MANILA , September 21, 2013–WITH only a few weeks left prior to the Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE), the highest leader of Manila’s Roman Catholic Church said the Vatican is looking forward to see the contributions of the Philippine Church in propagating the experience of new evangelization to the Catholic faithful.
In a statement, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said that the Vatican Office of the New Evangelization and the Synod of Bishops are eager to know and experience the activities prepared for the upcoming PCNE slated from October 16 to 18 at the University of Santo Tomas.
“The eyes of the Vatican are on us,” Tagle said, noting that the Holy See is looking forward to the activities of the PCNE not to pry over it, but to see how the efforts of the Philippine Church can successfully contribute to the Universal Church’s mission of new evangelization.
The cardinal also hinted that there is a possibility for a Vatican official, whose name he did not disclose, to attend the conference to personally experience the activities prepared for the PCNE.
Noting that the church in the Philippines has always been reminded of its missionary role in Asia, Tagle invited Asian churches who do not have enough resources to organize the same conference to join the upcoming PCNE. Delegates from Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, and Myanmar will attend the event, he said.
Countering secularist influences
Tagle said that the Philippine Church is spearheading the Asian gathering to counter the secularist influences hounding its conventions, and also to respond to the call of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to rediscover and deepen one’s Catholic faith.
“It is this broken world which remains God’s world that also opens for us opportunities for evangelization. And the challenge was not just to focus on the negative or the shadows found in the world but also to the opportunities for mission,” the cardinal said.
He added that through the PCNE, he hopes the delegates would be directed toward the rediscovery and rejuvenation of their faith, keeping the church’s mission of new evangelization in synch with the modern times.
“There are parts of the world where the faith has become some kind of extracurricular activity which some even say you can do without,” Tagle said in an earlier press conference on the PCNE.
“This drive has a destination, we would like to reach people who have yet to hear about Jesus for this is a constant mission of the church,” he added.
According to Tagle, the conference carries a tripartite objective of creating an experience of God in the context of the challenges of the new millennium, strengthening bonds of communion, and providing avenues of inspiration and direction imbued with the spirit of new evangelization.
“New evangelization is not just based on mere strategies. They are based on a renewed experience of Jesus. We are hoping that through this three-day conference, we would gain a renewed experience of Jesus,” the prelate said.
He also said that the conference aims to keep the mission of new evangelization alive amid changes brought by modernization.
“Our mission is to understand our modern world and look for opportunities to fulfill our mission. We recognize the fact that there are problems and contradiction, but despite this heaviness, we know that this world remains to be the same one that came from our God,” he said.
Dubbed as the “grand climax” of the Year of Faith celebration in the Archdiocese of Manila, the three-day conference features talks, parallel sessions, workshops, and activities that tackle modern-day approaches to deepen one’s faith and spirituality.
Tagle will lead the opening mass and perspective setting to be held on the first day.
Parallel sessions dubbed as “Streams of Encounter with God” will also be held on the first day, featuring sessions on the following topics: The Word of God, Paths and Expressions of Prayer, Praying for the “Unjust Structures” of Society, “Your Faith Has Made You Well”: Healing Encounters, Encountering God Through the Arts, Downloading God Through the New Media, and Ang Mahal na Birhen at Ang Mga Banal: Kaagapay sa Panalangin.
On the second day, renowned theologian Fr. Catalino Arevalo, S.J. will give a talk on “Popular Devotions and the New Evangelization.” Another set of parallel workshops dubbed as “Pathways of Communion and Renewal” will be held on the same day.
“Pathways of Communion and Renewal” sessions include Integral Faith Formation, Empowering the Laity Toward Social Transformation, Active Presence and Participation of the Poor in the Church, The Eucharist and Liturgy as Font and Apex of Christian Life, The Family as Focal Point of Evangelization, The Parish as a Community of Communities, Integral Renewal of the Clergy and the Consecrated, Journeying with the Youth, Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue, and Animation and Formation for Mission Ad Gentes.
A musical gathering dubbed as the “concert of the millennium” is also slated on the second day.
The third day features a talk on the “Missionary Dimension of Evangelization” by Tagle and the last set of parallel sectoral workshops.
Sectoral workshops include sessions on Catechists and Catholic Educators, Lay Associations and Ecclesial Communities, Church of the Poor, Family and Evangelization, Parish as Community of Communities, Clergy, Consecrated Persons, Youth, Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue.
Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto will celebrate the closing Eucharist. A message from the Supreme Pontiff will be shown at the closing of the convention.
According to Msgr. Gerardo Santos, vice chairperson of the PCNE organizing committee, only 5,000 participants can be accommodated in the conference. Online registration can be made at www.pcne.com.ph. (Jennifer M. Orillaza)