PALO, Leyte, March 16, 2015 – “Who among you pray for the conversion of the Church? What do you do to those who drop out of the church? Who will invite them back?”
Fr. Wilson Chu, the oeconomus of the Archdiocese of Palo and co-pastor of the urban Sto. Niño Parish in Tacloban City, hurled these challenges to church volunteers of the parish in a whole-day recollection held at the chapel in Gonzagahaus (Archbishop’s Palace) in Palo, Leyte on March 14.
The priest gave a reflection on how a “globalization of indifference” takes a toll on people’s openness and willingness to serve God through the Church, particularly the Roman Catholic Church, more specifically in their respective parishes.
The mistake of indifference
He talked of a general trend across the archipelago of young people leaving the Catholic Church in favor of other sects where they feel more a sense of belongingness.
“One mistake of man is indifference,” he stressed, which is exhaustively discussed in this year’s Lenten message of Pope Francis.
Locally, though, this concern could be properly addressed by the members of the Church who already know their identity as the “Church”. They could do it by inviting those who have turned their back on the Catholic Church, encouraging them come back and make them feel that they are the Church through active participation in the parish’s various activities, Chu said.
The priest, in stirring the church volunteers to positively respond to Pope Francis’ exhortation and the local churches’ need to invite back those who have dropped out from the Roman Catholic church or from Christianity, urged them “When we pray, we must pray also for those who are lost, the poor and those longing for the love of God.”
Chu further asked the church volunteers to ponder more deeply on the how they have given their time, talent and treasure in serving God. This, he said, should be quality time, and talent and treasure, which they should share without limits, freely given when needed to serve their brethren and God.
’Islands of mercy’
In his Lenten message written on Oct. 4, 2014, Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, Pope Francis stated: “This selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.”
He added, “One of the most urgent challenges which I would like to address in this Message is precisely the globalization of indifference. Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians.”
Pope Francis exhorts, “How greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!”
Further he encouraged the faithful: “During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: “Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum”: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart, which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.”
La Mesa ni Martha
Fr. Ronel Taboso, the parish pastor cum moderator, also urged the church volunteers in his homily during the said recollection to serve in the Church as a gesture of gratitude to God for the gifts and blessings received.
“Be happy so you can inspire other serve,” he further exhorted, stressing, “It is God who chose you and not you who chose to serve.”
The Sto. Niño Parish will be launching soon the La Mesa ni Martha, a charity outreach undertaking initiated by Palo Archbishop John Forrosuelo Du, where the church will regularly open its breakfast table to indigent locals and street-children for free, nutritious meals. (Eileen Nazareno-Ballesteros/CBCP News)