|Singles for Christ: Jesus is the Icon!|
Posted by Joy Katigbak on 2/27/2009 12:10:49 AM
Seven thousand single men and women converged in Cebu last February 20-22, 2009 for the 16th Singles for Christ International Conference (ICon). Themed “Icon,” the conference saw delegates from all over the Philippines and the world assembled together to proclaim Jesus Christ as the Icon of Singles for Christ, and that the way to move forward was only IN CHRIST. Set in the parking lot of SM City Cebu, the event was a wonderful opportunity to evangelize and show the world what it means to love Christ, as mall shoppers were made privy to the worship and teachings of the Singles for Christ community courtesy of wide-screens set in strategic areas in the venue. Thousands of singles were seen around the mall as well during conference breaks, all donned in their conviction shirts bearing Jesus as their Icon.
The whole weekend was opened by a joyful High Mass that set the celebratory mood of the first night on Friday, with Rev. Msgr. Rommel Kintanar, CFC Cebu Spiritual Director, as the main celebrant. This was followed by the first session, “In Christ…This is the Life!” given by Fulltime Missionary Joemar Salumbides, once a Singles for Christ member himself in the early years of the ministry, and later became part of the SFC Council. This session recalled important milestones in the SFC ministry’s last 15 years and how our life in Christ has been a life of revelations, conversion, healing and forgiveness, and promises fulfilled. The session posed the challenge for every Singles for Christ member to continue to become like Christ, and to be Christ to others so that, as St. Paul exhorts us, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”
The second day was full of activity, as delegates attended workshops centering on the sacraments, missionary work, and continuous transformation and growth. Others participated in creative and sports competitions, many of which were done in SM City Cebu’s activity center where mall shoppers where witness to the talents of SFCs and the joy of being in this community. All these were followed by the launch of the SFC Bayani, a group of 12 SFCs chosen for their love and service for the poor, who will serve as Gawad Kalinga Ambassadors. GK 1MB Head Mari Oquinena talked about how our love for God is concretely expressed in serving the poor and in holding on to the hope of “a new heavens and a new earth” that He has prepared for us.
The evening session, entitled “Forgetting What Lies Behind,” recalled the pains of the past and reminded us how Jesus our Icon, like us, went through the same hurts of being tempted, betrayed, scourged, and forsaken. Speaker Michael Ariola, member of the SFC Council and Fulltime Missionary, underscored the lessons to learn from what Jesus did during these painful experiences and how we are called to strain toward our goal which is Jesus Himself. The highlight of the conference was a Benediction and High Mass, a most solemn experience that emphasized our perfect union with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Concelebrated by Rev. Bishop Crispin Varquez, bishop of the Diocese of Borongan, Samar as main celebrant, together with Rev. Msgr. Cris Garcia as homilist, Fr. Edwin Visda and Fr. Ronald Bardon of Diocese of Daet, Fr. Ace Ecarna from Agusan del Sur, Fr. Anthony Layog of Pangasinan, and Fr. Paul Uwemedimo of Couples for Christ, the Eucharistic Celebration was truly Christ’s real and loving presence affirming to all that “"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” (John 6:56)
Finally, in the last session of the conference, “Forward in Christ,” SFC International Coordinator Aldy Katigbak unveiled the restated vision of the Singles for Christ ministry: “Every single man and woman all over the world experiencing Christ.” The rally call to all SFCs is to simply be CHRIST: Catholic, Humble, Radical, Intercessors, Sacrificing, and Together. Only then could the SFC vision be lived out and find its fulfillment.
The conference was capped by a powerful praisefest and the celebration of the Holy Mass amidst cloudy skies, refreshing light showers, and then gentle sunshine that affirmed everyone of God’s close watch and joyful embrace. It was indeed a weekend of experiencing Christ in many different ways in many different instances, each of them personal, each of them transforming.