MANILA, Jan . 3, 2014—A young bishop called on the faithful to fully involve themselves in the local church and transform the diocese with apostolic and missionary dynamism.
For a “diocese to be truly vibrant” it is necessary that “we must become a church” that is created by full participation of all the members, Bishop Gilbert Garcera told Daet faithful.
A church is not built through the involvement of only a selected few, neither is it centered only on the clergy, but active participation from everyone is vital to make it alive and energetic, Garcera emphasized in his pastoral letter on January 1.
Garcera introduced the diocesan celebration of the Year of the Laity and of Social Concerns in his New Year’s message, stressing on the role of the laity in building the church and transforming society, while following the examples of Mary.
He echoed Pope Francis’ words saying: “parishes are not outdated institutions. Our parishes possess great flexibility. Our parishes can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the parish priests and the community.”
“Thus, we ask ourselves,” Garcera said, “Do I involve myself in my parish? Is my parish vibrant with apostolic and missionary enthusiasm?”
Faith and praxis
The bishop stressed that if one’s faith is to grow, it must be a faith that “flows into daily life such that our private and public life demonstrate our being true disciples of the Lord.”
“We must have a faith that can transform our society and not just a faith that is solely centered on devotional and liturgical practices, nor of a faith that is divorced from moral life,” he said.
Take Mary’s example
The bishop urged the faithful to take the Blessed Virgin’s examples as inspiration in following his Son, Jesus.
“I invite you to acknowledge our strong conviction that we all walk with Jesus, the real light in our journey in this New Year. With Jesus, we are assured that this year is a new beginning which is full of enthusiasm and hopes,” Garcera said.
He said the Blessed Mother’s full cooperation with God’s work of redemption makes her the “closest associate in Christ’s saving work.”
“Mary’s total and generous cooperation with God in the work of redemption truly shines further as our inspiration and example as we begin the Year on the Laity and Social Concerns in the Diocese of Daet,” Garcera told the faithful.
Drawing from Marian documents, Garcera cited Mary attributes that makes her an excellent “model of lay collaboration and laity’s vocation to social transformation.”
He also mentioned a significant fresco found in the catacombs of St. Agnes in Rome that for him completely illustrates Mary’s full support to the early Church as a laywoman.
“Mary’s prominent position between Saints Peter and Paul [in the fresco] illustrates the recognition by the Apostolic Church of the maternal centrality of Mary in the primitive Church,” he said.
“More importantly, this proves that Mary truly supported the apostles in her capacity as a laywoman in building the early church,” added the prelate.
Garcera hopes that encouraged by the examples of Mary, they would be able to build a missionary community in the diocese as they celebrate the Year of the Laity and Social Concerns.
“I hope that this would happen within the diocese through the promotion of lay participation and co-responsibility and the development of a faith that is connected with social and moral life,” he declared.
Various activities highlight the diocesan celebration of the Year of the Laity and Social Concerns, among which are: Creation of New Vicariates, Pastoral Congress on Ecology and mining, Home Visitation, Poverty Reduction Program, Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of SPACFI, Seminar on the life and mission of St. Joseph, Patron Saint in the Diocese, Strengthening of Parish Pastoral Councils and Ministries through Ongoing Formation, and the Launching of the 40th Foundation Anniversary of the Diocese of Daet. (PB/CBCPNews)