A Church Bids Goodbye To Its Priest

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Last night, at 7pm, our beloved parish priest, Fr. Steve Zabala, celebrated his last mass in our newly-built church. After the communion, we sang his favorite song "In Him Alone," with the Dulaang Sibol Choir -- with the legendary Onofre Pagsanhan conducting -- leading the congregation, and us, Music Ministry, all in red, performing the actions of the song. Fr. Steve then gave his farewell speech, and at the end of it, was almost driven to tears after a minute-long, perhaps longer, standing ovation which saw a couple of streamers declaring love for Fr. Steve being paraded on both sides of the altar.

When the mass was over, it was picture taking time with Fr. Steve in front of the church. The Music Ministry had our turn, and I also saw to it -- with the kindness of the new Ateneo High School graduate Ryan and his phone camera -- that I had a picture alone with Fr. Steve. When I embraced him, he said, "Thank you, Dino." I paused, but there was nothing to say but, "Thank you, Father." A while later, he was off to a farewell banquet at the chapel. And a little later today, at 6:30 in the morning, some of the parishioners will send Fr. Steve off with a convoy to his new parish at Proj. 6.

In his homily last night, Fr. Steve said that priests are missionaries -- he gave as examples the foreign priests in attendance -- and they go wherever they are told to go. To your current, and future missions and destinations Fr. Steve, we wish you well. For seven years of service to our community, which saw you touching so many lives, there's nothing to say, but "Thank you, Fr. Steve."