MARIAN YOUTH CAMP could not have better christened the collaboration of the Legion of Mary and the Montfortian Missionary Community. Youths from different praesidia attended this overnight assemblage of legionaries (whose ages ranged from 17 to 35) that proved to be so blessed an accomplishment it inspired Senatus of Northern Philippines (SNP) President Elizabeth Infante to mark the endeavor as a continuing milestone. She envisions it being led by junior legionaries to ignite and rekindle the dormant spirit of some in their ranks and reach out to other youths with the hope of recruiting them into active members of the Legion. From the energy and enthusiasm she observed for one night and one day of being with the young campers, Sis Liza believes bright is the prospect of getting more youth actively involved in the Church mission of evangelization. The youth camp of December 13 and 14 is a prelude to future Maria et Fides activities – the Legion of Mary’s version of the World Youth Day. This year, it is a biennial legionary youth conference to be hosted by the comitia of Imus and Silang, Cavite, Diocese of Imus. Around 305 young legionaries from member councils and praesidia under the SNP (not including the youths coming from the host councils) will be attending the event. This all happens on December 28-30, 2018.
The registrants started checking in with Ate Bubbles, Sis Ofel and Ate Relly at 3 pm with the last aspirant joining the others while Bro. Jason was moderating Taize. The young delegates squatted outside of their tents to hear out his petitions on their behalf. They were made up of concerns that currently besiege young people all over the world: single parenthood; drugs and alcohol; growing up too fast; inipit mindset (Mommy, kelan ako magsosolo?) which drew snickers from the crowd; materialism; obesity; education (apparently being waylaid by the world); depression; and me-generation (in sympathy for those who not only have less but also nothing). Buoyed by the enthusiastic audience reception, Bro. Jason enjoined them to be thankful like he could not be more grateful.
From the holy, humor broke the monotony when Fr. Arnel Pagaduan, SMM, introduced the thumbs-elbows-knees-feet-tongue turn-around dynamic which, needless to say, brought the sober house laughingly down. It was reminiscent of a PREX energizer I used to personally conduct but my familiarity with the energizer did not preclude my lapping it up. Fr. Arnel was also the Mass presider at the earlier Mass concelebrated by Frs. Fed Yumang and Benjie Notarte. Fr. Arnel’s message was that we venerate Mary not as a God but His mother. The three Monfort Missionary priests stayed on during the solemn ceremonies until the very crack of dawn when the campers were serenaded by the Mission team priests and lay members with the traditional Mananita. Full backup was accorded by SMM Brothers in the scholastic stage of their formation: Bro. Jason, ably supported by Bros. John, Ronald, Harold, Glenn, Jomar, Samuel, Francois and Armel. Bro. Francois was still mourning the recent passing of his Dad but dutifully participated in the solemn moments. Bro. Armel performed his composition “Mary, Queen of All Hearts” with fellow Scholasticates and everyone’s delighted complement. The entire endeavor could not have failed. Conceived by the Mission Team of AMQAH, it had the full, unstinted support of the likes of Sis Ana Marie and Cecile, Ates Florrence and Marivic and even Bro. Arvin, Ate Car and yours truly catching up.
In the midafternoon, four groups competed in a creativity contest that showcased their flair for preparing an impromptu dance, skit or song number given limited time and resources. All the teams were good. I was assigned to be one of the four judges and had an unbiased gut feel (without having to observe the next two teams; I had to leave early and skipped the last) that the first group would emerge on top. Sis Ana Marie took over where I left off and she later told me that, indeed, my bet took the plum prize.
If there was any part of the enterprise that enervated, there was no visible hint of it. What was palpable was the pervasive aura of exhilaration evident on the faces of everyone who took part in the exercise. So much so that, on behalf of the SNP and the Montfortian fammunity, UtoLiza enjoined everyone to pray to Mary for the success of the Marian activity. Amen.