Church initiative seeks to strengthen faith of lapsed Catholics, youth, poor

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MANILA, March 7, 2014—The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) call on the people to be brave with their faith sends laypeople in a mission in this Year of the Laity to reach out to and help non-practicing Catholics, young people, and the less fortunate renew their faith, Choose to Be Brave online communication manager Lee-An Rosal said.

“Choose to Be Brave is an initiative of the Church in this Year of the Laity to rekindle the faith of lapsed Catholics, the youth, and the poor,” she said. “The CBCP decided to mount a campaign to unite all lay organizations, and empower them to help those people.”

Rolled out last December, the Choose to Be Brave call on all Roman Catholics was conceptualized by CBCP President and Lingayen-Pangasinan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, and CBCP Episcopal Commission on the Laity (ECLA) chair and Parañaque Bishop Most Rev. Jesse E. Mercado.

Choose to Be Brave dissected the Catholic society into 12 different sectors to effectively carry out the mission, which means the same number of lay organizations reaching out to these sectors to help them strengthen their faith.

The 12 sectors are the Non-practicing Catholics; Young Professionals; Broken Families; Homeless and Jobless; Homebound and Prisoners; Farmers, Fisherfolks, and Laborers; Troubled Friends; Government Employees; Civic Organizations, Public School Teachers; Indigenous People; and Lay Saints and Catholic Filipino Heroes.

Parishes, communities, lay organizations “can create their own activities,” empowering them in effect, Rosal said. The activities of a particular sector for this year are not only limited to the usual projects it undertakes.

A website (http://www.choosetobebrave.org) was created and launched for this campaign, and what Rosal’s group does is provide the content, which are the activities of the lay organizations in charge of the 12 sectors. The activities are undertaken from the national level, down to the parishes, in Metro Manila and in different parts of the country. The website has also a medium (http://www.choosetobebrave.com/forums/) where announcements of activities and discussions touching on different topics are posted.

People are encouraged to intersect and engage in conversations on Facebook and Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/choosebrave), Rosal said. Online formations will be conducted which will start at the onset of the Lenten Season and will push throughout the rest of the year.

“The bishops realized the need for formation online, since a lot of people ask for catechism,” she said. “So we found out the internet is an effective tool to reach out to them.”

On its website, Choose to Be Brave stated that “the mission of the laity is to direct the whole world towards God,” who “sends the laity so that they can share God’s love to others through their family and occupation in the midst of the world. God calls the laity to be holy, and what empowers them to respond is love.”

The laypeople also stated that “we must stand for Christ not only in religious activities, but also in our private and public lives” and must “speak up for Jesus and His church in public.”

Aside from its own website, Choose to be Brave has a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/choosetobebrave), which is currently followed by over 4, 000 people.

The figure will grow as the different lay organizations roll out their activities, Rosal said. (Oliver Samson)

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