Late last January, Msgr. Albert A. Venus and the parishioners of Our Lady of Fatima in Philamlife Village, Las Piñas City, were gathered for a parish assembly to do volunteer work to ease the suffering of the poor in our community.
The program began with a Mass, and then we had breakfast in the churchyard. The air was festive; 500 lay persons came as volunteers. (Daily prayers had been recited for the success of the event, to touch every heart for the gift of generosity.)
Our church remains committed to help in these difficult times. Critical sometimes of those in power, we have roles to play for others. “One is not too poor to give,” as the adage goes, or “too rich to feel abundant when those around us are in need.”
“Commission on Services to Human Promotions” is what the church calls its program to respond to the cries of the needy and to transform them from spiritual and economic deprivation to God-fearing, self-reliant, and dignified individuals.
The participants were divided into groups according to their capabilities and preferences. Yearly, the church tries to find solutions as life becomes more unbearable for the poor.
But for many people, these missions are just clichés and are the sole responsibilities of church and government; too often they are ignored. As a result, the poor suffer. These are the church offerings for volunteer work that are usually taken for granted:
Restorative justice or prison ministry is an old work of the church for inmates and their families’ basic, paralegal, livelihood and spiritual needs.
Disaster and risk reduction management is a project where Pope Francis’ “Laudato Si” (or “the care for our common home”) is given utmost importance. Red Cross and other emergency response training also form part of the project in case of earthquake, flood, fire and typhoon.
Feeding program ministry identifies, provides and sustains families’ needs and adopts one or two poorest families in the area.
Parish Educational Assistance Program is open to kindhearted people as benefactors and to those who will serve as tutors, inspirational speakers, and shepherds to parish scholars.
Primary healthcare targets children, the elderly and mothers for nutrition care and hygiene education where healthcare professionals and volunteers are involved.
Livelihood program is a common project of every civic and religious organization. A sincere, systematic, comprehensive and sustainable approach has been adapted.
Commission on Family addresses and strengthens family needs. It’s about responsible parenthood, marriage counseling, prolife advocacies, mass weddings, single parenthood, lives of the elderly, etc.
Commission on Youth inspires, teaches and instills in the youth good works, volunteerism, and a life like Jesus’.
To help improve the program of the marginalized, “Ubas” (or Ugnayang Barangay at Simbahan) was conceptualized by the church. It’s a joint project of the barangay and the church for a faster and effective way in reaching depressed communities.
During that daylong affair in January, action plans and commitments were made. “A generous heart, a strong spirit, and God’s grace will surely make this program successful,” our parish priest told us as he blessed everyone.
We are also immersed in difficult political problems that concern the church: the war on drugs, Charter change, corruption, the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, peace and order, etc.
Lent is here. Prayer, fasting and care for others are the dictates of the times. We pray that God comes to His people who suffer, touches the hearts of the powerful, and gives us strength to carry on.
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Mario D. Dalangin, 62, is a past grand knight of the Knights of Columbus and a member of the Special Minister of the Eucharist and of Adoracion Nocturna Filipina at Fatima Parish, Las Piñas City.
Job-hopper no more