Metro Manila South A: Called to empower the Poor
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
This was the main goal of the CFC South A front liners during their 1st Mission with the Poor Retreat held in SOS Children’s Village, Ayala, Alabang last May 12-13, 2018.
The retreat was filled with empowering sessions, personal reflections, dyad sharings and inspiring exposure with the poor.
Leading the team was Efren Baraoidan, SOUTH A ANCOP Overseer, who was also driven to remind everyone of their purpose in the retreat which is to allow God to use them in reaching out to the poor.
Rene Punsalan, ANCOP Board of Director, gave the Session 1: “The Church of the Poor”. He reminded the leaders of the two-fold commandments of Jesus: to love God above all and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Punsalan reiterated the definition of poverty through Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “poverty is a plague against which humanity must fight without cease.”
“No matter how we define being poor, its presence is so immensely strong that we cannot escape it. It’s a social phenomenon with multi-faceted dimensions of unmet needs, of inequality, and of humiliating lack. We help alleviate poverty in the best way we can as individuals and as a community; we look at poverty through the lens of Pope Francis, the Vicar of Christ,” he said.
Moreover, Punsalan highlighted that the purpose of the Church is to go out and tell the Good news of Jesus and surge forth the peripheries wrestled with pain, injustice, ignorance and indifference.
The Session 2 entitled “Caring for the Person in Need” was given by CFC Metro Manila Head, Mike Bukuhan. He illustrated Jesus’ oneness with the poor and suggested ways on how to hear their cry and to care for the person in need.
He said that everyone should open their eyes and heart to hear the cries of the poor which are manifested in selfish intentions, viral indifference, habit of exclusion and corruption. These can be countered-by through loving attentiveness, inclusion, humility, and with sincerity.
"To care for the lowly is to extend help to them. One of which is through the spiritual works of mercy,” he added.
After the Session 2, the retreatants were led to a powerful exposure. They were divided into four groups and were assigned to different venues namely: SOS Children’s Village, SOS Villa Luningning, ANCOP Markham Village and Little House of Nazareth.
The encounter with the poor was spirit-filled and fulfilling, said Bella Dela Cruz, one of the retreatants. She shared how she connected with the children of the Little House of Nazareth and was extremely happy that she was able to encounter and share Christ to the children.
Lito Tayag, ANCOP Chairman, gave the Session 3 entitled “Sharing for the Common Good”, where he set a clearer picture of today’s society--- ill and slowly destroyed.
Tayag’s session capped the present reality where everything is marred by the ugliness of selfishness extended to structures, institutions and society as a whole.
Despite the social-cultural changes in our society, Tayag encourages the frontliners of South A to create a counter-culture strategy such as The Culture of Encounter, Solidarity and Social Justice, in order to hear the cries of the poor.
He reminded everyone that “the cure for selfishness is sharing and deepening sense for the common good for one and for all.”
The first day ended with a plenary sharing, reflection and worship.
Jimmy Ilagan, former ANCOP President, gave the Session 4 on the second day of the retreat. His talk entitled “Future full of Hope” highlighted the very role of the retreatants, not just as members of Couples for Christ, but most importantly as Christians--- to be responsive to the cry of the poor and to be the source of hope to them.
“We respond to the call of Jesus as a community through our ANCOP Vision, Mission, Programs, and Projects,” he said.
He reminded the retreatants that their personal response is choosing to see Jesus’ face in every person they meet daily who is poor and shower them with mercy, compassion, with faith works through love.
Moreover, Ilagan moved the South A leaders to embrace humility, lowliness, faith and trust in God’s providence, love, compassion and Christian hope in achieving their personal response to the call of helping the poor.
Capping the retreat was South A Sector Head Robert Labayen, he shared how he himself was empowered through the four sessions and how he genuinely experienced Christ through the immersion.
He left a message to the retreatants from Matthew 19:21, “Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
Labayen is hopeful that the Mission with the Poor Retreat is not the end of spreading kindness and generosity, but the beginning of a journey in imitating Christ and answering the Cry of the Poor.
The retreat ended with individual reflection, group sharing and a fellowship.
CFC ANCOP sites located at Bicol Region were recently visited by CFC ANCOP Global Foundation, Inc. (CAFGI) representatives just this July 28-29, 2018 for site inspections to personally check the progress and status of the said sites, as these were granted additional housing units with the help of our partner donors, Cross Catholic Outreach (CCO) and CFC ANCOP Canada.
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