Bishop’s visit plucks man out of desperate straits

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    CABANATUAN CITY – “It was a moment of grace, an intimate moment with someone whom you met personally
    for the first time, who sat beside you, listened to you, and prayed with you,” Ricardo Fajardo, 43, says of his encounter with Bishop Sofronio Bancud of the Diocese of Cabanatuan which happened in the midst of his “deep emptiness.”

    But the Bishop’s visit in the middle of 2013, Fajardo revealed, was not for purely spiritual reasons as he came with a material solution to his “serious” problem that time – his daughter’s allowance. He said the prelate handed him an envelope saying: “Ric, take this and use it to move on to a life.” Fajardo did not disclose how much it contained.

    Fajardo, who acquired Master of Arts in Values Education from the Miriam College in Quezon City, confessed he
    was lured to the social media and went deeper into being a Candy Crush addict due to helplessness triggered by his deteriorating eye condition.

    “There were times I would not take a bath for two days, consuming my time in front of a computer and playing Candy Crush,” Fajardo told parishioners of the virtually infant Parokya ni San Jose Kabiyak ng Puso Ni Maria (St. Joseph The Husband of Mary) in Barangay Bangad here recently.

    Fajardo, who finished Bachelor of Arts Major in Philosophy at the Immaculate Conception Major Seminary in Guiguinto, Bulacan spent 11 years as a college faculty member and a few years in managerial posts in the corporate world until he was diagnosed with unknown eye disease in the second quarter of 2011.

    Rev. Fr. Jose Salvador Mallari, parish priest, introduced Fajardo, a parishioner, and his 100-page handbook entitled “A Journey to Happiness on Thursday” after talking on the gospel of Elizabeth’s conception. Mallari also blessed copies of the book and Fajardo himself.

    The book which Bishop Sofronio Bancud of the Diocese of Cabanatuan described as “a handy companion for those who seek and pursue in this life true happiness” was made available in several parishes in the diocese.

    “This book manifests Ricky’s intimate encounter with Jesus, the Source of all happiness who lovingly called him to become an instrument of joy to others,” Bancud said. The initiative of Bishop Bancud extending himself to
    someone speaks louder than the words “saving act of God,” he says.

    Fajardo was at the peak of his career when he suffered from rapture in capillaries and membrane progression.

    Such condition, he explained, resulted to cloudy vision with black floaters. In the mid-2011, he was found to be “no longer fit to work.” “I opted to give up a promising job. I left my family in Metro Manila and decided to live with my widowed mother in the province (Nueva Ecija),” he narrated.

    His right eye was twice operated in 2012 that resulted to restoration of fi ve percent his normal 20-20 vision. “It’s like submerged in a swimming pool filled with dirty water,” he said. Worse, his left eye is showing the same symptoms.

    The uncertainty of tomorrow, he said, led him to being hopeless. “It is the feeling of a void future that puts me
    in a state of despair and loneliness, of emptiness and regression,” Fajardo wrote. This lured him to social media and Candy Crush play.

    Until recently, his mother, 65-year-old Olympia, never gave up on pressing him to move on. “Akala ko pag tumanda ako ay ikaw ang aakay sa akin, pero matanda na ako ay ikaw pa rin pala ang aakayin ko,” Fajardo quoted her as saying.

    At the beginning, Fajardo got the cue from a social media quote – HOPE: Hold On, Pains End – which caught his attention. He tried to move on, thinking of what venture he could pursue for livelihood. Before Christmas, he decided to write a book. “Sabi ko gumagastos naman ang mga tao panregalo,” Fajardo said.

    But this venture brought him to another level. “Habang nagsusulat ako, sa bawat salita at bawat letra, ay nararamdaman ko ang Holy Spirit,” he said. The book which also contains quotes discusses his financial deficits as well as the unexpected visit of Bancud to him “one busy Sunday,” that made him cry.

    The author asked readers to keep hoping, keep acting, keep praying, always being present, embrace intimacy,
    nurture whatever it takes, sustain energy, serve with gladness and live in spirituality. From playing Candy Crush Saga, Fajardo is now active freelance facilitator and resource person for retreats and recollection, values education, leadership training and team building seminars and workshops.

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