PASIG City, Nov. 27, 2014—Taking on Pope Francis’ challenge to “go to the peripheries”, a parish group in the Diocese of Pasig spearheads a “lugaw-for-the-soul” (rice porridge-for-the-soul) program every Saturday in an effort to bring the “Church of the poor” closer to the poor.
“This is our own humble way of reaching out to those who rarely, if ever, set foot inside churches for Mass, hoping to invite them back,” Albert Gerez, a lay Eucharistic minister who serves in Pasig City’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral, told CBCP News in an interview, Friday, Nov. 21.
According to him, each feeding session is given a theme which aims to remind participants that the gathering goes beyond ordinary “hunger relieving” and meal-sharing.
“Through this project, we evangelize people, making them listen to the Word of God,” he added.
Food for body, soul
In line with this, previous sessions were named: “Salu-salo sa Lugaw, Salu-salo sa Salita ng Diyos” and “Mabusog sa Lugaw, Mabusog sa Salita ng Diyos”.
Gerez shared they cater to between 100 and 200 individuals of all genders and age brackets, who, he said, thirst for spiritual activities.
Proof of this, he lamented, is that many of those who take part have little knowledge of their Church leaders.
“It’s sad that whenever we hold Q & A games, and participants are asked the name of their parish priest or bishop, more often, they cannot give the right answers,” he said.
‘Nothing like serving God’
The 52-year old happily-married man and father of four is thankful that Fr. Bernie Carpio is all-out in his support for the project by giving talks in basic ecclesial communities (BECs) all over the Pasig diocese.
Gerez, whose regular job involves newspaper distribution, stressed it is vital that the program has a spiritual direction so that people will be guided accordingly.
He related the “lugawan” started in August, and was funded initially using proceeds from a garage sale they held.
“I enjoy doing this because I get to be with people who are most like me, the poor. Although it’s already challenging enough juggling my time between being a family man and my day job, there’s nothing like serving the Lord,” he said.
‘Go to the peripheries’
In a speech he gave in March 7, 2013, shortly before becoming pontiff, then Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio pointed out that evangelizing presupposes a desire in the Church to “come out of herself”.
“The Church is called to come out of herself and to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also to the existential peripheries: the mysteries of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all forms of misery,” the pontiff declared. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCPNews)