500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines As Parents: Being Gifted to Give

This year we are celebrating 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.  We thank and praise God for the gift of our faith.  With the theme “Gifted to Give”, we are all challenged to deepen our faith further and to share this precious gift to others.

500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines

As Parents: Being Gifted to Give

Mavic

by Mavic Mercene

Staff, Columban Lay Missionaries-Philippines

This year we are celebrating 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines.  We thank and praise God for the gift of our faith.  With the theme “Gifted to Give”, we are all challenged to deepen our faith further and to share this precious gift to others.

As Christian parents, our ultimate mission is to raise our children to gradually transcend into the person God designed them to be.  We care for them, love, train, educate, equip, empower, and nurture them. This requires not only discipline and wisdom, but more so, a lot of gentle kindness. Though times have changed with parents now having to compete with other “parents” such as electronic gadgets and social media, these virtues remain even more relevant.  We are missionaries: our mission field is at home with our children, in school with their classmates and teachers, in our neighborhood; and when they are grown-ups, like my adult twin sons and daughter, this mission field extends to their co-workers and significant others.

When my daughter Frances Anne graduated from elementary school, we explored the possibility of moving her to a public high school.  When she learned that there will be no Christian Living subject there, she thought for a long time and openly expressed her desire to study in an environment where Christ is the center of formation.  I was totally taken aback at her faith and inspiration.  We let her continue her studies at a Catholic School. She is now in third year college at St. Louis University in Baguio City.

Several years ago, when my twin boys were still in high school, James Patrick was in a situation where he was shamed by his teacher.  It was my other son John Michael who reported the incident to me. I waited for James Patrick to give me his version.   He was asked to transfer seats twice that day because, apparently, he was disrupting his classmates.   It was when he had to transfer seats for the second time that his teacher yelled: “Kung gaano ka kaitim ay sya ding kasama ng ugali mo” (Your attitude is as bad as your dark skin).  I was shocked.  I know that young boys can be naughty; sometimes driving teachers to lose their cool.  Under ordinary circumstance, I would have just let this pass and trust that his teacher was only exercising her right to discipline him. This time, however, I needed to hear the teacher out.  After meeting with the teacher and representatives from the school authorities, the prefect of students thanked me for exercising restraint during the entire meeting and explained that the week had been unbearably stressful for them with several complaints against the same teacher. Many other complaints had come in about her temper, attitude, and distasteful choice of words.  The other parents were very angry and some even shouted and pointed their fingers at her.  I told them that I was there to complain against the teacher who screamed an insult at my son and if I, too, will raise my voice and shout just to get my point across, then I am no better than the teacher in question. 

It takes a lot of courage to be calm and humble; especially when it is easier to get enraged by people who treat us unfairly.  But this is our mission field. It may be difficult but it is our duty to bring Christ to our everyday interactions

Now that my children are grown up, I have taken off and set aside some of my parenting hats to acknowledge their age and appreciate their maturity.  I am more of a “life coach” to them now.  As their life coach, I bring with me many years of being their mother, conscious and informed of their strengths and vulnerabilities, their struggles and ambitions, and my own parents’ unconditional love for them. I bring with me experiences of failure, joy, regret, small triumphs and especially my faith that there is Someone greater than us in this whole process.  I also bring with me my hopes of a greener and just world as a result of my relationship with the Missionary Society of St. Columban, whose passion is to bring justice, peace and integrity to the whole of God’s creation.  I hope that by doing so, I can help my children develop the right plan for their lives ahead, keeping on the right path, that will inspire them to have the courage within themselves to change someone else’s life and find happiness in doing so; and to dare to stand up for something they passionately believe in. I hope they will always believe that things can change for the better, and that when they fail, that they can start again anew. Although my husband and I have expressed it in many different ways during the different stages of their life, the love we have for our children will be forever evolving. We give our love to them freely because we, too, have received love freely.

Mavicc

(L-R): My husband, Exequiel, with my children, John Michael, Frances Anne and James Patrick