Kids ruled as some 900-plus children from the Diocese of Novaliches converged at the Santuario De San Vicente De Paul Parish and Shrine of the Poor for the 6th Diocesan Children’s Congress last May 20, 2016.
The day-long event centered on the theme “Bata, Bata, Damhin ang Awa’t Pagibig ng Pamilya”. This was conveyed through song and dance, fun and games, and talks that centered on the meaning of mercy, the importance of family, and the rights and responsibilities of children.
Rev. Fr. Aime Mitengezo, SX of the Diocese’s Mission Animation Ministry (MAM), who facilitated the Congress, expressed positivity on how the event has progressed over the years.
“One of the good things about the Congress is that it has succeeded in bringing the children together and make them think beyond their parishes,” Fr. Aime said, “It is important for them to know that the Diocese of Novaliches is really a big family.”
He added that through this Congress, the children are introduced to the spirit of mission, “Together each year, we try to celebrate also what the Church is celebrating and for this year we have the Year of the Family, the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and the Year of the Eucharist.”
The Church, he said, has a lot of activities for adults, the priests and the religious but the children are sometimes left behind.
“Many families have troubles and the children are the one suffering and they grow up with wounds,” he said. “It is important for them to learn about God’s mercy.”
Fr. Aime also put emphasis on the fact that “the children are the future of the Church.”
Meanwhile, in welcoming the young participants, Santuario De San Vicente De Paul Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Roland Tuazon, CM shared the life of San Vicente De Paul who was a French Roman Catholic priest known as the Great Apostle of Charity. He recounted how the Saint devoted his life to helping the poor, the abandoned children, and the sick.
Fr. Socrates C. Mesiona, MSP, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), was also on hand to talk about the Holy Childhood Association founded in France with the objective of encouraging all children to be aware of the needs of other children all over the world.
He gave emphasis on the Association’s motto of “Children Helping Children” and challenged his young audience.
“Just like San Vicente De Paul, you are called on to be one with the Church’s mission to help your less fortunate fellow children,” Fr. So said.
He added that sharing the life of San Vicente De Paul was relevant to the Congress’ theme.
“This is a meaningful event for you to get to know each other and learn to care and feel God’s love,” he said.
To enable the children to help their fellow children and become better missionaries, they listened to talks by Jasmine Fernandez of the Pastoral Care for Children and Vulnerable Adults (PCCVA) Ministry and Wayne Belizar of the Diocesan Commision on Family and Life.
Speaking in the vernacular, Fernandez talked about mercy and went on to expound on how it is felt or given.
“Paano mo ipinararamdam ang awa sa iba?” She addressed her young audience who was perceptive to this and gave varied answers. In ending the topic, she shared this quote, “Let the church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven.”
Moving on, Fernandez discussed with the children their rights as established in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Such rights, totaling nine, center on a child’s survival, protection, development, and participation.
They were also informed that, despite their age, they already have responsibilities. This include love of country and in the process become a good citizen; following rules and regulations; be a good pupil/student by coming to school on time and doing one’s homework; and love of family and respect for parents.
The last responsibility was expounded on by Belizar in his topic about the family. He cited the importance of being part of a family and traditional practices like pagmamano, a way of showing respect to parents and elders.
Another highlight of the Congress was the celebration of the Holy Mass officiated by Fr. So and Fr. Aime that ended the morning session. Fr. Aime called on parents to do their share to make the Congress truly meaningful, “Parents also have a great mission and hopefully they will continue to put in their children the spirit of love for the Church and the spirit of mercy.”
Fr. So, for his part, called on the strengthening of family ties to make for a solid missionary of children. [~Lulu Reclusado-Nario]