Celebrating the light of faith shining from parish volunteers
February 08, 2021 | posted by Today's Catholic newspaper
Celebrating the light of faith shining from parish volunteers
Photo by Josh Huskin
Since 2011 -- for 10 years -- it had been tradition for a decade for Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, pastors, and active parish volunteers from across the archdiocese to gather on February 2 at St. Dominic Church to honor recipients of the archdiocesan Lumen Gentium and Christifideles Laici Awards.
As with many activities the past year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, things this year were done differently. Pastors were asked to honor the award recipients during Mass at their home parishes either the weekend of January 30-31 or February 6-7.
The parish Lumen Gentium Award is bestowed upon Catholic laypeople from each parish who have demonstrated participation in the Catholic Church’s mission to bring Christ’s light to all.
These individuals are practicing Catholics who manifest an understanding of the teachings of the Church and have been graced with a life formed in the Catholic spiritual tradition. These individuals have used their talents to deepen the life of the Church in the parish or have served in an extraordinary way the ministry of the parish.
The recipients of the award were nominated by their pastors and confirmed by the archbishop.
The Christifideles Laici Award is bestowed upon a Catholic layperson who has demonstrated by participation in parish life the personal and ministerial renewal called for by the papal exhortation, Christfideles Laici, calling the laity to the vocation of responsibility for the Christi’s life, springing from the gift and mission of their baptism. The archbishop himself chooses the recipient of this award.
It was presented by Archbishop Gustavo to Ambrosio “Bocho” Rodriguez at San Fernando Cathedral on January 31.
“Christifideles Laici translated means ‘Christ’s faithful people.’ This affirms the laity’s rightful role and responsibility that springs from your baptism, to listen to God’s voice and respond, ‘Here I am Lord, I come to do your will,’” the archbishop said during the 10 a.m. liturgy. “Thank you, dear honoree ‘Bocho,’ for reflecting the light of Christ. We honor you with love from every member of the archdiocesan parish communities. Continue to love out your missionary discipleship, in unity with your priests and community, without fear and with great hope and faith.”
Ambrosio “Bocho” Rodriguez -- A ministry of love and music
San Fernando Cathedral has been the soul of the city since its foundation in 1731. People of all ages and places visit the cathedral, not as a historical site, but as a place at which the people’s faith is celebrated. If you have visited the cathedral any time during the last 41 years on Sunday mornings, you probably have been serenaded by the beautiful music of Ambrosio Rodriguez, better known a “Bocho.” He is short in stature, but compensated with a big heart and a tremendous vocation of service. This man has welcomed cathedral’s visitors with the universal language of music for over 40 years, and not even the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped him. Every Sunday, when the Mass has ended, he is ready to gift us with his music in either Main Plaza or the Plaza de la Cruz. Bocho offers the best of himself in each song.
Ambrosio was born in 1928. He started working very early in his life, helping his father deliver milk to the neighborhood’s families. It was doing this job that he met Father Virgilio Elizondo as he delivered milk to the Elizondo family. Later, his love for music developed. He learned to play many instruments and earned a living with his musical talent. He married his sweetheart in 1949 and they had 12 children. Ambrosio’s love for God was growing and calling him to serve his church.
Bocho’s life of ministry began in 1965 when he attended a weekend retreat, “Cursillo de Cristiandad.” The “Cursillo” experience changed his life. To this day, Bocho proudly wears his Cursillo crucifix, with multiple color strings that represent the beautiful Cursillo hymn “De Colores.” It was at the Cursillo movements that he met Archbishop Patrick Flores, his pastor and early mentor.
In 1985, Father Virgilio Elizondo became the rector at San Fernando Cathedral and needed a choir for the 6 am Mass. He called his old friend Bocho to help, and Bocho accepted the invitation. A few years later, a new choir volunteered to take over the 6 a.m. Mass. Bocho had no problem giving his place to the new choir, however, his vocation to serve the people through music did not diminish. He enjoyed welcoming people to the cathedral so much that his new ministry was born. Bocho decided to sing for the people outside of the cathedral as they left from Mass. Bocho became an integral part of the cathedral’s Hospitality Ministry. It is not a usual Sunday if Bocho is not singing at the plaza.
Unfortunately, Bocho’s life has not been free of tragedy. In 1979, Bocho got very sick. He developed a severe respiratory illness that had him bedridden for almost 10 years. But Bocho’s suffering worsened. In 1990, while returning from a vacation trip in Mexico, Bocho lost his wife and a daughter in a tragic car accident. Although he was devastated, he never lost his faith. All too suddenly, Bocho was home alone without anybody to care for him. He was still very sick and mostly bedridden. Bocho asked God to give him the strength to overcome his disease. A year later, after much sacrifice, he was able to conquer his illness and move forward. The first thing he did was go back to the cathedral to continue his music ministry. The next year, driven by Bocho’s determination and passion, Archbishop Flores acknowledged Bocho’s ministry of love through music with a special recognition. Bocho, being a very humble man, felt uncomfortable with Archbishop Flores’ recognition. Bocho enjoys serving others and has never looked for any recognition, he just wants to make people feel welcomed and happy through this music.
Sunday after Sunday, Bocho has placed a smile on many of the cathedral’s visitors. He has sung the mañanitas for them and many have sung along with him. Bocho will be 92 years old next month, however has no intention to stop singing. As long as he can, he will continue carrying the ministry that God has given him.