May 16, 2015, the most awaited day for all singles men and women for Christ in Oman to celebrate the 7th National Conference with the theme: “Love More” (John 21: 15-17).
The assembly in Ghala Parish Hall starts at 6:30am. Early bird registrant, sis Ana Marie Sera, was acknowledged. The rests of the SFC service team, SFC members and SFC plus participants followed in the registration to sign up their names and claim their SFC NATCON T-shirt and kit Most of the SFC registrants came from Muscat and followed by SFCs in Sohar. Breakfast was served and special thanks to HOLD members for preparing it. The celebration starts with the recitation of the Holy Rosary and simultaneously a pray over for the speakers and sharers have been offered. After the prayer, all were gathered and settled inside the parish hall to practice the praise songs together with SFC music ministry. The official hosts and master of ceremonies were Sis Carolyne and Bro.Donnie. They generally keep the event moving by their jokes and good communication skills and talents in entertaining the crowd. An awesome opening dance number was done by SFC production team and participated mostly by SFC Nurses. It draws the attention of each attendee. All were dancing for the Lord and sharing their talents to the fullest. The opening remarks were effectively delivered with ease by Tito Chong Zamora, CFC-SFC National Coordinator. Thereafter, an opening praise fest was held by Bro. Cyrus Garay, SFC NATCON Team Head and HH Leader. He cited from Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” Together we praised and worshipped Christ as we sang these songs “I Know”, “All For You”, and “Hallelujah” Session I: “We Have Caught Nothing” was given by Tita Mil Zamora, CFC-SFC National Coordinator. It was highlighted that victory was won when Jesus resurrected from the dead and we are Easter people. We have experienced for ourselves the outpouring victories of God in our life as an SFC ministry. The SFC victories as stressed are as follows:
- a) Evangelization.
- b) Family and friends.
- c) Source of income.
- d) 3T’s: Time, Talent, and Treasures.
- e) Service in the SFC Ministry.
- f) Vocation of God’s Gift (GG), the ability to love and be loved.
- g) Greatest gift: growing relationship with the Lord.
Yet even though Christ’s apostles have witnessed and experienced themselves that Jesus is alive, they decided and chose to go back fishing. There are two possible reasons:
- a) To go back to their old lives. Just like the apostles, we also despair, experienced guilt and shame, confused, and have fears.
- b) It is one of the things they knew and did well.
We sometimes think of what we are doing now is already enough and the best but actually we lose sight of what is essential and end up empty. More emphasis was given on “Carrying Empty Nets.” Empty nets are areas in our lives that remain to be lacking or unproductive despite all of our skills, talents, and efforts. We were given these following guide questions to reflect on: Why do we have empty nets?
- a) Our nets may have holes. We are still in the bandage of sin.
- b) Our nets may not be strong enough. Our weak faith will always lead us an empty net.
- c) Our nets may have been cast on the “wrong side”. We sometimes think we know better. Our pride obstructs our view of God’s beautiful plan for us.
- d) Our nets may not have been used at all. Our nets could be empty because we did not use it at all. In disobedience, it was not cast into the “sea to catch fish” which is its purpose.
In our victories and emptiness, let us always remember to humble down ourselves. Let us all remember and realize that we are inadequate ourselves. We are nothing without God’s grace. We need HIM either in our victories or emptiness. Let us always be grateful for and acknowledge His grace and presence all the time!
After each session there were sharers. The first sharer in Session 1 was Bro. Chino Cayabyab, SFC Member. He states that: “I am happy now that I am able to integrate my talent through SFC activities and grateful that the leaders have given me the opportunity to have this freedom of expression and to explore my creativity.” Second sharer was Sis Mary Jo Martinez, SFC Unit Leader. She said in her sharing, “I don’t know how to convince my family about my service in the community, but I pushed forward in serving because I know there is HOPE. I am standing here not because I am faithful to God but because He is faithful in all of us! Let us continue to pray for our family because it is the core where we first experience love.
” Session 2: “It Is The Lord!” (John 21:6-13), was deliberately given by Bro. Jojerry Mercado, CFC-SFC ME Fulltime Pastoral Worker. It is the Lord who is the most priceless gift in our lives. Because of His presence, He brings forth these things into our lives:
- a) Abundant grace. Grace has two types. First, the actual grace that is extrinsic to the soul and an impulse to do well or avoid evil. Second, the sanctifying grace that is intrinsic to the soul or inner disposition within us to live with God and act by His love.
“We too are being given the daily grace to recognize God’s constant presence in both the victories and challenges of our lives. Just like John, may this grace lead us to recognize that it is the Lord.” (John 21:7)
- b) Rich mercy and compassion. Jesus’ way of expressing to us that His Mercy of Forgiveness and Reconciliation is greater than all our sins and insincerity.
“Jesus constantly invites too to this meal through the Sacrament of the Eucharist.” (John 21:9-12)
- c) Overflowing love. More than words Jesus demonstrated His unconditional love through action by His Forgiveness, Sacrifices, and Redemption.
“Jesus continues to demonstrate this for us too through the Sacrament of Penance.” (John 21:13)
Our constant response to God’s abundant grace, rich mercy and compassion, and overflowing love is GRATITUDE. “Thank you, Lord!” is the only prayer in our lives that suffice everything. Live everyday with gratitude for it is the root of our joy and happiness in our lives.
Session 2 first sharer was Shariece Anne Cadano, SFC member and SFC Music Ministry. She may not be a professional singer but for her being a part of SFC Oman Music Ministry is a breakthrough. She said, “It is not only a road to fame but to heaven.”
Before Session 2 ends, as part of the reflection process, we headed to the adoration chapel to adore, praise and worship our God. A short prayer, songs, and personal intentions have been offered.
Session 3: “Do You Love Me?” was passionately conducted by Bro. Er-Er Abringe, CFC-SFC ME Fulltime Missionary. It was clearly stated in session 3 when Jesus asked Simon. Peter this question: “Do you love Me?” and Simon. Peter answered: “Lord, You know everything, You know that I love You.” (John 21:15-17). We were asked to reflect deeply on this question: If you are asked of the same question by Jesus, would be your response the same or different from what Simon Peter had answered? We are deeply rooted into sin and just like in the restoration of Peter, Jesus allowed him to experience the joy-producing sorrow. Peter knows he is unworthy of God’s love because of his sinfulness but because of God’s love and salvation he was restored by letting him realized it all and of his great need to seek and desire the love and salvation of God. God wants us to realize that in our wretchedness, He is still there for us. We are not alone. He is there to love and save us.
Through the years, God has proven His love to each one of us. He wants us to profess our love to Him in return. Our response would only have two options. It is either YES or NO. No more in-betweens. If we choose NO, we will miss out the chance to experience the fullness of life but if we choose YES, we must prepare ourselves in life of abundance and fullness.
Our commitment to Christ was sealed during our Baptism. It is the time when we say, “Yes” to the Lord. When we say YES to the Lord, it means to reject Satan and all of his works, to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, and to participate in the mission of Jesus.
Vehemently, like Simon Peter, may we find the audacity and motivation to say, “Yes” to the Lord, anytime! And echo back it into our lives and to others as well.
Session 4: “Love More”. The gist of the National Conference was successfully delivered by Bro. Ace Lu, CFC-SFC Metro Manila Fulltime Pastoral Worker. The Lord tells us to love Him above all else. Jesus had a three-fold command to Peter’s declaration of love for Him. First, Jesus said, “Feed my lamb”. Second, Jesus said, “Tend my sheep.” Third, Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” These are different from each other but it conveys only one message: the call of God to Simon Peter and us to love and care for His people. The Lord’s sheep are the people. These are the people who are in most need of God’s love. There are three main groups of people as mentioned who should benefit in the New Evangelization:
- a) Those who know Christ but have grown timid.
- b) Those who lack meaningful relationship with the Church.
- c) Those who do not know Jesus and have always rejected Him.
These people may not be too far from us to be recognized and reached out. There is a need from us to open our eyes and be vigilant to identify them. These people could be our family, brothers and sisters in the community, and the poor who needs to know Christ.
Jesus motivates and encourages us to take care of each other especially the people whom we could bring closer to HIM. Jesus wants us to take care of them by being more: forgiving, present, of service, and ready to sacrifice. It is a great challenge for all of us in order to live out the theme “Love More”.
God is the only source of great love in our lives. It is His love that inspires us and directs us to proclaim His greatness and great love to others.
Session 4 ends up with two sharers. The first sharer was Sis Lilybeth Rodriguez, SFC Oman Unit 2 Leader. She states that, “Who am I to say no to God? It is about time to step up and return all God’s favor by serving in the community.” Second sharer was Sis Ana Marie Sera, SFC Oman Household Head. She shared that she graduated in Christian Life Program with an extra pound and a big heart. In SFC, she observed that the SFC Heads don’t stand high to lead but they are the one serving the members. Ana said, “They taught me to become a humble servant leader just like Jesus.”
In between sessions, there were freebies and acknowledgement given. Four free MEC registration coupons were given away by unknown sponsor. Those who have stickers under their chairs received assorted freebies, early bird, and most number SFC plus invites were acknowledged with tokens. After session 2, lunch was served. Afternoon praise and worship was led by Bro. Harvey Obana, SFC Oman Household Head. SFC Hurrah as SFC Chant and dance craze were presented by SFC Dance Ministry after Session 3. All were encouraged to stand and follow their moves and chant all for the glory of God! And lastly, the National Conference wouldn’t be ending without the closing praise fest by Bro. Donnie Aquino, SFC Member.
SFC-Oman 7th National Conference was organized successfully and thanks to SFC production team, to all SFC leaders and members, and CFC-SFC Coordinators who have done their best to make this event with the Lord a memorable one.
We ended up with an overwhelming joy and love in our hearts and with an inspiration to evangelize God’s love and love more.
by: Sis Grace Demegillo
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