Filipinos back ‘adopt-a-bishop’ initiative

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MANILA, Oct. 9, 2015 – An increasing number of Filipino netizens have expressed support for the “Adopt A Bishop” initiative, committing themselves to pray that the Holy Spirit keep guiding the synod prelates assigned to them.

“All bishops taking part in the synod need the guidance of the Holy Spirit now more than ever given the various issues they have to tackle and resolve. As lay faithful, the best help we can offer them is our persistent prayers,” shared Michelle de los Nieves, a store owner from Olongapo City, whose adopted bishop is the Jesuit François-Xavier Dumortier, rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

But even without a synod, she pointed out all Catholics have a duty to pray for their shepherds for them to always come out with enlightened decisions and act in keeping with the will of God.

“[So] as members of the Church, we have this task to pray for our bishops and to pray for the Church,” De los Nieves added.

‘Come, Holy Spirit’

According to its official website, “Adopt a Bishop” is an independent joint initiative by the Austria-based YOUTH 2000, JAKOB, and the Institute for Marriage and Family among other supporting groups on behalf of the family commission of the Austrian Conference of Bishops.

“Let us support our shepherds with all our faith and help them carry their burden, especially in these days (Galatians 6,2). Praying or fasting in this way, we may be like Moses and his helpers, who invoked strength and protection for their warriors through their prayers (Exodus 17, 8-15),” part of its information page reads.

“We want to invoke the Holy Spirit, just like the apostles did together with Mary before Pentecost (Acts 1,14), so that the bishops, fulfilled by Him, will be able to realize God’s will, think his thoughts, do his deeds and speak his words. We wholeheartedly wish for God’s wonderful and merciful plan to be put into action through his bishops,” it adds.

Prayers for all

Convinced that all of them need the Holy Spirit, the initiators wish that not only popular bishops or those from predominantly Catholic countries will be remembered in prayer, but that everyone are equally prayed for.

“This means that every bishop will be assigned randomly to as much praying people as the others. In this way, we trust that every praying person will get exactly the right bishop to pray for and the other way round; that every bishop will receive exactly the praying faithful that he needs,” they explain.

For Raymond B. Ramos, a secondary school teacher from Caloocan City, who “adopted a bishop” Thursday, praying for Church leaders is a must to ensure good will triumph over evil.

“Just like the rest of us, our bishops are in this battle between good and evil. They are also humans who have their own weaknesses. This is where our prayers are most needed,” he explained.

Ramos has recently received through his social media account Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, SDB, president of Honduras’ Episcopal Conference, as his bishop.

Modern-day apostles

Meanwhile, Edward Era, founding chair of the non-government organization (NGO) Filipino Lifeline, turned emotional about the initiative, especially since he was assigned a bishop who shares his advocacies: Antonio Bal of Kundiawa, Papua New Guinea, who also represents the Commission for Family Life.

“Starting today, I will offer one rosary for my bishop. I will ask the Lord and the Blessed Mother to guide him,” he said.

While he commends praying for one’s personal intentions, Era pointed out praying for bishops must be made a habit in view of the difficult tasks they carry as “modern-day apostles.”

To adopt a bishop, visit: www.adoptabishop.org/en.

The XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family (Synod 15) opened on Oct. 4 and is set to run until Oct. 25.

Themed “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world,” the ongoing gathering marks the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, and aims to continue the work of the III Extraordinary General Assembly by “reflect[ing] further on the points discussed so as to formulate appropriate pastoral guidelines” for the pastoral care of the person and the family (Instrumentum Laboris, III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops). (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)

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