Why Nova Villa is feeling ‘a little bit of fear’ after receiving Papal award
Behind the cameras, Nova Villa quietly devotes her time to serving the Church and doing good deeds for others.
For the seasoned actress, what she does is just a normal part of her everyday life. And so it came as a complete surprise when she found out that she had been chosen to receive a Papal award. “I was on cloud nine,” she said of being conferred the Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice, a decoration from the Holy See that’s conferred on lay people and clergy, who have rendered “distinguished service to the Catholic Church.” It’s also the highest honor given by the Pope to lay people. “It’s the first time something like this has happened to me. I never expected it. I didn’t even know about it,” she said in a recent virtual conference for the new GMA primetime series “Owe My Love,” which coincidentally, features another celebrity Papal awardee, Ai-Ai delas Alas. “It’s an honor. It humbles me,” Nova said.
The 73-year-old thespian was awarded the medal in a ceremony presided by Novaliches Bishop Roberto Gaa last January at the San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish in Quezon City. “It really humbles me because it’s from the Vatican … from the Pope,” said Nova, who was nominated for the distinction by Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Antonio Tobias. To this day, it puzzles Nova how the Church knew of her efforts, which she doesn’t publicize. “I just do things in God’s way. I follow his teachings. I do them without fanfare; no one knows but me and those I help. So I was wondering how they found out,” she said. “I guess they have a way of knowing. Recently I found out from a Church mate that some were given questionnaires about me. Perhaps words travel,” surmised Nova, who’s also part of the Mother Butler Guild, a national religious organization for Catholic laywomen.
But with the great honor comes great responsibility, Nova pointed out. “There was a little bit of fear afterwards. I was thinking that the Church could ask me to do something important or big. I don’t know. So, I’m lifting everything to Him. He knows what my capacity is, my knowledge.”
With or without an award, her work continues. “All of us are Papal awardees … as long we’re alive, as long as we’re following God’s teachings and reminders to be good to people, especially the poor,” Nova stressed. “What’s important is our relationship with him.”
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s in her faith she turns to for strength. “I have always been close to God since I was a child. I have always put Him first in my life and in the challenges I have been through. And I’m not about to let go, because I have seen and I have proven that He gives me strength,” she said. “So whatever comes, pandemic and all, I will face it. Hindi ko ‘yan itatatwa,” Nova added. “I will embrace any challenge in life. I believe that the closer you are to God, the more He embraces you.”
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