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Bert Cepe, CSsR (December 2001)
We are still in Kolambugan and are halfway through our mission work. Though the response was quite slow at the start of the mission, we are picking up now and, in fact, very much occupied with many activities.

Let's start with statistics.

After six months, there are 185 GSKs (Gagmayng Simbahanong Katilingban) now in the whole parish, distributed among the four sub-teams: Guso, Copra, Sari-sari and Nipa. Each of these GSKs has its own prayer meeting known as the GSK prayer. Those GSKs situated outside the poblacion have their own KP (Katilingbanong Pag-ampo) in the barrio chapel every Sunday. In terms of structure, the mission has completed its work in the GSK level.

As of now, the concentration of our efforts is in the training and formation of leaders. For the months we had activities like Men's Fellowship, recollection and retreats and the Festival of Faith (FoF). The latter is an "imported" program from Davao. Fr. Picx had tried it, together with the SAT students, in our GKKs in Davao. Last month, Fr. Picx came all the way from Davao to try it in the mission. The FoF was done in the area of Bert last October 20-21, 2001.  The response was overwhelming despite the "brownout" in the first night. The team is now planning to do it in other areas.

For the month of November, seminars for "mansibados" were done. Mass weddings were already done in sub-team Guso. Other sub-teams schedule their mass weddings for December. Also in these months of November and December, Leadership training seminars are scheduled by the different sub-teams. This is a preparation for the election of leaders in the barangay and zone level in December.

We had our major activities too. We tried our capacity to gather the people in the town for a parish activity. In October 31, we had a parish-wide celebration of the culmination of the Rosary month. From the quality and their response ,we found out that we can now mobilize the people. 

Another major activity that we have planned is the celebration of the "Mindanao Week of Peace" scheduled for November 29 until December 5. The highlights of the celebration are: the opening parade on November 29; the visit to the Muslim mosques by Christians on November 30, and to Christian churches by Muslims on December 2; and the symposium on December 5. We have invited one Muslim and one Christian speaker to speak on the theme: "Peace: Sharing the Vision of Unity and Hope" and to share their own experiences on Muslim-Christian relations. The Christian speaker is a professor of history in MSU-IIT in Iligan and the Muslim speakr is a leader in the Muslim-Christian dialogue in the town of Kauswagan.

This is the first ever celebration in the Parish of the Holy Cross and we are pushing it through because Kolambugan is 33% Muslim and memories of past conflicts are still fresh in people's minds. The need for healing is there. We are aware that this celebration will not heal the wounds but we hope to start a healing process.

Two weeks before the celebration, we, in RIMT (Redemptorist Itinerant Mission Team), scheduled reflection sessions to be done in the GSK and chapel level. The first week focused on our (Christians) biases and prejudices against the Muslims and the need for reconciliation.  The second week was a study on the similarities of Christianity and Islam.

Other seminars and training sessions were also held. The Creative Dramatic Seminar-Workshop was accomplished in sub-team Guso and sub-team Copra. Red Dalogdog came all the way from Sindangan to help us in the CD seminar. Studies on faith, sacraments and basic evangelization also took place.

We have time to rest and recreate too. Aside from the Monday day-off, we have  regular team recreation once a month. Last month, we had it on the beach in Barangay Mukas. We went out boating, looking for shells and watching the fishermen gather fish. It was fun-filled day for all of us.

We are now looking forward to the celebraton of Advent and Christmas in the area.

The Redemptorist Itinerant Mission Team in Kolambugan

Bert Cepe, CSsr with the GSK members

Conducting a seminar