Life is a matter of choices. I don’t believe that our stories are already written by fate and instead, we make our own fate by making decisions on how to handle our own lives. I am not born to be an introvert. I am not born to have an alter ego. I am not born to love animals and dogs the way I love them now and I am not born to be who I am today. I chose to be me and I’ve chosen this path based on experiences and decisions in life I have made in the past.
Today, I’m going to tell a story about my experience of being a Lycamer. The best decision I have ever made in my life so far.
WHAT IS A LYCAMER?
The term Lycamer is an abbreviation for Lyceum Campus Ministry Student Volunteers. Ministry on Campus wasn’t exactly a school organization. It was the Archdiocese of Manila who offers to send missionaries to schools and universities to minister the masses and form a Campus Ministry on their own with student volunteers who are willing to spend time and effort to help the community give spiritual services to students and faculty members of that particular school. Again, it was not by fate that I’ve become one of those volunteers, I chose to be one.
JOINING CAMPUS MINISTRY
I’ve joined and become a part of Campus Ministry in a unique and unusual way. I remember, I was still a freshmen back then and It was a clear sunny afternoon after our class. I was about to meet someone outside LPU but unfortunately, I left my phone which made it hard for us to communicate so I just decided to go back in and overheard the mass going on inside the chapel. I entered but it was already on the part where the priest was giving his final blessing. After the mass, I greeted the priest -it was our university chaplain, Fr. Clemente Moreira FDCC– and asked him when are masses usually held but he just looked at me as if he didn’t understand what I was saying so a student volunteer named Christine (Tintin), talked to me and answered my questions and asked me if I’d want to volunteer.. In a split second of thoughts that I need to make new friends and I have a lot of spare time, I said Yes. The ‘Yes‘ I’ll never regret that I have said. So that’s how my journey as a Lycamer started.
THE START OF MY LYCAMIN JOURNEY
I met our lone campus minister Bro. Mezeal who scheduled me for an orientation the next school day together with Edmond, another aspiring volunteer whom I’ve befriended beforehand. Brother welcomed me to the community with open arms. At first, I thought he was strict and serious but after a few weeks being with him, I realized he was a kind-hearted man who always thinks about what was good for his volunteers and was very committed with his job as our big brother. I invited some of my blockmates to join me, and even though they insisted, I still go through with my plan to volunteer. I could still remember the atmosphere at CM back then, volunteers are very welcoming but most of them are in serious mode. I had to admit I had difficulty adjusting there at first but I did manage to make a few friends, Edmond together with cousins Anjelu and Caithlyn were my first pals out there, we go out and eat street foods before going home together. Anjelu always teases me ‘baby‘ for being the youngest volunteer back then, I could only recall a few times she called me by my name. I started to serve as a part time lector and my job mostly was to distribute the mass booklets and collect them after the mass. Most of my free time was also spent staying at our office just having conversations with brother or other volunteers. I really enjoyed my first sem as I slowly learned the jobs of a student volunteer and how to be an effective one.
THE HARD TIMES
Time flies much faster as a campus ministry volunteer than how it really was. Once I was the new volunteer who everyone approaches, then after just a semester, I’m already one of the older ones. There came a time that maybe less than ten active people repeatedly serve every mass due to volunteers just disappearing and when the new volunteers come, I kind of got left behind. I still expect them to come and approach me just like how things go when I was new which I just couldn’t control being that I’m not too good in words or starting conversations. I should say that was the hardest and most critical time in my journey. More new volunteers come, My closest friends were either gone or is busy. Edmond transferred school while Anj and Caith hardly spends time there anymore. Still, I kept committed and waited for the time I can finally get over the hump. It was also the time I got closer with Bro. Mezeal since he’s one of the few people who are still there. We used to eat together and talk about alot of stuff when I took summer classes where there are no other volunteers who visit by that time. The next year started and I got back to being unable to adjust to the fast changing atmosphere in the LPU Campus Ministry.
YUP PEACE LEADERSHIP TRAINING
After being out of the circle for a few weeks, something changed after I was chosen to be a participant in a leadership training called Yup Peace. It was a 5 day retreat I’ve attended together with Gino, Adrian, Racel and Ange as Lycamin (Lyceum Campus Ministry) Representatives for Batch 15. I couldn’t really say that I have adjusted very well there but I’ve made sure to maximize the opportunity to get to know myself more and make some new friends including Shanen and Roman. That particular moment made me realize a lot of things in life and have boosted my confidence to express myself. It was life changing and after that I’ve come to the point of my life where I was closest to God and my faith was at the highest degree. It couldn’t have come at a better time considering my problems with my service to CM and that I just recently broke up with my ex-girlfriend before it came. Everything just went well after Yup Peace. I appreciated life and people more and become better at my service while solving all issues with it. There were still struggles, up and downs but that point just basically cemented my place and commitment as a volunteer.
THE PEAK OF MY SERVICE
I started to explore other ministries including being an altar sever, something I have wished to do going back at highschool. The community grew even more and I participated in more events and activities. Baccalaureate masses, the Ka-Talk and most memorably, Papal Visit back in 2015. It was happy. I embraced Lycamin as my second family. Soon Mariel, Duanne and Lorraine came, some of my closest friends until now and we also had an additional minister with Sister Afra. People still come and go, some transferred, some graduated while some just uhm, disappeared. But me, I chose to stay through thick and thin.
It wasn’t though ’til halfway my third year that I’ve realized my real purpose being a volunteer. I have alredy noticed I am not your typical Lycamer. I am not good at singing to be a choir member, I do not have superb reading or altar serving skills, I am not outgoing like most of them nor am as religious as everyone else but I have a good heart, the best gift CM had given me and I wanted to share it with other people, particularly new volunteers since it was also other volunteers who have shown me the way and influenced me to be who I am. Caithlyn showed me commitment and pursuing your passion. She basically was my inspiration to volunteer at PAWS since I love animals. Gino showed me how to be a real gentlemen and to be pure in heart by the means of being humble. He taught me to be a good kuya and finally, Reg showed me how to love God and other people I do not even know. Then I see the pattern, I don’t need to be good in something particular to be productive, I just need to include myself in the cycle of volunteers helping other volunteers reach their full potential.
MY FINAL YEAR
Finally, it was the final year of my volunteering days as a Lycamer. My classmates Dale and Inno had joined even though they’re not as active and passionate as I am, I am happy I somehow influenced them to serve. I had so many personal problems and was so busy to find enough time to fulfill my duties. Still, I chose to stay. It was only back then when I realized what calling it a second ‘Home‘ really means. I may not be there as much as I have the first three years but everytime I am, it was just.. comforting. It is also the time I’ve become a full-pledged kuya to everyone. Hannah, Nicole, France, Chester, Fatima and others came and I was there to treat them as younger brothers and sisters. I taught them things they need to learn and realize in order to survive life as a volunteer and I really hope somehow I’ve succeeded in my mission. A few weeks before my graduation, it started to sink in that my time to go has come.
I really poured in everything for my last few services. I attended almost every mass and event including the last retreat at Tagaytay. I know I’d be really busy to catch up with the friends I’d left behind so I spent time with them. A couple of months ago, my time finally ended with the baccalaureate mass of Batch 2017, my 4th and 5th as a student volunteer. The whole community prepared a tribute for us, I say it was not as successful as the past graduates’ tributes (Because I prepared for those and I have a really high standard Lol) as most of the graduates are absent. They gave me Lyka, a cactus plant as a remembrance. Sadly, Lyka passed away a few days earlier due to snail attacks 😦 but memories of her and the whole Lycamin family stays alive in my heart. I really wished to have received farewell letters from my co-volunteers but well, I’m just grateful for their efforts to thank me for my service to CM.
Being a Lycamer taught me life lessons and also, it opened alot of doors for me, the door to serve at PAWS, the door to The Feast, the door that welcomes people to my life, the door that helps the needy and the door to be a real servant of God. I will never forget the people I’ve met and befriended in my stay as a Lycamer so as the lessons I’ve learned through the process. It was the thing that influenced me the most to become who I today. I chose to say yes, I chose to be part of Lycamin, I chose to stay and those are the best choices I’ve ever made in my entire life.
Thank you for everything Lycamin! I am proud to say I was once I was a part of you. Once a Lycamer, Always a Lycamer!