Graduation in the Midst of Covid-19
Ricky Gabut, CICM
Debasish Mridha, an American philosopher and physician once said, “In life, there will be pain, suffering, ugliness, but let us be grateful for the beauty, blessing, and miracle of life”. When I reflected upon this saying, it could be the best expression to describe the thanksgiving celebration in AIFC, in the midst of coronavirus pandemic. The world is sick, yet there are always blessings to be thanked.
The world today is suffering due to coronavirus pandemic or known as Covid-19. Everything changes, people died, cities are locked down, public places are closed, classes are done online, etc. Despite the miserable situation, the AIFC community is still grateful for having finished the school year of 2019-2020, especially for the graduates who just finished their studies, by a thanksgiving mass.
It was not like the previous years, the thanksgiving celebration for this year was a little bit different and I could say that it was more special. It was different because there were no visitors, no party, no dancing, and the celebration itself was just very simple. We started with a Eucharistic celebration and then followed by dinner. At the same time, the celebration was special because of the Superior General, Fr. Charles Phukuta Khonde, CICM was present. He presided the mass and joined us during dinner time.
If not because of Covid-19, the celebration might be big and plenty of people. Since the beginning, the graduates actually had planned to invite the families, foster parents, relatives, and friends to join the celebration. However, although they could not come, they were joining the Eucharistic celebration through the CICM Vocation Pinas FB account. It was done online and the viewers reached two thousand people.
It was a brilliant idea to make the Eucharistic celebration online. The idea came out because we could not invite our guests. Afterward, we were surprised because many people were joining the celebration online and there were positive feedbacks coming from those who were able to watch the celebration. The families and friends who are outside the Philippines, like in Indonesia, watched the celebration as well.
The celebration itself was simple, but everything was well-prepared. The liturgy committee provided the rites well and decorated the Chapel beautifully. The music ministry sang the songs very well; they also prepared new songs in Latin. The Art and Sport Committee made sure that the dining hall is well-decorated. The Kitchen Committee was taking-care of the food, special food for the celebration. Everybody was participating and there was great joy in the community.
Furthermore, the words of Fr. Charles Phukuta Khonde, CICM in his homily were so inspiring. He did not only encourage the graduates, who are going to their respective mission countries very soon but also to the whole community. It was a good reflection for the community to live a life in CICM way joyfully. In our journey as CICM, we could count the challenges, but the blessings are uncounted.
Going back to the insight of Debasish Mridha, in the midst of suffering due to Covid-19, AIFC-CICM community still has many reasons to be thanked in this year. The school year of 2019-2020 was beautiful, full of blessings, and plenty of achievements. Fourth teen young men are just passed through one stage of a long journey and they are ready to continue the mission in different cultures. It is a great achievement for the congregation and we should be grateful for it.
These fourth teen young missionaries start the mission by facing a huge challenge, Covid-19. However, in the beginning, our founder, Fr. Theophile Verbist had said “for those who love, nothing is difficult”. These powerful words are still very much relevant to our context today. Our founder and his companions had left us ahead, but their love and spirit are still burning, supporting us. Let us carry the mission together, putting it on our shoulder, and walking together.
Cor Unum et Anima Una.