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Cagayan de Oro Community

 

 

HISTORY

Finding their place in a port city

The first Good Shepherd Sisters actually arrived in Cagayan de Oro a couple of years before the foundation.  The date was June 24, 1987, and Srs. Mary Christina Sevilla and Mary Henedina Mananzan, who were then attached to the Sapad Community, had traveled to the city at the invitation of then Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Patrick Cronin, to look into the feasibility of starting a community there. 

A field study of the locality had shown that as a port city and a vibrant educational center, Cagayan de Oro was fast becoming a magnet for many young girls and women lured or forced into prostitution.  To respond to this problem of sexual and economic exploitation of women, rooted in poverty, the Sisters started a ministry to women. This was concretized with the establishment of the Good Shepherd Counseling Center, located then at the basement of the St. Augustine Multipurpose Formation Building.  The Center was blessed by Archbishop Cronin on the feast of Bl. Maria Droste on October 20, 1987.

During the first years of the foundation, the Sisters conducted their ministry by going to the Social Hygiene Clinic of the City Health Department, where they would try to reach out to the young girls and women working in nightclubs, bars, karaoke joints and massage parlors.

In time the Good Shepherd Center became not only a counseling office but also a venue for socio-economic projects aimed at minimizing and/or preventing the exploitation of vulnerable girls and women. The Center, moreover, also offered its counseling services to anyone, not just women and girls, who came seeking for help. And there were indeed quite a number of them, from different strata of life.  And among the counselees who came to the Center, couples in crisis were notably significant in number.

Campus ministry at the Liceo de Cagayan was also started together with seminarians from John Vianney Theological Seminary and with Sisters from several religious congregations of women.

One of the earliest shifts in the ministry in Cagayan de Oro was the move to provide livelihood projects so that women and girls who wanted to pursue tertiary education could be able to pay for their tuition.  Income-generating projects were established for female students and out-of-school youths who finished vocational courses but could not land any job and who came from very poor districts in the city.

The income generating projects included weed card-making, soap-making, baking of cookies and sugar-coated peanuts production. 

In 2007, the Cagayan de Oro Community created an outreach program for prostituted women in partnership with the organized Prostituted Women, Tingog sa Kasanay (TISAKA) of the city. This program provides the women with a series of services in education/formation, small scale socio-economic development (micro-finance), psycho-emotional and spiritual development.

(Excerpts : Cagayan de Oro Community: Finding their place in a port city,
                   100 Years in the Philippines: Religious of the Good Shepherd.)