MANILA, Oct. 8, 2015 – Catechists believe Filipinos are Asians for a reason, and God has a plan in putting the Philippines in a continent where Christians are a minority.
“I really am convinced that there is a divine reason why we are in this part of the world. It is no accident. Rather, it is a mission. God wishes our country to serve as the hub of the faith in Asia,” Darwin Beceril, a volunteer catechist from the Diocese of Novaliches, told CBCP News in an interview.
It may not seem obvious, but he shares God’s plan is now being realized, often by Filipinos who are not missionaries in the strict sense.
“I have a friend who was also a volunteer catechist like myself before he became an OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers). As in most cases, he had to leave the country and his family behind for better opportunities abroad. But what’s amazing is he never stops catechizing. He finds ways to catechize those around him despite the demands of his job,” Beceril said.
But he went on to point out that any Filipino who is willing can be a missionary in Asia without leaving the Philippines.
“We can all be missionaries in Asia right at home, but we need to act not as individuals, but as a community of faith. If our nation will only take to heart all that Jesus has taught us by courageous Christian witnessing, this will be our gift to the world.” he added.
Prof. Nestor Limqueco, a religious educator and college instructor from Arellano University, explained, however, that the call to mission is addressed to all the baptized, Filipinos or not.
“Every baptized Christian is a missionary. We are called to mission ‘ad gentes’ which can be done within, not just outside the country,” he explained.
Limqueco added that the call to mission is not just to bring forth the message of Christ, but more importantly, to let others know the actual Person of Christ, Who must be “seen, felt, and experienced.”
While conversion remains indispensable, he urged constant dialogue, noting that Vatican II desires the unity of all Christians as well as non-Christians through constant communication, respect, and mutual understanding
Jovi Atanacio, a call center agent and a Marian devotion promoter from Antipolo City, agreed that Filipino Catholics have a special role in the Mission in Asia, but lamented the many who are still ignorant of the faith.
“May we use every means — media, the internet, etc. — in evangelizing others, not just by our words, but more so by our works,” he said.
Small but growing
According to data published by the Pew Research Center, the Christian population in the Asia-Pacific region as of 2010 is 287 million, or 7.1 % of the total demographic, the bulk of which is in the predominantly Catholic Philippines.
This is expected to grow by about 33% or 381 million in 2050.
Pope Francis’ intention for evangelization in Oct. is for the “Mission in Asia.” I reads: “That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.”
For his universal intention, the Holy Father prays that “human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.” (Raymond A. Sebastián / CBCP News)