By Yvonne Grace Dolorosa
As spirit-filled as a face-to-face retreat.
This is how the Mission with the Poor Retreat (MWPR) of Couples for Christ Micronesia can be described. Though held virtually, it was able to gather 70 attendees from all over the region for a deep dive into the why of charity work. Held on October 30 and November 6, 2021 via Zoom, the MWPR featured talks on different aspects of our work with the poor given by CFC elders like Bro. Joe Yamamoto; Bro. Shok Ariola; Bro. Jess Ferrer, CFC Micronesia Regional Head; and Bro. Rudy Gaspillo, CFC ANCOP Chairman.
‘Symptoms of poverty’
While Bro. Joe focused on the central motivation and reason of the mission we do with and for the poor, as well as the community’s response to this call of building the Church of the Poor, Bro. Shok’s session focused on “Caring for the Person in Need.” Day 1 of the retreat seemed to fly by with lively hosting by Shey and Andy Carreon.
The following week, on October 30, retreatants were back for the session of Bro. Jess, which reminded them of the ongoing spiritual battle we’re all in, and how symptoms of poverty have affected many lives. Some symptoms arise from the absence of God in a person’s life and the fragility of relationships.
Because of poverty, cries of the poor have become louder and Pope Francis, as a prime mover in the 21st-century has made the mission more profound by calling for a springtime of mercy in the Church and the rest of the world. Echoing Pope Francis, Bro. Jess said: “The interior change anchored on God’s mercy is manifested by caring for the person in need.”
In conclusion, he reminded the retreatants of St. Francis of Assisi’s exhortation to people of his day: “Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received-only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.”
21 Ways in 21 Days
To cope with prevailing global community restrictions, the participants were also encouraged to do a self-paced “21-day challenge” that consisted of random acts of kindness to help them reach out to the poor in 21 ways in 21 days.
Meanwhile, Bro. Tony Obien gave a quick update on what the CFC Social Development Programs have been doing in the past years. Programs included visiting the imprisoned; caring for the environment; and honoring the uniformed personnel, especially those who served as frontliners.
A future full of hope
Fittingly, the MWPR had former ANCOP President and new ANCOP Chairman Rudy Gaspillo give the last talk. He focused on the values that one must have when taking active part in the community’s work with the poor programs: humility, lowliness, faith, trust in God’s providence, and love and compassion with the expectation of a future full of hope.
Bro. Rudy also shared his personal story of how his faith in God led him to both professional success and personal conversion. The son of a poor sugar cane worker, he held on to a faith that would move mountains for him and eventually bless many others. The first in the family to go to college, Bro. Rudy was able to continue his studies because of a simple prayer. During the times when he was most challenged, he shared how he was reminded of the Beatitudes in the book of Matthew: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.”
Couple sharers from CFC Palau and CFC Guam also shared their own stories of how they are moved to do greater things for God by serving the poor. A brother from CFC Palau, noted how rewarding it is to have a heart for the poor. He said: “With goodness in our hearts, there will be enough room to help others!”
The participants were also encouraged to do a self-paced “21-day challenge” that consisted of random acts of kindness to help them reach out to the poor in 21 ways in 21 days.