(First row, from left) Mark Joseph Jimena, Rodel Nico Ferreras, Marco Labayandoy, Mark Jed Descalsote, Arvin Estonato and Christian Dave Alvarina; (standing, from left) the author, Joan Garay, Jessa Deocareza, Rose Ann Guab, Dannielyn Brecia, Fr. Gerard Deveza, Janet Doma, Ana Grace Guab, Aprilyn Lasay, Ma. Isabel Fundales and Annie Lim Kawpeng.
Photos by Rotina Lim and Lucy Lee
Celebrate love
FAMILY JEWELS - Michelle Dayrit-Soliven (The Philippine Star) - April 28, 2019 - 12:00am

If there is anyone I know who thrives on celebrating love, it is Fr. Gerard Deveza. This compassionate healing priest just turned 63 and chose to celebrate through a concert to benefit the students of the Divine Healer Academy, a mission school he founded in the lovely province of Sorsogon. In lieu of gifts, he requested a love offering in order for the underprivileged yet deserving students to continue their education for another school year.

The opening number featured 35 students who came all the way from Sorsogon to stun the audience with an engaging hand mime performance to the music of The Greatest Showman. Gifted performer Ding Mercado generously shared his musical prowess through a non-stop, no-intermission concert with talented guest singers Paul Dato, Owie Divina, Veron Divina and Wen Lasala who sang their hearts out, delighting the audience with their ‘70s and contemporary medleys.

(Left) Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon founder Fr. Gerard Deveza. (Right) Commencement speaker Annie Lim Kawpeng.

The show ended with dancing and singing to the funky tune of Celebration as members of the Healing Servants Foundation carried up a birthday cake to show their love and appreciation to their beloved founder while the students distributed their “thank you” tokens to the kind guest benefactors who filled the Samsung Hall at SM Aura in Taguig City.

A week later came another big celebration: the graduation of the Grade 12 Divine Healer Academy of Sorsogon  students. Since most of them came in as kindergarten and finally graduated after 14 years, it was quite an emotional moment for Father Gerard who loves them like his own children. The priest was beaming all throughout as he watched them receive their diplomas and medals, which he blessed during the Baccalaureate Mass in the new Reconciliation Chapel.

The Reconciliation Chapel is a big dream come true for Father Gerard who waited many years for God to grant his wish for the students to have their own chapel by the entrance of the school grounds. Father wishes to thank all those who helped build this beautiful chapel with their generous love.

Father Gerard invited my Assumption batch mate Annie Lim Kawpeng, who has an advocacy called Teach Pray Love, a group of teacher-friends who give workshops to teachers and daycare workers in underprivileged communities. So passionate is she about her social work focusing on education, building classrooms, providing school supplies, helping teachers and promoting Alpabasa so Filipino children can read. Annie delivered an inspiring graduation speech full of wisdom to the grateful students, their parents and teachers. 

(From left) Owie Divina, Karen Lasala, Ding Mercado, Veron Divina and Paul Dato.

“Enjoy this new journey. Bring God with you,” she urged the graduates. “Have the presence of the Lord in your every step. Everything good will follow.”

She told the students how to live a happy life. “Be so in love with God. When you love, you also trust. He will take care of all your fears.”

She continued, “When you meet new friends and classmates, if God is with you, He will help you to choose your friends and develop sincerity. When you meet your teachers, if God is with you, He will teach you respect and eagerness to learn. When you study, if God is with you, He will teach you diligence, perseverance and honesty. When you play sports, do projects in a group, if God is with you, He will teach you teamwork, leadership and fairness. When you speak, if God is with you, He will teach you how to be proper, kind and gentle with words. In your family, if God is with you, He will teach you love and respect. When God is with you, it is possible to feel peace amidst the storm.

“Dear graduates, begin with God, walk with God and end with God. It is not what you reach at the end. It is how you journeyed with Him. He will take care of you. Guaranteed.  Just trust Him completely,” she concluded.

* * *

(Would love to hear from you at miladayjewels@yahoo.com.)

DIVINE HEALER ACADEMY OF SORSOGON GERARD DEVEZA
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