IBA, Zambales, Aug. 14, 2015 – In response to the Holy Father’s invitation to celebrate the gift of vocation to the religious life, the Diocese of Iba (Zambales) marked the diocesan opening of the Year of Consecrated Life on July 31, in Iba, Zambales, participated in by the religious congregations serving the diocese, diocesan priests, and representative lay faithful from all parishes of the province.
Spearheaded by Fr. Danilo O. Presto, administrator, and Sr. Loyola Marcelo, SPC, chair of the Association of Women Religious in Zambales (AWRIZ), the event commenced with a Holy Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral with Fr. Danilo Presto as main celebrant.
In his homily, Presto gave a brief historical overview of the Year of Consecrated Life, highlighting that the celebration is connected to the 50th anniversary of two Vatican II documents, the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, and the Decree Perfectae Caritatis, the latter dealing specifically with the renewal of the religious life.
Problems of the clergy, problems of the Church
The administrator of the diocese reiterated the importance of the vocation to religious life, challenging the diocesan clergy and lay faithful to work in solidarity with the religious congregations serving the diocese in building up the local church.
He further called on the people, especially the youth, to have an open heart in discerning vocation to the religious life.
The invited speaker, Fr. Honorato Castigador, OP, who came all the way from Laguna for the event, gave a talk on the consecrated life. The Dominicans previously served the province from 1679 until 1712 when the province was ceded back to the Augustinian Recollects who first administered the province beginning in 1607.
Castigador said the difficulties of the Church are rooted in the problems surrounding the life and mission of those tasked primarily to serve it, namely, the diocesan clergy and the religious men and women.
According to the priest, renewal in the Church begins with the renewal of the clergy and the religious.
In the afternoon, there were testimonies from individuals underlining the contribution of the religious in the life of the local church. Marcel Cabalic, an Aeta assisted by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM), offered words of gratitude to the said congregation, which had been present in the province since 1957.
‘Year of Consecrated Life’ activities lined up
Another sharer, Mel Soriano, a graduate of the Catechetical Center of the diocese, founded in 1972 by the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban (SSC), and then later on taken over by the Daughters of Charity (DC), also talked about how the religious helped her create a better life, not just for herself but also for the people she serves.
A number of religious also shared stories about their lives, vocation, and mission in the diocese, namely, a German priest Fr. Eusebius Schwald, of the Order of Canons Regular of the Holy Cross (ORC), whose congregation arrived in the diocese in 1990, and Zambaleño Sr. Salve Diaz, OSB, whose congregation, the Benedictine Sisters of the Eucharistic King, was already present in the diocese since 1949.
The Diocese of Iba has a lineup of events for the Year of Consecrated Life which includes a recollection and a joint Christmas party celebration of the clergy and religious men and women of the diocese, publication of a coffee table book highlighting the history of the mission of various congregations in the province, the giving of spiritual bouquets to the religious by the lay faithful, and a concluding celebration slated on February 2016.
The Coro Colegio de San Columbano of Columban College, founded by the Columban Fathers (MSSC), and the St. Francis Aeta Community in Subic, organized and still ministered by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (SFIC) also gave performances during the program to entertain the attendees.
Participants capped the whole diocesan opening celebration with the community singing of “Wake the World with Dawning Joy”, composed by Steven Warner especially for the Year of Consecrated Life.
In an apostolic letter, Pope Francis proclaimed a Year of Consecrated Life, from Nov. 30, 2014 to Feb. 2, 2016, the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. (Fr. Kenneth Masong/CBCPNews)