It takes a village to raise a child.
Such an old African aphorism applies not only to children but also to adults, including senior citizens. As long as we live, we all evolve and change whether we accept it or not. Change is the only constant occurrence in this world and so we have to experience change in order to grow holistically.
It is not enough that our community is able to provide us with nutritional nourishment, financial prosperity, and educational success. We all have to admit that in most developed societies, spirituality is almost becoming nil for many have been jaded by their struggles in life and thus have started relying entirely on their skills and talents just to succeed, at least by world standards.
In contrast to its more developed counterparts, developing nations (especially those that are predominantly Christian) rely more on spirituality not because they are fatalistic but because their citizens have gone through so much and are thus more resilient. One of these developing nations happens to be our beloved nation: the Philippines. Coincidentally, the entire country is riding on the crest of a wave because we are celebrating 500 years of Christianity, which has taken place since March last year.
All churches in the Philippines, whether Roman Catholic or otherwise, are expending much time, effort, and monetary resources in order to help their respective communities to not only cope with the pernicious effects of the long-standing COVID-19 pandemic but also to eradicate juvenile delinquency and crime, promote inter-faith harmony and camaraderie, assist people who need social and medical support, and help people deprived of liberty (PDLs) to redeem themselves and ready themselves for their impending release from incarceration.
One of the parishes which is actively involved in community and spiritual formation, with palpable results, is San Roque de Mandaluyong Parish. Shepherded by its parish priest, Rev. Fr. Aries C. Reyes, San Roque de Mandaluyong has been active in its involvement in helping to improve its territory, which consists of four (4) villages: Barangay Malamig, Barangay Barangka Itaas, Barangay Barangka Ibaba, and Barangay Barangka Ilaya. The various ministries and organizations under the umbrella of the Parish Pastoral Council work hand-in-hand in order to realize the plans and programs of San Roque de Mandaluyong. For two years now, the parish has been reaching out to parishioners and non-parishioners alike through ayuda and online Masses, as well as different spiritual formation programs and activities.
Just last month, San Roque de Mandaluyong has launched the Gintong Edukasyon scholarship program for prospective scholars. Together with the current crop of Caritas scholars, these scholars are getting to realize their dreams of obtaining higher education through the auspices of San Roque de Mandaluyong. However, for the scholars to be able to realize their full potentials, they are required to attend regular formation programs courtesy of the parish.
To provide its scholars and other parishioners with added value and spiritual nourishment, San Roque de Mandaluyong has just begun its One-Year Formation Program, aimed at helping the entire San Roque de Mandaluyong Community to achieve not only spiritual nourishment but also social mobility, professional advancement, educational achievement, and community harmony.
Led by Sis. Rose Florido, the Education Committee coordinator and concurrent Pondo ng Pinoy (PnP) parish head and PnP vicariate coordinator, the one-year formation program is also ably and actively supported by its members: Sis. Tes Llana (Restorative Justice Ministry coordinator); Sis. Eliza Calunod (Catechetical Ministry coordinator); Sis. Irene Garcia (Family and Life Ministry coordinator); Sis. Maricris Estanislao (Ministry to the Sick coordinator and PPC Secretariat head); Bro. Rollie delos Reyes (Psychosocial Services Ministry coordinator); Sis. Sere Alfonso (Parish Renewal Experience [PREX] coordinator); Sis. Emie Malaluan (Basic Ecclesial Community [BEC] coordinator); and, this columnist.
There is not one group that does a program alone because all groups headed by the formation team members are actively involved in implementing the activities under the formation program.
One of the remarkable programs is the weekly prison ministry, in which inmates of the Mandaluyong City Jail are provided with spiritual formation through Masses and talks, as well as with material needs such as hygiene kits and food. Though the Restorative Justice Ministry has been doing their mission of visiting and providing inmates with spiritual nourishment for years, such has been made more significant with the help of other organizations within San Roque.
Another commendable program is the formation program for urban partners and scholars, which is held at San Roque de Mandaluyong Parish Church. During every ayuda distribution, all recipients get to listen to short talks by members of the one-year formation program, and the presentations center particularly on spirituality and community building, as well as other values.
As for the formation for scholars, the scholars themselves are not limited to the presentation by the speakers for they are also required to render service to the parish by being members of the Divine Word Ministry (DWM) or Eucharistic Ministers of the Holy Communion (EMHC), or any other groups of their choice. They are also required to attend PREX seminars as part of their spiritual and religious development.
The BEC, with the help of the sub-parishes, has been instrumental in helping families to develop their spirituality and their knowledge of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church through activities such as street Masses, home visitation, small group sharing, and other similar activities.
Finally, as a way of helping delinquent youth to turn a new leaf and to respond to God’s call to change, the Catechetical Ministry, with the help of the parish and the other organizations, ministers regularly to residents of Bahay Pag-Asa by teaching them how to read the Bible and to develop positive values.
The one-year formation program of San Roque Parish Church and the members of the parish (whether church leaders or churchgoers) are sterling examples of how spirituality and community are a perfect combination. May their tribe increase for parishes such as San Roque de Mandaluyong live, breathe, and promote community formation and spiritual transformation!
To learn more about San Roque de Mandaluyong Parish, you may visit the official Facebook page of the parish: San Roque de Mandaluyong Parish.

GUESS WHAT: Hurling invectives like javelins and deliberately insulting employees are the little-known secrets of this now-deceased educator/entrepreneur who built a conglomerate during his/her lifetime. According to my source, a former employee of our subject, there were many instances when the educationalist/academic magnate would shame his/her employees even for the slightest missteps. Our subject would spew expletives like a stevedore whenever his/her commands were disobeyed or were not met according to his/her standards. S/he would reach out for any object within his/her midst and aim an object towards a hapless employee. As a result, the turnover rate in our subject’s company has been high. During his/her existence on the face of the Earth, our subject was attitudinally akin to Governor John Ratcliffe from Pocahontas or of Ursula from The Little Mermaid.
What are the lessons of the story? Treat your employees humanely and decently. Never hit your employees below the belt by being all out physical (unless you want to be like Mike Tyson). See to it that success never gets into your head. Repent from your sins before you expire.
GUESS WHO: Who is this social media influencer/musician/ thespian who is known for his/her inflated ego, unbridled hubris, and failing to at least keep his/her extramarital affair under wraps? My source, who is a character actor, told me one day that our subject has an ego much more humongous than those of the veteran cast players and that s/he has the tendency to puff himself/herself up like a peacock or a flamingo. Another issue with our subject is that s/he takes to the bottle like a lonely sailor out at sea. Karma hit our subject when s/he was charged with adultery just recently by his/her infuriated spouse, who has been crying a river over our subject’s dalliances.
What are the lessons of the story? Be faithful to your spouse. Never let your ego take over your better moral judgment. Atone for your sins by repenting and changing for the better. Fame is never a license to indulge in wanton immorality.

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