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CEACAL students gather for Youth Leaders’ Congress

SING AND DANCE FOR THE LORD. The delegates of the CEACAL Youth Leaders’ Congress 2019 participated in an Animation, as part of the activities of the Congress. (Photo by Charlene Bellen)

NAGA CITY --- As a culminating celebration for the Year of the Youth, around 300 students from different Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Caceres and Diocese of Libmanan gathered for the First CEACAL Youth Leaders’ Congress 2019. Spearheaded by the Catholic Educational Association of Caceres and Libmanan (CEACAL) Youth Council, the Congress was held on Saturday, 23 November 2019, at the Holy Rosary Major Seminary, this City.

Themed “CEACAL Youth: Doing Christ’s Mission with Youthful Hearts, with Mary”, the Congress served as an avenue for CEACAL students to unite beyond Sports; and to build a community of leadership, understanding, cooperation, and camaraderie. It also provided opportunities for students to mingle with others in order to expand their horizon with other teenagers.

The Congress began with an Opening Liturgy led by Rev. Fr. Dario I. Echipare, Director of the Naga Parochial School. In his exhortation, Fr. Echipare emphasized the words of Pope Francis, saying that the youth is not the future; but rather, the future is now. The Liturgy was followed by an Opening Program, in which CEACAL Youth Council President and Youth Congress Overall Chairman Juan Carlos R. Madrid shared the inspirations behind the Congress. According to Madrid, the conduct of the Congress was inspired by the celebration of the Year of the Youth and the call to be in Mission; and by the lack of an annual activity for CEACAL students to unite and form a community. The CEACAL Youth Council Adviser, Mrs. Rosario B. Olalia, also shared her message to the delegates, of which she bared the Council’s dream of one day conducting a three-day CEACAL Youth Camp, as done by other Catholic Educational Associations in the Bicol Region.

The Opening Program was followed by a talk on the theme of the Congress, rendered by Mr. Patrick Henry I. Balmaceda. In his talk, Balmaceda focused on the Youth as truly Beloved, Gifted, and Empowered in Mission, even beyond the celebration Year of the Youth. According to Balmaceda, we must change our outlook and attitude on a gift; for it is not a commodity, saying that “The essence of a gift: it is not something given, but it is something shared” for “a gift is given to someone who is not deserving of the gift.” In the afternoon, the delegates were divided into 20 groups for a Team Building Activity led by Mr. Angelo M. Espenocialla. In it, he enabled all the participants to be empowered, allowing those who have stayed silent for most of the Activity to rise, and speak for a segment. Thereafter, a Festival of Talents was also held to showcase the talents and skills of the delegates.

The Congress ended with a Eucharistic Celebration on the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe was held, led by Rev. Fr. Eric P. Bobis, Secretary to the Archbishop of Caceres. In his Homily, he explained that the Gospel provides an image of Jesus as our King; explaining the paradox between our normal perception of a king as compared to Jesus. According to Fr. Bobis, “the throne of Jesus is the cross of suffering; His crown is not made of gold, but of thorns; He has no sceptre, but the nails on His hands and feet that keep Him on the cross.”

AD IESUM PER MARIA. The Official Pilgrim Image of Our Ina, Our Lady of Peñafrancia, is enthroned beside a crucifix. (Photo by Charlene Bellen)

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