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IT IS said that when opportunity knocks, one would be a fool not to open the door. This is the situation CFC found itself in when, a few weeks ago, it was offered an opportunity to promote its values in a very attractive venue.

In a casual conversation with International Council member Shok Ariola, Msgr Bong Lo, chaplain of SM Megamall in Mandaluyong, mentioned his desire to offer a weekly program that would attract not only regular Mass goers in the mall chapel but even shoppers. He wanted the program to be sustainable and regular and not overtly CFC or even heavily religious.

For CFC, it was a perfect opportunity to bring Christ to the marketplace. Here was the chance to “socialize” with non-CFC and merge the pastoral with the practical. So after a rather intense period of brainstorming and discussions, the Journey to Wholeness and Happiness was born. For easy recall, the team now refers to the activity as the Friday Series.

As presented and approved by Msgr. Bong, the series, designed to last for 21 Fridays, would feature stand-alone talks, meaning that unlike CLP talks, each talk would not be a prerequisite for the succeeding talks. The talks, scheduled for 7 to 8:30 PM, would be given by lay people, both CFC and non-CFC, and include sharings from some “high profile” personalities. 

Central A was given the task of seeing this project through, primarily because SM Megamall is within its geographical  boundaries. Ronnel Enriquez was assigned to lead the team.

The first session was scheduled for Friday, March 24. Days before the event, fliers were put up all around the mall inviting everyone to the talk that would be given by Ma. Clarissa “Ilsa” B. Reyes, award-winning DZMM  Teleradyo  host. The talk was on “Living Your Dream.” 

Ilsa is a fulltime Church worker involved in the ministries of inner healing, intercession and media. She is also the author of several books dealing with the psycho spiritual journey to wholeness, among them, “Affirmation and Healing Treasures,” “Before There’s a ‘We’ There’s a ‘Me’” and “Healing Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation,” winner of the Best Book in the Ministry Category of the Cardinal Sin Book awards.

Much to the surprise of everyone, about 200 people filled the Megamall chapel. The reception to the talk was positive, judging from the survey forms Central A distributed after the talk. Some commented that while they were at the chapel just to pray, they stayed because they found the talk interesting. Some even committed to come back the following Friday. 

The next two talks promise to be as interesting. March 31 will feature Aileen Serrano and Raymond and Pia Abarrientos who will speak on “Faith in the Storm.” April 7 will have Fr. Anton Pascual as speaker on the topic “Does God Have a Plan?” 

Rachel Arguelles refers to this project as “God’s Lab” because “we feel God wants us to discover something. We are still making “experiments”. Preparations can be really very taxing, leading us to rely purely on God’s grace especially when we encounter some minor problems such as one sharer backing out.” Because the program is plainly still in the development stage, Rachel admits that the team is still developing the talk outlines on a weekly basis. 

Jomar Badilla was the moderator for the first week. Since the program is CFC’s gateway evangelization activity, the moderator is tasked to ensure that CFC’s goals for the activity are met. As moderator, Jomar gives the challenge for the week and leads the opening and closing prayer. Jomar will moderate the next four or five sessions.

The team and the sector were excited over the results of the first session and rightly so. As a gateway evangelization effort, it indeed proclaimed CFC to the public in a way that was informal, attractive and non-intrusive. The team did not overtly proclaim their being CFC but their warmth and welcoming smiles brought several people to ask about CFC, with some expressing interest in attending future CLPs. Central A, having been recently given St. Francis Parish as part of their geographical coverage, plans to hold the CLP there because of its proximity  to  Megamall. 

The team members are not the only ones excited. Msgr. Bong, when asked if it was possible to make the activity a twice-a-month activity rather than weekly, opined that the plans for the Friday sessions will continue so that mall goers will look forward to each Friday session. There is even talk that the sessions will last even beyond the originally allotted 21 Fridays. 

Central A enjoins all the sectors of MM to support the program by inviting family members and friends, particularly non-CFC, who live and/or work in the Mandaluyong area, to attend the Friday Series.

Added on Sunday, April 2, 2017



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