I welcome Manny Leyson from the Philippines as the first guest poster to Vincentian Mindwalk! He shares with us his questions about how Vincent must have carried his mother in his heart and how it lead him to recognize the role of his own mother.

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay


All these years, I’ve been asking myself: who was the mother St. Vincent and what kind of woman was she? Of his father it is said that he was ashamed of him because of his physical defect. But of her mother, I’ve not read anything about her. But somehow, deep within me, her “hidden and quiet life” makes me feel that she, in her was always there in his son’s journey in trying find himself as a person and he is meant to be. I dare say that my own mother took after her.


My mother was always there in my life’s journey in joy and in sorrow…

My mother was a public school teacher who decided to become a full time mom to her nine children – four boys and five girls. I am the third from the oldest.

She was not the expressive type of a mother. A woman of few words. She might have had her own dream for me but I never heard her verbalize it. I could only feel her saying, “I’m here for you.”

Why did and I do feel this way?

By the decisions I made in life, in good times and in bad times…

  • When I entered the seminary at age 12.  My father opposed it. He sought the support of my mother. Mama simply said “that’s what he wants.”
  • In 1957 I transferred to St. Vincent’s Seminary in Manila (from Cebu). I was going farther away from home. My father used Mama’s homesickness to stop me. Mama simply said, “that’s what he wants.”
  • In 1962, I left for the States to pursue my studies in philosophy and theology, on the President Lines in Manila port. Papa, worried that she would just break down at the pier, pleaded with her not to go. She simply approached me and said, “Sorry, son, I can’t go. Your Papa will see you off.”
  • I was ordained a Vincentian priest in 1968. Immediately after ordination, I flew back home to a “hero’s welcome.” The happiest person to welcome me, of course, was my mother.
  • When Mama learned was hospitalized in Cebu, she flew alone even in a bad weather with just a few passengers, just to be with me. And imagine she has not ever flown on a plane because she was afraid of heights.
  • In 1977 I applied for incardination to a diocese in the island of Mindanao. I was accepted. When Mama learned about it, she simply asked, “why in the Muslim area?”
  • When I decided to leave the priesthood in 1987, my Papa, brothers and sisters were so disappointed but were more worried for Mama’s reaction. I was waiting for Mama’s outburst. Nothing came. She simply embraced and hugged me so tightly and just whispered, “that’s what you want.”
  • Before she died in 1991, I was on a home visit. She was already bedridden. As I approached her bedside, she held my hands and said to me, “Father, please pray over me.” 
  • My mother would have been 100 years old come November 30, 2020.
  • . Mama’s “hidden and quiet life” expressed in her simple … “that’s what he wants” … “that’s what you want” — speak volumes.

On this Mother’s Day, I want to pay tribute to her by shouting, “MAMA YOUR UNCONDITIONAL LOVE MADE AND MAKES MY WORLD GO ROUND! THANKS A MILLION!”

Now, I can understand why St. Vincent’s mother is nowhere to be found. Why? Vincent, I dare say, carried her in his heart!



Please feel free to share any story about the “Vincentian Thing” by writing me at freundj@gmail.com