Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A different encounter

“AFTER our training what then?” a policeman in his middle 30s asked me. He was about to finish a 30-day training called the Values and Leadership School (VLS) at the PNP Regional Training School facility in Gaas, Balamban, Cebu. He added: “When we return to our precincts, there will be millions of temptations.”

A bit exaggerated perhaps but one gets the point.

Last Tuesday 27 January 2009 at the Argao Training Center in Argao, Cebu, the man’s question found an answer. A gathering, called the “4 Ps (Pulis-Pari, Presinto-Parokya) for Peace Partnership,” brings together two groups of leaders – and their respective areas of responsibility – playing key roles in promoting the common good in the community. The PNP Provincial Director, PSSupt Carmelo Valmoria, showed the way by being there. So were the Argao parish priest, Monsignor Jose Montecillo, and Mayor Edsel Galeos. The latter provided venue and food.

Twenty-one policemen, most of whom were chiefs of police, seven priests, and 15 lay workers attended the whole-day seminar, a first step in concretizing the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed 30 October 2008 by the PNP, the Archdiocese of Cebu, and Dilaab movement represented by PNP Dir. Gen. Jesus Verzosa, Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal, and the author, respectively.

The MOA is the fusion of several streams of transformative energies: the Integrated Transformation Program of the PNP and its focus on leadership at all levels; the 2008 and 2009 Archdiocese of Cebu thrusts on the Bible and the Church, respectively; and Dilaab’s Heroic Christian Citizenship and Leadership Program.

Ret. PCSupt. Samson Tucay and the author set the pace by sharing their journey as companions towards integrity for the common good. Gen. Tucay was head of the Values and Leadership School (VLS) promoting God-centered leadership at the 17 Regional Training Schools (RTS) of the PNP. Many of the 3000 plus graduates of the VLS had expressed the need for a support mechanism when they would return to their police stations.

The tandem pointed out that beneath the uniform and the sotana are human beings created in God’s image and likeness, sharing the same dignity as well as experiencing the same weaknesses and temptations; hence, both need God and each other. The friendship seeks to transcend utilitarian and narrow interests in favor of the common good. Ang sarap pala magpakabait, as Kuya Sam (as he is popularly called in Dilaab circles) puts it. The author, for his part, is unabashed in declaring that he has become a better priest because of his friendship with Sam.
A game followed, facilitated by two Dilaab volunteers, Tess and Gladys. Winners took home T-shirts marked with Pwede Pala Pinoy, a Dilaab project seeking to ignite spaces of hope for ordinary citizens. For lunch, it was boodle fight, a single row of tables covered with banana leaves, with rice, fish, meat, and mongo laid out on it. When the signal is given, all mouths and hands break loose. This was a great way of laying down one’s guard and allowing others to enter into one’s space.

Emping and Nash, two members of local rock bands known as Bisrockers, then rendered songs to the delight of the audience. The pair is now also known as Peace-rockers, qualifying them for the 4Ps.

Another game ensued. This was followed by a brief talk on lectio divina and an actual session. Lectio Divina is the “diligent reading of the Bible accompanied by prayer.” The gospel exposition was on the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4). The 4Ps project envisions police precints as venue for a weekly encounter between police personnel and the parish. These would be called “Jacob’s Wells.”

The last sharer was PSSupt. Cesar Binag of the PNP Program Management Office (PMO), an office ensuring that the integrated transformation program is sustained despite changes in personalities and leadership. Col. Binag shared something closest to his heart: his family. Cesar is a member of a Protestant congregation and his presence is a sign of Dilaab’s commitment to work with other Christians.

4Ps is a step towards healing the wounds of our country resulting from graft and corruption. When the lack of integrity – for which we are all answerable – penetrates a culture, there is disintegration at various levels. There is lack of trust among social sectors and the tendency to blame one another. Sectors and groups tend to be inward looking and to engage in harmful “in-breeding.”

There is, then, the need to exchange places or, to put it in more theological terms, to engage in pastoral accompaniment in the spirit of communion:

A spirituality of communion also means an ability to think of our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the Mystical Body, and therefore as "those who are a part of me". This makes us able to share their joys and sufferings, to sense their desires and attend to their needs, to offer them deep and genuine friendship. A spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a "gift for me". A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to "make room" for our brothers and sisters, bearing "each other's burdens" (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy. (Novo Millennio Ineunte 43).

“Encounter” took on a new meaning during the seminar. In military parlance the term has the element of chance and surprise for all the parties involved, in contrast to raid or ambush. The hoped-for emergence of Jacob’s Wells (i.e. a place and time for encounter) in the precincts is first of all a “room” or “sanctuary” where people can be themselves and encounter God and each other through the Bible.

We indeed look forward to many surprises.


Kit said...

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I'm going to use it so I can feature your blog to one of my blog post. I'm not going to quote any of your articles or copy any other contents of your blog, just the image for my readers to click so they can also read your blog.

I have checked your archives, this is a wonderful blog. I just want to help promote your blog.

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or send me an email:

More power, good heALTh and God Bless Us Fr. &
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SJS Shrine Blog Author

Kit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kit said...

Hi Fr. Carmelo... Kit here again.. I'm also hoping to receive a message / comment from you about our blog.