AOLG: ‘We are the body of Christ’

AOLG students are pictured with the recipients of their donations to help feed the hungry. Pictured left to right in the front row are Sister Dorothy Lettiere, RSM for the AOLG Walking Nuns, Atty. Rod Jacob for the Feed25 Program, Archbishop Michael Byrnes, AOLG president Sister Mary Angela Perez, RSM, AOLG principal Mary A.T. Meeks, Mercy Action Marianas, Ltd. (MAML) chairman John Reyes, Jr., and MAML board members Sister Mary Brigid Perez, RSM, and Bernice Flores-Burrier; in second row are Mareyne Florendo, Coleen Valencia, Dolores Cruz, Cecilia Cesa, and Rachel Sun; in third row are Arielle Candelario, Abreanna Cruz, Maya Jacob, MaryAnn McMurray, Victoria Montinola, and Madison Mafnas. Not shown is MAML president Sister Mary Cabrini Taitano, RSM. (Photo courtesy of Academy of Our Lady of Guam)

For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

His Excellency, Archbishop Michael Byrnes, visited the Academy of Our Lady of Guam High School on Apr. 12, 2019 and spent the morning celebrating Mass and meeting with the faculty and students.  His visit was part of his scheduled annual visits to the archdiocesan schools.

The visit opened with welcoming remarks from AOLG president Sister Mary Angela Perez, RSM. In her opening remarks, she indicated that the theme for the visit was “We are the body of Christ.” In her remarks, she paved the path that would tie in the entire visit to what Archbishop Byrnes would sum up in his homily that the students’ actions in the community such as feeding the hungry, visiting the homeless, protecting the earth, and learning how to live in a diversified world are what the “daughter[s] of Christ” are called to do in the world.

After opening the visit, Archbishop Byrnes responded to questions from the students. The open “Q&A” session ranged from if he still supports his home state sports to the current archdiocese filing of bankruptcy under Chapter 11. Questions raised from the recent passing of the cannabis law to what advice on how students can address their non-Catholic friends when they question about the current situation with the priests in the archdiocese were also raised.

AOLG Senior Madison Mafnas, standing on the left, opened the Q&A section of the visit by asking Archbishop Byrnes, right, if he still supports the teams of his home state. He stated, “Yes, I’m from Detroit, Michigan, and I still support the Lions and the Tigers, who are rebuilding.” (Photo courtesy of Academy of Our Lady of Guam)

After sharing many enlightening responses, he wrapped up the “Q&A” responding to questions of personal nature, such as his family, favorite type of music and artist, and if he has ever performed an exorcism. In his final remarks, he reminded the students of the importance of a college degree. He compared the “piece of paper” one gets upon receiving one’s degree is like obtaining a driver’s license: “Obtaining a degree takes a lot of work and diligence. And, you need to apply yourself—the degree shows what it takes to do in your future profession and that you are not limited to your degree.”

After Archbishop Byrnes shared with the students, Attorney Rod Jacob, also present at the visit, thanked the students for their fourth year taking part in the Feed25 Program with the Ateneo de Manila University to help feed needy schoolchildren in the Philippines. This year, the Class of 2020 raised enough money to provide 915 meals to feed children for one school year. He paraphrased Pope Francis that every one of us is made in God’s image and we should challenge ourselves and use our God-given gifts to help solve the world’s problems.

Closing the sharing assembly prior to the eucharistic celebration by Archbishop Byrnes, two groups received donations raised by the Academy family, as “part of the body of Christ,” to help in their respective causes.  The Mercy Action Marianas, Ltd. received a donation for their “Traveling Pantry” to help feed the hungry in the villages, and the Academy’s “Walking Nuns” received a donation to help replenish food and other needs for the homeless in Hagåtña.

“Un dang’kulo na si Yu’os ma’ase” to Archbishop Byrnes for a wonderful and memorable visit and to the invited guests and members of the Academy family who made this visit a success. Kudos to the Academy students for their continued support in sharing their God-given gifts to help those in need.