On the last week of October, taking advantage of the semestral break, 20 young people (with six accompanying adult coaches) from Ang Ligaya Ng Panginoon Community went to Tacloban for a Mercy and Compassion Mission Trip. The goals of the mission trip were:
- To reach out in compassion to the people in Tacloban mostly by simply being with them in an immersion program.
- To help prepare young people for the coming of the Pope by conducting a mini-catechism based on the National Prayer for the Papal Visit.
The mission trip was in two phases: a day with the youth farmers “agri-preneurs” of Fr. Bart Pastor (Chairman of the National Service Committee-Catholic Charismatic Renewal) and a two-day Tacloban Youth Mission Training culminating with a project (mini-catechism for about 500 grade school pupils).
The mission trip preparations begun first week of October where 15 Grade 12th, 2 Juniors and 3 former YA’s met to put together a catechetical material for the Pope’s coming. In the one of the preparatory sessions, Fr. Bart Pastor surprised us with a visit to express his excitement over our visit and help us understand what to expect in the farm. The Mission Team also learned how to teach the official Papal action song.
In Tacloban, they were first hosted at the Paraclete Renewal Center where Fr. Bart’s youth farmers welcomed them.The YAs were divided into five teams and were invited to go to five different farms and work with them for the day. They were also served their normal food – fish, vegetable, mais and boiled cassava or camote for snacks. Both youth groups found this time together as a very enriching experience. Reaching out in compassion resulted in fun, friendship and formation.
Then the Mission Team moved to the Our Lady of Fatima Parish, led by it s Parish Priest, Fr. Ramil Costibolo. Here they conducted the Tacloban Youth Mission Training, a day and half leadership training attended by 30 youth leaders from the different Vicariates on the Archdiocese of Palo. Fr. Kim Margallo, Youth Director of the Archdiocese of Palo came to the Mission Training on both days to oversee his delegates as he expects them to echo their learnings back to their own Vicariates.
The Mission Training culminated with a joint Ligaya-Tacloban Youth project: a two-hr mini catechesis held simultaneously in two sites: at the Fatima Parish with 350 Grade 4-6 pupils of A.P. Banez Memorial Elementary School and at the Paraclete Renewal Center with 200 Grade 4-6 pupils from Brgy. Salvacion Elementary School. Both mini-catechesis included an explanation of the mission of the Pope as the Vicar of Christ, teaching of the actions of the Papal Visit song: “We Are All God’s Children” and the distribution of Papal Visit T-shirts (two per child, one to be used every Sunday at Mass, the other reserved for January when the Pope comes).
A teaching CD containing the Mission Training materials (the resources used at the mini-catecheses, and video of the Papal Visit song) were reproduced upon the request of Fr. Ramil and Fr. Kim so that they can duplicate the mini-catechetical program in their diocese (to be handled by their own youth leaders who went to the Mission Training), even after the Ligaya Youth goes back to Manila. The remaining 900 Papal T-shirts were turned over to Fr. Ramil and Fr. Kim as part of the giveaway when they conduct their own mini-catechetical programs in other Elementary Public Schools.
The Mission Trip to Tacloban had been a great experience to our Ligaya Youth. It certainly was beyond their daily urban life experience. But the richness of the experience is captured in their own sharings as we listen to them and process their experience every night. (An important component of the mission trip is a daily sharing of experiences, reflections, highs/lows in small group and big groups.)
Here are some of the statements coming from the Ligaya Youth:
“I realize I have the capacity to be unselfish.”
“Their lives are very simply but they are very happy and their faith is very strong.”
“Ang galing ng mga taga-Tacloban.”
“The bonding with the Tacloban Youth during that cramped and hot ride from Paraclete back to Fatima after the mini-catechesis was amazingly deep. Sayang, it ended abruptly.”
“I discovered that I had much more gifts that I can use to serve”
“I realize that I had been given much. And that I can also give much more”
“I discovered my capacity to handle kids!”
“Can I serve in the next YA event?”
The YA Mission Trips are opportunities created for our YA’s to help them appreciate what they have: community, family, resources, etc. It also creates opportunities for service and leadership. And in the process, it helps them give their lives even more to God and express it in community.