Muntinlupa City – after the establishment of this young parish, Father Didoy and other community members continue to strengthen their BEC (Basic Ecclesial Communities) to improve and enrich the quality of life among our relocated brothers and sisters.
While most of us see the train as a means of transportation, there are still many among our brothers and sisters who reside along railways. There, they are not only exposed to an unsanitary and ruckus-ridden environment, but also to high-risk and accident-prone scenarios. Despite this, informal settlers refuse to relocate to far-flung housing sites because their livelihood is in the metro.
Due to the initiative of the National Housing Authority, around 60,000 residents along different railway sites were transferred to a 50-hectare portion of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) reservation in 2008.
Since 2012, when the area was established as a Quasi-Parish named after the 2nd Filipino Saint, San Pedro Calungsod, Father Benjamin Molina, their parish priest (more famously known as Father Didoy) incessantly made efforts to improve the lives of the parishioners through BEC.
“When they first transferred, it was chaotic. Different people from various communities were merged into one place. ‘Crimes, drugs were rampant; there was no accountability for each other.” Fr. Didoy shared.
From there, the parish started holding Masses in the basketball covered court and along the streets to bring the Eucharist to the people.
The BEC was launched and named as “Damayan ng Sambayanang Kristyano,” and all the activities were directed in bringing the community closer together and to Christ.
San Pedro Calungsod also made all the sacraments “non-arancel” or free of charge. All parishioners were allowed to be baptized, confirmed and even married without the need to pay parish fees.
“Donations and aid to the parish kept the activities going, it helped sustain itself without charging for the sacraments because of the goodness of the people’s contributions,” Father Didoy stated.
The parish encouraged the community to help each other through transparency. He wanted the people to see that donations were for the community’s better good and not just for the parish church.
“However much money we collect in mass, we announce it through catechism, we teach the parishioners where the community’s support goes and how it helps every member of the community, so all will be aware how important contributions to the parish would be,” he added.
Big changes in the community
The parish priest also stresses how important the BEC projects are in any community in helping the evangelization. He laments that if we leave evangelization to the priest alone, we will only reach few. Through BEC, we reach more and touch more lives in the community.
There has been a big change in the relocation area since the citizens transferred there. Through programs such as dalaw-dalangin, scholarships, feeding programs and collaborations with neighboring parishes, the parishioners have grown closer to the Christian Faith.
Crime rates have also gone down since the presence of the Parochial Church has been established and felt. Now, people in San Pedro Calungsod Parish have a stronger sense of pride in receiving the sacraments and in partaking in serving in the community. (Mariz Ponti)