COTABATO City, August 29, 2014 — Eleven lay pastoral workers from Germany visited the Archdiocese of Cotabato from August 18-27, 2014 with the aim of touching base with different Cotabato communities in what has been dubbed the “Regensburg Visit.”
The visitors, some of whom are pastoral workers for Miserior and Missio, two of the largest international Catholic aid organizations in the world, described the journey as an “excellent” and “meaningful one.”
After the trip, which included immersion in many local communities, the workers vowed to bring back to Germany their first-hand experience of the dynamic church of Cotabato with special intentions to pray especially for the plight of the indigenous peoples and for the continuing quest for lasting peace in Mindanao.
Meeting the Indigenous Peoples
Miserior and Missio have also been funding pastoral programs in Cotabato Archdiocese, as well as providing assistance to lay workers and their dependents. The rest of the visitors are teachers in Germany.
The trip included visits to Indigenous Peoples (IP) schools in Timanan, South Upi, Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) in the different parishes where they stayed in order to experience the real-life activities of the BECs such as those participated in by the youth, catechists, family groupings, and the Kaabags. They also experienced first-hand liturgical celebrations in the parishes and the celebrations of the liturgy without a priest.
The German workers also got to meet IP communities, particularly in Renebon, Pigcawayan, where they heard a lot about the plight of the Lumads who continue to struggle against mining operations in their area. The group of the Aromanen Manobo in the area shared how the Church, through the BECs, has helped them fight for their rights.
“Zones of Peace”
Another equally significant visit was a trip to the areas of the “zones of peace”, particularly in Pikit parish where the visitors witnessed the vibrant inter-religious dialogue ministry especially prioritized by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
At the start of the visit, presentations were made on the pastoral programs of the archdiocese, as well as the activities under the Social Action-Justice and Peace commission. The German lay workers also met the parents and scholars being supported by the archdiocese with support from Germany.
Through the assistance of Cotabato’s Local Government Unit, Mayor Guiapal J. Guiani, Jr, Administrator Atty. Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, and the City Tourism Office, the visitors were taken to the Grand Mosque in Kalanganan and to the project site on the Production of In-aul Sewing and Weaving of Garments organized by a group of Moro women. Part of the city tour was to visit one of the oldest churches in the country, the Tamontaka church which was built by the Jesuits. A very memorable visit also took place at Cotabato Bahay-Maria, a home for the aged, the sick and abandoned.
The “Regensburg Visit” continued in the Diocese of Kidapawan where they participated in the mass especially offered for Fr. Tulio Favali and Fr. Fausto Tentorio, who were murdered for their advocacies for the marginalized and the oppressed.
Misereoris the German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation. Missio assists mainly pastoral projects in many dioceses in Africa, Asia and Oceania.(Rachel F. Ayupan)