess this was especially true of Lambert who has maintained a healthy relationships with people he was in the seminary with. I was in regular contact with my own classmates and close friends and he would often join us when we got together. The picture below is on such occasion. This picture was taken some fourteen years ago during the episcopal ordination of Bishop Francis de Leon. And this photo has a prophetic ring to it.
Even then, Lambert would say in jest that should he become a widower, he would probably go back to the seminary to try, finish his priestly formation and get himself ordained a priest. And what do you know, soon after Vilma’s demise, Lambert went into a serious discernment about being a priest. To make a long period of prayers and consultations, Lambert went to finish his theological studies and scouted around for a Bishop who would be willing to ordain him, given his unique and unusual circumstances. And guess who that Bishop is – this same Bishop Francis de Leon. Lambert is now a Deacon and he is scheduled to be ordained a priest on June 1, 2018.
Ed also never quite forgot his life in the seminary. On his death bed, Ed wanted to leave as among his legacy a mass chalice that some deserving priest can use in his ministry. This is a common practice among member of the Knights of Columbus. Ed wanted someone he knew to donate his memorial chalice to. I told him about Lambert. And the two of them got in contact: Lambert in the Philippines and Ed in Texas, USA. And this is the chalice that Ed gifted to Lambert for his ordination to the priesthood.
This is the ‘Thank You’ note that the very grateful Rev. Lambert wrote to the grieving but at peace widow of Ed, Lynn Mendoza. All the pain, sacrifices and sufferings, all the hopes, dreams and aspirations, all the loving, caring and sharing, all the faith, the hope and the joys of a lasting brotherhood, finally come together and are distilled in this one letter.
Back in the seminary we called this Vinculum Caritatis.