Fr. Gerard Deveza: ‘I love to help; helping others makes my heart smile’
(The Philippine Star) - August 31, 2014 - 12:00am

Helping others is good for the heart.  Fr. Gerard Deveza, who founded the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon in 2003 for the poor and deserving students in Cabid-an, Sorsogon, says he loves to help because “helping others make my heart smile.”

Fr. Gerard, a healing priest, welcomes people to his life with a ready smile that emanates from his serene countenance. He talks gently but is firm in his conviction that the kindness of people heals.

“The kindness of people heals because it makes many hearts smile,” he says. I believe him. After all, a happy heart is the spawning ground of God’s many wonders and miracles.

He punctuates his belief that the generosity of every individual he meets — on the street, inside the church, in an alley of a grocery store, in the plane, or during awards night (for Fr. Gerard was honored early this year by the no-nonsense and respected PeopleAsia magazine as one of its People of the Year awardees) — is instrumental in building a better society. In fact, he decided to put up the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon because of his utmost desire to bring change to the lives of many children of Sorsogon, the place where he was ordained as a priest 33 years ago. Through the generosity of kind-hearted individuals, the mission school has continued to exist for 11 years now, with Kinder to fourth year high school students who enjoy free quality education, free shoes, bags, school supplies, uniform, among others.

To the 352 students of the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon, Fr. Gerard is their meek and mild “father” at school. And true to form, the priest takes his fatherhood role to the best of his abilities. The good-natured students of the mission school are aware that their “father” works hard for them as he knocks at the heart of friends and strangers, even literally knocking at their gates at home, so they would be assured of their education, their ticket to the future, their passport to dreamland.

“I love to see these schoolchildren successful in the future. They are a good reason why I also persevere in life,” the 58-year-old priest says.

Every year, Fr. Gerard and the members of the Healing Servants Foundation, a non-profit organization he spearheaded in 2002, raise money through golf events and concerts. On Sept. 20, the foundation will stage again a “funraising” event starring the very funny Jon Santos with the students of the mission school as the beneficiaries. Also, proceeds of the concert will be used for the reconstruction of the classrooms damaged by typhoon Glenda recently. The 8-p.m. concert will be held at The Alpha Tents, on the sixth floor of the Alphaland Southgate Towers on Pasong Tamo cor. EDSA in Makati City.

“Helping these kids make my heart, mind and spirit healthy. Even when there are tough times in gathering funds for the school, I don’t worry because I know God is in control. God led me to this advocacy. So, I always have faith that God will not fail me and the students. I just believe. That’s my faith,” he says.

This seed of kindness germinated when in 2002, one of the nuns of the Sister Servants of the Divine Healer congregation in Sorsogon asked Fr. Gerard if he could sponsor a child to study in any school in Sorsogon. Feeling that it was time to start giving back to his own province, Fr. Gerard said yes right away. 

He was set on sending just one child to school when the nun told him there were 24 other schoolchildren who would need financial assistance. The priest was not cowed by the idea that he could send all those 25 children to school even if that time he didn’t know where he would get the money for their schooling. He just felt that an opportunity to help was presented to him by God and he did not think twice to knock at people’s hearts to be able to help him accomplish his dreams for the kids.

From a tiny classroom fashioned from the old convent of the nuns of the congregation in Sorsogon, the mission school has now become a lush one-hectare, multi-structured academy with happy and helpful students enjoying their very green surroundings. The students are lovingly cared for by the nuns and the 22 teaching staff of the school.

Fr. Gerard’s act of kindness spawned to become the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon today. And those original 25 Kindergarten students graduated from high school last March. Fr. Gerard and the members of the Healing Servants Foundation even guide them to this day in finding scholarships for their college education. 

“It is my dream to put up a college for these children. I dream big because I know I have a bigger God who will one day hear my prayers,” Fr. Gerard says. He adds that the “How far can your P50 go?” campaign, which he launched in 2010, where every kind-hearted soul can donate P50 for the trust fund of the schoolchildren of the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon, has now generated a total of P8 million. In simple mathematics, that sum represents the 160,000 individuals who have taken a stake for the future of the students of the mission school by contributing P50 each.

In the process of knocking at people’s hearts, Fr. Gerard also stumbled upon people who are more than willing to donate their time to teach the students of the mission school. Many Filipinos and foreigners have visited the school to deliver lectures on health, sports, computer science, even campus journalism.

Fr. Gerard is confident God will grant the pleas of his kind heart. After all, he is a firm believer that the kindness of people heals. The kindness of people fortifies other people’s dreams.

Fr. Gerard loves to help his “children” at the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon because helping them makes his heart smile. And his heart has been flashing that big, big smile for a long time now.

 

(For more information about the Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon, visit www.healingservants.com.)

 

(For your new beginnings, e-mail me at bumbaki@yahoo.commailto:bumbaki@yahoo.com. I’m also on Twitter @bum_tenorio and Instagram @bumtenorio.

Have a blessed Sunday!)

 

TEE OFF FOR YOLANDA SURVIVORS. The Assumption Alumnae Association (AAA) invites golf enthusiasts to the Assumption Alumnae Golf Tournament on Sept. 8 at the Sta. Elena Golf Club in Cabuyao, Laguna. This fundraising tournament is for the benefit of the AAA Cares project, which helps in building homes at the Yolanda-ravaged areas in Mercedes, Eastern Samar. For inquiries, call the AAA office at 894-3561 and look for Connie or Everly.

ACADEMY DIVINE DIVINE HEALER ACADEMY OF SORSOGON GERARD HEALER PEOPLE SCHOOL SORSOGON STUDENTS
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