In 1987, the Diocese of San Jose de Nueva Ecija, through its Most Reverend Bishop Leo M. Drona commissioned the Director of the Diocesan Social Action Center, Rev. Fr. Cesar C. Vergara to formulate an integrated development program that would address the needs of the poor. This was the start of Gratia Plena Social Action Center (SAC-GP) which was mandated to make significant contributions to the upliftment of the social, political, economic, and spiritual condition of the population covered by the Diocese.
The vision statement of the Church of the Diocese of San Jose is a "believing and witnessing community of diverse calling, charism, culture and social status; being transformed into a caring and sharing community, based on justice, love, and harmony with God's creation. The Church also have arrived at unanimous decision that the concretization of this vision is by proclaiming the good news, sanctifying and serving God's people, and building small human/Christian ecclesial communities whose members know one another, care for one another and share another in Christ, the Risen Lord."
The mandate of SAC-GP requires its program to be holistic in approach. Formation and strengthening of Christian values through spiritual activities and evangelization is a major concern. There are five fundamental values expected to be strengthened and these are the value for life, solidarity, responsibility, freedom, and love for all creation. Aside from this aspect, SAC-GP implements programs in the following areas as well:
In all these areas, education is the vital means of implementation. It includes training and seminars, field demonstration/testing/exposure and for SAC-GP's personnel, staff development.
People empowerment starts when the intended beneficiaries themselves have a hand in the identification, planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of their own projects. Thus, the program practices the participatory approach to development in order for SAC-GP to build together with the poor a cycle of growth and empowerment that gives value to human worth, dignity and freedom.
The organizational foundation of the People’s Organizations (POs) is the “Damayang Kristiyano” which are subgroups of the POs consisting of six to twelve members. A POs is made up from one to 15 damayans, depending on the number of members.
Their meetings involve three areas of communication. The process starts with sharing of recent personal experience of the members in relation to their family and society. After this sharing session comes the prayer life part. A period of guided prayer is provided during the meeting and the experiences are shared with the group. The third is the business agenda part. All topics and concerns related to the organizations, the damayan and membership participation and activities are raised in this part.
Integration of all developmental and transformational efforts was made in this approach. Activities such as reflections, paradigm shifts, prayers, and awareness exercises were the processed to deepen the five fundamental values mentioned. Guided processes in experiencing God's Love and forgiveness, the human response to His call, in social and spiritual reconciliation, and in structured learning experiences that placed emphasis in the deepening of values were part of the methods used to facilitate the integration of the spiritual life.
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