CARIGARA, Leyte—Palo Archbishop John Du gave a stirring message on the need to return to prayer and the Sacraments during the Year of the Parish during the archdiocesan launching of the year-long event on December 10 at the Holy Cross Church in this town.
“Let us return to prayer, let us receive her Son in Holy Communion, and let us offer reparation for our sin,” he urged.
These are necessary, the prelate said, for the renewal of parish communities in order to better respond to the challenge of “restoring all things in Christ.”
Underscoring 2017 as the centennial year of the apparition of Our Lady to three children in Fatima, Portugal, he called on the laity to return to Jesus by the threefold paths of prayer, daily Communion and reparation.
Du also talked about the need for parishes to build on the community life fostered by the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC).
“Our focus will be the building of a parish that is truly a faith community immersed in the lives of the people, specifically the Basic Ecclesial Community.”
“My dear brothers and sisters, this Year of Parish as a Communion of Communities, we are challenged to discern more deeply not on the structure of governance in our parishes, we should also be mindful of quality of faith life in the parish, the fellowship, the belongingness, the participation experienced by its members,” the prelate said.
Meanwhile, Fr. Gilbert Urbina, episcopal vicar for planning of the Archdiocese of Palo, called all delegates present as “agents of renewal.”
“The BECs, small Christian community after the family, will be witness to our faith,” said the priest.
‘Firm foundation of faith’
“Renewal will be stronger if we do it as community,” he added.
Fr. Randolf Raagas, archdiocesan BEC Program director for Eastern District, rallied the members of the BECs to help their respective parish priests ensure that all the members of the community will have a “firm foundation of faith.”
A community will be strong to stand against evil, he said, if it is strong and united.
Fr. Amado Picardal, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)-BECs Episcopal Committee executive secretary who was a keynote speaker at the launching of the Year of the Parish as Communion of Communities in the archdiocese, emphasized the missionary role of the laity.
Be evangelized first
According to the priest, also known as the “biking priest,” as partakers of the prophetic, priestly and kingly mission of the Church as people, the laity should learn how to evangelize.
“Before we evangelize, we must first be evangelized, have the personal conversion, denounce and resist evil,” he explained.
Picardal also challenged everyone to imagine what will happen after 2017 to the programs implemented during the Year of the Parish.
He encouraged parishes to include in their plans and programs the sustainability of all efforts made during the yearlong event.
Picardal also encouraged Parish Pastoral Councils and BECs to consider the three strategies formulated by the CBCP-BEC for the celebration: formation, celebration and legacy.
These programs, he added, must go beyond catechism but actual involvement in issues affecting society, such as care for the environment, disaster preparedness and issue-based initiatives for the protection of women and children.
Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros/CBCP News