In 2019, the Covid-19 Global Pandemic broke out and had shaken the stable conditions of human beings. Many died, and many lost jobs. Most people faced difficulties during the Global Pandemic.
Apart from the dark side of the Pandemic, there appeared many heroes and heroines during the Pandemic. A member of the congregation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (SCJ), Father Niño B. Etulle was one of them.
42-year-old Father Niño is the second SCJ Parish Priest of San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish, Tandang Sora, Quezon City, Philippines.
Father Niño and his team started the Feeding program (365 Days of Miracles) in San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish on June 2019 with 65 mission partners composed of children and elderly in their mission areas and they have 201 mission partners for Feeding Program in 2020.
At present, they have 263 mission partners, including children, senior citizens, and persons with disabilities (PWD).
The priest hopes, “This coming June, we will have added to make it 300 pax.”
As of now, the parish supports the program financially through the Balik -hangdog fund, the BEC fund of different areas, and with some generous families as their benefactors and with the help of the Local Government Unit (LGU) Quezon City.
His motivation for this feeding program was “Feed my sheep” (John 21: 15– 17). Jesus asked three times to St. Peter, “Do you love me?” and Jesus responded to St. Peter’s ‘Yes’ with “Feed my sheep.”
Usually, most of the institutions offer feeding programs for 6 months only but this one is a unique program for daily feeding for four years this coming June.
The priest said, “Hangga`t may batang nagugutom, papakainin natin! At hindi sobra ang ibibigay kundi ang pinaka (We said as long as they are hungry children, we feed them and give them)“the best” as much as possible.
SCJ priests are also known as Dehonians, named after their founder Venerable Father Leo John Dehon.
Father Niño followed his founder’s words, “The Heart of Jesus overflowing with tenderness and compassion for all those who suffer, those who endure hardships, those who go hungry, and for the sick and the infirm.”
The priest has a compassionate heart to feed the hungry.
“Hindi po para maging famous or sikat na pari (hahaha) Parte po sila ng Simbahan, maramdaman po nila ang malasakit at kalinga ng Simbahan. At sila po ang Simbahan,” the priest insisted.
(Our motivation is not to be famous or get fame. These children are part of the church and it’s important that they are loved.)
Father Niño told RVA that prayer is the main factor in maintaining this feeding program and he worked with a team of volunteers, parents, and private institutions to run this feeding program.
“First through prayers! Lagi ko po ni reremind sila to Pray lalo na para sa mga intentions ng sponsors or benefactors. Regular formation for parents, regular mass, and making transparent sa lahat ng reports,” Father Niño said.
(“I always remind them to pray, especially for the intentions of sponsors and benefactors. We also have regular formations for parents and regular Mass and we are transparent with our reports.”)
“And I am grateful and blessed to have our volunteers in the Parish,” the priest added.
40 – 50 people are helping in this feeding program. They are divided into seven groups for seven days.
Mrs. Heidi, the coordinator of this feeding program said, “Physically, we are tired, especially our volunteers, but we are so glad. We're so grateful that we could do this complete offering to God.”
The volunteers start to prepare the food from 6:30 AM to 11:00 AM and distribute them to 8 mission places.
17-year-old Jonfer, a Youth ministry leader, who is actively helping in this feeding program, told RVA, “I was also one of the beneficiaries of the feeding program. Now, I am volunteering in this program. I return what I have received.”
Father Niño is providing for both the physical and mental needs of his parishioners. He organized a hybrid program of in-person and live stream by a prominent Psychologist Dr. Eduardo Caligner for Salo-Salo sa SanLo (being together at St. Lorenzo Parish) Talk on February 25, 2023.
The program is necessary for post-pandemic mental health. He is providing holistic feeding, including spiritual, physical, and mental.
The church is following Pope Francis' guidance to work on Synodality. It has now reached the continental stage.
Fr. Nino expressed his opinion on Synodal Church, “Synodality is a way of realizing the gifts of the whole body of Christ through the service of mission, but it is also a way of healing the wounds of the Church itself.”
Through his feeding program, he is taking part in the process of Synodal Church.
“In other words, synodality asks us to enter something more than reform. It asks us to seek the grace to make the Church an authentic community of love, a willingness to serve rather than rule, and a desire to follow Jesus Christ,” he added.
BEC coordinator Mr. Oscar remarked that this feeding program reflected a spirit of communion in the Church mission.
On behalf of San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish, PPC, PFC, and San Lorenzo Ruiz Feeding Program (365 days of Miracles), Father Niño invites the RVA audience, “Let us continue our mission to make known the profound love that Jesus has for all people through prayers, and social services among the poor and neglected.”
He also implemented the ENHANCED COMMUNITY FEEDING PROGRAM during the Covid-19 lockdown on March 12, 2020. This was a separate program in the Parish during the pandemic to help 352 beneficiaries from 5 mission areas. They provided the poor “Ayuda” (help) twice a week for almost 1 year through the help of their parishioners, private institutions, NGO`s, and LGU QC.
Father Niño was born in 1981, to Mr. Dominador N. Etulle & Mrs. Salvacion B. Etulle at Cainta Rizal, Philippines. He has one brother priest and one younger sister. He joined the SCJ Congregation in May 2004 and was ordained on November 26, 2013.
Rev. Fr. Niño B. Etulle is the Episcopal Vicar for the Religious of the Novaliches Diocese in the Philippines.
The venerable Dehon said, “God doesn’t know what to do with our wisdom or our works if we don’t give to him our heart.”
The SCJ priest is really giving his heart to the neediest and God is performing miracles through his Feeding Program (365 days of Miracles).
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.