Senior

They are our modern hero.

Though they are in the twilight years of their life, they serve God even more.

I admire their tenacity and zeal to love others selflessly.

They are our hopemakers in our troubled world today by doubts, worries, divisions and anxieties.

I met the hardworking servant leaders of the Diocese of Imus and they inspire me to love God more.

I hope the young people can learn a thing or two from them. They are worth emulating for their humility.

Catechists

A dear friend Sis. Lalie Jimenez inspired me to know more about this mission work. The Diocese of Imus catechists in action. To catechise means to teach: more specifically, to teach by word of mouth. Prior to Parish level were nuns. However, increasingly the role of the Parish Catechist has been undertaken by Catholic Laity. Catechists are often deployed to teach Candidates who are preparing for the Sacraments of Reconciliation, First Holy Communion, Confirmation and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Catechists have always been of particular importance in large geographical parishes, such as in Africa, where Priests have historically only been able to visit different parts of their Parish periodically. In the Priest’s absence the Parish Catechist takes on the role of being the main teacher of the faith in that Parish. As such they are afforded a particular place of honor within the parish community where they work.

Cardinal Richard J. Cushing in his “Catholic Family Prayer Book” shared seven characteristics needed in order to be a good catechist, gleaned from catechists themselves:

Be hospitable
Hospitality is critically important today. Many children, youths and adults feel unappreciated. Often, they do not verbalize such feelings of low self-esteem. Society’s functional priorities often overshadow the personal love that people need. A catechist’s words and attitude need to indicate that all the catechized are important and welcome in the Church. This goes a long way to open people to God’s word and sacraments.

What can you do to make your class feel welcome and comfortable?

Center teaching on faith
A catechist’s faith is the basis for his or her love of God and one another. It invites them to share God’s word with children, adolescents and adults. Catechists give witness to their faith in action through solid preparation and concern for the catechized. Faith often requires us to sacrifice our time to get certified as a catechist, to visit a homebound person or to volunteer in a senior citizens home. Such a lifestyle of offering oneself to those in need demands a regular prayer life.

Catechesis can never become a routine task. It requires an ongoing infusion of energy derived from communication with people of faith, prayer, the sacraments, Scripture reflections and good reading.

In what ways are you growing in your faith?

Care for the catechized
We are called to catechize in the spirit of Jesus. He showed special concern to the man born blind and the woman caught in adultery. Like Christ, catechists also minister to those people that society overlooks. These include children, adults with special needs and the elderly.

People with special needs offer rich graces to a catechist and catechetical community. The elderly are often very close to God. Many have served the Church over the years. They, too, need continuing catechetical ministry at the time their eternal reward approaches. In developing catechesis for people with various needs, catechists should not neglect children and youth. In today’s society, they need special attention. Catechists must give high priority to young people, focusing on where they are right now, not on whom or what they may become later on.

In what ways are you showing your class that you care for each of them?

Catechize with joy and a smile
Recognizing our importance begins by knowing that we are children and friends of God. It also demands that we know our limitations as human beings. This realization encourages us to have a sense of humor and to laugh often.

Smiling and laughing are good symbols for catechesis. Catechists help people smile when they share Jesus’ joyful message. Smiles and laughter touch us deeply and invite us to respond positively, even in difficult situations. Our smile may be the only one that a person experiences all day. Even when tired, we can smile. A smile, not a tired body, is the window to the soul. Catechists offer a fine gift when they smile.

What happens to your overall mood and outlook when you smile?

Live as a prophet of hope
A hope-filled person radiates hope to others. The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah gave the Jewish people hope for a better tomorrow during troubled times. Their words repeatedly called people to repent and focus again on God’s covenant of love. Jesus culminated their ministry through his death and resurrection.

In hard times of pain, anger, uncertainty and confusion, we need more prophets of hope as catechists and catechetical leaders. Such ministers offer hope to searching or troubled children, youth and adults. Seeing their role as being prophets of hope offers catechists a positive perspective from which to enthusiastically embrace their ministry.

How might you reflect Christian hope to those you teach?

Practice catechesis in this time and place
Some people are always looking for the ideal situation. Many never find it. Why we are born into a particular family and cultural circumstance and why we are called to minister in today’s world and Church is God’s choice, not ours.

Some catechists find themselves in less-than-desirable situations. We may feel unsupported by parish leaders, have inadequate preparation or resources, live in difficult family or work situations and experience pressure from students and parents. God calls us to minister when and where we are, not in some idealized time and place. If circumstances are beyond our control, we may have to make the most of them, remembering that God may be asking us to take up our cross. At the same time, we must take care of ourselves. In finding this balance, we give glory to God as we minister to our family and those we catechize.

Have you ever made a less-than-desirable situation better by praying and presenting a positive presence?

Be well-prepared
All catechists need adequate preparation, knowledge of the basics of the faith, the skills to communicate Church teaching and good resource materials. As a general norm, catechists need to be certified. Diocesan formation requirements for catechists, an understanding of the Catholic approach to the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, good religion textbooks and other supplementary works enhance the catechist’s ability to catechize.

Professionally trained catechetical leaders recognize the central role that well-prepared catechists play in sharing Jesus’ Good News. All catechists need formal preparation through attendance at adult faith formation or other religious education classes, institutes and workshops. They are also called to pray, read, focus on Scripture and prepare adequately before teaching so that they know the lesson of the day and are able to communicate it effectively. Of course, a faithful well-prepared catechist is better than any textbook!

What effect does it have on a class of students if a catechist is well-prepared?

Prayer for teachers
Heavenly Father, who promised that all those who instruct others in the way of holiness will shine as stars for all eternity, fill our hearts and minds with true knowledge and the art of teaching. Give us patience and understanding, justice and prudence, humility and fear of the Lord. Grant us wisdom and charity so that, with a pure and holy love of God, we ourselves may enjoy all these gifts and impart them to our students.

Teach our children to be obedient to your laws and open to your inspiration. Let them be instruments of your peace in their homes, in our land and in the family of nations as becomes children of the sons of God in the mystical body of Christ.

May the blessings of your sevenfold gifts be in all who teach and in all who learn through the Holy Spirit, who is love of the Father and the Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ — the Divine Teacher.

SCA

People come and go, but the mission continues.

This is God’s work. His victory not ours.

We would like to thank our student servant leaders who came and took part in bringing more youth closer to God through Student Catholic Action (SCA) movement in Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM).

We have new set of servants in the vineyard who undergone the pastoral formation program last weekend.

They said ‘yes’ to God’s call by serving others and we pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to empower them in this mission.

SCA

“God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind. As far as Jesus is concerned – as the Gospel shows – no one is unworthy of, or far from, his thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. In his eyes the clothes you wear or the kind of cell phone you use are of absolutely no concern. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; he cares about you! In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.” –

Special thanks to our alumni for their unwavering support in sharing their talents, treasures and time for making the program possible.

SCA is the first student Catholic movement in the Philippines that started in 1936.

SCA came to PLM in 1981 and now on its 37th year, the movement stood tall amidst challenges in the past years.

How did SCA come to the campuses? Who started the spark that ignited the passion of serving others?

Here’s an article published last year about the selfless love of the Columban clergy that inspired SCA.

The Columbans and the Student Leaders they Molded
(by Milwida M. Guevara, SCA Alumni, originally published in Manila Bulletin, December 12, 2017)

I tried to focus on the celebration of the mass yesterday but my memory kept drifting to the past. My friend, Fr. Michael Mohally, a Columban priest, celebrated his 50th anniversary as a priest. His years were indeed golden, having served as a missionary, and dedicated to the formation of leaders through Student Catholic Action (SCA).

The Columban Missionaries are also celebrating their centenary in the country this year. They ran parishes, established schools, served as university chaplains, and worked with the poor.

Many Columbans died as martyrs in the Philippines. Fr. Thomas Flynn died in the hands of the Huks in 1950. Fr. Rufus Hally was shot dead in 2001. President FVR was personally involved in the rescue of Fr. Des Hartford who was abducted by militants in Marawi in 1997.

But we remember the Columbans most fondly for their work with students. They had a special knack for identifying those with great potential for leadership and held their hands and hearts in their formative years. The Columbans modeled the virtues of servant-leadership, sharpened their minds through “teach-ins” and conferences, and developed their love for others through immersion in marginalized communities.

I am privileged to walk in the company of colleagues whose values and work were shaped by the Columban Fathers: Ernie Garilao, former Secretary of DAR; Carn Abella, former President of DAP; Dr. Antonio Torralba, former Dean of Liberal Arts, UAAP; Atty. Hector Villacorta, Secretary of the Commission on Appointments; Tess Villacorta, former Executive Director of Children’s Hour; Tina Monzon Palma, ANC Anchor, Edna Zapanta Manlapaz, Professor, Ateneo de Manila University, and of course, the great Raul Roco. We were products of “indoctrination” of the Columbans on how to live a meaningful life through service to others.

SCA was introduced in campuses at a time when students were drawn to the ideals of Communism. The Columbans adopted the cell technique in formation. It is interesting to note that the ideals of Communism were propagated through the cell method. We met regularly with a group of students where we discussed how it is to be a leader, the meaning of love, and how virtues such as humility and courage, are acquired. But our discussions were rooted not on the teachings of Lenin and Trotsky, but on the examples of a much bigger leader, Jesus. We reflected on His Gospel and His life of love. It was in these cell meetings where I first listened to Raul Roco, dapper, dashing, and eloquent in flawless English and Tagalog. Every December, the Columbans gathered student leaders in every school, college and university, and “indoctrinated” them in Baguio – La Patria Hotel for the men and St. Joseph College, for the women. Coming straight from the province, you could imagine how I listened with starry eyes to Sonia Malasarte, Nonong Contreras, Tati Licuanan, Pablo Trillana, Fr. Sonny Ramirez, Imelda Nicolas,and Abelardo Cortez.

The Columbans also saw to it that student-leadership should be well-rounded. We had festivals throughout the year where we developed our talents in drama, debates, singing, dancing, arts, and sports. Those were the years when SCA sponsored college fairs where we had great fun in marriage booths, roulettes, merry-go-round, and ferris wheels. In the evenings, we swayed and boogied with the music of RJ Jacinto and the Electromaniacs.

The Columbans helped us to have a deep understanding of life. They led us in our work with communities in the peripheries. I credit my work with the public high schools and the slums in Tondo as the backbone of my obsession for justice and education. It is not strange that many of my SCA colleagues have a penchant for public service and have continued to work with the poor.

I met Fr. Michael 47 years ago. He had an innocent look on his face and was looking forward to his work in the Philippines. Little did he know that he would serve as the Director of SCA in public high schools for many years, sans any priest as assistant. He was forever running around all day in his small car saying masses all over Metro Manila, counseling hundreds of students, and guiding their activities. His heart broke (and so did ours) when SCA was outlawed by the martial law government.

But the Columbans probably will never realize how much their work with SCA has impacted on Filipinos. Their influence has multiplied a million fold through the work of former student leaders whom they have formed. Like ripples in a pond, the ideals of the Columbans have multiplied and changed the course of rivers and oceans. They have set the course for thousands of SCAns to do what is right, give without counting the cost, and work without seeking reward.

Thank you Fr. Michael and the Columban missionaries who have given their best to the country. Indeed, you made us hear the angels sing.

Real

Fr. Bob McConaghy, Spiritual Director of The Feast Bay Area puts it succintly that we are servants not volunteers in doing God’s work.

A volunteer can leave anytime but a servant has a giving heart.

They focus on others, not themselves. This is true humility: not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less.

When we stop focusing on our needs, we become aware of the needs around us.

Real Servants

With my fellow servants in The Feast Bay Area together with Fr. Bob.

God is always more interested in why we do something than in what we do. Attitudes count more than achievements.

Jesus “emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant.” When was the last time you emptied yourself for someone elses benefit? You cant be a servant if you’re full of yourself. Its only when we forget ourselves that we do the things that deserve to be remembered.

We serve to get others to like us, to be admired, or to achieve our own goals. That is manipulation, not ministry.

Pastor Rick Warren shared these thoughts about being a real servant for God.

Real servants don’t try to use God for their purposes. They let God use them for His purposes.

We can measure our servants heart by how we respond when others treat us like servants. How do you react when youre taken for granted, bossed around, or treated as an inferior?

Real Servants Think Like Stewards, Not Owners

They remember God owns it all.

Servanthood and stewardship go together since God expects us to be trustworthy in both. The Bible says, The one thing required of such servants is that they be faithful to their master. How are you handling the resources God has entrusted to you?

To become a real servant, you’re going to have to settle the issue of money in your life.

Money has the greatest potential to replace God in your life. More people are sidetracked from serving by materialism than anything else. They say, “After I achieve my financial goals, Im going to serve God.” That is a foolish decision they will regret for eternity. When Jesus is your Master, money serves you, but if money is your master, you become its slave. Wealth is certainly not a sin, but failing to use it for Gods glory is. Real servants are more concerned about ministry than money.

The Bible is very clear: God uses money to test your faithfulness as a servant. Thats why Jesus talked more about money than he did about either heaven or hell. He said, If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? How you manage your money affects how much God can bless your life.

Real Servants Think About Their Own Responsibilities, Not What Other Servants are Doing

They dont compare, criticize, or compete with other servants or ministries. Theyre too busy doing the work God has given them.

Competition between Gods servants is illogical for many reasons: were all on the same team, our goal is to make God look good, not ourselves, weve been given different assignments, and were all uniquely shaped. Paul said, We will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

Theres no place for petty jealousy between servants. When youre busy serving, you dont have time to be critical. Any time spent criticizing others is time that could have been spent ministering. When Martha complained to Jesus that Mary was not helping with the work, she lost her servants heart. Real servants dont complain of unfairness, dont have pity-parties, and dont resent those not serving. They just trust God and keep serving.

If you serve like Jesus, you can expect to be criticized. The world, and even much of the church, does not understand what God values. The disciples criticized one of the most beautiful acts of love shown to Jesus. Mary took the most valuable thing she owned, expensive perfume, and poured it over Jesus. Her lavish service was called “a waste” by the disciples, but Jesus called it “significant,” and thats all that mattered. You service for Christ is never wasted, regardless of what others say.

Real Servants Base Their Identity in Christ

They remember they are unconditionally loved and accepted by grace, so they dont have to prove their worth when they are threatened by lowly jobs. Most of us are too insecure to be servants. Were afraid our weaknesses and insecurities will be uncovered so we hide them with layers of protective pride and pretensions.

One of the most profound examples of serving from a secure self-image is Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Washing feet was the equivalent of being a shoeshine boy, a job devoid of status. But Jesus knew who he was, so it didnt threaten or bother him to do it.

If youre going to be a servant you must settle your identity in Christ. Only secure people can serve, when you base your worth and identity on your relationship to Christ, you are freed from the expectation of others. You are freed to serve.

Real Servants Think of Ministry as an Opportunity, Not an Obligation

They enjoy helping people, meeting needs, and doing ministry. They “serve the Lord with gladness.” Why do we serve with gladness? Because we love the Lord, were grateful for his grace, we know serving is the highest use of life, and God has promised a reward. Jesus promised, The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me. And Paul added, He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other Christians.

Imagine what could happen if just 10% of all Christians in the world got serious about their role of being a real servant. Imagine all the good that could be done. Are you willing to be one of those people? Albert Schweitzer said, “The only really happy people are those have learned how to serve.”

Valor

Are you ready to serve?

Today we commemorate the Day of Valor, formerly called Bataán Day, to remind us of the heroism of our soldiers and for Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila – Student Catholic Action (PLM-SCA) team, it was a day to huddle and to plan for the servant leadership training.

A group of servant alumni reflected on the relevance of the movement in evangelizing the youth in the PLM community.

Valor

A leader with a servant’s heart works tirelessly to develop his or her team and is focused on what they can do for others.

The alumni are composed of doctors, finance executives, educators, engineers and human resources management specialist to name a few.

Beyond their profession, the group aims to continue the servant leadership legacy of the movement.

Student Catholic Action was founded in 1936 in the Philippines and started in Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) back in 1981.

Since then, it has undergone a gradual process of development and expansion. Evolving from a loosely formed city-wide association in the early years it has established itself as a well-knit organization with SCA Units in practically all educational institutions in the Archdiocese of Manila.

Demonstrating adaptability as one of its main assets, SCA first concerned itself with the problem of education in the state university. It was here that the first unit was formed by Columban Father Edward J. McCarthy in 1936 at the University of the Philippines-Manila. It was formally approved by his grace, Archbishop Michael O’ Doherty on April 12, 1936.

During the occupation era the impetus of the early enthusiasm of SCA maintained the organization for a short time. Registered with the Japanese authorities “SCA for secular colleges and universities,” the organization continued with its regular student Masses but eventually, due to lack of priestly assistance, all activities gradually ceased.

After the war in 1948, with the archbishop’s request in Manila, an immediate objective of establishing religion classes in non-sectarian and public schools was called for. SCA was revived and expanded for the main purpose of providing many catechists required for this work not only in Catholic Schools. SCA then had an increasing influence until such time it did not only focus on catechism but also embraced the SIX AIMS (presently the SCA Areas of Concern).

In 1969, during the heightened student activism on Martial Law Years, student organizations including SCA was banned due to the infiltration of the leftists. Other arch/dioceses however continued the program in their own. CBCP abolished SCA in 1985 and the national coordination was lost. In 1998, CBCP, through the efforts of Bp Rolando J. Tria Tirona, ECY Chairman and Ms. Teresita E. Nitorreda, SCA gained back its national structure and was granted a mandate as a recognized youth organization by the Episcopal Commission on Youth.

INTERNATIONAL AFFILIATIONS

  • International Young Christian Students (IYCS) – with consultative status at UNESCO and UN ECOSOC
  • Philippine Network of Ecumenical Teams (PHILNet)
  • Ecumenical Asia-Pacific Students and Youth Network (EASYNet)

GENERAL ACTIVITIES

SCA is inspired by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn’s methodology SEE-JUDGE-ACT. The same methodology that is used as the REVIEW of LIFE of every SCAn. These activities follow one methodology:

  • National Leadership Conference (Exposure-Reflection-Action/Resolution)
  • Regional Leadership Conference (Exposure-Reflection-Action/Resolution)
  • Cluster or Archdiocesan Conference
  • National Solidarity Day/Day of Prayer for Peace
  • Leadership Youth Camps
  • Symposiums on Various Issues (Political, Educational/Cultural, Socio-Economic-Ecological, Spiritual, Media and Recreational)
  • Socio-Economic-Environmental Related Action Projects (tree planting, coastal clean-up, etc.)
  • Advocacy building

FORMATION PROGRAMS FOR MEMBERS AND YOUTH

Four-Stage Formation toward Full-fledged Membership

  • eSCAPade
  • Cell Meetings (8-session PCM)
  • Basic Orientation Workshop (BOW)
  • Christ the King Leadership Recollection and Oath-taking
  • Chaplains and Animators Formation Exchange (CAFÉ)
  • Animators Team Training

FORMATION PROGRAMS OFFERED TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE

  • Youth Evangelized to Serve (YES)
  • Taize Formation and Prayer

Faci

According to the Bible, to become a servant of God and to enjoy serving others is not only a decision that a person needs to take, it is first a gracious gift from God. A voluntary servant, who submits themselves to a higher purpose, which is beyond their personal interests or the interests of others and a servant who, out of love, serves others’ needs before their own.

During the weekend, some of our Light Group (LG) members attended the facilitator workshop organized by the Light of Jesus community. It was a whole-day of fun, learning and empowerment. Special shout out to our service team for all their love!

Aside from spiritual maturity, the training was geared towards technical skills’ enhancement on how to serve others effectively and efficiently as a facilitator.

The biggest lesson I learned during the training was centered on personal mastery which means that you are committed for your continuous improvement in everything you do -in all areas of your life. In short, ‘you cannot give what you don’t have’.

Our servant trainer was Sis. Gertrudes ‘Ruth’ Collantes, who passionately shared her story of self awareness and the critical role it plays as a facilitator. She is the team head for the Servants’ Resources Development Ministry (SRDM) of the Feast Bay Area. She has more than 20 years of organizational development and training experience.

Sis. Rezza Custodio-Soriano, the Pastoral Council Co-Head thanked everyone for their presence and love for serving others.

Bro. Audee Villaraza, Feast Builder – AM Plenary Sessions shared her faith witnessing experience on the importance of light groups in developing a deeper relationship with God.

Faci

Nothing will help you get closer to Jesus more than helping others get closer to Jesus! An empowering weekend for our Light Group (LG) members

Looking at the big picture, I realized that being a facilitator was being Jesus to others.

  • Christ-centered in all aspects of life (a voluntary servant of Christ)
  • Committed to serve the needs of others before their own,
  • Courageous to lead with power and love as an expression of serving,
  • Consistently developing others into servant leaders, and
  • Continually inviting feedback from those that they want to serve in order to grow towards the ultimate servant leader, Jesus Christ.

We are called to be God’s servants in every aspect of our lives. It means serving others in accordance with the higher purpose of serving God.

I am excited for this new opportunity as part of my healing journey.

To God be all the glory!