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April 28, 2014

You Can’t Interview God (But You Can Talk to the Ones He Called)

Ma. Ceres Doyo

Church men and women rarely get into the limelight, save for a handful who’ve taken up public causes. Award-winning journalist Ma. Ceres Doyo has been writing about these in a series of articles in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. These were later compiled and jointly published under Anvil Publishing Inc. and Inquirer Books in 2013, under the title “You Can’t Interview God: Church Men and Women in the News”.

Through these stories, we are given a glimpse of the real people behind the names and faces that have, at one time or another, bannered the news. Doyo’s choice of personalities breaks the biases and stereotypes some people have about priests and the religious. While one may not be able to interview God, “you can interview people and have a glimpse of what working for God’s Kingdom is all about”, as Sr. Mary John Mananzan OSB observed in the book’s foreword.

In her preface, Doyo states her hope that the book “can both inspire and disturb. This book is supposed to be a feel-good book. But it could also be a feel-bad book.”

“Feel-good because it is mostly a celebration of individual lives lived to the full and in the service of God and others, lives worthy of imitation regardless of clime and time. Feel-bad because a number of the church persons featured in this book are no longer with us, their lives nipped while in full flowering”, Doyo wrote.

The stories are grouped into seven sections: Breaking Ground, Healing Wounds, Blood Offerings, Uncommon Women, Into the Wild, Servant Shepherds, and The Raging. While most of the stories talked about local personalities, there are a few religious from overseas whose tales of faithful adherence to the Church’s call of service made them worthy additions to this book.

There are stories of healing, such as those done by Sr. Raquel Reodica, Fr. Fernando Suarez, and Fr. Efren Borromeo. There are those who walked in the shoes of the poor and the oppressed, such as “Sr.Victoria Miranda” of the underground movement, or the four young sisters of the Siervas de Sand Jose who labored as factory workers while keeping their religious identities secret.

And there are the martyrs, men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in obedience to the Lord’s call of “Love thy neighbor”. Read how Fr. Rhoel Gallardo, Bishop Benjamin de Jesus, and Sr. Dorothy Stang received this gift as they worked in the vineyards of the Lord. Learn how four Good Shepherd sisters gave their life vests to passengers of MV Cassandra as it sank in November 1983.

By putting a name and a face on some of the Church’s sons and daughters, Doyo wove a fascinating tapestry of tales that is human yet touched by the spark of the Divine.

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