Lourdes Parish Cebu
Cebu, the Philippines, 14 April 2019 -- The large majority of the almost 40.000 Catholic faithful of Lourdes Parish in Cebu (FIS Province) are young people. During the 12 Sunday Masses in the iconic Archdiocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes at Punta Princessa, the most crowded is the 6 p.m. Eucharist celebration for the youth. The whole parish territory is organized in Basic Ecclesial Communities around 48 chapels and even any visitor will spot immediately that the youth are at the heart of the parish community.
The four main sectors of the parish mission are Don Bosco Youth Center (DBYC), Kindergarten School, Family and Life Apostolate and Catechetical Center. Among the leadership of the Parish is not only the Parish Pastoral Council (President Mr Elias Baquero) but also the Parish Youth Coordinating Council (President: Ms Lvelylynn Ergina). There is also a large scholarship program for the children and young (supported mainly from Italy, Germany and Japan: 406 children and youth from Elementary School to the College students), daily Feeding Program with education touch affecting also the parents, Medical and Dental Clinic, Mamma Margaret Vocation Training Center, aside of the ordinary liturgical and catechetical services (public school and Sunday Oratory.
The backbone of the youth ministry are the numerous groups of the Salesian Youth Movement (SYM) and the vibrant DBYC (Don Bosco Youth Center) with a humble gym (sports and cultural place) located across the street in front of the parish Church, Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Listening to the group of young adults (Eduardo, former youth leader) called 'Salesian Youth Assistance' helps to understand the Salesian touch of Lourdes EPC: 'Most of us were involved for the past 10-15 years in the DBYC; we feel the love of being members of the parish family. I have found myself growing in spiritual aspect. I got my family here. We are serving the young (some still as students), we guide the young to the right path, and are able to share our talents, be an able guide among the young, we want to serve the Lord and the young. Our youth need now leaders, we try to teach them how to become in their own way good citizens and good Christians.'
Although there are many challenges on the way, like social media temptations, dysfunctional families, the aggressive drive by some fundamentalist sects in the zone or the difficulty of how to involve the large numbers of the young to active life of the Catholic community - the ordinary life of Lourdes Salesian youth speaks loudly: presentation of the traditional Passion Play 'Cenaculo' prepared over two months, the welcoming environment of many music, club and group activities in the Youth Center, the upcoming National Youth Day in Cebu (the parish will welcome into their families some 500 youth coming from the other islands of the Philippines), the growing group of young Salesian Cooperators, or the SALVO (Salesian Lay Volunteers) office located in the DBYC.
Indeed it is a blessing to be part of our Lourdes parish and also a challenging responsiblity for our SDB community of 4 (Rector Fr. Randy Figuracion) to form our lay mission partners in Salesian spirituality and our youth as leaders.