FOLLOWERS OF THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Our Family Day 2011 was marked on 25 June with the celebration of Holy Mass, a potluck lunch of specialty dishes; and a fun afternoon of musical presentations, games for all ages and comedy skits. Members of our blue, green, orange, red and purple cells join for a group photo to underscore unity in diversity.
The Followers of the Good Shepherd was founded in November 1999, through an idea formed by Fr. Joey Demoy, then Chaplain of the Filipino Catholic Community in Vienna. It is a Catholic Faith Renewal Ministry whose main goal is to educate Filipino Catholics in Vienna about their responsibilities as Christians and make them committed members by teaching them about the Word of God, making them aware of the teachings of the Church and its doctrines, and putting these teachings into practice through prayer, service and fellowship.
The name, Followers of the Good Shepherd, was chosen from several options proposed by the initial or founding members. Since joining the group was, for most of them, similar to responding to the call of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, they thought that it was fitting to use this name.
At present, FGS is a growing organization. It is composed of a healthy mix of Filipinos and their families, including spouses with foreign nationalities, who have made Vienna their temporary or permanent home. The group is open to all Filipino Catholics and their families. All prospective members have to attend the 2-day Basic Formation Seminar before being formed as new cell groups or assigned to existing cell groups. Basic Formation Seminars are usually held twice yearly or as the need arises.
The main activities are designed to enhance spiritual awareness and growth. Cell groups meet twice a month for prayer meetings. The meetings are scheduled in such a way as to ensure that the majority, if not all, of the members are able to attend. The prayer meetings are essential activities of the ministry. Here the members learn to pray in a more meaningful and heartfelt manner. They learn to offer prayers not only for themselves and their loved ones, but also for others, even for those whom they find difficult to love and accept. Through faithful participation in the prayer meetings, the members have become more prayerful and more accepting of the challenges and difficulties that come their way. Some have learned to discern the meaning of such difficulties and are able to thank God sincerely, instead of complaining bitterly about them.
During the prayer meetings, the members are taught to offer prayers of Thanksgiving, Adoration, Contrition and Supplication (TACS). The members also share personal experiences based on topics taken from the Bible and other relevant topics such as those concerning faith, the church, family and social concerns, abiding by the ten commandments in the face of keeping up with ultra-modern demands and trends imposed by society, modern technology, and how these affect our basic Christian faith and other similar issues. The sharing of experiences allows the members to get to know each other better, and also to learn from the experiences of others.
The activities of the FGS include: monthly general assembly (to strengthen the spirit of belonging to a community); Family Day celebration (once a year usually during summer); and pilgrimages to places of religious significance.
The group has also been actively supporting worthy causes, for instance, a concert for the benefit of street-children in the Philippines, as well as Chaplaincy projects. At present, the organization contributes significantly towards the fund-raising campaign for the recent installation of a heating system and replacement of carpets at the church of Maria vom Berge Karmel