The founder of The Love of Vicentica Foundation, Thalia Cayetano spoke to parishioners in all the Masses in two churches in Northern California in August, 2008 – St. John Vianney in Walnut Creek on August 2 & 3, and St. John the Baptist in El Cerrito on August 9 & 10.
Cayetano, a parishioner of St. John the Baptist in El Cerrito said that she witnessed and experienced poverty at the same time. She thinks that helping the poor has become her mission out of passion, or it has become a passion because God gave her a mission. Either way, she believes that God has called her to do her little share in helping the poorest of the poor in the third world countries.
Batanes islands, the smallest province of the Philippine Republic in terms of population and land area is where Cayetano was born and raised. The island is geographically isolated from the rest of the country and the world.It is often swept by strong typhoons that destroy crops and livestock. In her time, there was no electricity, no radio, no television, or telecommu nication system. She stressed, however, that their isolation has taught them to put their full trust in God.
“The poorest of the poor are my family’s close friends. We see life the way they see it. We laugh with them, eat with them, respect and love them. The poor help my family understand the difference between NEEDING and WANTING. They also help us recognize the existence of another kind of poverty which is the spiritual poverty – a poverty which, when satisfied, makes a person feeling wealthy, peaceful, and joyful,” she said.
In 2001, she narrated that she had the clearest vision of what God wanted her to do. He wanted her to share the little that she had. From her little salary, she started to regularly send a little amount to the Philippines to feed the poorest of the poor in Batanes. Rice, milk, and other grocery items were distributed to poor families. Assistance was also provided to some students who could not afford college education.
In March, 2007, she established a non-profit organization called The Love of Vicentica Foundation. It is her desire to get help from outside to expand these projects in the Philippines, and to create training jobs, and increase the employability of people with disability and no academic education. It is also her desire to extend help to the poor in other countries as well.
Today, The Love of Vicentica Foundation feeds around 300 people in Batanes which includes people with disability and a group of Dominican missionary nuns. A few scholars have also graduated from courses like Commerce, Education, and Information Technology.
The foundation also sends dollars to Haiti to help the Little Sisters with their operating expenses and to feed the 53 orphans that are in the custody of the nuns. The foundation also sends support to the Assumption Sisters of Eldoret in Kenya to assist the displaced families in these times of tribal conflict.
Cayetano invited the parishioners of the two churches to share the little and the big that they have, for she believes that each of us always has something to give to the needy. She mentioned that God calls us to care for our needy brothers and sisters not only when natural calamities destroy life and properties but also when life is peaceful and quiet.
With conviction, she ended all her talks by saying, “Great things happen where there is great love. It is love that makes us experience virtues and discover our own values. It is also love that makes us see the needs of others.”