Imus Bishop Chito Tagle urged Martha’s Vineyard members make themselves always available to Jesus. “If you only follow Martha’s example, you will be happy,” the bishop said. “But was it motivated by the love for Jesus?”
Tagle spoke during the 27th anniversary celebration of Martha’s Vineyard on Aug. 17 at the Manila Polo Club.
“Discipleship is rooted in faith in Jesus,” the bishop said. “Without faith, charity is just a social work or humanitarian action, but with Christian charity, we show that we love Jesus, we believe in Him. Our faith is expressed in charity.”
Three friends who just experienced a charismatic renewal decided to form Martha’s Vineyard 27 years ago to help the poor following the example of Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus. Martha was busy in the kitchen preparing food for the visiting Jesus, but Mary sat at the Master’s feet and listened to Him (Luke 10:38).
In choosing “Martha” as the inspiration for their advocacy, Cecile Jamora Oppen, Milagros Gomez David and the late Frieda Tueres invited other friends to join in. The group was formally launched Aug. 15, 1984, on the feast of the Assumption. Msgr. Fidelis Limcaco was the spiritual adviser. Cardinal Jaime Sin donated to the group a lot on Estrella and Amapola Streets in Palm Village where a center now stands.
Blessed Mother Teresa
The initial projects brought the volunteers to the Missionaries of Charity in Del Pan, Tondo, in 1984 when Mother Teresa visited. She personally showed the founders how to manage their assistance to the poor.
Their projects include a preschool in Barangka, Mandaluyong; MV livelihood program for housewives; and a soup kitchen at the Maria, Reyna ng mga Apostoles Parish in Taguig with Fr. Pedro Rabonza as parish priest.
Martha’s Vineyard also holds medical missions in different barangays and at the Manila Seedling Bank on Edsa and Quezon Avenue. Fr. Teofilo Rustia is adviser.
The Marthas, as the members are called, attend recollections on the first and third Wednesday of the month, with Fr. Titus Mananzan, SVD, rector of the Shrine of the Divine Word along E. Rodriguez Ave., QC, as recollection master. Sr. Joanne Bautista of the Servi Contemplative Christi also gives them seminars.
In encouraging them to forge ahead, Msgr. Bong Lo, their spiritual director, told the Marthas: “What you have been doing in the service of the poor for the love of Jesus might be considered ‘just a drop in the ocean.’ Yet, as Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta put it, if you stop doing it, the ocean will be one drop less.”
Board of trustees
MV founding chair and president Cecile Oppen credits her husband Tony Oppen for his help in Martha’s Vineyard during her speech. Her co-founders are Mila David and the late Frieda Tueres.
The other officers are Mariter Macapagal, vice president; Ditas Araneta, secretary; and Emma Reyes, treasurer.
Members are Rory Eizmendi, Rowena Eusebio, Ofie Recto, Lulay Mapa, Cor Ebdalin and Lory Yulo.
Advisers are Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, Bishop Gabriel Reyes and Msgr. Francisco Tantoco.
The ocean certainly won’t miss the “drop of kindness” being dropped into the ocean, as Marthas continue their volunteer work for the poor alive with their faith in and love of Jesus.