(Sylvester Saladaga, Alphonse Thai, Vijay Marneni, Daniele Mazza, Pedro Tomaseli and Rupak Lokhande)
The parable of the prodigal son emphasizes the aspect of hope. Hope that does not lead the prodigal son to despair, but rather to a longing to return back to his father. This virtue of hope is indeed a defining factor of a Christian. Our apostolate at Seagull Drug de-addiction and rehabilitation center has been a further affirmation of this Christian Hope that all are called to.
The Seagull center is located in Tagaytay at about 20 minutes drive from our seminary. Here you can see people of different age groups and from different walks of life making a sincere effort at kicking the habit and abuse of drugs. Presently there are 20 residents at the center for the one-year programme. The staff and the faculty provide ample of opportunities for the residents so as to enable them to come out of their addiction and to prepare them to be reinserted in to their social milieu as responsible members of the society.
The PIME seminary complements the program by providing for the pastoral and the Catechetical needs of the residents at the center. We are six seminarians actively involved in the apostolate at the Seagulls Center. The aim of our apostolate is to clarify and help appreciate the call to Christian discipleship and the values that are an integral part of this call and to help the residents in their pastoral needs. This aim is realized in all our activities at the centre. We spend Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning at the centre. The Saturday afternoon is a time where we share our experiences and conduct sessions. Since the six of us come from five different countries we have many varied and diverse experiences to share, this is a further enrichment in our apostolate. Bible sharing, sharing about lives of saints, sessions on prayer and Christian living, and Choir practice are all a part of our Saturday afternoon apostolate. Christian discipleship is a call to love, with this in mind we have started an outreach program at the center by which some of the residents can visit the San Riccardo Pampuri center for handicapped children every Saturday and spend the afternoon with the children there.
We are further encouraged in our apostolate by Fr.Sergio Fossati our Rector and by Fr.Sergio Ticcozzi, our spiritual director, by their active participation in all the programs. They accompany us every Sunday and celebrate the Eucharist at the Seagulls center. The prayerful celebration of the Eucharist is indeed a time of renewal for all those at the center; many family members of the residents join in this celebration. Together with Frs. Fossati and Ticozzi we have been able to organize recollections and visits for the residents at our seminary. The preparation that precedes all these activities helps us to identify with our future role as pastors.
Our apostolate opens a window for us on yet another facet of life where people are lonely and rejected. We are further informed and can appreciate better the need to be healers that, is required of every Christian disciple. We feel enriched by the experiences shared with us by the residents and are encouraged to nurture the value of availability. The invitation of Christ to become the carriers of hope to all, is indeed the motivation and the final goal of our apostolate.