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Champagnat Movement – Philippine experience

08/07/2010: Philippines

Inspired by the bi-centennial celebration of Marcellin Champagnat’s birth (1889-1989), and after spending six months of renewal in Rome, partly in France at the Hermitage, I extended an invitation to Notre Dame of Kidapawan College (NDKC) academic community for an orientation in the Marist Family Movement launched in 1985 by the whole Institute under Bro. Charles Howard who was then the Superior General.

Since the old name Marist Family Movement was very much identified with Champagnat’s Spirituality, the movement’s name was eventually called CMMF. The change in name was timely for the initial establishment of the Champagnat Group in the Philippines at Notre Dame of Kidapawan College. Thus, in 1989, NDKC Champagnat Group belonging to the CMMF came into being with its founding members led by Romulo Oyao, its first group animator.

Being the first, the founding members had no basis yet on how to go through in organizing themselves. Fortunately, a document on CMMF came out. This CMMF document on its life and spirit was given attention through group study and sharing of insights. On and off campus, the group met to sustain the initially established CMMF, a real breakthrough form a mere employer-employee relationships. The local Brother’s community as well as the College Administration supported the programs of the Kidapawan CMMF.

At this point, may I quote Charles Howard whose statement has a bearing on NDKC CMMF during its initial establishment and might be true to other existing Champagnat groups belonging to the Movement. He said: “It is a blessing and a joy for the Brothers to see our Founder’s charism developing in the hearts of people and causing new sources of life to spring up. It is the blessing and the joy to be able to find in the Champagnat Movement groups their dynamism and their understanding and love of St. Marcellin”.

In relation to his statement and like a “leaven in the dough, as one of the documents speak of, NDKC CMMF experience became the inspiration for the then Philippine Province to undertake the task of organizing the CMMF in all our ministries. Being the former CMMF Province coordinator, after my apostolate in Buda, as local programs from the initial to the on-going establishment of CMMF in the province was implemented.

Prior to this undertaking, NDMU CMMF was organized ahead of this program, first through prayer gathering led by Dr. Bing Bona and Bro. Rosendo Yee. While in Buda, I was invited to give a CMMF orientation to the group. Gradually, NDMU CMMF gained several active members. NDMU Champagnat group from that time on, through Agnes S. Reyes and other members spearheaded joint gatherings with the Samahang Marista, the Lay Marist of the Marist Fathers in Davao City.

Benefitting from the established Champagnat Movement groups and following the local program for establishing CMMF, other school based Champagnat groups were organized at Notre Dame of Cotabato, Notre Dame Dadiangs University, Marist School Marikina and Notre Dame of Jolo. Recently, Notre Dame of Cotabato re-organized itself and has been active in its life and activities. Notre Dame of Dadiangas University was re-established Three years ago. Its active members have sustained its Spirit.

To date for the Philippine Sector of East Asia Province, and led by the Spirit, CMMF has become a way of being a Church. Along with this realization, we do have the rich experiences of our active Champagnat movement Groups where Champagnat pilgrimage may still be “hidden and unknown”, but a sure way of making Jesus known and loved. May God’s continual blessing be with us all.

___________________________
Br. René Reyes, fms

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