Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ministries for Peace in Mindanao

The year 2009 in Cagayan de Oro started with extensive flooding in January of the city’s river banks and low-lying areas throughout the province. Another flash flood occurred in November that disrupted the opening days of our Mindanao Week of Peace. Several parishes in coordination with our ACCESS office distributed relief goods. Nazareth Parish initiated a rehabilitation program for damaged houses along the river.

These experiences have prompted our Ecology Desk to monitor closely our environment−i.e., the continued mining operations on the upland area of the city and the resumption of logging activities in the Gingoog-Claveria watershed area. Compounding this is the proposed bio-ethanol plant that would pollute Cagayan de Oro River, ideal for white water rafting.

Other concerns of our ad extra ministries under the Commission on Social Action, headed by Fr. Cabantan, include:

• Sustainable Agriculture: Frs. Soldevilla and Lusat have been piloting S.A. practices such as vermiculture and rice-duck farming.

• Indigenous People: Fr. Sabuga and KASALU, a volunteer group, have organized several meetings of lumad leaders from Misamis Oriental and from all over Mindanao to promote IP rights to their ancestral domain. Malitbog Parish is their base of operation.

• Women’s Ministry: The Good Shepherd Sisters have set up a Center for Women, including counseling services. Since April, they have provided support and protection for young women victims of a cybersex operation uncovered in the city. The court case against two foreign nationals is still ongoing.

• Migrant Workers: Msgr. Legitimas and Sr. Alice, D.C., have concentrated on port area activities, involving seamen’s wives and stevedores’ families.

• Prison Ministry: Fr. Durana, prison chaplain, ministers to the spiritual needs of detainees in the city and provincial jails with regular Sunday services. The Prisoners’ Awareness Week had several activities, including a mass wedding.

• Children’s Ministry: The Canossian Sisters are inaugurating this month a newly-constructed home for orphans and neglected children. The Calabrian Fathers also have two houses for abandoned boys and girls, while the Sacred Heart Fathers are supporting a Kasanag Foundation home for girl victims of abuse.

• Charity Foundations: With the support of two local foundations, the MCM Sisters are administering the House of Hope for the mentally sick and a home for the elderly. Another home for the mentally sick has been set up in Gingoog by a third foundation.

• Social Communications: Sr. M.A. Padilla, FSP, and her team have published monthly newsletters of the archdiocese. They have also set up at Xavier U and Capitol U a photo exhibit on Cagayan de Oro’s 75 years as a diocese (1933-2008). Ongoing efforts are being made to optimize the use of radio and TV time for the local church’s message.

• Good Governance: Fr. Lerio and youth leaders assisted students in the first-time registration of voters, together with chapter members of the Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference. They are currently conducting seminars focusing on Responsible Christian Citizenship. These are being replicated at the parish level. Several resource persons have assisted these activities – notably, Fr. C. Diola and his Dilaab team from Cebu, and Ms. H. de Villa, PPCRV Chair from Manila. Meanwhile, several Civil Society groups are exploring transpartisan ways of involvement in the coming elections.

Our ad intra ministries under the Commission on Faith and Evangelization, headed by Fr. Salvador, are undergoing reorganizational changes while continuing their ongoing activities – i.e., Catechetics, Basic Ecclesial Communities, Christian Family and Life, and Youth. Notably, our All-Natural Family Planning program has reached out to nearly two-thirds of our parishes. It is heartening to see how our NFP counselors and couple-users, and increasingly local government units too, are adopting All-NFP as the positive alternative to contraceptives and the Reproductive Health bills.
For this special Year of the Priests, the archdiocese has been blessed with four ordinations to the priesthood last November. In January 2010, most of our priests will be joining the National Clergy Congress in Manila. By next year too, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary here in Cagayan de Oro will be celebrating its 25th anniversary. The interdiocesan seminary has trained about 350 priests for Mindanao and Bohol. Meanwhile, our sixty-year old St. Augustine Cathedral is currently undergoing renovation of its trusses and roofing at its rear section.

In the light of the recent acts of violence in Maguindanao, Basilan, and Agusan del Sur, the peace process for the whole of Mindanao needs to be strengthened. May all these renewal efforts of the local church – in our clergy, ministries, and the cathedral – be a fitting preparation for its message of peace for Mindanao in this new year 2010.