By Loretta Shea Kline, CFCA communications editor
QUEZON CITY, Philippines — About 1,000 families and staff members from three Philippine projects filled Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Quezon City in an outpouring of love for Bob Hentzen, CFCA president and co-founder, who passed away Oct. 8 in Guatemala.
The memorial Mass was one of several held throughout the Philippines on Saturday, October 12, including services in Legazpi, Zamboanga and other communities where CFCA works.
The Mass in Quezon City was attended by children, youth, elderly friends, parents and staff members from the Quezon, Antipolo and Manila projects.
“Bob’s memory and his legacy will ever be fresh in the minds of his people,” said Ed Miranda, vice president of the board of trustees for the Quezon project. “These are his people. These are the people of God entrusted to Bob, and he took good care of them.”
The Mass, celebrated in Tagalog, ended with all 1,000 in attendance holding candles and flowers as they filed out of the church. “It’s amazing how the people of the Philippines loved Sir Bob,” said Carmen Vicente, program development officer for the Manila project. “It manifested in their presence tonight.”
Elizabeth Bo, 20, a sponsored youth in the Antipolo project, is a fourth-year college student who attended the Mass with a group of friends. “I’m here to express my love with the simple action I have made,” she said. “By spending this little time, I want to honor him because without him, I don’t know if I can be here (and studying in college) today.”
Arnold Bavajadid, a leader in the ERPAT fathers group in the Antipolo project, traveled two hours in the rain to attend the Mass along with others from his community. “Without him, we don’t have CFCA to help our children,” he said. “We needed to come here to salute him and to thank him.”
The ERPAT (Empowerment and Reaffirmation of Paternal Abilities) group is involved in community service such as disaster response and house repairs.
The main celebrant of the Mass, Father Angelo Pusiquit, has encountered CFCA through partnering with the ERPAT group in community service and through sponsored youth who graduated from college and are now helping their families.
Father Angelo said he is a former street child who got an education with the help of others, and shares Bob’s vision of sponsorship as a way to empower people and transform lives.
“To be free from the bonds of impoverishment, that is the work of Bob,” he said.