Contact: 1629 Columbia Street, San Diego (Little Italy); 619-234-4820; olrsd.org
Pastor: Father Joseph Tabigue
Born: Prosperadad, Agusan Delsur, Philippines
Formation: Barnabite Fathers Novitiate (Seminary), Marikina City, Philippines; Pontifical Urbanian College, Rome.
Years Ordained: 7
San Diego Reader: How long do you spend writing your sermon?
Father Joseph Tabigue: I usually start on Monday, and it takes me through the week. I will finalize my sermon on Friday and of course the Holy Spirit doesn’t run out of words, so usually they don’t stop coming into my head. Usually it takes me the whole week, though, with meditation and prayer, to finish it. I try to pray first and read and then I look into the experiences I encounter during the day. I ask what the Church wants to say about this reading. Then I look into the Gospel and ask what the Lord wants me to say about it to the community to inspire them.
SDR: What is your favorite subject on which to preach?
FJ: Humanity — there is something about Jesus coming down to Earth and taking the time to stay with us. As a priest, I see our job as a matter of visibility. I try to give myself as a response to the great love of God and make myself available as a gift to be given freely. I want to inspire others to invite them to be available to the needs of the community. There is so much in us that we need to share. In so doing, we are showing how we are made in the image and likeness of God.
SDR: What is the mission of your church?
FJ: So, we have celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary for two years now on the first Sunday in October, and this will be our third [Oct. 2]. Everyone is so happy at the event; we had a big tent and more than 900 people in the first year, and more than a thousand the second year. We have this procession that begins in Amici Park, across from the church, with a Mass at noon and the procession from 1:30 to 3 p.m., down to the Embarcadero, through the heart of Little Italy, and back to the church, saying the Rosary and singing hymns. It ends with benediction and a reception in the parish hall. It was beautiful these last two years. You really see the religiosity of the Italians. With this procession, in a way, I like to think we are evangelizing the world. And that’s our mission —to bring the community together, united under Mary, who points the way to her son Jesus Christ.
SDR: Where do you go when you die?
FJ: Jesus promised us eternal life and those who believe in him will have life in eternity, and Lord Jesus wants us to do here on Earth only little things here on Earth with great love, as many saints have done it. At the end of our journey, Jesus wants us to be with him. I do believe there is a hell — especially when you look at the suffering Jesus went through on the cross — there is evil. There is hell, and it is for those who love themselves too much and would not have time to love God and respond to his great love.