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The recent month-long (April 23 – May 23, 2011) “Malutok Experience” in Palawan of our 5 CMMF members coming from Cotabato and Kidapawan gives us a glaring indication of how much our local mission can generate a “longing to share” among our lay partners. This was an initiative sparked on by the CMMF group of ND Cotabato and supported by the Brothers’ community of Cotabato.
Brother Niño Mark Suarez, representing the Brothers, led the group of Ms. Vangie Cadilena, a former Palawan mission volunteer, Mrs. Thelma Almonicar, Ms. Lita Albarracin and Ms. Irene Sison, from Cotabato. Ms. Ivy Yecyec is the lone representative of ND Kidapawan’s CMMF group. Thelma’s interesting account on page 19 gives an encouraging insight of our CMMF’s vision towards a more active participation in the Marist mission in the future.
In the spirit of lay volunteerism, the group prepared for their month-long itinerary, amount to spend for their transportation and allowances and most of all, their physical health in order to withstand arduous treks, exposure to malariacarrying mosquitoes and living among inhabitants with their simple primitive vision of life. What all the Brothers did in this venture was merely to prepare the place where these volunteers were intimately welcomed by the natives.
The Marbel Diocese is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, highlighted by the “Gabi ng Parangal” on November 20th when individuals, institutions, corporations responsible for building up the local Church of Marbel are recognized. Bishop Gutierrez through his vicar, Fr. Buenaobra came up with low-profile enrichment activities centering more on programs based on the acronym “NATURES” (N-atural agricultural practices; A-dvocacy; T-otal waste management; U-nited actions; R-eforestation; E-ducation; S-pirituality), the Youth and Indigenous People and Christian Family enrichment. Some historical facts are found on page 26.
Lest we forget, the Marist Brothers have been an active force in building the early Christian community by way of education in this southern part of the Cotabato empire province, a part of which eventually became South Cotabato where the diocese of Marbel had its foundation. In our early Marist recruitment, our first Filipino Brothers came from this diocese, particularly in the Banga-Tantangan-Norala-Marbel areas. These young men ventured to travel from Marbel to New York in the early 50s to start the formation of our first Filipino Marist Brothers. Today, out of 66 Filipino Brothers in vows, 28 have come from the Marbel diocese. That makes 42% (almost half of the Philippine sector) of our persevering vocations come from the diocese of Marbel. It is thus fitting that during this memorable occasion, we thank the Lord for having reaped the harvest of our predecessors’ hard work and commit ourselves to cooperate in implementing the thrust of the diocese.
The prominent issues that face us currently is the morality of House Bill 4244 “Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development”. The Bishop stressed its immoral ground based on the doctrinal principles found in GS 48, 1 (Vatican II in its Constitution on the Church Today declaring the purposes of Christian Marriage) and Pope Paul’s encyclical letter “Humanae Vitae” (July, 1968) on Human Life, forbidding the use of contraceptives. There are innumerable oppositions, but, as a writer once said, “morality based on religious principles is non-debatable.”
The diocese, a staunch supporter of the “No to RH Bill” has convinced our school constituents to be more pro-active in our concern for health, the unborn, sanctity of marriage and poverty-alleviation. Our Marial stance should allow us to be more prophetic than reactive, acting more freely out of conviction than that of fear and uniformity. This is what the diocese has impacted on us… where our two universities are the main Christian education institutions that promote this wholistic Christian learning in forming effective leaders in this part of Mindanao.
Our 3 Brothers – Jeff Rhey, Albert and Niño Mark – are due for perpetual profession by September 10th of this year. They have chosen the Cebuano liturgy (their common dialect) so as to be one with their families , the mission they commonly served in the past and the challenge of addressing our God with their perpetual commitment in their grassroot language. We shall devote some articles and pictures of that celebration in our next Amihan issue.
We join the American Brothers in celebrating the 75th year of Brother Bernard Curtin and Brother Jim McKnight’s 50th. Both Brothers were in the Philippines for the most part of their Marist life, and had key roles to play in the province. Br. Bernard was among the pioneers in Marbel, Lagao, Jolo and Marikina. He also served as master of scholastics for 7 years, an important role in forming our first Philippine-trained Brothers. Br. Jim came as a scholastic and left us after serving as provincial for years. Page 30 is dedicated to them in this issue.
by Br. Ted Fernandez, FMS