“What you went through wasn’t easy but life goes on because Our Lord is here and He will never leave us,” assured Novaliches Bishop Antonio R. Tobias in Filipino in his homily during the Eucharistic Celebration of the Diocesan Gathering of Extra Judicial Killing (EJK) Victims’ Families held at the Sacred Heart Village Covered Basketball Court last December 9, 2017.
Addressing the 178 families of almost 500-orphans created by the EJKs since the Government’s All-Out War On Drugs took place last July 2016, the Bishop added in the local tongue, “The Church is here giving you hope and will join you in your journey. Together we will move on.”
In the forefront of the gathering is Rev. Fr. Antonio E. Labiao, Jr., the Diocese’s Vicar General for Pastoral Affairs, who expressed the Church’s ardent desire to personally get to know the orphaned families and create a more meaningful connection with them. He likewise assured them there is nothing to fear as the Church is behind them.
“At the start, many were frightened, anxious, and doubtful about this kind of gathering,” he began in Filipino. Then asked, “Are you still frightened?”
He thanked the mothers who agreed to participate in the day’s event with their children.
“We are gathered here to celebrate Christmas and why Christmas came to be–it is due to the birthday of Jesus, Our Lord,” he said. He added that the occasion was also the start of forming a better relationship between the families and the Church.
“This is the start of our awareness of our goal to be united and to help one another,” he emphasized. “We are important to each other and we are together in this journey and in facing the challenges of life. You are not alone. The Church is your companion.”
He likewise thanked the volunteers, both professional and parishioner, for making the event more significant. The families present actually come from EJK-heavily affected areas of the Diocese comprising eight parishes. They gathered for the day’s activities, highlighted by fun and games, complete with hearty meals and a raffle where everyone won.
The Jollibee mascot dropped by during lunch to the delight of both the kids and the kids at heart. The rest of the day’s activities included medical and legal consultations, book readings, cathechism sessions, and team building games.
The Diocesan Gathering of EJK Victims’ Families is the first of its kind in the Diocese under its Community Based Drug Rehabilitation Program (CBDRP) entitled Abot Kamay Alang-alang sa Pagbabago or AKAP, whose acronym means “to embrace” as the program does of drug dependents and their families.
Also present during the gathering was the Diocesan Restorative Justice Ministry lead by Sr. Zeny Cabrere, SHE who also brought 20 families of drug detainees held captives in different prisons in Metro Manila. (~Lulu Reclusado-Nario)