Young leaders of Social Justice-Cecille
In our new leaders for social justice series, we interview young people from across the world who have been involved or influenced by the Society of Jesus.
Firstly we have, Cecille Turecha, a 24 year old from the Philippines who works as a Community Affairs Officer for the local government.
Can you give a brief outline about who you are?
My name is Cecille Marie Turrecha, 24 years old, born and raised in the Philippines. I’m currently working as the Community Affairs Officer, in the Urban Development Department of the Local Government. My work revolves around overseeing the management of the seven out of the fifty-three relocation/resettlement areas for survivors from typhoons, fire, living in danger-prone areas in the city.
Previously, I worked with the socio-political apostolate of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines. I started working as a Jesuit Volunteer of the Philippines as Political Programs Coordinator and a national coordinator of a national campaign, a land grabbing/ development aggressor issue we are assisting in the northern part of the Philippines. We worked with farmers, fisherfolks and indigenous people.
What is your background with the Jesuits?
For my college education, I enrolled in a Jesuit school here in Philippines. After graduation, I joined the Jesuit Volunteers Philippines Foundation Incorporated (JVPFI). JVPFI is the longest running volunteer program in the country that sends volunteers for a year of service to marginalized communities and areas with the greatest need.
On my JVP year, I was assigned to Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB – roughly translated as “Church in Service of the Nation”), the socio-political apostolate of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines.
Have you had any previous involvement with Jesuit Missions/how much do you know about what we do?
In my previous job, Jesuit Missions were SLB’s partner in relief and recovery programs for Typhoon Haiyan survivors in Culion, Palawan and other Region 8 areas.
If there was one thing you could change in the world, what would it be and why?
Perception on politics and political participation.
People often associate politics and political participation as something that is somewhat “dirty”, “corrupt”, or not really interesting to participate in. Some also feel that it might be pointless to participate when those who are in power aren’t grounded on what’s happening in the communities/ social realities. For me, the more people don’t want to get involved just because they are not directly affected, the more the “evil” would win.
Politics and political participation are often misunderstood and are defined by the people in power. Political participation guided by the right principles have brought so many positive changes in this world. From civil rights, women’s right, right to participate, all were done though political participation.
For me, this is one of my personal advocacies, for people to see how this would actually bring about real change in our society. Participate in making laws that would institutionalize changes, get to know various issues in communities/ localities, speak up when something is not right – these and more are the bringing real change to our world.
Ignatian Spirituality have always encouraged to practice “active non-violence”. It could be actually in any form – campaigns, dialogues, conversation with politicians, taking part of a local council, etc.
What is your hope for the future of the world?
I hope that every person would know, acknowledge and respect the dignity every human being, and integrity of all created things. For in this manner, we do not use any created being and protect it only for our selfish desires – we protect, care for it not because we need it, but we recognize that each one’s dignity is to be respected.
How have you been influenced by your involvement with the Jesuits?
It’s really the teachings of Ignatian Spirituality. And I see this present and applied in working with the Jesuits, which then inspires me to not only apply this on work but all aspects of my life as well. To somehow “incorporate” these principles in my daily lifestyle.
Is there a Jesuit that you feel inspired by?
Pope Francis, because of his work for social justice. I’m inspired by how he engages with the world and proclaims the Gospel through his presence and how it can be seen in his work. He is a pope that exemplifies the value of “finding God in all things” through how he treats each and every person he meets.
Do you find Ignatian Spirituality useful/is this something you practise?
One teaching in Ignatian Spirituality that I find that I constantly challenge myself to practice everyday is being a “contemplative in action”. Working and volunteering in so many engagements, I find it hard to have quiet weekends to pause and reflect upon the things I do. In practicing this principle, this value, I constantly challenge myself to have those constant “short pauses” for me to be able to reflect on my daily actions.
How do you feel that you can put your faith into action?
In my every day, I challenge myself to put my faith in action, in everything that I do. We have been taught to see the face of God in every face we meet, and everything we encounter. With this, I constantly remind myself of the last line of the First Principle and Foundation of St. Ignatius, “so in all things, we should desire and choose only those things which will best help us attain the end for which we are created”. I may never know what tomorrow may bring, but I try in every day to look and treat world through how God may see and do it.