In My Fathers’ House
"In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14: 2
When asked by a friend where in Cagayan de Oro was the best place to eat, Fr. Jett readily replied, “Loyola House.” The president of Xavier University was not kidding nor was he being partial to the members of his community at the Jesuit Residence. He was simply telling the truth.
It is not really that we have feast everyday. Special dinners at Loyola House are limited to major Church holidays, feast days of Ignatius and Xavier and birthdays of Jesuit priests and brothers. Outside of these special occasions, mealtimes at Loyola are plain ordinary. However, among the younger Jesuits of the house, we are in agreement that it is always better to eat at home rather than in any other place in the city because it is expensive to eat outside and the food is not always as good.
What is the secret of Loyola House? What makes residents and visitors stay for dinners and give generous comments on our meals? In my two years of stay at Loyola House, I have not purposely missed any dinner as much as I would not want to miss our communal liturgical activities. I have been thinking what makes our community special, what’s in it that we could forego invitations to eat in posh restaurants just to be with our fathers and brothers. These may be the reasons why.
We have an excellent chef in the person of Bro. Jody who is in charge of the kitchen, dinner preparations and serving. He is our secret weapon. His taste buds are as discriminating as Remy of the Ratatouille animated movie. He is very strict in the choice of ingredients, always insisting on the exact amount, freshest quality and instructs the kitchen staff to meticulously follow cooking directions.
But more than the food, I think it is the companionship, the collegiality and friendship of this motley crew of Jesuits with age gap as wide as six decades that keeps us together at dinner tables. We may be as colorful as any cast of characters in a comedy series or we may have different temperaments ranging from the saintly to the combustible, one common thread that binds us all is our love for conversations. Pick any topic under the sun, comment on it and pretty soon you’ll have the Jesuits around you talking seriously, passionately and animatedly about it.
We also like some friendly banter, the joking around at the expense of oneself and one another. Former Fr. General Pedro Arrupe cautioned young men who wanted to enter the Society of Jesus with this: You have to have a sense of humor if you want to join the Jesuits. This love of humor and exchange of sharp wit spice up any of our stale viands and transform them into something ambrosial.
However, for us scholastics who recently finished our regency assignments at Xavier University, what we would certainly miss is our fathers and brothers who are so unsparing with their praises and so lavish with their care and concern for us. Whenever we do the littlest things, they are always there to thank us and congratulate us, profusely and sincerely, that it sometimes makes us blush. They look for us whenever we are not around, wish us good luck on our upcoming projects and activities, ask later on about its successes and short-comings, pray for us when we leave for distant places and welcome us back home with smiles on their faces. You can’t get that even in the most expensive restaurant in all of Cagayan.
They say that Cagayan is the City of Golden Friendship. It is true. I have gained some good friends here, sometimes whole families. But what I would really cherish and miss most as I go back to Manila is the friendship that I made inside our very own home, in my fathers’ house.
To the members of Loyola House Jesuit Community, for inspiring us, mentoring us, showing us the deeper meaning of “Friends in the Lord,” A BIG THANK YOU.