Manila, the Philippines, 18 September -- In the recent letter of the Holy Father Pope Francis, Amore Laetitia, the first sentence states: THE JOY OF LOVE experienced by families is also the joy of the Church.
Overwhelming JOY is in the air during the 4th Laura Vicuña Foundation’s (LVF) Family Congress held last September 18, 2016 at Don Bosco School Manila. This is to commemorate LVF’s 26th year anniversary. This year’s family congress’ theme is Amoris Laetitia: The Joy of Love which was expounded by the different talks during the day, contextualized according to our culture as Filipinos and was made concrete and life-giving experienced through the workshop - “God’s dream for my family.”
Sr. Mabel Pilar, FMA, Fil-PNG Provincial Animator and LVF President started the day with her Inspirational talk presenting to the assembly the different situations besetting the family not only in the Philippines but as well as in other nations.
Sr. Ma. Victoria P. Sta. Ana, FMA, LVF Managing Director, followed with her presentation of Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) contextualizing it in our Filipino culture. Sr. Marivic emphasized that the families anchor themselves in God, respect each other and there should be communication especially the bringing back of praying and eating family meals together. Communication is the key to solving difficulties confronting the family. There should be element of surprise to break away from daily routine. Three important words should always be remembered and lived by every member of the family:
Sorry, Thank You and Please!
Our main guest speakers husband and wife Mr. & Mrs. Roy and Gem Dalucapas of Familia Community emphatically shared the importance of family life, the different attacks against the family and some tips on how to keep the family strong and steadfast by sharing their own family life experiences. Gem made a great emphasis on loving children unconditionally and impartially. They must feel they are esteemed, accepted for who they are and avoid calling them degrading names.
“Ma, please do not call me stupid as our speaker told us because if you keep so, I will really become one. This was the sentiment of Boboy (not his real name) after the Congress. The mother felt so guilty and immediately asked pardon from her 12 year old son.
Three mothers served as reactors after the talks. Mrs. Nenita Asuncion, a parent-leader from CPC Taguig and a widow, shared on how she was able to guide her children while they were growing with all the sacrifices and love she gave them.
Mrs. Beth Salviejo, FMA past pupil from Holy Trinity Manila, told the participants that the secret to an everlasting relationship in marriage is the value of honouring each other. The husband has to treat his wife as the queen of his life and the wife her husband as her king.
Lastly, Mrs. Charito Pinalas, married to a teacher, mother to a son and an active advocate of positive discipline, shared that aside from the three magic words Sorry, Thank You and Please, she added an important word to be uttered everyday between the couple and even among the children, the very powerful word I LOVE YOU!
In the afternoon, Fr. Edwin Soliva, SDB celebrated the Holy Eucharist where he invited everyone to do one’s ordinary duties extraordinarily well to keep the family loving and joyful as also lived by our great founder St. John Bosco and spelled out in Amoris Laetitia.
During the Workshop on God’s dream for their families, many shared that it is LOVE that God wants from them. They wish that in their homes, God be their center where harmony, peace, joy and love reign. They also commit themselves to remain faithful, trusting, respectful, steadfast, forgiving and loving in their homes.
Mr. Cabuang together with his wife Linda and daughter has this to share: “It is easily said that done. Words are beautifully shared but in reality, it is very difficult to live family life because of the many temptations and struggles we are facing each day. We can reach our every dream in the family if Christ is the center of our life. Let us not lose hope in doing good. In the midst of everyday battle, let us focus our attention to our dreams for our families. God will make them come true.”
One girl from the LVF residential home started crying as the Congress is about to end. “Why is life so unfair? Where are they? I’m so angry and feel so envious of these children who have their own families.” Nene (not her real name), 16 years old, is an orphan and was abandoned by her own siblings. Aside from her traumatic experience of abuse, what is very painful and difficult to accept is the reality that she has no family to call her own.
After expressing herself, she thanked the Sisters assigned in the center for being her family where she experiences unconditional love and acceptance.
An exciting Raffle Draw added joy and excitement where some families went home with umbrellas, shoes, spaghetti packs, beauty kits, kitchenware, electric fans, rice cooker and a sack of rice as the grand prize. Sr. Aleth Evangelista, FMA in her concluding remarks said true joy can only be experienced if you love your family. The Congress ended with the Prayer to the Holy Family and the closing song Only Selfless Love.
Amoris Laetitia has often noted no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need constantly to grow and mature in the ability to love. This is never ending vocation born of the full communion of the Trinity, the profound unity between Christ and his Church, the loving community which is the Holy Family of Nazareth, and the pure fraternity existing among the saints of heaven. Let us make this journey as families, let us keep walking together. May we never lose heart because of our limitations, or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us. (AL # 325)