By Aurora De Los Reyes
In their willingness to serve for another year, forty three members of the Ministry of Lectors and Commentators renewed their commitment last November 17, 2019.
One member of the NSOLL Ministry of Lectors and Commentators who has stood out in his commitment to serve the Lord through the community not only because he is the longest in terms of years of service but also because of his very distinct booming voice is Bro. George P. Mercado, presently a training consultant at John Robert Powers; campus idol in his student years; one-time a popular DJ carrying the monicker “George Boone”, etc.. So much more can be said about this incredible talent that space would not allow it.
This gift of voice plus the power to effectively communicate are assets that he has humbly attributed to the ONE up there and has decided to pay forward, unknowingly, starting at a very tender age of seven.
This is his amazing journey.
I served the parish since I was 7 years old. I’m 65 right now. Being a student of Lourdes School, it was but natural for me to serve. We would even be excused from our class at 8 am so we could run to the church to receive communion then go right back to class. That’s why we had huge clocks on the corridors to remind us if it was time for communion.
I initially served as a choir member (soprano) of the fledgling boys choir patterned after the Manila Cathedral Boys Choir and the Tiples of Sto Domingo. Our musical director was Fr. Carlos Urtasun, OFM Cap. who later on came up with an all original record album, songs of which were sung during Mass. Fr. Sebastian de Sanguesa or Felix Iso was parish priest. I then moved to the Sanctuary Society, the group of altar boys, this time patterned after the group with the same name in Ateneo. Of course, our moderator was a former Ateneo teacher. Fr. Angel de los Arcos was the parish priest. Upon entering high school, I became part of the Knights of St. Francis, the designated servers in the school and church. Then, when the Guitar Mass became the craze, we started the very first Music Ministry of the parish. We were all schoolmates in Lourdes. We were eventually joined by Theresians, and we sang regularly during the 10 am Sunday Mass. Parish priest was Fr. Jesus Salcedo. Soon, electronic instruments were introduced. We ended up forming a psuedo rock band, with drums, keyboards, bass, and electric guitar. We played in ALL the Sunday Masses, from 7-11am and 5 and 6 pm. During the 9 am Mass, we were joined by other musicians playing the sax, flute, accordion, and trumpet. Our singers were the lectors and commentators – most of whom did not really know how to sing. It was hilarious.
My dad was already a lector that time, but he had to travel frequently due to his job, so during those times, I subbed for him as lector. There was no Leccom yet. The lector was the commentator. I became the permanent lector when my dad joined the first batch of Lay Ministers. I served during the 10 am and 6 pm Masses every Sunday. I also served in all of the nine-day Misa de Gallo and the Christmas eve Midnight Mass for three years.
My dad eventually had to quit being a Lay Minister, so he encouraged me to join. I did, and for a short period served as Lay Minister, during the time of Fr. Jose Luis Arrieta, who also happened to be our Prefect of Discipline and eventually rector during my school days. An unfortunate incident prompted me to leave the Lay Ministry – so I went back to being a Lector/Commentator. This went on until October this year, when I finally hung up the microphone.
I am proud to say that my family has always been close to Lourdes Church – from my parents to my siblings to my own family. My daughter and I still go to Mass every Sunday at NSOLL. The rest of my family have migrated to the US.
Actually, I have never been keen in joining any church group. I have always believed that serving God is a personal thing and should not be subject to pressure – peer or authority. I have never dreamt of holding an official position. I just wanted to serve. I know I still want to, but circumstances have prevented me from doing so. As long as I’m breathing, I’ll always be willing to help out in whatever small way I can.
And for those who want to serve: do it for the Greater Glory of God – not for our own personal fame or reputation. And always put in 100% when you are serving. It may be something you are so used to that you do not even think about it, but believe me, it takes a lot of help from the Holy Spirit for you to serve well. For Lectors and Commentators – you are sending a message to the faithful. Make sure you always do it right – with the help of the Holy Spirit.