It was a weekend of beautiful “wonders” as almost a thousand members of CFC Handmaids for Family and Life (CFC HFL) gathered for the World Handmaids Congress (WHC) 2013 at the Travelers Hotel in Subic, Olongapo City last April 20-21 2013.
The congress, which has taken on the theme: “Faith Works Wonders. My Heart, BE.LI.EV.E.”, started on Saturday morning with the the celebration of the Holy Mass led by our CFCFFL Spiritual Director, Fr. Francis Gustilo, SDB. The congress’ facilitator, Sis. Emy Siccion, together with the members of the HFL Core, then led the audience to dance and sing to “Dito Sa Puso Ko”, which everyone quickly learned as the community dance for the weekend.
Session One, “Faith: I Believe” was given by Sis. Kit Ladrido. The participants were guided to reflect on their personal faith journey, with its highs and lows, and to discover the presence of God all throughout these experiences. Sis. Ampy de Guzman gave an inspiring testimony. This was followed by the showing of the first episode of a three-part “teleserye” (soap opera) video sharing, entitled “Sa Puso ni Au” (In The Heart of Au). The session concluded with a renewal of baptismal vows led by Fr. Gustilo.
On Saturday afternoon, Sis. Maricar Gatchalian-Urgino led Session Two “Faith Works: I Commit”, where participants reflected on their fears and how to overcome these fears through faith, accompanied by examples of “faith”-ful women in the Bible. After the initial episode “Dahil Iniwan Mo Ako” (Because You Left Me) in Session One, the teleserye continued on to its second episode “Dahil Nangako Siya” (Because He Promised). Sis. Juling Aguila and Sis. Marie Relucio also shared about their journey from fear to faith.
The participants were asked to express their commitment of faith by writing a letter to God. These letters were later offered to Mama Mary in an entrustment ceremony, where the participants asked the intercession of Mary Mediatrix of All Grace that she may bring their prayers and letters of commitment to her Son, Jesus. The afternoon session ended with a genuine faith encounter with the Lord through the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament led by Fr. Gustilo.
Saturday evening was a time to celebrate the faith, the works and the wonders of sisterhood as the WHC participants held the “Broadway Live!” (B-Live!) Fellowship Night. HFL Dance groups from Antipolo, Novaliches, Paranaque, Batangas, Isabela, Cavite, Cebu, Laguna, Tarlac, and the foreign delegation from Austria impressed everyone by their colorful costumes and high energy performances that were inspired by different Broadway musicals like Grease, Fame, West Side Story, Hello Dolly and many others. Sis. Sida of Thailand was the lively host of the B-Live! Program.
After the over-the-top performances, the Music Ministry led by Bro. Tony Cruz played the favorite dance tunes of the HFL sisters who quickly filled up the dance floor. Girls do know how to have fun!
The next day was Good Shepherd Sunday, and it started with the celebration of the Holy Mass led again by our community’s good shepherd, Fr. Gustilo, who after communion, led a touching pray-over of the shepherds of HFL – its servant leaders.
The final session, “Faith Works Wonders”, was given by the HFL International Coordinator, Sis. Reena Murga, who rallied everyone to share Christ as she presented the urgency of the work of New Evangelization and what every HFL member can do to respond with great faith to the huge task at hand. Sis. Mary Efi of Papua New Guinea gave a powerful testimony about the seed of faith that is growing in their troubled country because of CFC HFL. The teleserye’s final episode, “Dahil Naniwala Ako” (Because I Believed) was shown, and then, Sis. Au Quitlong, from the District of Antipolo, finally made an appearance on stage and declared her conviction of faith despite all the challenges she faced in her teleserye-like life.
The Praisefest, led by the WHC Event Head, Sis. CY Rosales, gave a strong finish to the spiritually-nourishing congress.
A thousand hearts believed last weekend. As the HFL sisters left Subic, their hearts continued burning within them. The time has come to put this faith to work in the Handmaids’ everyday circumstances, and then the world will see that truly, faith works wonders!