The Redemptorists, with the MPS (Missionera del Perpetuo Sucorro) Sisters and their lay cooperators, conduct missions mainly among poor communities in both urban and rural areas. These are usually upon the invitation of a bishop or parish priests and their associates. There are a number of mission categories conducted. First are General Missions which cover more than just one parish; these could cover all the parishes of an entire Diocese or just a cluster of parishes. The Redemptorists and their collaborators are assigned as teams to cover all the chapels in the parishes where they stay for a week to conduct a preached mission. During this week there are Masses celebrated with extended homilies, sacraments administered, recollections for the laity, formation for lay leaders and a gathering of the youth. Second are Parish Missions the length of which is dependent on the agreement between the parish priests and the mission teams. It could be as short as three months and as long as a year depending on the objectives of the mission and the number of communities to be covered. If it is the goal to set up or strengthen Base Ecclesial Communities (BEC), the mission timeframe is longer. With long missions, the team members are able to respond to the sacramental, liturgical, educational, socio-economic and ecological needs of the people. In mission areas where there are
Muslim and indigenous communities, they are engaged in inter-faith dialogue. If it is for preached mission, the timeframe is shorter. During the time of the mission, all the missionaries are immersed in the communities as they live in the houses of the people they serve. This is especially true for the members of the Redemptorist Itinerant Mission Team (RIMT) – mainly based in Mindanao – who are not attached to a particular Redemptorist house.
CHURCHES/ PARISHES/ SHRINES
Through the years, the Redemptorists in the Cebu Province have set up and continued administering parishes in Cebu, Tacloban, Dumaguete, Iloilo and Davao. All the main churches of these parishes are shrines to Our Mother of Perpetual Help (OMPH), where on Wednesdays, there are novenas to OMPH. The exception is Iligan where the Redemptorists administer only a shrine, not a parish. In these parishes/shrines, the Redemptorists are assisted by the MPS Sisters and lay cooperators. In the parishes, the services include the following: Masses, Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help, administration of sacraments, regular confessions and counseling. Since these parishes are constituted by BECs, these services are not only confined to the church at the center but also in the chapels that make up the entire parish. There is a strong drive to mobilize lay participation in the many different activities of the parish which is why the typical Redemptorist parish has many lay associations, movements and mandated organizations. There are regular formation programs for these groups including evangelization seminars, retreats and recollections. The parishes have also been engaged in various social and ecological concerns.
The Redemptorists took charge of the pastoral program of the Leprosarium at Eversley Childs Sanitaruim, Cebu City. Their presence here was not only in terms of providing for the spiritual needs of those seeking treatment and their families. In this Chaplaincy they also organized the people into BECs so that they could encourage them to come up with mutual help and income-generating projects. They also assisted in the health needs of the patients and the educational needs of their children. They have also been part of a multi-agency task force to support the patients and their families in their quest to have a title to the land where their houses have been built.
Retreat houses were built by the Redemptorists in the Cebu Province to serve the needs of priests, religious and laypeople who would regularly wish to undergo retreats. At present, they administer the retreat houses in Cebu (the Redemptorist Retreat House) and Iloilo (St. Clement’s Retreat House). They own a retreat house in Bacolod (Scala Retreat House) which is administered by the Presentation Sisters (Presentation Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary). The former novitiate in Iligan City is also used as retreat house for small groups. The retreats are conducted both by the Redemptorists or others who are invited by the groups organizing their retreats. Retreats are either for individuals or for small and big groups. While these retreat houses were built primarily for the conduct of retreats, their facilities are also made available for church-based groups who need a venue for evangelization purposes, formation and training programs, Chapters, conferences and assemblies.
SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL CONCERNS
All Redemptorist communities have been engaged in responding to the social and ecological concerns of the people within their respective areas. The Cebu Province set up the Redemptorist Center for Social and Ecological Concerns (RECSEC) to coordinate all these engagements at the local level. These engagements vary according to the local realities. In most cases there are health services that range from the conduct of medical-dental missions to setting up community-based health programs that train mothers to become health workers in their communities and be engaged in the use of traditional and herbal medicine. There are programs to assist street-families and their children, scholarship programs for children of impoverished families and income-generating projects and micro-finance projects for these families. There have been efforts to organize the different sectors in the parishes so that they are better able to collectively respond to their needs, e.g. informal settlers, laborers, the elderly and women. Fund-raising activities have been organized to raise funds to support these programs. In collaboration with non-government organizations (NGOs), they have conducted seminar-workshops and fora that deal with justice, peace and integrity of creation (JPIC) e.g. human rights violations, governance and elections, environmental degradation and climate change. When man-made and natural calamities strike, the communities do their best to mobilize resources in order to assist those affected by the disasters.
Because for a number of years already, it is a common knowledge that the majority of Filipinos are the youth (20 years old and below), all the Redemptorist communities have organized a youth ministry. A Redemptorist and a lay cooperator have been assigned to supervise the program and they work with a youth team. Involved in this ministry are young professionals, students and out-of-school youth. At the local level, the youth team look into the realities of the youth, recruit them to join the youth ministry, set up a core group with whom they come up with a strategic plan which is then implemented. These include a wide range of activities from seminars to recollections, coordinating on various advocacies with other youth groups to being involved in creative liturgical celebrations. In a few units, a youth mission team is organized where the youth mission team visit local chapels and inter-act with the young people there through various activities.