Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Bishop Ambo David and the prisoners

This is a heart-warming story written by Bishop "Ambo" David. I know him personally -- cool, warm and very friendly priest, now a Bishop. He is the younger brother of my former boss for 3 years, Prof. Randy David during 'Public Forum' days in IBC Ch 13 in the 90s. When I went to the Netherlands for 3+ months in 1987, I was also able to see him in his graduate school, University of Louvaine I think, in Belgium.

Pablo Virgilio David
October 28 at 7:55 PM


I celebrated a Sunday Mass this morning at the fully-packed Caloocan city Jail. I was aware that Sunday was their visiting day so I didn’t want to delay the Mass, knowing that a delay would shorten their time with their families. I really thought they all had visitors. On my way out, after the Mass, some of them had been assigned to stand as marshals on either side of the path leading to the exit door, with their arms locked to each other’s, in order to facilitate my exit from the prison chapel. One of the inmates assigned to keep the line unbroken was sweating under the weltering heat of the sun when I passed in front of him. He looked up at me with contrite eyes, his arms linked with those of his fellow marshals on his right and on his left, and said: “Father! Father, please bless me po!” He bowed his head and i put my hand on the crown of his head. When he looked up again he had tears in his eyes as he said “Thank you po! Pls pray that I be able to return to my family soon!” I looked at him and said, “Yes, I’ll pray for that!” Perhaps because I stopped and they saw that I laid my hands on one of the marshals, the rest of the inmates at the back started stretching out their hands to seek my blessing too. The marshals did not prevent them anymore. Soon, those on the other side were also pleading, “Here too, father!” One of the ‘mayores’ said to him: “He’s a bishop!” The man quickly corrected himself and said, “Father bishop! Please bless us too!” I turned to his direction and said, “I am hurrying because I don’t want to deprive you of your time with your visitors.” The man said, “We have no visitors, Father.” I looked at him and I said, “Ok. In that case, let me be your visitor today, ok?” They answered in unison, “Yes, po! Thank you for visiting us!”

The heads that I laid hands on were greasy. The hand-clasps that I got were tight, like they wanted to hold on, desperate for a little blessing. One of them proudly presented to me his son, a little hare-lipped boy who smiled from ear to ear despite his severely deformed mouth and teeth. Before I stepped out of their quarters, they asked for a group photo with me. I suggested a wacky pose, signaling a little heart sign with the thumb and the forefinger pressed on each other. They imitated my wacky pose and, after the group photo, warmly waved goodbye to me.

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