From the Parish Priest

Rev. Fr. Dennis Santos Soriano
Ten Years, Ten Lessons

8 September, Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary -- I am ten years in the priesthood. Going back to the decade that has passed, I came up with a list of simple lessons I realized in the past years. Actually there are more lessons that I can think of but I share with you ten lessons in gratitude for the ten wonderful years.

1. This is not home.

Like all of us, I am a pilgrim in this world, a visitor, passing through, never a permanent settler. This is true in two levels. First, as a diocesan priest of Cubao, all assignments I have and will have, are subject to term limits. I will always be reassigned. There will always be new assignments. There will always be a new mission, a new work, new people to meet. Second, in a more profound way like anyone else, I will face the reality of death (a daily dose of metformin never fails to remind me of this hehe). This is not permanent home for me. Home is where the Father is. So, a certain degree of detachment always works.

2. This is not my work.

God called me to be his servant, to be his priest. It is His will that I enter the seminary in high school (the Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary in Makati), that I attend Philosophy in San Carlos Seminary (and not pursue my plans to take up Political Science in UP), to finish in the Graduate School of Theology, be ordained as deacon and then as priest. God anointed me to build up his Church, to serve his people, to celebrate his sacraments, to take care of his flock, to bless his children. This is God's work. This is not my work. So, God, not I, will bring this work to fulfillment.

3. The cross is not for bad people.

Why do bad things happen to good people? This is the perennial question. Indeed, a very difficult question to answer. But eventually we begin to understand that what makes us good is not what happens to us but how we deal with what happens to us. By the life-giving love of Jesus, God has transformed the cross from being an implement of shame and punishment to becoming a mysterious instrument of grace and life. God can always write straight with our crooked ways. Nobody wants the cross, but a true Christian is not afraid of it.

4. To be broken is to be whole.

This is the lesson from the Eucharist – the bread of life, broken and shared. The mystery of sharing is that we become whole; we become who we are according to the plan of God when we give ourselves. In giving we let go, we sacrifice, we expose ourselves to rejection, we are broken, yet, mysteriously we find joy, we become complete. The life of a priest is a life of giving, sharing, offering, caring. Without being broken, no one can truly give; no one can truly be whole.

5. Silence speaks.

Silence seemed to have no place in the modern world. It’s a rare commodity if not non-existent at all. Time spent in silence is regarded as time wasted, useless and meaningless. For some, keeping quiet is a trait of the coward, the soft and the weak. But genuine communication only happens in silence. Real understanding, sincere dialogue and heartfelt listening are realized only in silence. In the midst of countless and oftentimes conflicting voices that grab our attention, silence makes us discern well, prioritize right and decide wisely. Silence makes life more bearable. Silence makes us sane.

6. Prayer is life.

To begin to neglect prayer is to begin dying inside . It’s a lack that will eat us up from the inside – whole and okey outside but rotting and decomposing inside. Without prayer, one becomes empty, hollow, lifeless. Prayer is non-negotiable.

7. Alone but not lonely.

I am not married. I have no wife. I have no one beside me in bed – I had no one and will never have one. I have no children. When I became I priest I got officially separated from my family. I am alone. But I am not lonely. I have the joy of fulfilling what God wants for me. I have the warmth of the community entrusted to me. I have the mission of my ministry. I have the love of family and friends. I have the embrace of the Eucharist, the consolation of confession and the solace of prayer, solitude and silence. I am alone and will always be, but I am not lonely.

8. “Auto” does not always work.

One and a half years ago I got hold of a SLR and never let go of it. I got hooked in photography. The excitement of using a SLR is in going manual mode (as against Auto mode). When what is usual does not work then, getting the image you want is in the adjustment of the settings. “Auto” works but when it does not one adjusts until one finds what works. Rigidity can never go manual; flexibility does the job.

9. It’s the “indian” not the “pana.”

This is the first tip that stuck with me when I got hooked in photography. It’s not the kind or the brand of camera (the latest model, the complexity of settings, the simplicity of point and shoot) that produces great images, it’s the person who holds it. Whatever camera you have it is the person who looks at the world with the heart, who perceives beyond what the eyes cans see, who makes choices about composition and perspective, and who eventually decides to click. Persons are primary. Persons are at the top of the list. Persons always take precedence. Gadgets can never replace a human heart.

10. Everything attainable is insufficient.

This statement is from the book of Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI entitled The Infinite Horizon. A chapter in that book he entitled The Insufficiency of Anything Attainable. Looking back at the past ten years, I can enumerate many achievements and milestones in my ministry. I can think of many attainments and successes (Yabang!). But in reality these are all insufficient. There will always be a part of me that remain open-ended, unfulfilled, unconsummated. There remain in me a longing for more, a desire for something greater, a yearning for the infinite. The symphony will always be unfinished, for this is the reality of the human condition: anything attainable is insufficient. Ultimately only God is sufficient. Only God fills our deepest longing, our yearning for the infinite. Only God ends our seemingly endless desires, for our hearts were made for the transcendent, for the “wholly other.” Our hearts were made for the eternal. There will be more achievements ahead. There will be more successes (I hope), but they will only lead us to wanting for more. Only God makes us content, for only Him is sufficient.

Message on the Launching
of the Parish Website

Welcome to the newest addition to the ever growing ministry of the Transfiguration of Our Lord Parish.


Nasaan ka man sa mundo, nasaan ka man sa Pinas, anumang oras, anuman ang iyong ginagawa, may pagkakataon ka nang mag-connect sa ating parokya. I-type lang ang at pasok ka na!

As we embark on this new way of ministry and evangelization, it is my prayer and hope that we can reach out to more people of all walks of life in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, in loving service (pag-ibig na naglilingkod), in shared hope (pag-asang ibinagahagi) and in lived faith (buhay na pananampalataya).

Fr. Dennis

P.S. A heartfelt gratitude to all the members of the
Parish Formation Ministry and the volunteers of the
Website Apostolate! May God bless you always.


Click here:

Click here:
A Priest of the World

I have celebrated hundreds, even thousands of masses. Some special. Some ordinary. A few unforgettable.

I will never forget my first mass. It was at the old house of Inang (my mama’s nanay) in Hagonoy, Bulacan. Amang (my mama’s tatay) was sick at that time, bed-ridden. I chose to celebrate my first mass at his bedside. It was a small group of family and relatives. It was personal, intimate and truly unforgettable. 

Then, came this mass at the heart of Paris, France. It was in Rue du Bac, the Church of the Our Lady of Miraculous Medal. It was my first time to be a pilgrimage chaplain. It was the 7th day of the pilgrimage.

The mass was supposed to be at 8:30 in the morning. But we arrived half an hour late. If we will not be allowed to celebrate mass, I understand. But we still went to the office and tried coordinating for a mass. We were allowed. Thank God no other mass was scheduled for the day. We were to celebrate mass at the main chapel, where the body of Sts. Catherine Laboure and Louis Marillac are, and where the apparitions happened.

It was truly a special celebration not only because of the place, but most especially because of the mass goers. It was supposed to be a private mass for our pilgrimage group, but as we celebrate the mass, pilgrims and devotees started to fill in the main chapel. There were Europeans, Asians, Americans, blacks and whites. They were from all over. What was supposed to be a private mass became a colorful multi-cultural celebration. The whole chapel came alive. 

I began to get nervous, to be intimidated, to be self-conscious. I was supposed to have Filipino parts in my homily. I decided to omit them and have my homily a little formal in straight English.

Communion reinforced the variety of mass goers from all over the globe as one by one people of different nationalities begin to fall in line in front of me. For the first time in my priestly life I felt how universal my priesthood is. I am a priest of the church. I am a priest of the universal church. I felt how global our faith is. It was truly catholic (origin: Greek “Katholikos” which means “universal”). It was truly a special mass. it was unforgettable.

The Cost of Awesome

New Zealand is, as they say it down there, awesome! Here's why in my opinion. The quarantine is strict. All food, camping gears and wood items have to be declared (mahirap na nga naman baka mapasukan sila ng peste at maapektuhan ang kanilang mga baka at tupa). They check baggages thoroughly (mukhang totohanan, hindi kunwakunwari lang). Light traffic always (as in always, ang heavy traffic sa kanila, maluwag sa atin hehe). It’s quiet. It’s clean. Less population (4 M sa buong NZ; eh dito sa Metro Manila pa lang 12 M tayo). Less cars on the streets. Strict traffic rules. No blowing of horns. Implemented speed limits.

Summer is sunny there but with cool breeze; comfortable. Dense forests. Rolling hills. Clean streams. Running rivers. Liveable cities. Amazing lakes. Numerous, huge parks. Never ending horizon. Amazing long white cloud. Photogenic view, 360 degrees. Managed logging. Mouth watering lamb chops. Heavenly steaks. Cadbury ice cream. Fresh strawberry ice cream. Juicy cherries and berries.

Low-profile politicians (mangayari kaya yan sa Pinas, hay). Vibrant community of Filipinos. Supportive “super” friends. Subsidized education. Effective public health care. Well maintained public utilities. Family friendly picnic and rest stops. Less high rise buildings (kasi daw matatabingan ang view, wow). Reward for hard work. Great future for the family, for the children.

At what cost? Leaving one’s motherland; the land of one’s birth and childhood, of family and friends; the comfort of memories, of familiar voices and faces.

Setting aside the land of lechon, kare-kare and bistek; the land of talangka, alupihang dagat and suwahe; the land of chicharong bulaklak, kwek-kwek, balut and one day old chick; the land of turo-turo, buy one take one burger and Jollibee; the land of ukay-ukay, Greenhills, Quiapo and SM.

Leaving behind the land of "kamusta na," "saan punta," and "mauna na ko" (or the English equivalent “I’ll go ahead”, tayo lang ata nagsasabi nun); the land of “mano po,” of “po” and “opo.”

Saying goodbye to the land of Senor Nazareno, Sto. Nino, Simbang Gabi, of holding hands while singing the Ama Namin.

Sacrifice is the cost. For the fulfillment of a personal dream. For prosperity. For advancement. For development. For the money. For a change in environment. For a new perspective. For escape. For comfort. For peace and quiet. For the family. For a brother. For a sister. For Inang. For Amang. For the children. For something that every Filipino should have but Pinas cannot offer. For a better life. For a new lease in life.

Sa Macapagal family, sa “super friends,” sa lahat ng Pilipinong nakilala ko sa New Zealand, “the land of the long white cloud,” saludo po ako sa inyo. Maganda nga ang buhay dyan, pero hindi madali! God be with you always!

Guidelines for the Parish Discernment Assembly

1. Discernment is possible only in the atmosphere of prayer.

2. Nomination of parish leaders shall be done before the Blessed Sacrament, in the spirit of prayer, silence and openness to the Spirit.

3. Any parishioner can be nominated for a particular position. Except when he/she has already served two consecutive terms in a particular position, it is better to give way to other capable parishioners, without prejudice to the discretion of the parish priest.

4. Discernment of the persons to be placed in a particular position shall be based on the demand of the position, the capacity of the person, and the openness to learn and to serve.

5. Only one name is to be nominated for each position.

6. Three names that shall have the highest number of nominations for a particular position shall be considered for discernment by the parish priest.

7. Nomination shall be done through secret balloting.

8. The results of the nomination shall not be announced in public.

9. Appointments by the parish priest shall be made public only after a dialogue with the person concerned. All appointments shall have a two year term without prejudice to the discretion of the parish priest.

10. The new set of parish leaders shall be commissioned in one of the Sunday Masses to be scheduled by the parish.

Pari at Sambayanan,

Magkaagapay sa


Bilang pagdiriwang ng Taon ng mga Pari, pinili natin ang temang ito upang maging gabay natin sa pagdiriwang natin ng ating kapistahan bilang isang parokya ngayong ika-9 ng Agosto, 2009.

Hindi maitatanggi ang halaga ng pari sa buhay ng isang Kristiyanong pamayanan. Siya ang kinatawan ni Hesus sa kanyang piniling bayan. Siya ang tagapamuno sa mga pagdiriwang ng mga Sakramento. lalung higit ang Eukaristiya, na pagkakataon ng pakikipagtagpo ng komunidad sa Diyos, daluyan ng mga pagpapala at lakas sa buhay pananampalataya. Sa pamayang Pilipino, ang pari ang takbuhan ng sambayanan sa lahat ng uri ng problema - maging sa pera, sa pamilya, sa trabaho, sa kapit-bahay, sa asawa, sa kahirapan, sa gutom, sa sakit, sa di-pagkakasundo, kahit sa pangangailangan ng pamasahe sa pag-uwi sa probinsya.  Hindi matatawaran ang papel ng pari sa sambayanan.

Subalit, hindi ito magagawang lahat ng pari. Kailangan ng pari ang pakikiisa ng buong sambayanan. Ang simbahan ay binubuo hindi lamang ng mga pari, kundi ng bawat isang kabahagi sa buhay ng komunidad. At ang bawat isa ay may papel na ginagampanan. Walang malaking tungkulin o maliit, ang mahalaga ay bunga ng pananalig sa Diyos at inilalaan para sa ikatataguyod ng buong simbahan.

Sa bandang huli, sa dami ng mga pangarap ng sambayanan, sa dami ng mga proyekto, paglilingkod at gawain, ang panawagan sa atin ng Panginoon ay ang mabuhay sa kabanalan. Ang magbukas ng puso sa Espiritu ng Diyos at sumunod sa kalooban ng Ama - ang magmahal sa Diyos ng higit sa lahat at magmahal sa kapawa tulad ng pagmamahal sa atin ng Diyos. Ito landas na tatahakin sa paglalakbay ng Pari at Sambayanan. Magkasama. Magkaagapay.

Ngayong taon ng mga Pari, ipagdasal natin ang mga Pari, ang kanilang kabanalan. Subalit ang pari, kailanman hindi maihihiwalay sa sambayanan, dahil karugtong ng kabanalan ng pari ang kabanalan ng sambayanan. Kabanalan na hindi matutupad ng isang tao, dahil hanggang hindi nagiging banal ang buong sambayanan hindi buo ang kabanalan ng isa. Pari at Sambayanan, magkaagapay sa kabanalan.

Mabuhay po kayong lagi sa pag-ibig ni Kristo!

Fr. Dennis

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