QUEZON City, Feb. 21, 2014—Seeing the need to educate the laity on the doctrines of the faith, a priest in a parish in the Diocese of Novaliches is giving priority to the teaching of catechism.
Fr. Joel Saballa, a missionary from the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception (CFIC), regretted that many Filipino Catholics know very little—if not completely ignorant—of even the basic tenets of the Roman Catholic Church.
In an interview with the CBCP News, Saballa, who had been raised in a Protestant environment, observed that Catholics are lagging behind members of other Christian denominations in regard to religious literacy.
This “embarrassment” prompted the priest to come up with his weekly programs Kura Katekista and Itanong Mo Kay Father at the Immaculate Conception Parish in a bid to make his parishioners better Catholics.
During the “Kura Katekista” program which he holds before the Holy Mass proper, Saballa spends about five minutes every Sunday expounding on a particular Catholic doctrine, or any other topic relating to the faith like the nature of the Trinity and the Sacraments.
In his “Itanong Mo Kay Father” program after the Holy Communion, he will answer two to three questions of the parishioners’ own choosing about “anything and everything Catholic”.
In both cases, Saballa uses the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and Catechism for Filipinos (CFC) for reference.
“Madalas nila akong tanungin kung ano raw ba ang ibig sabihin nung isda (ichtos) sa simbolong Katoliko (Parishioners would often ask me what the fish in Catholic symbology is supposed to represent),” shared Saballa.
“Nagtataka rin sila kung bakit ang Birhen sa dasal ay tinatawag na Ginoo… Ipinaliliwanag ko sa kanila na isa lang itong pagdakila sa dignidad niya bilang Inmaculada Concepción at Ina ng Diyos, at wala itong kinalaman sa kasarian (They would also wonder why the Virgin in the Tagalog version of Hail Mary is addressed as Ginoo… I would explain to them that it only reaffirms her dignity as the Immaculate Conception and Theotokos, and that it has nothing at all to do with gender),” he added.
Saballa also told the CBCP News that starting June this year, his Parish is intending to launch Sunday school which will aim to deepen what young churchgoers’ already know of the faith through catechism and Bible study.
This Sunday school will have morning and afternoon sessions, he explained.
To further this task, Saballa shared that he will also be training volunteer catechists who will cover “mission areas” in the Diocese of Novaliches.
Most of these future catechists, the priest hopes, would come from the youth sector, but he assured that he also welcomes adults willing to become evangelizers. (Raymond A. Sebastián)