Alay Kapwa Sunday: Giving Sunday
“An Authentic faith always involves a deep desire to change the world”-Pope Francis (Photo courtesy of Fr. Edwin Gariguez)
“Sabi noong tatay malinaw po sa akin at sa aking mga anak na kahit galing sa basura yung aming kakainin ito ay tugon ng Diyos sa aming dasal na bigyan kami ng makakain sa pang araw-araw. (The father of the family told me, “It is clear to me and my children that even If we eat from the trash, this is God’s answer to our prayer to have food to eat in our everyday lives”).
-Fr. Jazz Siapco of Lipa, Batangas
I heard the above quotation at an Alay Kapwa launch in Tandag, Mindanao where all the church volunteers, workers and leaders from Mindanao gathered to plan and launch Alay Kapwa Sunday. Alay Kapwa launches are held in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao bringing together the faithful and religious to be one in action in service of the poor.
Fr. Jazz’s opening introduction after he visited some families eating some pagpag (food collected from the trash and cooked again) was very striking and provoking. The love and gratefulness of families who have so little that they have to scavenge amongst the trash for food contrasts so strongly with other families who have so much.
The work of the church, NGO’s, public and private sectors, countless organizations and individuals is to be able to bridge this gap by providing food and needs for our less fortunate brothers and sisters across the world. And so the spirit of Alay Kapwa was illustrated and emphasized by Fr. Jazz with his opening comments.
Every Palm Sunday is called Alay Kapwa Sunday when Catholic churches across the Philippines invite parishioners to give, share and be generous to those in need. The eighty five dioceses promote love and generosity, following the example of the “widow’s mite” in the Gospel. Although she had little to give she still gave what she could and this collectivegiving and generosity is what provides so much comfort and assistance to those most in need.
Alay Kapwa means offering (alay) to our neighbour (kapwa) both who we are and what we have and a sincere expression of our solidarity with the poor. As exemplified by Christ’s death on the cross, the offering of one’s self to others is the guiding spirit behind the Alay Kapwa program. All of us are called to share our love, time, talent and treasure. Click the link to get to know Alay Kapwa.
Pope Francis calls out that we are a Church for others and a Church for ALL in his Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, 25 a “For the Church, charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a central part of its nature, an indispensable expression of the Church’s very being.” ‘No one can demand that religion should be relegated to the inner sanctum of personal life, without any influence on social and national life.” The Pope emphasizes that being generous and giving unconditionally always goes in line with what being a Christian is all about.
Several NASSA/Caritas Philippines staff at the Alay Kapwa Launching in Tandag, Mindanao
During the Alay Kapwa launching it is an opportunity for all the stakeholders and Diocesan Social Action Centers (DSAC) Networks to gather together to work with collective action and unity in projects and programs. This photo is DAY 1 with the Eastern Visayas Social Action Network – composed of the Diocese of Naval, Catarman, Palo, Borongan, Calbayog (a.k.a. NACAPABORCA) (photo from: Levi Mones of Diocese of Boronggan)
All smiles and together in Social Action at the Luzon Alay Kapwa Launch held in San Pablo Laguna on April 3, 2017 (Photo Credit: Fr. Edwin Gariguez)
The local funds raised by each diocese are given to Alay Kapwa to allocate to the poorest of the poor, the least privileged and the lost. A certain percentage collected in the Diocese for Alay Kapwa is retained in the Diocese for emergency and relief operations, while the remaining percentage is divided for the Diocesan Social Action Center/Ministry and for CBCP-NASSA’s Alay Kapwa solidarity fund for Social Action work (works of mercy, development and justice/ advocacy) at the Diocesan and National levels. This is how the Church builds the social action fund for each diocese. The funds are used by each diocese to finance programs needing the most immediate attention. Such programs include education, health, justice and peace, community anddisaster response.
The Philippines has the support of the Catholic Church through NASSA/Caritas Philippines and/or the local diocese.They provide essential support, reaching out to serve and assist our brothers and sisters and ensure that they are cared for, especially when disasters strike such as typhoons or earthquakes.
The different diocesan priests and directors gather together in Alay Kapwa launches to work together on how they can further help the communities.
Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona (NASSA/Caritas Philippines National Director) in his homily stressed on the three “I” Inspiration (be inspired by remembering the life of Jesus), Immersion (Done in a complete time and space) and Involvement (be involve in the lives of people, we do not help in the position of power but with simplicity). He emphasized that it is a collective effort to help make things and other people’s lives easier, let’s facilitate those we serve.
A reflection shared by NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez at the Alay Kapwa Launch in Mindanao “People always ask, why did Jesus die, and the answer we always hear is to provide for our salvation with his great love for us. Or, as John 3:16 would say, “For God so loved the world He gave us his only son.
But Fr. Edwin emphasized that it is also important to note that Jesus died because of the way he lived. Our journey of being a Christian should always be linked with the way Jesus lived his life; defending others, thinking of the poor and serving our neighbour without counting the cost.
Alay Kapwa Sunday continues to remind us that Jesus is alive in many people’s hearts… we can always reach out to Him by giving ourselves to the poor, the needy and the hungry and thirsty. In its simplest sense, we can reach him by “loving our neighbour as ourselves“ and remembering always that “it is better to give than to receive”.
You can help and contribute to Alay Kapwa during the collection of Holy Mass on Palm Sunday or contact them at NASSA/Caritas Philippines.
May you have a blessed and meaningful Holy week this 2017 embracing the real reason for the season.