POLOMOLOK, South Cotabato, Oct. 14, 2016—One of the reasons why there’s a big number of people addicted to drugs is that shepherds of the Church were not there to help them.
This was Bishop of Marbel Dinualdo Gutierrez’ message as he ordained on Sept. 27 three priests at the Good Shepherd Parish in Cannery, Polomolok, asking them to take on the mission of seeking out the lost sheep of the Church who have turned to illegal substances.
“People addicted to drugs are people with problems. They should be helped. They should not be killed,” the prelate told the three priests, namely, Fr. Dennis Gamo, Fr. Ludy Baldonado, and Fr. Carlo dela Cruz.
14,000 from Marbel diocese
“In a way, we have failed them,” Gutierrez said, adding that people, especially the youth have resorted to drugs because they lack faith in God and want to escape from their problems.
In his homily during the Holy Mass and rite of ordination, the bishop said there are 31,000 people involved in drugs from Region XII who voluntarily surrendered, and of this number, 14,000 are from the Diocese of Marbel.
Region XII comprises the four provinces of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani, while the Diocese of Marbel comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani, and some parts of Sultan Kudarat.
Gutierrez said the Church has never closely accompanied drug users, and it is because of the recent spathe of summary executions that the Church hierarchy realized the extent of the drug problem.
Gutierrez said the Marbel Diocese is now working closely with government agencies and the Philippine National Police for the program on pastoral accompaniment of illegal drug users, hoping they will become responsive, responsible, disciplined, and productive citizens who are liberated from illegal drug use and drug pushing.
With the different programs like medical and psychological interventions, livelihood skills training, and the pastoral program, Gutierrez said they will become not only good citizens but also “Christified” people.
The bishop told the newly-ordained priests to help the Church in this endeavor despite the fact that priesthood is not an easy vocation. (John Frances C. Fuentes / CBCP News)