Myra Santos-De Leon, 52, received the “Faithful Servant Award” as one of the longest-serving servers of the Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Rodriguez, Rizal. She earned recognition during the 150th year founding anniversary of the parish last June 2.
As a kid, Myra was the silent type who didn’t like to talk. “When I was a kid, I prefer sitting in the corner while thumb sucking. But in the afternoon, I love reflecting and talking to God at the river side,” she tells My Pope Philippines.
“I’m not really the talkative type, but I’m a bit competitive in school so my classmates would misinterpret and judge me as ‘snobbish’,” she adds. (Read: Pope Francis Establishes Ministry of Catechist)
Now, the once-quiet girl is a frequent visitor to schools, teaching young students who are preparing for the sacraments of Reconciliation, First Holy Communion, Confirmation, and Baptism.
Apart from her mother who was a member of “Corazon de Jesus” (or “Apostolado ng Panalangin” at present), Myra didn’t belong to a religious family. She also had a strict family which gave her even greater challenge to pursue her service to God.
At 11, Myra became interested in becoming a catechist after hearing Cecille Villareal, a catechist, talk inside their classroom. “Before I graduated in grade 6, I approached her and told her I wanted to be like her,” she shares.
That time, Myra was already an active choir member at San Rafael Chapel, but because she really wanted to join the Catechetical Ministry, she lied about her age and said she was 14 instead of 12 so she would be accepted.
“I looked older than my age, so they believed me. Besides that time, they’re not strict yet with baptismal and confirmation certificate requirements so I was able to pull it through,” she shares. (WATCH: Meet the Men and Women Behind the Lens of Online Masses)
At the age of 18, Myra became more conversational after her formation years in 1989 at Stella Maris College. “I had my Missio Canonica where I have to give myself as an apostolate worker of the Catechetical Ministry.”
In Love With Jesus
Now married with four children, Myra has got her whole family serving the parish. She is now in her 40th year of service, but her passion to pursue pastoral work remains the same.
“That’s how I am in love with the church and with God. The love I had for Him when I was 11 is still the same today. I enjoy every single day of being a catechist. If ever there was a sad experience, I would count that as sharing with the Lord’s sacrifices and pain,” she explains.
With that, Myra learned to give everything to God because He always provides. (Read: Fr. Vhon Recalls His Most Challenging Assignment as a New Priest)
“Don’t hesitate when God calls you. Don’t worry, God will provide. Love even though it hurts. Learn through life and church lessons so you’ll grow in faith and share it with others. Live simply to be happy, and be a living witness,” she concludes.
For those who want to join the Catechetical Ministry, the requirements include the following:
- Age 18 years to 60 years old
- Mentally, physically, and spiritually fit
- Baptismal and confirmation certificates
- Must attend the seven-day seminar at the district level
- Must attend the one-year basic formation seminar