Dear sisters and brothers,
Like in the day of Pentecost, we are united under the loving gaze of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in this church dedicated to her. We come together, as disciples of Jesus Christ, to ask for the presence of the Holy Spirit to help us understand the mystery of our human life and, in particular, the life and passing of Br. Robin Benjamín del Rosario Bernabé.
Let me invite you to discover that in this church the people of God, the Holy Church is present in us: lay women and men, the religious women and men, the ordained ministers and our beloved Archbishop John G. Vlazny.
The Word of God proclaimed in our midst offers us light, insight and consolation.
The first reading, taken from Isaiah, clearly says: God will destroy death forever! It doesn’t say that dying will be vanquished from the earth, but that God will destroy death forever.
It is beautiful to see that the promise is made to all the nations, to all peoples, to the whole world. What a wonderful way to speak of God’s inclusive heart: life for all!
At the end of life, even if we have to pass through the bitter trial of dying, even if it is unexpected and tragic, there is a banquet, a celebration, an encounter that brings joy and gladness. This is true for Br. Robin! Yesterday, I was helping to vest him with the habit of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit and, in my heart, I was telling Robin: “This is true for you-- God gives life eternal, and now you know it!
The second reading, in my opinion, is one of the most enthusiastic passages of Paul’s letters. God so loved the women and men of all races, tongues, peoples and nations that He gave his only son. Jesus died on the cross for us, but he is alive and forever intercedes for us so that nothing may be able to separate us from him. Think of our brother Robin along his life and at the time of his tragic accident. Think of the many women and men who pass away every day. Anguish, distress, or death cannot separate them from Jesus’ love.
According to the Word of God, neither the present, nor the powers or heights or depths can shadow the encounter: God is our God and we belong to him!
This summer, Br. Robin devoted over two months to a spiritual experience called “Second Novitiate”. It is a time in which you review your whole life story in the perspective of the eyes of God, and you ask yourself what is God’s plan for you from eternity. At the end of that time, Robin came to the conclusion that his call was to be a Missionary of the Holy Spirit for the rest of his life. On November 2nd at around 2:30 pm, God met Robin and sealed his desire: the first Missionary of the Holy Spirit from the Philippines entered paradise. Indeed, nothing can separate us from Jesus Christ!
Finally let us see the Gospel. It speaks about the tender and caring love of our heavenly Father and of his providence. He knows what we need and he is there to provide for us.
Is this a mirage? Is this true in the present situation? Let me share with you the way God showed his fatherly/motherly love for us in this difficult situation:
Ø Fr. Philip, you became for us a clear sign of God when you came to the house to deliver the terrible news to our students, and when you went to the scene of the accident to pray for Robin and be with him.
Ø A Good Samaritan came by and covered Robin with a quilt.
Ø Fr. Joseph called right after I had received the news… Fr. Joseph, you were a consoling brother.
Ø Aaron Duyck, our funeral director, came to our house to guide me and help me when I was really lost, right after I finished the former conversation.
Ø Many of you, women and men who came to the House of Studies, Seminarians, Faculty and Staff, women religious and members of the Abbey.
You were for us the loving presence of our Heavenly Father!
Ø The fact that Fr. Juan, Fr. Gerardo, Fr. Peter and Fr. Joel were in LA, made it possible for the Congregation to be also with Robin’s Mom and family.
Ø The awesome Benedictine hospitality in every corner and in every member of the Abbey, especially in the person of Abbot Gregory, and of the Seminary community
Ø Archbishop Vlazny, your call and your paternal love brought you here to be a cornerstone of unity in this gathering. Thank you for being here with us today!
To my eyes, all of these events are like sacraments of God’s love. Moreover, the people I just referred to and many others, are the loving and providential presence of God the Father! In you and through you, God came to us in history, providing for us care, love, and consolation.
I would like to close by saying a word to the member of our young and small Province, Robin’s passing can be seen as a loss. I will dare to say that it is first and foremost a win. Through these events,
Ø We have come to know Robin in a new light.
Ø We have his example of daily and final commitment to imitate.
Ø We have an intercessor in heaven.
Ø We have the first Missionary of the Holy Spirit from Asia together with Conchita and Fr. Felix.
I could go on and on… All I want to say is that the Word we have proclaimed today is fulfilled in our midst.
Let me invite you to close by reciting the second part of the Hail Mary thinking of her presence at Robin’s side and asking her to be with us at the moment of our death.
Domenico Di Raimondo, MSpS
There is really nothing adequate that can be said at the hundred of signs of love, prayer, and support we have received since last Friday.
On behalf of the Del Rosario and Bernabe families, and of my brothers in the Province I want to thank you all for making the love and providence of our caring God so visible, so real, so concrete to us. Every card, every letter, phone call, email, and Facebook post, have reminded us that we are not alone, and that our God is a loving God.
Archbishop Vlazny, thank you for being our good shepherd for the “Misioneros” in the times of joy and also in the times of sorrow. You have been most kind to us and we appreciate more than words can express you presiding this Eucharist.
To Abbot Gregory, and the monastic community, Fr. Joseph Betschart and the community of Mt. Angel Seminary –seminarians, faculty and staff- thank you for being part of our lives, for your support, your prayer, and your help organizing the funeral services of Br. Robin.
To Fr. Phillip Waibel, and the parish community of St. Mary who for more than 13 years have welcomed so many of us, thank you for your pastoral care.
To our brother priests who made the time to concelebrate in this Eucharist. Your friendship, support and partnership in ministry are so important to us. Thank you for being here.
To the Benedictine Sisters, the Carmelite, and to the religious communities of men and women who have been so close to us, to the hundreds of lay man and woman you have reached out to us… we receive your kindness and appreciate it more than what words can describe.
We are certain that there is a resurrection… for many reasons, and among them because, in the midst of this most painful event, we experience that deep presence of Christ trough the love of all of you here.
After the services conclude here in Oregon, the body of Br. Robin will be transported to Southern California where a funeral Mass will be celebrated this coming Saturday at St. Martha Parish in Huntington Park.
Thank you for joining us this morning and we invite you to join us for a reception in the parish hall.
Lets continue to live out our baptismal calling wherever God needs us. Disciples of the Risen Lord building his Kingdom on earth, and lets continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Fr. Juan Jose Gonzalez, MSpS