Scheduled to Visit:
Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Auburn
Magandang umaga (hapon, gabi) po. This is how we say good morning (afternoon, evening) in Filipino. My sincerest gratitude to your Beloved Bishop Robert Deeley, Pastor Fr. Robert Lariviere and to the Diocesan Director of the Society of the Propagation of the Faith, and to all of you, for welcoming me to your parish and for giving me this opportunity to make this Mission Appeal.
I am Fr. Joselito C. Ramos of the Disciples of Mary. The Disciples of Mary began in 1976 in the Philippines and (was) ecclesiastically established as a religious community of men in 1990 by a Carmelite Bishop, Julio Xavier Labayen, OCD.
We are a young and small community of priests and brothers. The main ministry of our community is to work among young people in the public high school system, facilitating programs that aim to provide moral and spiritual formation through youth empowerment programs, such as leadership trainings, value formation classes, retreats, Bible studies, and Sunday schools.
At present, the youth and young adult ministry of the Disciples of Mary is present in 80 public and private high schools and six dioceses in the Philippines. Currently, we have 100 volunteer teachers and 300 youth and young adult leaders helping us in our ministry to around 7,000 high school students. (Our) community’s main ministry is to work among young people to provide them with moral and spiritual formation, through leadership, value formation trainings, and youth empowerment programs.
Having been in the Disciples of Mary for 26 years, nine years as a seminarian and 17 years as a priest, I have witnessed different ministerial challenges among our Filipino youth. I have heard stories of struggles to survive due to poverty, broken families, abuse, addiction, and other problems that continuously haunt them.
Of the many situations that I encountered, one striking story is that of a young man, a high school student, who was barely making it through the day, and his family could barely make both ends meet. He walked to school on an empty stomach. If fortunate that day, he would bring a piece of fried egg and a cup of rice. Life was so challenging that he confessed that he almost gave in to the temptation of selling drugs on the streets of Manila just to make it through the day.
When he joined our ministry, we were able to offer him a community of young people who are experiencing life challenges but were filled with faith in God and hope. Eventually, he became an active member and served as one of our youth leaders. For him, the presence of a caring and supportive youth ministry changed his perspective on life, from feeling hopeless to becoming hope filled. The love and faith in God that he felt and received through the ministry changed his life forever. I will never forget the story of this young man, because a couple of months ago, this young man, who more than a decade ago almost wanted to give up because of life’s hardships and trials, was installed as the pastor of one of mission churches/parishes being run by the Disciples of Mary in the Philippines.
His story is just one of the numerous stories of young people who were helped by our mission programs in the Philippines. It is for this reason and inspiration that I am humbly appealing for your Catholic Christian solidarity, support, and generosity. The hard financial situations in our ministry compel me to appeal to your generosity. The second collection is for youth and young adult ministry we have and the mission parishes under the care of the Disciples of Mary. In advance, I would like to express to you my gratitude for your generosity and support of our mission work. Thank you very much, as we say it in Pilipino: Maraming Salamat po!
If you would like to support the work of the Disciples of Mary in the Phillipines, visit the Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish online giving page.
To learn more about the Disciples of Mary, visit their website.