Bukidnon youth leader: Pope offers inspiration to youth “attacked in all sides”

Shiela Lumambas, head of the Diocesan Youth Formators' Team of Malaybalay

Shiela Lumambas, head of the Diocesan Youth Formators’ Team of Malaybalay


MALAYBALAY CITY (BukidnonNews.Net/17 January) The youth of today’s generation are facing a lot of challenges in values and in faith, so they are looking at the Pope as an inspiration, as guide, said a youth formation leader from the Diocese of Malaybalay.

Shiela Lumambas, head of the youth formation core team of the Diocese of Malaybalay, said young people gravitate to Pope Francis because of his inspiring life and his messages that directly apply to the youth.

She added that according to surveys the population of young people are higher compared to other age groups in the country.

“It is just right that the young people should also benefit from the Pope’s pastoral visit,” she added.

The ratio of young people to the Philippine population, she added, makes them the main target of consumerism, one of the challenges that affect the life of young people.

“The challenge is for young people to be not only the future of the Church (and the country), but also its present,” she added.

She cited that Jay-ar Yabo, one of the members of the Bukidnon youth delegation, was picked to join a lunch with Pope Francis in Manila. Yabo is a volunteer teacher for a community school for indigenous peoples started by Fr. Conrado Casas in the San Francisco Javier parish in Kibangay, Lantapan, Bukidnon.

Lumambas, 23, and Yabo, are two of the 40 young people from Bukidnon who are joining the youth encounter with the Catholic pontiff on January 18 at the University of Sto. Tomas.

She said she wanted to hear the Pope directly about his message for “mercy and compassion” the theme of Pope Francis’ pastoral visit to the Philippines from January 15 to 19, this year, which comes 20 years after the visit of then Pope John Paul II in January 1995 for the World Youth Day. He was later canonized as a saint.

The Episcopal Commission on Youth allotted 60 slots for the delegation from the Malaybalay Diocesan Commission on Youth. But Lumambas said only 53 confirmed to attend due to “constrains.”

She said a common problem is the cost of transportation.

At a discounted price, she was able to buy a round-trip ticket from Laguindingan (Misamis Oriental) to Manila for P3,000 plus. But others were unable to avail of such rate.

She said many intended to attend because of the possibility of a free ride with the Philippine Air Force’s C-130 plane. But she noted that there was uncertainty on the availability of seats. They were initially asked to submit list of 15, then it was raised to 40. But there was no confirmation until it was too late, she said.

She confirmed that eventually only seven of their delegation intended to hitch a ride with the PAF at 6a.m. on January 1 but failed.

Lumambas was able to travel only to Manila on January 16. She was still able to attend the virtual welcome of San Isidro College for Pope Francis late afternoon on January 15.

Hundreds of students and faculty members cheered when they saw Bishop Jose Cabantan in the line up of bishops to welcome the Pope in Villamor Air Base. Cabantan told BukidnonNews.Net in a later text message that he was asked to be there as member of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ permanent council.

The bigger cheer came when the students saw beamed from satellite television the Pope emerged from the Sri Lankan plane that carried him. When the wind blew the pope’s skull cap and a part of his cassock covered his head, it drew a mix of worry and laughter in the crowd.

A mother and child walk past church-run radio station DXDB-AM around 11a.m. Saturday where a tarp bearing the image of Pope Francis hangs. The station airs live coverage of the mass in Tacloban City airport and other sorties of the Pope's visit in the country  BukidnonNews.Net photo by Walter I. Balane

A mother and child walks past church-run radio station DXDB-AM around 11a.m. Saturday where a tarp bearing the image of Pope Francis hangs. The station airs live coverage of the mass in Tacloban City airport and other sorties of the Pope’s visit in the country
BukidnonNews.Net photo by Walter I. Balane

Lumambas said the Bukidnon youth formation team has thirst for inspiration from Pope Francis especially because they were tasked to help in forming the youth in the diocese.

She said young people took the opportunity to travel to Manila for the youth encounter with the Pope because others need to travel abroad just to see him.

But then because it entails cost, they have to sacrifice.

When she learned of the slots for the youth in November 2014, Lumambas immediately cut her allowance to she can save for the trip to see the pope. She works as associate editor of the church-run Ang Bandilyo newspaper for her day job.

“It is an investment for young people, it is an opportunity I could not miss,” she added.

She added that she will also try to listen to the pope on how the youth can employ mercy and compassion in their work with young people. (Walter I. Balane/BukidnonNews.Net)