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The history of our country has revealed to us how the young generation became the forerunners of the revolution for Philippine Independence. The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), being a part of this revolution, may have produced some young leaders who have taken important roles in the continuous struggle to achieve the one true “kalayaan at pagsasarili.” Though no documents up to date have proven the youth’s direct participation in the formation and development of Iglesia Filipina Independiente, it is still possible to assume that these young people of yesterday have contributed a part of himself/herself (idealism, passion, and abilities) for the realization of the Filipino church. Rise of the Youth: the Struggle to establish it’s own Identity We already know that the youth have always been a member of the church. These young and vibrant members were already inside of our churches since the church itself has been founded. But being young, the church had seen them as mere regular church goers only. The church has never thought of engaging the young people in her own life and affairs. This was how the church acted towards the youth until these young people themselves have started to assert their capabilities to take roles in the development of the church. The establishment of the Filipino Catholic Youth Organization (FCYO) in the late 1950s gave the first impression of the youth’s desire to become more involved in the church and to her ministry. The Chaplain of the University of the Philippines-Diliman Campus called on the young people to discuss the possible creation of a “united movement” within the IFI youth. Only a few have responded, but it should be noted that those who have answered to the call proved that there is really such a need to identify one, united, youth movement within the church. The pioneers of the FCYO continued to discuss the idea of this united movement, which was well-received by the Obispo Maximo. A call was again made to local presidents of existing youth organizations in Metro Manila and suburb parishes. Those who responded were grom the parishes of Maria Clara, Metrica, Malabon, Paco, and Pandacan. They met at the Central Office
at Alfredo Street, Sta. Cruz, Manila and formed a united group called the Philippine Independent Church District Youth Movement (PICDYM). This new group, which was directly under the Obispo Maximo’s authority, had made regular meetings to further discuss the realization of their objectives as a youth organization. They were able to get the approval of the Obispo Maximo to appoint among themselves “Promotional Youth Workers” and to make Revd. Fr. Porfirio dela Cruz, their adviser. The PICDYM began to educate themselves with the faith and ministry of the IFI. Several seminars and symposiums were conducted to discuss church’s history, the IFI’s faith and mission, and the youth’s role in IFI. These were all done to further equip the young people to an effective service to God and his people. Their enthusiasm to be of great service to the church has inspired other dioceses to establish their own youth organizations. Then Revd. Fr. Soliman Gano had expressed his wanting to have a similar organization in his diocese. Moreover, he was the first to propose the transformation of the PICDYM into a recognized national organization of IFI. In 1960, the youth members of the church in Southern Luzon met in the Maria Clara Church in Manila. The young leaders from Bataan, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and PICDYM (representing Manila and the suburbs) had convened to consolidate the youth organizations and become a unified regional youth organization. The consolidation was then baptized as the Philippine Independent Church Regional Youth Movement (PICRYM). A constitution was drafted and was approved by the general assembly. The regional youth leadership was formally elected in March 27 of the same year, with Atty. Reynaldo Beltran as the president. Later on, the provincial youth organizations of Bicol and Pampanga joined the PICRYM. Also in the 1960s, Revd. Fr. Eustaquio Coronado, the Chaplain assigned to the UP Diliman Campus worked hard to establish a Student Work Program inside the University. This was in accordance to the Student Ministry Program conceived through the Philippine Independent Church-Philippine Episcopal Church Joint Council in 1961. His best efforts eventually gave birth to the University of the Philippines-Philippine Independent Church Student Association (UPPICSA). The IFI Parish of the Holy Sacrifice became the home of the organization, where they conducted their regular meetings and activities.
With the establishment of the UPPICSA, the youth within the church had gone through significant transformations. The UPPICSA led the call to for the church and more importantly, the youth, to rekindle the nationalist heritage and tradition of Iglesia Filipina Independiente. This transformed the youth organization to a higher degree of commitment and involvement in the church and society. They facilitated the venue to stir our youth in rediscovering the “beauty and value” of our church history and teachings in the context of the socio-political and economic conditions of the Philippine Society.1 The UPPICSA even challenged our church leaders to clearly define their roles in developing the church to a progressive ministry. In 1968, Ms. Carmencita Karagdag and Mr. Fructuoso Sabug jr. of the UPPICSA represented the IFI youth in the World Council of Churches Youth Assembly in Uppsala, Sweden. This gathering became a venue for the youth to engage in the ecumenical youth movement in the country. National Youth Movement: Embracing the Nationalist Heritage and Tradition of the IFI The year was 1969 when Obispo Maximo Isabelo delos Reyes Jr. called for a National Youth Assembly at Roosevelt Memorial College in Sto. Niño, Marikina, Rizal. This was his response to the continuous appeal of the youth to be acknowledged by the church and be heard in her decision making processes. This gathering also became the venue to discuss the current political and economic situation prevalent in the country. Attended by youth delegates from all around the country, this assembly convened to form the Kilusang Pambansa ng Kabataan ng Iglesia Filipina Independiente (KPK-IFI) or the National Youth Movement of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (NYM-IFI). Ms. Carmencita Karagdag was elected as its first Chairman. The KPK-IFI became more active in church-based activities that will develop their faith and recapture the true ministry of IFI – to serve God through his people. Series of educational seminars were held so that the youth can establish a common understanding about the current national crisis and to come-up with a recommendation as to how the IFI Youth should face the challenges created by these crises. The KPK-IFI was instrumental in challenging the wellentrenched conservatism and reactionary tendencies of our church leaders. The youth organization demanded reforms within the Church and appealed for the restoration of the
Excerpt from “The Youth: Embracing and Upholding our Rich Historical Mission” by Lesley G. Capus, undated manuscript.
genuine teachings of the IFI history.2 This dramatic transformation of the youth organization was also an offshoot the rampant student and youth activism in the country. This new progressive and militant ministry of the KPK-IFI made it a part of the historic First Quarter Storm (FQS). When the Rt. Revd. Macario v. Ga was elected as the new Obispo Maximo in 1973, he promised to attend to the concerns of the youth in the church affairs. The following year, the Supreme Council of Bishops passed a resolution urging all diocesan bishops and parish priests to develop youth programs in their respective jurisdictions. The SCB also created the Office of the National Youth Coordinator and appointed Revd. Fr. Eustaquio D. Coronado as its Youth Coordinator. On April 21-24, 1796, a National Youth Consultation took place at the St. Andrew’s Seminary in Quezon City. In this gathering, the youth have expressed the need to restructure the National Youth Organization and adopt a National Constitution and By-Laws.3 This consultation also became a venue for the youth to; again, articulate their wish to be recognized by the church as a new sector to allow them to have direct participation in the life, work, and struggle of the IFI. A year after, the National Youth Assembly was held at the IFI Parish of Our Lady of peace and Good Voyage in La Paz, Iloilo City. On April 15, the Constitution and By-Laws of the National Youth Movement was ratified. The youth had also convened to elect Mr. Fructuoso Sabug Jr. of Antique as the NYM’s president/. In 1977, during the IFI’s General Assembly, the youth successfully campaigned for the church’s recognition of the youth sector that will enable them to be more involved in the life of the church. This is through enfranchising the youth sector in the church’s organizational structure from all levels.4 This victory was realized in the ratification of the IFI Constitution and Canons of 1977. The National Youth Movement changed its name to National Youth Organization (NYO) at Kaliraya, Quezon during the National Youth Assembly in 1981. From then on, the NYO have conducted youth camps, leadership trainings and formations, exposure and exchange programs; and had ecumenical involvements. Its members also participated in issue-based campaigns and mobilizations in and out of the church.5
ibid. ibid. 4 The Brief History of the Youth of Iglesia Filipina Independiente, Orientation Paper of the YIFI, undated. 5 op. cit.
Years after, the NYO almost ceased to fulfill its organizational functions. Up to this date, it was unclear how the youth organization became inactive in the affairs of the IFI. Youth of Iglesia Filipina Independiente: Revolutionizing the Church through Renewed Spirituality and Service The youth started to renew its involvement in the church in mid-1990s. A National Youth General Assembly was held at the IFI Parish of Our Lady of Maulawin in Sta. Cruz, Laguna in 1996. In this assembly, a new set of fresh and committed young leaders were chosen to take the task of reviving the youth involvement in the church. In 1999, the 11th National Youth Convention was held in Gasan, Marinduque. The youth participants in this assembly were united in adopting a comprehensive amendment in the organization’s Constitution and By-Laws. This amendment includes ratifying the organization’s change of name, from the NYO to the Youth of Iglesia Filipina Independiente (YIFI). As a new name was welcomed by the youth; a new logo and identity, a new organizational structure, and a new set of leaders were also introduced and was well-received. That gathering was remembered as the gathering of young people burning with great enthusiasm to revive the legacy of the forebearers of the youth organization in recapturing the faith and tradition of the church. The organization immediately responded to the call of the mother church to assist in the preparations for the 100th year celebration of her service to God through his people. In 2002, the youth have actively participated in the celebration of the IFI’s centennial year of proclamation. The young people, hailed from different dioceses, performed songs, dances, and theatrical plays to commemorate the IFI’s journey to fulfill its ministry with the people’s struggle. In the National Youth Assembly happened in the same year of the Centennial celebration, several youth leaders gathered in fellowship and re-affirmed the covenant to God by serving the people thru the IFI. The new set of elected leaders vowed for a “renewed vigor” in living-out her heritage, pursue her historical mission, ministry, and struggle towards the establishment of Shalom, for God and country.6 The youth organization began to re-assess its role in upholding the IFI ministry in emancipating the masses from the injustices of our society. The call to serve the people was responded with fervor in the 2005 National Youth Convention at Balaoang, Paniqui, Tarlac.
YIFI Orientation Paper, undated.
Through this gathering, the youth have vowed to follow the path that Christ have taken—to serve and not to be served—which will also guide and inspire them to be always of service to others, especially those who are in need. These young people became involved in renewing the faith of the IFI members, especially the young people, through extensive study sessions about the history, mission, and ministry of the church. The youth were also engaged in peace-building activities, encouraging every Christian to become a “peacemaker.” These young vibrant people also made a landmark as many young leaders take part in the held National Lay Congress in 2006 at Batac, Ilocos Norte. In this affair, the youth have voiced out their views and concerns regarding the current development of the church and the strengthening of the lay participation in church works. Before the end of the said congress, the youth had already made an impression that in their hands, the future of the church will never be compromised. Days after, the YIFI achieved another milestone with the success of the National Youth Leader’s Assembly in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. This assembly tackled the struggle of the youth in the church and the importance of building student ministries in colleges and universities. Aside from the youth programs inside the church, the YIFI also participated actively in the ecumenical youth movement in the country. The YIFI organized the National Peace Camp in October 2007, together with other youth organizations of different ecumenical churches in the country. This event was held to make a venue for discussions regarding issues on the achievement of peace in the country and the role of the youth for the realization of this goal, The YIFI also took active participation in the development of our local churches. They have started to assert their place in the local church and acknowledged the importance of taking their role in empowering the local church. In its effort to further consolidate the ranks of IFI’s next generation of leaders, the YIFI have utilized systematic educational processes to better understand how to bring to the core of the people’s struggle the warm solidarity and committed service of the youth.7 The Youth at 40: Challenging Themselves to Continuously Serve God through his People Now at its ruby year, the youth are geared towards strengthening their commitment for the realization of the IFI mission—to be of service “Pro Deo et Patria!” The youth have been
through 40 years of struggle to face every challenge in upholding our prophetic mission. We may have our fair share of ups and downs, of victories and disappointments, or of success and failures. But it is clear that these young people of Iglesia Filipina Independiente will always be in the forefront to challenge the church and themselves in rekindling our nationalistic heritage and tradition. The YIFI will always be hand-in-hand with the ordained, the laymen, and the women for the realization of the one true “kalayaan, kasarinlan, at kaginhawaan,”—the main reason why the Iglesia Filipina Independiente was founded.
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