A HISTORY OF TEAMS IN CEBU, PHILIPPINES
The first team formed in Cebu in 2000 under the founding guidance of Fr Jose Burgues, the Piarist Fathers Vice-Provincial Superior of the Philippines and Japan
The Cebu Sector celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2010 by which time the Cebu Sector was well-established
The Cebu Sector has developed a strong committee structure with committees responsible for Finances, Communication, Expansion, Documentation and Marketing, Programs and Religious activities.
The Sector has a rich annual program of activities, incl. the Lenten Recollection, Family Fun Day, Weekend Couples Retreat, Charter Mass and Commissioning of Responsible Couples, Information Day, Formation Day, Advent Recollection and Christmas Gathering.
The Cebu Sector has become increasingly supportive of the Piarist parish community through very active participation in preparing liturgies for regular weekly Sunday Mass, special feast day celebrations and the ordination of Piarist priests.
Teachers from the Sandhurst Diocese of Victoria (Australia) visited the Cebu Sector over 5 years as part of their cultural awareness program – from 2012 to 2016.
Leadership and Formation programs for team members were implemented in Cebu by the Oceania Regional Team in 2006 and 2016.
There have been regular visits from members of the International Responsible Team – in 2002, 2005, 2008 and 2009.
The Piarist Fathers have been very supportive of the teams in Cebu by being active Spiritual advisors and encouraging team members in all their team activities.
The Oceania Region brought members of the Sector Team to Australia to attend Oceania Regional Conferences and Formation activities in 2001, 2008, 2017 and 2019.
Three of the Spiritual advisors and two of the Sector Couples attended an International Teams Gathering in either Lourdes, Rome or Fatima.
Sue and Adrian Fordham (Liaison Couple for the Philippines)
We have been in Teams in Canberra since 1984 and, on behalf of the Oceania Regional Team, the Liaison Couple for the Philippines since 2003.
Liaison for us is an important part of Team life and a great way of contributing to the Team life of other members. Since 2003 we have been fortunate for the opportunity on two occasions to visit the Teams in Cebu, where Teams in the Philippines is concentrated. During both these fortnight-long formation visits, the mutual benefits associated with liaison were always at the forefront. We were able to inform Cebuano Team members about the range of activities that characterised Team life in Australia – such as our annual Charter Mass, Formation activities, Sector retreats, the role of ‘home-grown’ liturgy in Team meetings and approaches to annual planning.
We ourselves have gained so much from our liaison responsibilities. Over this time, as our friendships have deepened with members of the Cebu Sector so too has our understanding of family, social and work life in the Philippines and the Filipino culture. In many ways we ourselves have benefited more from our opportunity to liaise with the Cebu Sector and remain indebted to all Cebu Team members.
We would thoroughly encourage other couples to accept liaison responsibilities with Teams in both isolated regions and elsewhere in Australia. It is an exciting and valuable experience, and an essential part of Team life.
The Beginning of Teams in Cebu
Fr. Jose Burgues, Schp., a Spanish superior of the Piarist Fathers, who had been involved with the Teams of Our Lady Movement in France and Spain was, in 1997, was assigned as Vice-Provincial Superior to the new Piarist Formation House in Guadalupe, Cebu City, Philippines. The Calasanz Cultural Center, a Piarist education foundation, had been previously established by the Piarist Fathers to widen the charism of the Piarist Order in the area. This center was primarily geared towards the education of the young children and then widened its charism to also include the education of the youth and adults of the community. Parallel to this objective, Fr. Jose thought that it would be helpful to offer the married spirituality of Teams to the married couples of the neighborhood.
The Early Years 2000-2002
2000 The first team was created with couples who lived and worked locally in the area, with Fr. Jose as the Spiritual advisor and using Piloting material sent from Australia.
2001 The second team, the ‘Seafarers’ Team, was formed with couples whose husbands are sea faring men and are away for much of the year. Fr. Jose Burgues was also the Spiritual adviser for Team 2. In June Leleth and Troy Sorono, the couple responsible for distance liaison with Australia, attended the Millgrove Formation Weekend in Australia. They also travelled to Adelaide to spend time with the South Australian Region and Margaret and Denis Toohey who were then responsible for liaison between Teams in Australia and Teams in Cebu.
Consolidating the Cebu Sector 2004- 2010
The third team was formed, also with the neighboring couples and with Fr. Miroslav ‘Merek’ Wojyda as Spiritual advisor. Elaine and John Cogavin, from the International Leading Team, ERI, visited the Philippines and spent time with the Team members in Cebu.
Liaison responsibilities between Cebu and Australian Teams were transferred to the ACT/NSW Region, when the South Australian Region accepted other liaison responsibilities within Australia. Leleth and Troy Sorono, the first Sector Couple for the Cebu teams, attended the first International Gathering of the worldwide Teams Regional Responsible Couples held in Rome.
Fr. Jose’s team in France provided financial support to assist the Mission Project for the growth and expansion of Teams in Cebu. Leleth and Troy, the first sector couple of Teams-Cebu, accepted the role as Mission Project coordinator couple. Leleth attended a series of required training sessions in missionary work within the Cebu Diocese prior to being given official status to be able to visit parishes to promote the Teams Movement. At the time there was the hope of creating new teams in Cebu parishes and to gain recognition and credibility of the Teams of Our Lady within the official Cebu church structure. Several attempts by the Cebu Teams couples were made to establish Teams in Cebu and Mindanao but were unsuccessful.
The fourth team was established with Bro. Dodong Cantilang as Spiritual advisor following the hard work of Muyen and Edlin De Los Reyes when they took over as the new Sector couple. To promote the Teams they had knocked on the doors of their fellow parents of the Calasanz Day Care Center which their son was attending. Elaine and John Cogavin, representing the International Teams Movement, visited the Philippines again and officially met with church officials in Cebu City, Manila and Zamboanga. After their visit a new team in Zamboanga, in Mindanao, with the support of Fr. Bitoy, a Claretian priest, began being piloted from Cebu using distance piloting material provided by the Cogavins.
The liaison couple, Sue and Adrian Fordham, visited Cebu to provide a Formation program to the Teams members which was modelled on the 2006 ERI Sector Pastoral Plan. Their visit was an important stimulant for the four teams in Cebu. Newly ordained Fr. Dodong represented the Cebu Teams Sector at the International Gathering of Teams and the Formation Program in Lourdes. The tradition of the Annual Charter Mass celebration was established for the first time in September, the month of Mother Mary’s birthday, along with the commissioning of the new Responsible Couples.
Fr. Jose Burgues left the Philippines for another assignment in Florida, USA, and he appointed another Piarist priest, this time, a Filipino, Fr. Canisius ‘Dodong’ Cantilang, the Spiritual adviser for Team 1, to also be Spiritual advisor for the Sector Team. Fr Jose was replaced by Fr Miguel Artola as the Vice-Provincial Superior of the Philippines and Japan. Fr Miguel quickly learnt the importance of Teams for the growth of spirituality among married couples in the local Piarist parish community and since then has strongly supported the teams. The remote piloting of the Zamboangan Team was ceased as Fr. Bitoy had been assigned another posting, the new priest had no knowledge of the Teams Movement and the couples were not meeting on a regular basis. The Cebu Sector Team was now meeting four times a year.
Muyen and Edlin De Los Reyes, the Cebu Sector Couple, attended the Oceania Teams Gathering in Canberra, Australia. This experience deepened their understanding of the teams Movement and the bonds between the Cebu Sector and the Oceania Teams Region. Fr. Raju Antony, an Indian Piarist priest, was now with Team 1, Fr. Dennis Descallar Team 2, Fr.Miroslaw ‘Mirek’ Woyda Team 3 and Fr. Dodong with Team 4 continued as the Sector Team Spiritual advisor. Elaine and John Cogavin again visited the Cebu Teams Sector and the diocese of Manila representing the International Teams Movement. This was Elaine and John’s third visit on behalf of the ERI to Cebu.
2009 Jan and Peter Ralton, from the International Leading Team, visited Cebu where they spent time in Formation with the Cebu Team members and in discussion on the possible future development of Teams in the Philippines. They then flew to Manila where they hoped to explain the Charism of the International Teams Movement to religious orders other than the Piarist Order. Bebie and Jimmy Suico accepted the role as the new Sector Couple for the Cebu Teams.
Ten Years and Going Strong
On September 5th, at the Annual Charter Mass and Formation Day, the Cebu Teams celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Teams Movement in Cebu City with full attendance and participation of all team members. The day was filled with Team-building presentations and many informative games for team members and the teachers and parents of the Piarist school children. By now the Cebu Sector was firmly established and the first of the Cebu Teams Annual reports was written for the Oceania Annual END newsletter.
Fr. Dodong left Cebu for another assignment and the new Piarist Vice Provincial, Fr. Miguel Artola, requested the newly assigned Piarist priest Fr. Francis Mosende to be the new Spiritual advisor for the Cebu Teams Sector with Bebie and Jimmy Suico recommitting to be the Cebu Sector Couple. After a very successful Charter Mass celebration day Team 5 was formed, composed of young couples who were previous youth members of the Calasanz Cultural Center. The new team was piloted by Muyen and Edlin De Los Reyes. In December the Cebu Team members, along with their children, enjoyed a wonderful Christmas party at a local orphanage where the children were treated to special foods, fun, games and individual gifts from the children of the Team members.
In September the first of five yearly visits of early career teachers from the Sandhurst Diocese in Bendigo, Australia, took place. The visiting teachers met in fellowship with the teachers from the Piarist school, followed by lunch hosted by the team members along with much fun of parlor games and dance. The new Sector Couple – Yengyeng & Junjun Sarigumba – were elected and steered the Teams for the next three years. As numbers were now low in Teams 2 and 4 they were merged to form one team.
The Cebu Teams annual organizational committees were formed, and a Cebu Teams Facebook Page was developed. A Teams sponsored monthly Sunday Mass became a permanent feature for the Piarist parish community and the Sandhurst teachers visited again, this time with a gift of a monetary donation for training and workshops for less fortunate children living in the Piarist community.
Another busy year of all the Teams regular annual activities also involving the team members taking responsibility for the floral arrangements at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the ordination of three Piarist priests and deacons including Fr. Rommel Dupang, one of the Team Spiritual advisors.
Fr. Rommel Dupang is the Spiritual advisor with Team 3, Fr. Abundio Noel Libot with Team 2/4 and now also the Spiritual advisor to the Sector Team. Cebu Teams welcomed the French Super- Regional Couple, Therese and Antoine Leclerc, who with their family, visited the Cebu Sector on behalf of the International Responsible Team. Fr. Raju Antony, now the Spiritual advisor with the new Team 5, was able to attend the Teams International Gathering of Regional Couples in Rome. It was a good opportunity for him to get acquainted with the life of the International Teams Movement and at the Formation Day Fr. Raju shared his experiences from the Gathering and his deeper understanding of the worldwide Teams Movement. In September at the annual Charter Mass celebration Adrienne and Enan Laviste, members of the younger Team 5, accepted their new role as the Cebu Sector Couple. In December the team members arranged for forty of the least privileged families in the neighborhood to enjoy special Christmas caroling by the Cebu team members along with gifts of food for their Christmas celebration.
Sue and Adrian Fordham, the Cebu Liaison Couple, returned to Cebu, ten years after their first visit and this time with Faye and Kevin Noonan, the Oceania Regional Couple. Together they presented a Formation and Development program modelled on the ERI pastoral Sector Plan used in the first formation visit, along with a ten year-on review and planning session. Their visit gave the Cebu members a renewed enthusiasm and commitment to the Teams Movement particularly in mentoring the new and very young sector couple, Adrienne and Enan Laviste. The Sandhurst early career teachers were hosted for their fifth year where they again enjoyed a fellowship lunch, games and laughter. A highlight for the year was the first-ever Teams couple live-in the weekend retreat where the Teams members were enlightened by the words and personal experiences of the retreat presenter which they found very interesting and life changing. It was also a perfect time for the couples to enjoy their togetherness away from the children which seldom happens.
Fr. Cris Cagabcab, now the Sector Team Spiritual advisor and the Sector Couple, Adrienne and Enan Laviste, attended the Oceania Teams Gathering in Brisbane, Australia, where they gave a presentation on life in Cebu, both in Teams, everyday work and family life. After the weekend gathering there was a Cebu Sector review meeting with Chris and John Dighton, the Oceania Regional Couple, and Helena and Paul McCloskey from the International Leading Team. Then a week of Formation sessions in Canberra were followed with a combined Team meeting in Sydney. Adrienne and Enan gained a wider view and a deeper understanding of life in the Teams Movement and a valuable learning on growth in the relationship of the couple and reaching out to others. Teams couples joined the Piarists in celebrating the special occasion of the 400th anniversary of St. Joseph Calasanz, the founder of the Piarist fathers. Fr. Raju who was leaving for his new position in the Piarist Community in Japan was thanked and given a farewell party.
Muyen and Edlin De Los Reyes and Fr. Cris Cagabcab were granted visas to travel to the International Teams Gathering and the associated Formation Program in Fatima. Through their interactions with Teams couples from many countries they learnt greatly about the breadth and ideas of the Teams Movement worldwide which they could apply back in the Cebu Sector. The Cebu Teams IT capability was upgraded on a cost-shared basis between the Cebu Sector’s funds and ERI funds held by Oceania, with the purchase of a laptop and data projector for use in Formation and Expansion activities. Each team of the four teams is now responsible for sponsoring and organizing the readings, hymns and liturgy for one Sunday Mass per month in the Piarist community. Cherrilyn and Emil Pugosa and Genna and Butch Redulla accepted a shared role as the new Cebu Sector Couples. During 2018, responsibility for liaison between the Cebu Sector and the Oceania Region transferred from the ACT/NSW Region to the Oceania Regional Team.
2019 Fr. Francis Mosende once again became the Spiritual advisor to the Cebu Sector Team. Bebie and Jimmy Suico and Maria Elma and Frederick Tan were granted Australian visas and travelled to Melbourne and Adelaide for the 2019 Oceania Leadership and Formation Program and associated Team meetings. They experienced education and training sessions and workshops, exchange of experiences and shared understandings, time spent in prayer and reflection, and the gaining of information about the Teams Movement’s guidelines for the coming years. There was also time in discussion regarding the work and plans of the Cebu Expansion Team for the coming year.
February was the 20th Anniversary of the Teams Movement in Cebu. Team members, along with the Piarist priests and brothers, enjoyed a fun-filled celebration of their big anniversary on 14th February, Valentine’s Day, adding a whole new dimension to what constitutes Filipino Team life.
The venue was set up with celebratory decorations, lighting, and music to create a romantic Valentine ambience. A video presentation was also prepared of the life of a Filipino couple from courtship until old age using photos of the Team members and their families. The special dinner was accompanied by an inspiring message from Fr. Mark, love songs from the Piarists and couples and much dancing by all the Team members.