PH army chaplains, partners hold 1st ‘character enhancement’ meet

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An army personnel prays while "The Prayer" of Celine Dion at Andrea Boccelli is played at the 1st Character Enhancement Program (CEP) Conference on Nov. 25, 2015. (Photo: Raymond A. Sebastián)

PASAY City, Nov. 26, 2015 – A year after its launch, army chaplains, soldiers, and civilian partners from the various parts of the country met Tuesday, Nov. 25, at the Philippine Airforce Museum, Villamor Airbase to discuss the progress of the Character Enhancement Program (CEP) and ways to reach more uniformed personnel and their dependents.

Vision 2028

Fr. Andres Bonifacio O. Belleza, head of the Office of the Army Chief Chaplain Service (OACCS), pointed out that the CEP responds to the directive of Lt. Gen. Hernando Delfin Carmelo A. Iriberri, former Philippine Army (PA) commanding general, to “develop righteous, God-fearing soldiers loved by the Filipino people” in step with the 18-year Army Transformation Roadmap of 2028 (ATR28), and to “become a world-class Army that is a source of national pride.”

To fulfill this vision, the chief chaplain shared the Army sought the help of the Order of St. Michael (OSM), a ministry of the Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundation (CFC Global) which caters specifically to the spiritual needs of people in the military, their spouses, and children.

Character enhancement

Retired Col. Arturo Alabanza, CFC/OSM head, explained that under ATR28, PA is committed to a “long-term, sustainable platform for continuing CEP and spiritual wellness program.”

For their part, local CFC chapters are tasked to jumpstart CEP in all PA unit chapels and parishes nationwide.

Since it debuted in Apr. 3, 2014, the OACCS-CFC/OSM partnership has already given character enhancement retreats (CER) to 28 PA commands, and the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 2018, graduated 385 PMA-Singles for Christ (SFC) members, and conducted five CERs at V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City.

Challenge accepted

While they have started out well, Alabanza admitted there is still much to be done for God’s work to be realized fully in the lives of Filipino soldiers and their families.

According to him, CEP has reached 2,000 men and women in uniform to date, translating to about 0.287 percent of an estimated 700,000 population that is fertile ground for values and spiritual transformation, excluding their dependents.

Alabanza expressed hope that in the coming years, and with the cooperation of the parties involved, CEP will be able to touch hearts and win the souls of more, allowing PA to communicate a brand image consistent with its core values of honor, patriotism, and duty. (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)

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