Once again I sit multitasking at my office desk. Which necessarily includes going over my FB News Feed, even just in the “background.” But suddenly, I am completely stalled. No, not again — I think to myself. I am stopped and stuck in my tracks, in a state of shock, sadness, and anger. Once again I am compelled to interrupt the sequence of my blog entries. The Part 2 of my previous blog entry can wait: no problem. There is something more urgent now. Another teenager has been killed. I don’t even need to go to further details. (Just read the news article if you still need).
Of course there’s a whole lot of other news items, what with so many issues raging. Truly, there’s no rest for the wicked. But this particular one about 14-year-old Reynaldo de Guzman is simultaneously heartbreaking and disgusting.
I even felt also some poignancy, somehow. Earlier (before I chanced upon the news item), I gave a talk to a group of youth here in our retreat house. It’s the usual welcome and orientation talk to a group of newly arrived retreatants, students from a noted university whose administration has been our long-time partner in the retreat ministry.
This time I will elaborate. The group is the numerically largest we have so far this year: more than ninety college graduating students, young men and women with great expectations, at the cusp of a new chapter in their lives.
I really enjoy doing this retreat welcome talk. In fact it’s even almost I who does it always, especially when it’s for religious, or our lay mission partners who all come over here for their retreats. But in the case of graduating students, there is an added dimension of significance and importance.
They have been with their classmates for four years or so, going through the same hardships and struggles. The immediate future now beckons them to higher goals and potentials. They are, like, excited and eager. I assure them that we Salesians and lay staff assigned here make it a point to pray for them, specifically for them to have a fruitful retreat.
Sadly, for the likes of Kian Loyd delos Santos, Carl Arnaiz, and Reynaldo de Guzman, it will not be so. Obviously by now, there will be no such things as retreats or graduations for them. Instead, their dreams and aspirations for a bright future have been snuffed out suddenly, ruthlessly, violently. The very society which would have somehow benefited from their gifts and talents has been deprived. Or perhaps the same society which ought to have provided them security and safety in the first place has failed. God bless their souls.
All this time somehow the U2 anthem has been ringing in my ears. “How long? How long must we sing our song?” A few friends have been insisting on me for some time now: just holler, we’ll follow you and we’ll troop to the streets.
A typical college course is four years; a retreat, three days. Now in just about a week, three promising teenagers have been killed, almost one after the other.
Enough is enough. Time doesn’t matter anymore, and has in fact ran out. It’s time to move. Our youth can’t wait.
MartYM or Fr. Martin Macasaet, SDB, SThD is a professor of Youth Ministry. He received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome.