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June’s mission

June Keithley believed in miracles, not only the day-to-day kind such as a baby being born in perfect health or a stingy old man suddenly turning generous for no observable reason, but in the kind that needs a degree of divine intervention to pull off, in some grand and dramatic manner.

Jullie Yap DazaFor all her down-to-earth-ness, June as she lived the last decades of her life was a Marian devotee who dedicated her faculties to teaching people why to pray and how to pray for their own good. Performing the role of Maria, the former nun who became a nanny to the Von Trapp children in the hit musical The Sound of Music, June might have imbibed some of that convent-girl aura – actually, she was a Paulinian who happened to be a favorite thespian of Fr. James Reuter, SJ, another of EDSA’s unsung heroes — but as far as our conversations went, I couldn’t put a finger on when the aha! moment captivated her. Her dearest friends, Mitch Valdes and Ma-an Hontiveros, ought to find it in their hearts to enlighten us one day.

For now, I choose to remember June for those last years when her mission was to bring visionaries to our shores, including an Eastern European lady by the name of Vasula, who stood out from the rest because, the way June introduced her to us, she was going to “teach us how to pray the Lord’s Prayer properly.” (Which she did, but how successfully?) There were others who interested June intensely, and there were pilgrimages to Marian shrines and visits to otherwise ordinary-looking people in the Philippines and outside who claimed to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary or experienced phenomena, for example, of witnessing rosaries turn gold-like. Many such episodes were documented on film by June, including one about the miraculous showers of rose petals in a Carmelite chapel in Batangas.

The love of her life, of course, was Angelo Castro, whose joy was to humor June by trying to look and sound unaffected by her stories of the supernatural, knowing deep down in his heart that the understanding between them went deeper than any funny act he could put on.