If there’s one thing I’ll remember most about my childhood, and value till I grow older, it’ll be the Church that I go to. I attend mass every Sunday, like any normal practicing Catholic, at our local church. It’s not a big church with old stone foundations, or stained glass windows, or room for over a thousand or more churchgoers. It’s fairly small in comparison to most churches, and most of the people who attend it are residents of the surrounding villages and baranggays (technically, 2). In all honesty, there’s nothing really grand about the church, there’s no architectural splendour to show off, nor any secret passages from the past. In fact, the only thing one may remember most about the church is that it’s located between 2 known Filipino-Chinese schools, Xavier School and the Immaculate Conception Academy (ICA as it is commonly known).
Mary The Queen Parish was actually built a few years after the construction of Xavier School and ICA. When it was built, there were few residents in the area, but eventually, the number of residents grew as the Greenhills community was built. It was a very good location for a church since it was in-between 2 schools, and it was in a residential area. Since ICA didn’t have any priests (since the school is run by nuns – the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception – MIC sisters) the church was “led” by Jesuit priests from the Jesuit School, Xavier.
For many years, MTQ has been known as the school between ICA and Xavier. For students of ICA and Xavier, it is a common meeting place between students, and something that will always remain familiar since it can be seen from both schools. For the residents, it will be the church which people attend to every week. For me, it means more than just either one of what I’ve written.
Mary The Queen has always been like a family to me. This was where my parents and some of my other family members were married. Me and all my siblings were baptized here, and even before I had received communion, I had always frequented the church. When I was a little girl, I attended Sunday lessons hosted by the mom of a batchmate of mine from Xavier, who also lives in the area. Those were one of the best days of my childhood at my chuch. Later on, I even served as a “Candle Holder” for the priest (basically a sort of helper, like a sacristan but for kids), even when I had become the eldest in my group.
As I mentioned earlier, the Church is not that big, so one can imagine that the community is small. It is. Most of the people who attend the Church send their sons and daughters to ICA and Xavier, and most of them, well know each other. It is not uncommon to see someone you know at Church, like a classmate or the cousin of a friend of yours. Those things are pretty normal. The MTQ community is like it’s own family, most everyone knows everyone. Despite that, there is something I learned recently about my community.
In the 20-ish years I’ve been living in this community, you’d think one would be familiar with most everyone, but that’s not the case. Of course it would be impossible to know everyone who goes to one’s church, but if there’s one thing i learned about MTQ, it’s that it never fails to surprise me, and that’s one thing i love about the community. There will always be familiar faces, familiar people, events that one will be familiar with, situations one will always know of, but there will also always be surprises.
During the last 3 years of my stay in college, I’ve come to realize that this community of mine always brings something new to the table. I’ve met people in college that I never expected to meet at my Church. People whom I’ve probably attended mass over 50 times with, but never really noticed till I met them outside. Sometimes, there are people who aren’t really MTQ frequenters, but I’ve encountered many familiar faces of people who have been going to MTQ as long as I have, but whom I’ve never met before. Sometims I meet people I haven’t seen in a long time, or people whom I do not expect. Teachers, friends, family, all these things are surprises. After all, there are so many Churches in Manila, why this special one?
I am truly and deeply in love with my Church. I cannot imagine having become who I am, without it. It is a small community that always has something new and surprising. I hope, as I have hoped for many years that one day, I would get married in this Church. I even wished that I could raise my children in this community, just like how I grew up. In it’s closeness, familiality and familiarity. It never fails to amaze me how much I love this Church of mine.
In my own little way, I try to be the best possible person for my MTQ as I can possibly be. Whether or not it is through serving at mass, singing for the choir, helping out during Simbang Gabi and other events…I try my best to be the best possible person that I can be for my Church. A few years from now, there is the possibility that I may not be able to frequent my Church as much as I do now. Despite that, I shall never forget the memories that I have come to experience in my stay in this community. From my parents marriage, to my birth, my childhood, my days in ICA and until now in Ateneo. MTQ remains a steadfast foundation and reminder to and of who I am, who I was, and who I will be.
MTQ will always be, a part of my heart, and a part of me.