Friday, March 12, 2010

Being a Religious Leader

Why is it so hard for a leader to lead a religious organization?

-Aran Cabreros
OIC, BEC-2007-2008

Lots of colleges and universities in Davao were able to manage religious organizations in order to promote spirituality among students and instructors as well. They may be Catholic, Moslem or Protestant organizations in which part of student’s population were able to engage in joining those.

Despite of that opportunity, more students are still cantankerous when they hear about religious organizations. Others may simply ignore it, and others often conclude that they are not interested to join. It becomes so hard for the leaders to invite and encourage them since they become more secular and modernist these days.

I, who became a leader of BEC in DMMA College of Southern Philippines, suffered those tests in which it almost boosted down my momentum in doing that service. Many were unable to join properly and thus only passed the application form but never attended to any of the meetings and weekly rosaries that I, together with my quite small group of members in the campus had done. The attendance during the activities we organized became so scarce and did not get the spot of being in quorum.

We supposed to plan it well on how to encourage them by manifesting a list of probable students that we could invite and be with our activities. At first, it became successful, but lately, it rushed down and we went back to zero status. I submitted this problem to the head office of Basic Ecclesial Community in Davao (Catholic Campus Ministry of Davao); and they were flabbergasted to that report and approved some of my plans in order to ease the load we carried. But still, it became so hard for us to penetrate to the students the importance on how a religious organization helps us mold to become successful professionals someday.

It is so sad to say that many students weren’t able to understand and know its value since they are putting the organization as either a requirement, or a rubbish organization. That’s why I reflect and prayed to God on how to put this situation gone. All of a sudden, God has given me answers and apologetics is the answer that I waited for.

Days had passed, I heard on the radio when they had a debate and announced the cell phone number of one of the members where I directly contacted him and agreed to meet him during their meeting (which is every Thursday). I and the president deliberated by welcoming apologetics in the campus through the Catholic Faith Defenders of Davao and alas! We organized Catholic Faith Enhancement Seminars (CFES) in which we invited non-members (Catholic and non-Catholic students) to know about the Catholic Faith. It just so happened that a government university through the initiative of an independent Basic Ecclesial Community has a campus-based CFD in which the Davao President of CFD redirected me there in order to know students who were able to practice apologetics and conduct Catholic Doctrine Seminars (CDS) in which I am glad to see them active and more students get interested in joining with them because of their impetus and full-force of their members in making the organization to always be on command and of service to students seeking for spiritual enhancement.

The CCMD also made activities (more likely to be Youth Camps/ Youth Encounter Seminars/ Team building) in order to accommodate the needs of each Basic Ecclesial Communities in every campus to become united and add camaraderie to every members in the institutions who participated. It was somewhat more on Bible sharing, bonding, talks, heart-to-heart conversation with God and etc. It had availed my members to boost its willingness to partake (though sometimes, the schedule of their class becomes a burden) to it.

At that time, I was able to put at least one candle of hope for the organization to become alive and active, not just in the eyes of the people, but also in the eyes of God through His Church. Because of the development we gained, students became curious about our activities and some became interested to join. The faculty and staff were glad since the lonely monthly masses before become alive due to the dynamic participation of the students and the members of BEC. The administration also approved our plans by organizing (reorganizing) 3 o’clock prayer, weekly rosary, seminars, etc. and mostly we have engaged our traditional BEC-bonding to be on its existence. I also encouraged some members to attend weekly talks about the Catholic faith organized by the Catholic Faith Defenders in San Pedro Cathedral so that when time comes that I will finish my Academic requirement of my course, they will still manage to pursue the legacy we’ve started.

As time went by, I graduated and left the organization full of hope. The remaining members voted for the new set of officers and organized their one-year plan, but eventually, it was not the one whom we wanted to occur. Many of them became inactive and busy in their studies. Many of them enjoyed more on secular extra-curricular activities than religious activities.

I struggled and had the tendency of being too much aggressive in urging them to do the plan as fast as they could, but still, only some worked at it. The fact is that I became so harsh when I was in manila (since some will still consider me as their adviser) by sending messages to ponder through texts, and I admit some members were insulted or embarrassed in urging them to have force in pursuing the 1-year-plan--- and I’m sorry for that. But the reason why I let my own to be like an authoritarian is that I wanted BEC to become more reasonable and more inviting for Catholic students to engage in religious activities. The same as what other leaders wanted for their flock.

I hope this would take as a reminder among members of BEC, especially in DMMA, that what we are doing (though technically not connected to our course) is agreeable in the battle of life. God wanted us to follow His will. He wanted us to be real Christians. And as Christians, it is our responsibility to learn what really is the meaning of life---what’s the meaning of salvation---and what is the real meaning of being professionals.

I am also encouraging citywide leaders of BEC to put more attention in managing to balance Ecumenism and Defence to our faith. Since those two faces meet the Church’s call in evangelizing people struggling in knowing who really Christ is in their lives. Yet, many youth went away to the church and became sceptic to our faith--- and we need a clear action to it. Some had become modernist and atheist since they were not able to reach the expectations they wanted to a religious organization…Especially to students who were easily been harmonized by anti-Christ tracts and antagonisms of other faiths to the Catholic Church.

It has been agreed by us that we need to evangelize students in order to let them be closer to God. As far as I remember, one of the objectives of BEC during my time was to help students to know Christ in the right way, and in the right faith (literally it was not written). But how will we make that come if we always separate ecumenism from sharing the right faith? It’s so obvious that many members, only became members-alone, but was never been oriented to the teachings of the Catholic Church—that’s why I always remind them their responsibilities as Christians.

Anyway, there’s always another way in order to reach the suggestions and moves that I made---we made. But I hope, religious leaders must not forget the value of knowledge, and service to God. I hope you get it straight.

Teach the students know what really a Catholic is, and collide to the banquet of God’s Good News.

No comments: