THIS is what you see if you check out the Facebook page of our Light of Jesus Pastoral Care.
Yes, if you need to talk, the Light of Jesus Pastoral Care is here to listen and to provide psycho-spiritual support amid your difficulties.
Most of our Light of Jesus Mercy Ministries take care of their beneficiaries, yet the mission of the Light of Jesus Pastoral Care Center is distinct.
Being one of the Mercy Ministries of our faith-based community,
Light of Jesus Family, the Light of Jesus Pastoral Care Center is co-founded by Bro. Bo Sanchez and Sis. Ditas Español with the mission of providing comfort and support to the emotionally burdened through one-one-one support sessions. The Ministry used to be the Light of Jesus Counseling Center. Later, the name was changed to LOJ Pastoral Care Center.
For Dr. Michele Alignay, now the Director of LOJ Pastoral Care, competency and experience were preparations to take in the role of leading the Ministry. Her secular work is practicing psychoeducation as a speaker, consultant, and resource person for seminars and trainings on family life and well-being. In 2022, she took the reigns as the Director of the LOJ Pastoral Care.
Being in the Light of Jesus Family is God’s design. Sis. Ichel, as we fondly call her in our LOJ Family, grew up with her parents being in Couples for Christ, and then she was with Youth for Christ. After college graduation, she joined the Singles for Christ (SFC) community.
In the singles group, she met Koots Alignay. Koots’ parents were part of the Light of Jesus Family; and his father, Dante Alignay, was one of the employees of LOJ at its headquarters called the Light House in Cubao, Quezon City.
With his parents, Koots attended the LOJ monthly prayer gathering, The Feast, in Teatro Aguinaldo, Quezon City. Eventually, he invited his SFC friends, including Ichel, to attend the monthly Feast.
While they served in SFC, Bro. Koots and Sis. Ichel attended The Feast monthly for their spiritual nourishment. “We grew closer as friends until we became a couple,” she shares.
They married in 2012 and just celebrated their 20th Wedding Anniversary in 2022.
Even if they were serving n SFC and CFC, they were attendees of The Feast. In mid-2013, with two small kids in tow, they decided to be all-in and actively serve at The Feast Valle Verde. “We’ve made it our spiritual community,” she adds.
Koots and Ichel have also been attending the LOJ’s inspirational event, Kerygma Conference, (now called The Feast Conference). In 2011, Sis. Ichel was invited to be a speaker for the Solo Parents Stream of KCon.
This was followed by an invitation for her to write for the Kerygma magazine, now called Feast Magazine.
Professionally, Ichel is called Dr. Michele Alignay.
She is a board-certified Guidance Counselor (RGC) and a Psychologist (RPsy). She took her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology at the University of Sto. Tomas. Then worked for ten years as a full-time school guidance counselor for premiere exclusive schools.
Entering the second year of work, she started working for her graduate school degree in Miriam College, where she completed her Master of Arts in Family Psychology and Education. Dr. Alignay refers to 2000 to 2010 as the first decade of her life’s mission.
She shares, “My first decade of career consisted of simultaneous life events – fulfilling work, faith community service, marriage, and having a child. Year 2010 ushered in my new decade, new challenges, and changes in my personal and professional life. In 2009, I gave birth to my second child — my daughter.
So, the following year, I gave up my full-time work, to be able to give my best time and care for my two kids.”
Letting go of a full-time career was a temporary solution. Since she is armed with the skill and license as Registered Guidance Counselor, she knew that one day, “my gifting will have its landing!” She continues, “There were days that
I checked myself if being a full-time mother was worth it. My answer would always be a resounding “yes” and I hanged on, knowing God has greater plans for me, beyond raising a family.”
While mostly filling her time, fulfilling her task as a mom, she pursued part-time private counseling practice. She took in writing work on parenting and family for mainstream magazines (Smart Parenting and Moms Today) and started giving talks and learning sessions mostly for schools – for students, parents, and faculties.
She adds, “To arm me further and deepen my passion for working with families, I took a leap of faith in taking my post-doctorate degree, Doctor of Philosophy in Family Studies. Reflecting on why I took it… I just needed to hone my skill and deepen further what I know about children and families.”
While in the pursuit of it, she was also teaching in Miriam College Higher Education. Since then, she has been a part-time lecturer for graduate and undergraduate courses of the Department of Psychology, and in the Family Studies Post-Graduate program. After years of working and studying while raising her two kids, and building her family, she completed her doctoral degree in 2018.
Today, Ichel’s secular work is focused on conducting learning sessions, consulting and training about well-being and mental health, family life, parenting, and personal growth. She is fully immersed now with providing services for corporations, educational institutions, non-governmental organizations, and brands.
One of the services that she actually gave up was private counseling. “It was taking too much from me – both time and inner resources,” she explains. “But eventually, the Lord has His way of putting me back to how everything started, however indirect.”
Mission team, from left: Koots and Ichel Alignay; Ditas and husband Vic Español.
In 2021, she had a meeting with Sis. Ditas Español, then the Director of the Light of Jesus Pastoral Care Center. Sis. Ditas invited her to take her place in the Ministry, as she would be retiring the following year.
Ichel recalls, “I told her, ‘Tita, ang laki po nito. Napakalaking responsibility.
This is such a big responsibility and I have to pray about it.’ I really felt that
I needed to go through an in- depth discernment about it. I asked her to give me a month to discern.”
The following day, after her meeting with Sis. Ditas, she was like, “Hindi talaga ako mapakali—I felt uneasy.”
She attended an online morning Mass. And, “I was really crying. I could not explain why I was in tears. There was a nagging thought of taking part in a bigger mission, much bigger than myself.”
Discerning the Call
To help her through her discernment, Sis. Ichel consulted three important persons in her life.
First was one of her closest friends, who is also heading a department in one of the Mercy Ministries.
Her friend advised: “You are called for mission. Ibe-bless ka naman ni Lord.— God will bless you.”
Then, Sis. Ichel had the same discussion with a very close friend in the Community who has been supporting her professional pursuits.
This friend told her, “Your life mission is so aligned with the work of Pastoral Care!”
The last person she talked with was her mentor and spiritual mother in Miriam College.
She said, “Ichel, I don’t see you as an administrator in the academe but I see you there in that position… That’s who you are. Your life has been prepared for that.”
Sis. Ichel says she was also reflecting then about her time for her corporate or secular work: “Yet I realized that it is the Lord who paved the way to bless me with these good projects. So, why don’t I commit to His purpose for me in the Ministry. And I claimed for His leadings and financial blessings through my professional projects.”
Dr. Ichel looked back in 2016 when challenges in the home front and family health made her want to give up completing my doctoral dissertation, the last humungous requirement to complete the degree.
She muses, “It was so difficult managing the
home, work, and my academic life. I was praying so hard then and bargaining with the Lord to work through me, even if I don’t have this Ph.D.”
But that moment of deep prayer and anguish, she says, the Lord impressed in her: “Yung Ph.D. mo, hindi para sayo yan. Para sa trabaho ko yan. Instrumento lang kita.” (Your Ph.D. is not for you. It’s for My work. You are just My instrument in My mission).”
So, from asking for one month of discernment, she gave Sis. Ditas her “Yes!” to lead the Ministry– after four days. She attests, “The Lord paved the way from the start of my journey with The Feast in 1999 to make me part of His greater mission through the LOJ Pastoral Care Center.”
Caring for Carers
The LOJ Pastoral Care is celebrating this July 2023 its 30th Anniversary.
It is a ministry of well-trained volunteers who are armed in doing Immediate Skills Psychological-Spiritual Support through “Care Sessions.”
The volunteers have been serving for 5 to 25 years and are dedicated to the mission of helping in the journey of
individuals who are broken and distressed.
Sis. Ichel shares what inspires her: “It is not an easy task, and so my work entails supporting the volunteer Carers, so they can support better those seeking help.
As I mentioned, the LOJ Pastoral Care has a distinct yet unobservable mission – to journey with those secretly struggling. The mission and donations support both the Pastoral Carers and the Clients availing of sessions.”
Connect with LOJ Pastoral Care
The LOJ Pastoral Care Center may be reached through the following:
- Scheduling of sessions may be through Facebook Messenger:
- Other online links:
- We provide the following services:
- ‘Care Sessions’ – One-on-one session with a Volunteer (scheduled online chat or audio call)
- Prayer or Intercessions – prayer requests may be sent via messenger (https://facebook.com/lojpastoralcare/)
- Group Sessions – special learning sessions
Operational Hours: Monday to Saturday: 8AM to 10PM (Manila Time)