MANILA, Feb. 27, 2014—In line with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) declaration of 2014 as the “Year of the Laity,” Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tirona called on the faithful in his archdiocese to be “heralds of the gospel” who work for the propagation of the good news in their everyday living.
Tirona encouraged active participation from pastoral councils, lay organizations, Catholic school officials, consecrated individuals, and members of the clergy in implementing the archdiocese’s action plans, which they have formulated during the Archdiocesan Congress of the Laity held last February 23.
“God’s grace is certainly bestowed upon us through the Congress of the Laity…Without doubt, it is by His inspiration that all our efforts have come to fruition. Let us take this as an opportunity to step forward with courage and enthusiasm,” Tirona said in a statement.
“As we anticipate the implementation as well as the regular monitoring and evaluation of the Action Plans until the year 2020, I ask my brother priests to support our lay faithful in their aspirations. These plans are for their welfare… and they are meant to the laity ‘a future and a hope,’” he added, noting that the congress “begins a new chapter in our journey of faith.”
Increased societal engagement
Stressing the importance of lay engagement in the various aspects of secular life, Tirona urged pastoral councils to “work closely” and “collaborate with parish priests in the work of evangelization and human promotion.”
“Accompany your parish priests in getting to know the parish through dialogue, and especially through prayer and collaborative ministry,” Tirona said.
He also called on lay religious organizations to maximize available avenues “to bring Christ to every street corner.”
“The Church is blessed with so many charisms like the lay religious organizations…With harmonious collaboration, you can address every need and problem of the Church,” he said.
Tirona also lauded the contributions of the lay faithful who work towards the holistic formation of the youth in Catholic schools.
“The Archdiocese recognizes your sharing with your gifts for the enrichment of education in our Catholic schools, especially of our young people. With your talent, you can contribute for a more effective educational institution that promotes Catholic values and mores,” he said.
‘Symbol of Christ’
For those living a consecrated life, Tirona urged them to be the “symbol of Christ’s self-emptying in our modern world.”
“Inspire the laity to fight materialism, secularism and individualism. In the midst of the cultural influences of our times, may your life and works be examples of simplicity, service and courage,” he said.
“Show them the road to courage so in a society ruled by the rich and powerful, their voice shall become the voice of the poor and the marginalized,” he added.
Clergy members were also reminded of their task to guide the lay faithful in fulfilling their Christian duties, noting that such guidance will also define the laity’s participation in the life of the church.
“In whatever field of endeavor the lay faithful are engaged in, we, priests, shepherds, should also prepare them to become evangelizers. Build their confidence and send them to their mission,” Tirona said.
Impetus for 500th anniversary
In a separate statement, Tirona noted that the Archdiocesan Congress of the Laity is “a testimony of the common collaboration and active participation of the clergy and the lay faithful.”
“The Congress recognizes the crying need for holistic formation and for participation in relevant ministries of our lay faithful. Likewise, the Congress expresses the deep longing of our Lay faithful to be guided spiritually by the pastors of the Church,” he said.
The prelate added that the convention serves as an “impetus” for the seven-year preparation for the 500th anniversary of the coming of Christianity in the country (1521-2021). (Jennifer Orillaza)