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Cagayan de Oro community marks
25th year of foundation

Submitted by: regina
On: 06/02/2014

Cagayan de Oro Community marked the Silver Jubilee of Foundation on February 4 highlighting the dignity and worth of persons served.

The ministry to girls and women in this port city was started by Sr. Henedina Mananzan and Sr. Christina Sevilla who were then members of the Sapad Community in Lanao del Norte. The Sisters responding the the invitation of Archbishop Patrick Cronin, then archbishop of Cagayan de Oro.

During the Jubilee celebration on February 4, Sr. Henedina, who two years ago was again missioned in Cagayan de Oro, said  “in celebrating this grace-filled 25 years in CDO, our special guests are about 75 prostituted girls and women.”

Photo: A priest serves guests.

“We invited about 10 priests, those who helped us from the beginning and those who are supporting us at present and one Sister each from the 20 religious congregations. We invited them to help us serve the special guests, to listen to their sharing with the hope they will be interested to continue reaching out to them. “

During the occasion, mission partners were also present and  Good Shepherd Sisters interested to have encounter with our special came, especially those in Mindanao.  Others who were not able to participate in the event prayed for, a fruitful celebration of the silver jubilee.

Photo: Srs. Ma. Leah Ann Espina, Henedina Mananzan and Ma. Teresa Mahinay. 

The celebrations on February 4 was coordinated by Sr. Henedina and the two other sisters missioned in Cagayan de Oro City, Sr. Ma. Leah Ann Espina and Sr. Ma. Teresa Mahinay. The community continues the mission of helping women and girls through the program for prostituted women, through the residence for young girls, and in promoting vocations to the congregation through the Sisters' presence in the archdiocese and in the universities in the city.

Photo: Good Shepherd Sisters and mission partners from Iligan, Kalilid and Davao Community join the Silver Jubilee of the RGS in Cagayan de Oro.

Sr. Leah Ann Espina shared these words from those who participated in the February 4 celebrations:

"CDO RGS sisters congratulations on your 25 years here in CDO and thank you for your quiet but very important ministry. Your fruitfulness cannot be quantified because the only measure is that one girl you save and shepherd and as your foundress says, she weighs more than the whole world. Thanks for that shepherdly way of marking your 25th year, simple but meaningful, loved it. I was grateful to have been invited. Padayon..."   - Ms. Venus Guibone, mission partner

"We are grateful, thankful and happy that we are part of the RGS 25th anniversary. We feel there is equality, love, peace and unity.. We are very inspired that there are RGS sisters who have a big heart to all women especially prostituted women and treated us like we are noble women and part of this mission. Mabuhay ang tanang RGS sisters!" - Eleony Monding, President, TISAKA organization

"The celebration was so simple yet it reflected an eschatological reality. It was like a feast in heaven where all of us are welcomed regardless of who we are. The gesture of stooping down to be of service to the last, the least and the lost done by the clergy, religious and lay faithful is what our Holy Father repeatedly exhorts because that is what Christ's Spirit is." -      Sr. Ma. Meriam Bauzon, RVM

Ang inyong gihimo haum gyud sa kinaiya sa Good Shepherd. Inyong gihatag ug bili ang mga tawo hilabi na ang dili matagad sa mga tawo. (What you have done depicted the ways of the Good Shepherd. You gave worth to persons especially those who are rejected.)  - Fr. Raoul Magracia

 

 Cagayan de Oro Community: 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 from the Centennial Coffeetable Book:
                       100 Years in the Philippines - Religious of the Good Shepherd