Last October 1st, we celebrated the 25 years of ACAY with a beautiful gathering of our partners, alumni, staff, and youth – all considered part of the ACAY Family. It was a fun-filled event, mainly including the launch of the Skills Hub, the prestige film showing, and more activities.
What have we achieved? For 25 years, ACAY has brought a holistic approach to specific challenges faced by the youth (aged 16 to 23), addressing problems from multiple angles.
We go beyond psycho social support, as we develop innovative solutions that make lasting change possible. As we now have the Metamorphosis Methodology, our goal is to continue to restore and equip our youth to have a brighter future.
This year, we captured the spirit of ACAY's mission in 4C's: Chaos, Challenge, Community and Creating Change.
First, ACAY addresses the chaos (internally and externally) and we go where not many are willing. Thus, having a niche expertise in many fields.
Second, ACAY is an expert at developing educative methodology for our youth to face and address the challenges at hand. We have a culture of responsibility such that we transform both the person and the system.
Third, our community is open to everyone.
We value each person’s journey. We go together, we accompany, and we collaborate.
And finally the 4th C: Metamorphosis is at the core of all we do. We transform youth, adapt training designs, and create ripples of change. We’re incredibly proud of how far we’ve come, with so much to celebrate!
To start the festivities, we were blessed by the presence of Most Rev. Bishop Gaa, Bishop of the Diocese of Novaliches for a Holy Eucharist.
His words were incredibly moving as he encouraged us saying “you might be like St Therese, a small reality, but God gave you a missionary impact which reaches so many far away shores. God blesses the smallness.”
We also had the honor to welcome the ambassadors of the MoM’s Sisters: Her Excellency Michele Boccoz, Ambassador of France to the Philippines, His Excellency Peter Kell Ambassador of New Zealand to the Philippines, Her Excellency Hungarian Ambassador-Designate Titanilla Tóth, His Excellency Consul of the Republic of Poland in Manila Aleksander Parzych and a team from the AMADE Mondiale headed by Mr Jerome Froissart, its General Secretary.
The newly built Skills Hub was finally officially launched with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, plaque unveiling, and blessing of the building. Youth will continue there to develop their skills and potential!
Launching of the Skills Hub
We are truly grateful for the presence of the special individuals who have accompanied and supported us in the past decades and were able to join the festivities:
Board of Trustees members: Dr. Ervin Nucum and Dr. Mia Oliveros; Ms. Stefani Sandoval of the Assisi Development Foundation; Jerome Moneger of DRAKE International; Honorable Mary Angeline Sale, Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals; Ms. Valerio and Ms. Barkin from SMEC Philippines; and Ms. Tablang and Ms. Barrientes from Bouygues Philippines.
"Dear Sisters, Many of those around you, present today have helped you grow and advance ACAY in ever-greater professionalism and the development of your expertise. They are to be congratulated and thanked for this, as it also reflects on ACAY France. Go and continue this beautiful journey."
Climbing Life's Mountains
The theme of our anniversary celebration is “Climbing Life’s Mountains: We Did It!” as it encompasses our journey with hundreds of individuals be it youth, staff, volunteers, partners, and more.
This was perfectly captured in the opening remarks by ACAY Philippines’ Executive Assistant Yvonnie Gutierrez:
“Let me share some of the beautiful insights we learned from climbing this mountain.
First: Journeying with others requires a presence–
and for ACAY we give importance to this presence – presence to the youth, to the staff, and to our partners. This journeying which entails a “presence” has given birth to ACAY’s unique culture of Listening and the strong “family spirit”.
Second, the climb will always bring a moment of crisis – and in ACAY we have learned to look at crisis as an opportunity:
opportunity for growth, opportunity for change. A crisis is painful and stressful but we have learned that yes it could be that way but each crisis has been a breakthrough. This view of crisis has taught us to go beyond our comfort zones and be ready to face the unknown.
And Third, the climb on the mountain entails innovation–
we have learned not to be comfortable with the same path. We have learned that we must evolve – with the youth and with the changing trends of society.”
ACAY Prestige Film
Thanks to the generous support of The AMADE – Association Mondiale des Amis de l’Enfance, ACAY commemorated its 25 years of metamorphosing youth’s lives, capturing pedagogies, inspiring stories, and advocacies in a Prestige Film. Mr. Jerome Froissart, General Secretary of the AMADE Mondiale, delivered a warm message before the film’s premiere. He warmly thanked the entire ACAY community for its work and dedication.
We know that love, determination, and reason can change lives,"
Thank you to the Sisters
The celebration would not be complete without warmly expressing gratitude to the four Missionaries of Mary sisters- Sister Sophie de Jesus, Sr. Edit, Sr. Laetitia and Sr. Rachel. The ACAY staff surprised them with personalized special gifts and flower bouquets.
In addition, the youth and alumni also had a surprise performance singing a beautiful song entitled “Unstoppable.”
The song’s lyrics were a thank you to the Sisters for metamorphosing and guiding each youth’s lives. Thank you might be an understatement of this gratitude, the uniqueness of these four sisters has indeed formed ACAY Missions Philippines into who it is now!
Loyalty Award to Long Service Staff
Throughout ACAY’s journey and climbing life’s mountains, we are especially grateful for all the loyal staff who have helped us for many years, some even decades. During the anniversary celebration, we surprised them with a short awarding ceremony with certificate and special gift.
The room was filled with applause and love!
To conclude the festivities, Sr. Edith, Sr. Sophie de Jesus, and Laurent delivered a shared speech about their inspiring journey in leading ACAY Mission in France and in the Philippines.
“Climbing and ascending Life’s mountains: We did it! As a greek writer said: “Every man, every living is a workplace where God in a hidden way, works the clay and transforms it. It has been given to us the grace to enter the workplace of God”, and to work with Him in the middle of Manila, our desert was the desert of the human hearts and there we found God, we touched God. The more we transformed with Him, the trauma into learning, the frailty into strength and courage, the chains of the past into freedom, and the more, we became ourselves, sons and daughters of God.“
Touching God was touching the vital surge and life force, touching the “going beyond”, the creativity, the metamorphosis. Once, a monk had told an almond tree “show me God, talk to me about God” and the almond tree blossomed…
We have climbed with the Filipino youth the mountains of poverty, vengeance, anger, hatred, absence, abandonment… The almond tree, we saw it blossoming.
Reconciliation happened, Lifestyles changed, and Forgiveness was born in the hearts. Dialogue found back its place, and Hope in despair blossomed. Today we climb with the French youth the same life’s mountains, on other shores… Let’s continue metamorphosing youth’s lives worldwide!