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Eleven Marist Brothers from MAPAC Lived Three Days of Immersion Experiences

07/09/2019: Philippines

During the first year of post-novitiate formation, as part of their studies at the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies (IFRS),Marist Brothers at MAPAC choose an area with vulnerable groups in which to work for 3 days.

This year, eleven young Brothers, along with other students from different religious congregations as well as lay volunteers, chose to have the 3-day Immersion in 4 different areas: the street families in Quezon City, the women workers in Valenzuela City, the fisher folk and indigenous people of the Philippines, particularly the Aeta community.  

The IFRS provided this opportunity for all students to see, smell, touch, taste and listen to the lives of these people and learn from them.

Following is the Brothers’ testimony, relating their experiences during those days.

The street families in Quezon City

“Being with the street families through the Karitone Empowerment Centre (KEC) was a challenging experience for me. I was amazed at how determined and hopeful they were, despite their situation, to provide a better future for their own children and the sector as a whole. The daily struggles of survival have somehow brought out the goodness in them, from sharing the little they possess and encouraging each other not to lose hope. This taught me not only to be thankful for all I have, but also to utilize it to empower others.”(Br. Petero Navuku)

The women workers in Valenzuela City

“I stayed two and half days with Amy Balderama and her four children. They currently rent a small house costing 3000 pesos per month. It is a very small house, hardly providing enough room to sleep and eat. I felt quite touched by their situation. I often think about the father, who is sick and physically challenged, but still has to work to support the family. I wish I could do something for him in addition to writing and talking.” (Br. Nguyen Hoang Anh)

“I enthusiastically participated with the group of women workers. I lived with one Filipino family and visited several factories where the women worked. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to experience how they lived. I implore our good Lord to bless them and their family members.” (Br. Xia Baoxuan)

“It was wonderful to be with the family, and I learned a lot from them.” (Br. Nguyen Duy Binh)

“Being with the women workers made me realize the value of hard work, family spirit, determination, and firm belief in God. I hope and pray that they may continue to trust in God amidst all their trials.” (Br. Karl Angelo Labio)

The indigenous people of Aeta

“I cannot fully explain the experience in words, but can only attempt to sketch a picture of what happened. I had mixed feelings about what I encountered there: muddy, not enough food, no modern toilets, no extra clothes, no comfortable bed, no private room, no firm Catholic faith, not much education. But all of this did not matter because the presence of God within those people taught me to accept with joy the person I am.” (Br. Steve Vaea)

“For my immersion exposure I was assigned to the aboriginal community up in the mountains. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to experience the people’s reality. I also felt at home, because of the family spirit they showed me, a foreigner. We prayed together as one family, even though they have a different religion.” (Br. Jacinto Anacletho)

“To taste the reality of the poor by any means: come, stay with them, eat what they offer you, and realize how their lives affect yours as well. In that way we can find out what they really need.” (Br. Tran Dinh Luan)

“Sometimes we need to explore new things in order to know the meaning of life more deeply. Being with the Aetas really helped me to appreciate and to love more the things God has created.” (Br. Engel Java)

The fisher folk community

“I was really touched by the life of these people. My time with them challenged me a lot; yet living with them was a good experience.” (Br. Benjamin Corbafo).

“I was very privileged to live with a fisher folk family for three days as part of the immersion program. It was a rich experience for me.” (Br. Robert Howee).

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