Filipino couple among participants in upcoming Synod

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Cardinal Tagles peaking with Pope Francis during last year's Synod. (Photo: Paul Haring/CNS)

MANILA, Sept. 16, 2015— The Vatican has listed a Filipino couple as among the lay participants of the upcoming Synod on the Family.

Nelson Villafania and wife, Maria Soccoro, are among the more than 50 lay “Auditors” from different countries who have a chance to address the Assembly and share insights in the Small Groups.

The couple has long been working as “on call” facilitators for the Manila-based Evangelion Foundation, a lay group committed “to evangelize the marketplace.”

‘Very dedicated missionaries’

Fr. Edwin Mercado, executive director of Evangelion, said the two are “very dedicated missionaries” as they continue to envision to reach more people in the coming years.

He said until now, the couple has worked to empower school teachers and communities through values-formation programs.

Nestor had worked in the corporate world before becoming an active Evangelion collaborator, while Maria Soccoro is a former theology lecturer at the Assumption College and a collaborator of the Salesian Sisters in training catechists.

Maria Soccoro said they were surprised when the Apostolic Nunciature in Manila informed them that they are among the Synod participants.

“Who are we? Why us? That is the farthest thing from my mind,” she said.

She added they will take it as a “chance to be heard” and an opportunity to share the concerns of the Filipino families.

Mercado said the couple will be an “asset” for the Philippines as the Church will discuss a wide range of matters dealing with family life.

READ: Indian bishops want family synod to discuss interreligious marriages 

State of families worldwide

“They are great parents. They’ve been through different challenges but their faith is really admirable,” he said.

This year, the Synod, to be held from Oct. 4 to 25 at the Vatican, will reflect on the theme “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world.”

The members of the Synod will also deliberate on the findings from a survey made in late 2014 about the state of families worldwide.

The Vatican earlier announced that Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, CBCP Vice President will lead the Philippine bishops in the Synod.

Aside from Valles, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma and Daet Bishop Gilbert Garcera, chairman of the CBCP Commission on Family and Life, were also named members.

Manila Archbishop Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, meanwhile, will remain as one of the three “delegate presidents” of the Synod of bishops.

Another Filipino, Fr. Emmanuel Ayo, will also serve as among the assistants to the Synod General Secretariat. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews) 

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