BUTUAN City, Agusan del Norte, Oct. 7, 2014—The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), in coordination with its National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA), launched on Monday, Oct. 6, the “Year of the Poor” and “Alay Kapwa 40” (AK40) at the St. Joseph Cathedral Diocesan Shrine in Butuan City.
“The Church is constantly challenged to take the side of the poor and the oppressed, particularly in the situation where there is a continuing violation of human rights wherein justice is being denied for sectors like farmers, indigenous people, fisherfolks, labor and even the victims of calamities. So with this celebration we are called to renew this commitment,” Fr. Edwin Gariguez, CBCP-NASSA executive secretary, said in a statement.
‘Year of the Poor’
Backed by its sister commissions, as well as the country’s 85 dioceses, NASSA, CBCP’s development arm, has been tasked to spearhead the one-year celebration of the “Year of the Poor”, which will officially open on Nov. 23, 2014, ending the “Year of the Laity”.
Inspired by Luke 22:61, which reads “Look at Jesus…And the Lord turned and looked at Peter”, this upcoming “Year of the Poor” is the third of the nine-year era of New Evangelization set to prepare the Filipino faithful for the fifth centenary of Christianity in the Philippines in 2021.
According to Gariguez, it seeks to respond to the challenge posed by the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) for the Church in the country to be a “Church of the Poor”, which CBCP noted, has become “even more valid as before”.
The event also paid tribute to 40 years of Alay Kapwa, the Lenten evangelization program for the poor started in 1974, fosters love for one’s neighbors and God’s creation through “evangelization and resource mobilization of the local church” while supporting NASSA’s disaster emergency and advocacies toward social transformation and resiliency.
“Forty years as a significant number in Bible is a commitment to share love and justice and to help the poor and the needy. Some of the activities of the program is the ‘Friend Raising for the Poor’. This project intends to raise P4 million in forty weeks to support the Self Help Group (SHEG) microfinance project to empower poor communities,” Gariguez shared.
Themed “Social Action Network: Fulfilling its mission of becoming Church of the Poor”, the launch coincided with the National Social Action General Assembly (NASAGA) hosted by the Diocese of Butuan, and which gathered together all Diocesan Social Action Centers (DSAC) to discuss every two years the various social issues confronted by their respective dioceses.
Besides NASAGA’s over 200 participants, Cáceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona, who chairs CBCP’s Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace (ECSA-JP); Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios M. Pueblos; and the local clergy also graced the occasion. (Raymond A. Sebastián)