Priest wants faith stories of Marawi youth heard

Priest wants faith stories of Marawi youth heard

Despite crises and the challenges of living out the faith in a conflict area, the young people of Marawi continue to reach out to other young people. JUN MANDIN

By Mark Joy G. Basallajes

Feb. 7, 2019

Marawi City

The world should hear the faith stories of Marawi’s youth.

This is what Fr. Erdman Pandero, volunteer chaplain of Mindanao State University (MSU), shared during a recent interview with CBCP News.

“They are uniquely planted in a place where their faith is constantly shaken. The horror of war they saw and the agonies of the internally displaced are often unthinkable to most of the youth of the nation,” said the priest.

Living out their faith

Undaunted by threats, the youth of Marawi continue to thrive and live out their faith even in this most challenging circumstances, noted Pandero.

According to him, the youth of Marawi exemplify the core values being promoted in the Year of the Youth.

He explained how they are “beloved, gifted, empowered” based on this year’s celebration.

Beloved

Pandero said Marawi youth are beloved because “they share in the agony of the cross.”

“They are beloved because Jesus particularly offered them to Mary. Woman, here is your son! Son, here is your mother! They are beloved because they are under the protection of our dear mother. They are the living witness of the cross in a place torn by hatred, prejudice, and war,” he said.

According to him, the uncertainties that cloud them daily bring them closer to the cross even more.

Gifted

Also, the priest said they are some of the most gifted youth in the country.

“They use their voices to let other youth hear the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ. The community they built, notwithstanding the crisis around them, is clear proof of how gifted they are,” he said.

“Not only are they gifted but the most important thing is that they are of the very gifts they have. This awareness made them extend themselves to reaching out other youth like them. Though fear is real, they were never crippled by it. Instead, they use their fears, alongside their giftedness to become a beacon of light in the city of Marawi,” he added.

Empowered

Lastly, the witnessing of the cross empowers them, said Pandero, to reach out to other youth like them. The Marawi youth set aside their own fears to become a source of strength for others.

“The youth in Marawi are empowered to go out because they have seen the mystery of the cross and they have embraced it faithfully,” he said.

Pandero also shares his plans for the youth in Marawi during the Year of the the Youth, saying the group is scheduled to reach out to more young people through summer camps.

“They will articulate the core values from the lens of their experiences. We will bring them out of Marawi and let their voice be heard by the other youths. We will sign up for their attendance to DOPIM (Dipolog, Ozamis, Pagadian, Iligan, Marawi dioceses) and to the nationwide [youth] activities,” he said.