Gloria Evangelista Cajigal: A Second Mom to Good Shepherd’s Youth & Young Adults.
Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran
On All Saints Day weekend, Gloria Evangelista Cajigal passed at the age of 66. The Baldwin High School Class of 1972 graduate left behind her husband of many years Ferdinand Cajigal and children Jeremy, Karissa and Lareina, and grandchildren Rylan, Piercen, Chevy and Levi. She also left a mother, a brother, a sister, nephews and nieces from the Evangelista family and members of her husband’s clan—the Magbuals.
Gloria had a knack for pulling you into a task. When she invited some of my nieces to a church retreat weekend on O‘ahu, she “invited” me to go along as a chaperone. She was always inviting people who came into the life of the parish to get involved. It was one of her many spiritual gifts.
At a Compline service, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church’s young adults and others from Maui, O‘ahu and the mainland—Father Moki Hino†, Ervin Pasalo, Zyra Dela Cruz, Father Ernesto Pasalo, Jr.†, Leigh Corpuz, Rheena Acidera Campbell, Sheena Garo, Tiani Santiago Luning, Danny Acidera, Mary Grace Basig, Christian Evangelista, Brandon Cacayorin and Father Marvin Foltz†—shared some thoughts on Gloria’s impact. As in many parishes, folks can identify key people breathing life into the faith community. For Wailuku’s Good Shepherd (and the Episcopal Diocese of Hawai‘i), Gloria was one of those faithful Saints.
For many years, Gloria spearheaded the youth and young adult ministries at the Church and volunteered at many of the other activities at the church—Barrio Fiesta (almost another Sacrament at the Parish), Ka ‘Ohana Kitchen, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Adopt-A-Highway, Study Halls, Relay for Life, Acolyte Ministry, Fellowship Hour, Halloween, First Friday, Bell Choir, Maui Foodbank Fundraisers, Palm Sunday palm weaving, Christmas Caroling and Easter Vigil and Christmas Pageants. If the parish had an event, you would usually find her there.
During the Compline service, they testified to her role in making the light of Christ real in their lives. Whether it was coaxing and prodding attendance at New Beginnings or Happenings in a loving fashion, they recall her gentle persistence in inviting them. “She was a gracious and good person in every sense of the word.” “She gave us opportunities to move out of our comfort zone.” “She identified leadership traits in me that I didn’t know myself.”
Gloria influenced them to step up as leaders in the church and in many ways, to help them discern their gifts and to open up their dreams and aspirations.
They also shared some poignantly funny memories.
Working tirelessly, the youth noticed over the years Gloria had the uncanny ability to steal “power naps” anywhere and anytime—including tables at hotel laundry rooms waiting for clothes to dry. Dedicated to getting things done, they testified sleep often seemed “the furthest thing from her mind.” But when she was with the youth, she was present.
She would read Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever” as a “bedtime story” and eventually would tear as she got through the story. By the end of the story, many of the youth would be crying with her. One person shared he now reads the same story to his own child. “I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”
Ultimately for many of them, Gloria was not just “Mom” from New Beginnings weekend, she was the Second Mother in their childhood. She was naturally motherly, taking an interest in their lives. She got them first summer jobs. She prodded them to become leaders in the parish, the diocese, the province and nationally (and to show them how to plan and run events in the future). She expanded their outlooks and allowed them to connect with other younger Christians throughout the islands. And she allowed them to see Christ in her own life.
As Scottish poet Thomas Campbell once observed, “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
Rest in love, Gloria.
Gilbert S.C. Keith-Agaran serves as the State Senator for the communities of Kahului, Wailuku, Waihe‘e, Waikapū and Waiehu. During the 2020 Election season, he took a leave of absence as a regular columnist for the Fil-Am Voice. The people of Central Maui re-elected him on November 3, 2020.