Hello, family. In my post today, I wanted to reflect upon how our mom has loved and inspired her family through her life. I hope these stories of my mother, Belen Rosario, might offer motivation to other families. At InspiredToEducate.NET, our mission is to help students love learning through creative projects and exploration. Writing this post helped me understand my root system and personal curiosity for the power of learning and how a learning mindset can grow communities.
In my own way, I hope this post helps me and my family meditate on the life of my mother Belen. On Nov 20th, 2020, my mother celebrated her birthday into heaven after a challenging battle with cancer. I’m so excited that she’s finally at peace. I praise God that she enjoys the light and comfort of our heavenly Father and the amazing jam session of praise with all the saints and angels.
For my brother and I, we have been so blessed to have a loving mom and dad. Let’s be real. In the Rosario home, we’re not unlike any other family. We have our imperfections and vices. I, however, feel that my mom, Belen, lived out some of the best qualities of a Catholic momma. I hope I can foster her legacy of being a good Catholic parent.
My mom encouraged a spirit of generosity: Belen was born on Christmas day in 1945 to a loving family of teachers in the Philippines. Belen actually means Bethlehem in Spanish. My grandfather Pedro taught her family about the enabling power of learning. Grandpa Pedro had the vision of enabling his daughters and son to live a thriving life, but lacked the financial means to provide university education to all of his children. According to the family stories, Momma worked very hard in her schooling to explore the sciences and eventually earned a B.S. degree at University of Santo Tomas in Manilla in the Philippines. As she grew as a professional, she would live a modest life and send money back to her family. As a young adult, she earned an opportunity to immigrate to the United States which strongly needed medical technologists skilled in chemistry. She knew that making a transition to the US would take her away from her family in the Philippines, but knew that it would create greater opportunities for her and her larger family. My mom and my wonderful father Moses met while they both worked in a medical lab in New York. As I recall my mom’s words, she says “I’m not sure why this young guy kept following me around.” They, however, fell in love and started their family together. My mom and dad have always encouraged a spirit of generosity. They sent money back to the Philippines to help fund the education of her siblings. We’re proud of our momma who helped her family members earn degrees in engineering, medicine and finance. Mom’s story captures the best of the American dream. She came to the US with a spunky drive and educational opportunities. She converted those assets into a beautiful life for herself and opportunities for her family. I have loved hearing stories of how mom and dad helped Tita Gloria and Tito Ernie jumpstart their marriage and life in the US. While we didn’t have a lot, my mom and dad have lived out the “go giver” attitude to help friends in need. #ProudOfMom #ProudOfDad
Keeping the faith: One of the most precious gifts that mom and dad gave to us was the gift of faith. My mom and dad made great financial sacrifices to make sure Francis and I had the best in Catholic education. I also had the opportunity to attend Jesuit High school in Tampa, one of the finest Catholic schools in town. Given that we grew up in Florida, we grew up with the legends and stories of watching the space program. (from Apollo and to the Shuttle program) I can recall fun stories of my dad leading us through fun slide shows of exploring space. From my mom’s side, she did a great job of encouraging our curiosity in science. If we wanted to learn about something, we had a cool encyclopedia and tons of other educational materials so that we could explore our curiosity. Many people put science and faith into different boxes. We were blessed with a family that encouraged the wonder of science and understood that God’s hand orchestrated every detail. While we weren’t a perfect family, we learned the value of our faith, the habits of prayer, and the beautiful rituals of our Catholic faith. These habits have helped us shape our hearts for the Lord. As the family faced the trials of cancer for my mother and brother, I kept seeing my mom turn to Jesus and calling upon the mercy of Momma Mary through the rosary.
Fostering creativity and music: Great art and technical work requires the discipline of incremental practice, trial, failing, and persistence. I feel like Francis and I learned these lessons through our family culture of tinkering, art and music. My dad created opportunities to get early exposure to computers and their creative power. My first experiences with a computer gave us exposure to creating art on a computer or simple code experiments. My brother and I had robust opportunities to learn and explore music. We enjoyed our opportunities to learn violin, piano, and sing. ( And mom loved to sing!) To be honest, when we started playing violin it sounded like we were killing cats. Not sure how we progressed beyond that. At some later point, we gained enough skills to join our music ministry at Christ the King. Some of my favorite memories involve me and my brother getting to serve at 5:30 pm contemporary choirs, sharing music at the carnival and serving in youth ministry. My mom and dad largely supported the strengths of my brother in performing and visual art. It’s been cool to see his passions lean toward creative digital fabrication and digital media. On a personal level, I didn’t realize it at the time, but these became pivot points for preparing me for future work in music ministry later in college. I know these experiences helped us gain a growth mindset for our respective careers.
Toward the end, I helped my mom reflect upon the influence of her life. I talked about Pam and Wilson who met while serving in my campus ministry choir at UCF. Like many beautiful stories, Pam and Wilson fell in love through their shared passion for Christ and music. They have a beautiful Catholic family that I cherish. Since those precious years of being a founding member of Ccmknights.com and OviedoCatholic.org, hundreds of students have changed their lives because of their deep encounter with Jesus in these ministries. Holy men and women have decided to give their lives to Jesus as priests and nuns. Generations of Catholic families will continue to be born. My mom has beautiful spiritual grand-children because she planted the love of God and music in my heart. To return to the simple teaching of Mother Teresa, can loving your family truly change the world? It’s a great hypothesis for families to consider. It’s a hypothesis that we consider testing with our loved ones. I know our family will always be proud of our dearest Belen.
While we’re sad to lose momma on Earth, we’re excited for momma for her birthday in heaven. Can’t wait to hear the stories of her meeting Jesus, her mom, dad, and other dear ones in heaven. We’re so glad that she now enjoys a glorified body, the love of Christ, and no more pain. Excited to seek Lola Belen’s intersession. Saint Belen Rosario … Pray for us!!