Last Saturday October 22, around one hundred fifty representatives of the different religious congregations, youth of the different BECS, seminarians, and parish workers of the Diocese of Cubao gathered at the Ponciano Bernardo High School for a whole day of sharing, games, laughter, fun, fellowship and thanksgiving. Entitled "Palarong Pang-Bokasyon" (Vocation Games), this event was also meant to creatively promote vocation among the young.
The day started with a mass officiated by Columban Fr. Rolly Aniscal, and concelebrated by priests from other congregations. Mass was followed by Columban LM John Din sharing a vocation story which he entitled "a story within a bigger story". This story enumerated several people who went to Lima, Peru for different reasons. First there was Lucia and Maria who were originally from a rural area in Peru and due to poverty decided to move to the big city of Lima to seek greener pasture. When they arrived in Lima, they were surprised to see a Lima City very different from the Lima they had in mind. Lima was very dry, had no rain, no accessible water except that coming from the mountains, and no proper waste disposal system. Then there were Angelica and Francisco, a couple from Germany, who went to Lima to work as missionaries and ended on the same place where Lucia and Maria lived. They had lived through difficult times. In spite of the threat of political violence, they together with the community was able to form a Christian community which later flourished into a parish. Then there was Maria Nieto. Maria Nieto was a single, middle aged lady. Although Maria Nieto was not schooled, she wanted to find a solution to the worsening state of waste disposal in the community which resulted to the plague of cholera in the communities. Together with the collaborative efforts of the community members, with Angelica and Francisco, they succeeded in making fertilizer from the community domestic waste. The project of Happy Earthworm Ecological Center led by Maria Nieto was awarded by the Peruvian government, a recognition for its valuable contribution to the care of environment. Then there were Carlos and Alejandrina with their three children. They were committed to the formation of the parish communities. Another personality is a Filipina Lay Missionary who in 2000 was assigned in Lima, Peru and has been working with the women on the same community where Maria and Lucia live. It was certainly a place of encounter with the different stories of the different personalities who arrived in the same community at different times. They were part of the bigger story of the parish of Our Lady of Peace. Other missionaries came. They came from Australia, Germany, and other places. John Din ended his story by giving us the following questions to reflect on...
1. Who among the personalities in the story can you identify with? Why?
2. If you were to meet this person, what question would you like to ask him/her?
Each of these personalities had a story to tell and contribution to share. Each story does not only end in that person but becomes part of a bigger story. In that story, John Din did not say where he was. But John was surely in that story somewhere. And since John is now with us sharing among us his gifts, his values, his time, and presence, he becomes part of our own individual stories.
The questions we were asked to reflect on were shared in the small group. In my small group, one young girl shared how she admires Maria Nieto for doing what she did without expecting anything in return. Only someone with so much love in her heart could do a life-changing act, she mused.
The afternoon was marked with fellowship games mostly larong pinoy. There were different relays, egg catching, singing contest, and basketball.
At around 4:00, all participants were asked to form a half moon and volunteers shared their experience of the day. Gratitude and joy were two of the words mostly used by those who shared their experience. Everyone looked forward to having a similar activity soon.
The day culminated with a short prayer of thanksgiving and praise.
by Marivic H. Mercene
Columban Lay Mission - Philippines