Priest urges Cebuanos to help the needy and neglected

By: Victor Anthony V. Silva April 14,2017 - 02:15 PM
4th word  by Rev. Fr. Alvin Abatayo (CDN PHOTO/ CHRISTIAN MANINGO)

4th word by Rev. Fr. Alvin Abatayo (CDN PHOTO/ CHRISTIAN MANINGO)

When there seems to be no end to the Philippine government’s bloody war on illegal drugs yet, there are those that do what they can to rid the country of this menace without resorting to killing.

Fr. Arvin Abatayo of Don Bosco-Magone Center for Children in Conflict with the Law (CICL), in his reflection on one of Jesus Christ’s final words, urged hundreds of Cebuano faithful to reach out to “those in need, neglected, who lost their way,” and even drug dependents.

Abatayo expounded on Jesus Christ’s fourth word, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” during the Good Friday reflections on the Lord’s Seven Last Words at the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.

The priest has been with Magone for five years now, the center located inside the Don Bosco Boys Home in Liloan town north of Cebu City.

“The center is for children who have lost their way, most of whom were taken in for theft, robbery, and illegal drugs,” said Abatayo.

He added that 99 percent of his wards were involved with illegal drugs.

Abatayo admitted that over the years, he has been discouraged by the relapse of the children they helped.

Once they are reintegrated into their communities, they go back to their old lives because it was very easy for them to access their past vices.

“I was discouraged. I lost hope and felt I was not effective and that I was useless,” he said, adding that one of his wards not only relapsed, but is also now in prison.

He said what he felt was somehow the same thing felt by Jesus as he hung on the cross, eventually uttering a cry for help to his Father in heaven.

For Abatayo, this period of helplessness was his own “dark night of the soul,” a term used to describe a time in one’s life when God seems quiet and distant.

The priest witnessed God’s presence again when, in July last year, he joined a meeting hosted by the Cebu Archdiocese for drug surrenderees.

“I saw God in Labang (Lahat Bangon or Everyone Rise), a community-based treatment program for drug dependents in Subangdaku, Mandaue City,” said Abatayo.

A program of the Ugnayan ng Barangay at Simbahan (UBAS), Labang is one of the models used by the Archdiocese to help drug addicts.

The program uses a 12-step model to recovery, which include the process of accepting that a life of addiction was no longer acceptable and that one needs help from Him who is more powerful.

“Drug surrenderers saw the light. They brought about change not only for themselves, but for their families as well,” said Abatayo.

This year, the Archdiocese of Cebu also organized the Cebu Archdiocesan Program for Drug Dependents (CAPDD).

SuGod (Surrender to God), a rehabilitation program jointly mounted by the Archdiocese and a faith-based organization, has also been helping drug surrenderees.

“With this, I am hopeful for Magone,” Abatayo said.

Abatayo pointed out that in order for these people to see, feel, and experience the love of God, the Church needs to guide them back to the right path.

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TAGS: Cebuanos, CICL, help, needy, neglected, priest, urges

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