Integral Evangelical Formation towards Proclamation and Evangelization

INTEGRAL EVANGELICAL FORMATION TOWARDS

PROCLAMATION AND EVANGELIZATION

 

INTRODUCTION

 

                1. One of the most important aspects of Church renewal is formation. The Second Synod of Lucena aims to attain the full formation of Catholics in a properly integrated spirituality. This spirituality is a response to Jesus who calls everyone to be holy as the Father is holy (Cf. Mt. 5:48). Evangelization must also seek to build up the Church in order that it may become a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The genuine witnesses to Christ are imbued with a new fervor and enthusiasm rooted in the love of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

                2. It is the Father’s will - as revealed by Jesus Christ, who is the manifestation and the fullness of his everlasting love and charity - to send his Son Jesus Christ to redeem the world. Salvation consists in believing and accepting the mystery of the Father and his love, made manifest and freely given in Jesus through the Holy Spirit.2 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life (Jn. 3:16).

 

                3. At the center of the expression of the faith of the early Christians was witnessing to Christ. They used words such as Jesus is Lord (1 Cor. 12:3), Jesus is the Christ (1 Jn. 2:22), Jesus is the Son of God (Gal. 2:20), and Jesus became flesh (1 Jn. 4:2) to express their understanding that in God’s plan, everything is centered on Christ. God willed that everything must be in unity with Christ. He entered once for all into the Holy of Holies, thus obtaining eternal redemption with his own blood (Cf. Heb. 9:12). If Christ is the cornerstone of God’s design for the redemption and holiness of all, communicating the teachings of Christ or evangelization is the foundation of the mission of the Church.

 

                4. The mission of the Church is focused on the work of evangelization. Evangelization means bringing the Good News to all the strata of humanity, and through its influence transforming humanity from within and making it new.3   See, I am making all things new! (Rev. 21:5). This means to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:23-24; Cf. Col. 3:9-10). Thus, the aim of evangelization is the renewal or conversion of the individual.4 Unless a man turns away from sin and turns to God, undergoes a change of mind and heart, and decides to follow Christ, no evangelization will bear fruit.5

 

                For the Church, it is a question not only of preaching the Gospel in ever wider geographic areas or to even greater numbers of peoples but also affecting and, as it were, upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind’s criteria of judgment and of determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation.6

 

                5. There are a number of elements that must be understood and given importance in the evangelization effort of the Church: to teach Christ to those who do not know him yet, to preach, to catechize, and to give the sacrament of Baptism as well as other sacraments.7 Along this line, Pope Paul VI stresses that (E)vangelization is a complex process made up of varied elements: the renewal of humanity, witness, explicit proclamation, inner adherence, entry into the community, acceptance of signs, apostolic initiative… These elements are in fact complementary and mutually enriching.   Each one must always be seen in relationship with the others.8 These are enumerated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council, more specifically in Lumen Gentium, Gaudium et Spes, and Ad Gentes Divinitus.

 

                6. The Church is both the object and the subject of evangelization. The Church is an evangelizer but she begins by being evangelized herself… she has a constant need of being evangelized, if she wishes to retain freshness, vigor and strength in order to proclaim the Gospel.10 The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines seeks a renewed Church as a community of disciples missioned by the Lord to labor in the particular Filipino situation. This means bringing the message of salvation as well as the message of liberation. How do we envision a renewed evangelization? What are the elements of a renewed evangelization?

 

                7. This document has seven chapters: (1) A Renewed Catechesis, (2) Pre-sacramental Catechesis, (3) Catholic Educational Institutions, (4) Continuing Formation, (5) Community Formation, (6) Community Formation through Christian Stewardship, and (7) Formation of the Missionary Community in the Diocese.

 

CHAPTER I

A RENEWED CATECHESIS

 

                8. Individuals who have received the Good News, experienced renewal or conversion, and now believe in Christ need catechesis. Catechesis is one concern of the Church’s pastoral activity;12 it aims at reinvigorating the faith of the people through clear teaching.13 A renewed catechesis is thus the first element of a renewed evangelization.14 The appropriate importance given to this catechesis is manifested through the vigorous and inspired formation of the believers in all the sectors of the communitythe children, the youth, the adults, and the family.

 

                9. The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines took note of the big percentage of Filipinos who are not receiving adequate catechesis. Hence, it reemphasized the catechetical function according to the teachings of the Synod of Bishops in 1977 and the exhortation of Pope John Paul II.15

 

                 10. Renewed catechesis must incorporate the following features: Christ-centered, rooted in the Word of God, genuinely Filipino, and systematic.

 

                11. Catechesis today must be Christ-centered. There is no compromising the centrality of Christ. This means that all the teachingson the Blessed Virgin Mary, the saints, the sacraments, the Word of Life, devotions, and others must be related to Christ so that the catechized can be led into deep intimacy with Christ himself.16 Furthermore, Christ must be taught not only as a person who lived in history but as the Lord who is with us now, the Emmanuel who is the Way and Guide in our journey to the Father.

 

                12. Another characteristic of a renewed catechesis is its being rooted in the Word of God. There is no greater proclamation on the Word of God Who became man than the Bible itself. Whenever the Bible is read in the Church, it is Christ himself who is speaking to us.18 The Bible must again be the main reference in the teaching of catechism.

 

                13. Catechists must be trained and formed in the Word of God. They must also have familiarity with and training in the use of the Bible in prayer and study. This is also what every Catholic must do because ignorance of the Holy Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.

 

                14. Renewed catechesis must also be authentically Filipino. It must be so acculturated in the Filipino context that both the means of transmission of the message and the resources for assimilating it are truly Filipino. This would require that the Good News be preached in the language of the Filipinos.20 This inculturation of catechesis is an urgent need because without this process, either the Christian message remains alien to the Filipinos or the Filipinos, in accepting it, risk being alienated from their own culture.

 

                15. Finally, catechesis must be systematic. This means that it must present in an ordered and programmed way the Good News from the Bible and Tradition, according what is taught by the Magisterium or official teaching of the Church, without diminution or addition of anything that deviates from correct doctrine, and always taking into account the circumstances of the catechized. This systematic catechesis must highlight the basics of Catholic belief and practice. Moreover, it must include as an integral part the social doctrine of the Church.

 

                16. So that renewed catechesis can help in the holistic formation of the individual person in every facet of life, this synod recommends that in the teaching of catechism, attention must be given to the following: catechesis for children, catechesis for the in-school and out-of-school youth, catechesis for adults, catechesis for the family, catechesis for the Anointing of the sick, catechesis for the families of the departed, and catechesis for Christian stewardship.

 

Catechesis for Children

 

                17. Jesus so loved children that he said to his disciples: Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it (Mk. 10:14-15).

 

                18. It is obvious that in the Gospel, Jesus showed his loving concern for the children by cradling them, putting his hands on them, and blessing them. In regard to catechesis, this involves the teaching of the Word of God to children.

 

                19. Almost all of the parishes in the Diocese of Lucena have a program for catechesis for children. This fosters a closer relationship with Jesus and leads the children to a personal knowledge of God.

 

Catechesis for the Youth (High School and Out-of-School Youth)

 

                20. But the youth must also become evangelizers themselves. The youth follow their peers. Committed Catholic young people are the best evangelizers of other young people. We should prepare and engage them in the apostolate. Even when young, they should be involved in parish or transparochial apostolate after due training.23

 

                21. To manifest our concern and care for the welfare of the youth, suitable and well-trained campus ministers should be appointed for school youth.24

 

                22. Catechesis for the youth is sometimes neglected in many parishes in the Diocese of Lucena because of lack of awareness of the program. The absence of a program for the out-of-school youth is also observable. Many people are simply not interested in them, and neither do the parents cooperate in the catechetical programs for them. There is no linkage between the Church and the schools. If there is any program for youth catechism, it cannot flourish due to the absence or lack of classrooms, dearth of funds and catechists, and want of moral and financial support.

 

Catechesis for Adults

 

                23. Catechesis for adults is covered by the renewed catechesis. Adult Christians must be encouraged to undertake catechism so that they can learn the teachings of God and the Church. This has to be implemented in coordination with the programs of the Basic Ecclesial Communities and family catechesis.

 

                24. Similarly, there is not much emphasis on catechesis for adults in the diocese. Bishop Alfredo Ma. Obviar organized a catechetical program for adults called Neighborhood Conferencillas or Adult Catechism. It is urgently suggested that this program be revived in the diocese.

 

Catechesis for the Family

 

                25. The task of renewed catechesis extends to all members of the Church, according to his or her situation. In the families, it is the primary duty of parents to form their children, by word and example, in the faith and Christian living. The same obligation binds godparents and those who take the place of parents.

 

                26. The family is the Church in the home. It is the primary community of Christ’s disciples whose members are bound together not only by ties of flesh and blood but by the grace and obedience to the Father’s will.

 

                27. The formation program for the families of the diocese falls under the supervision of the Family and Life Ministry.

 

Catechesis for the Anointing of the Sick

 

                28. The command of James mirrors Jesus’ tremendous concern for the sick: Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven (Jas. 5:14-16).

 

                29. Among the pastoral works of the priests is the Anointing of the sick with the holy oil. The faithful, however, lack appreciation for and understanding of this sacrament.

 

Catechesis for the Families of the Departed

 

                30. Hope does not disappoint us because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us (Cf. Rom. 5:5). Catechesis for the families of the departed is necessary in order to accompany them in their time of grief and to strengthen their hope in eternal life.

 

Catechesis for the Stewardship Program

 

                31. God created man and woman in his image and blessed them. God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth (Gen. 1:27-28). The management of God’s gifts such as time, talent, and treasure is part and parcel of being a good steward (Cf. Mt. 25:14-15).

 

                32. In the renewal of the Church, there is emphasis on the appropriate means of supporting the pastoral work. The Stewardship Program is one of the innovative ways of supporting the Church. The mechanics and processes of this program must be fully understood so that it can be properly implemented.

 

CHAPTER II

PRE-SACRAMENTAL CATECHESIS

 

                33. No sacrament should be administered without first instructing the participants on the meaning of the sacrament they are to receive.

 

Pre-Baptismal Seminar

 

                34. Jesus said, Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is of the spirit. (Jn. 3:5-6).

 

Pre-Confirmation Seminar

 

                35. Through the sacrament of Confirmation, the faithful are endowed with supernatural strength from the Holy Spirit and is fully conjoined with the Church. Hence, as a true witness of Christ, the confirmed must propagate the faith in word and in deed.29

 

Pre-First Communion Seminar  

 

                36. The bases of the Catholic faith in the Eucharist are enunciated in the Foundations of the Holy Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council.30

 

                37. At the Last Supper on the night he was betrayed, Jesus founded the Eucharistic Sacrifice of his body and blood and said, Do this in remembrance of me (Cf. Lk. 22:19).

 

                38. The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life,31 and the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines directs that the centrality of the Eucharist in Catholic piety shall be given greater emphasis.32

 

Pre-Cana Seminar           

 

                39. Therefore man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). This expresses that the personal objectives of Marriage are mutual love, helpfulness, and unity of the couple.33

 

                40. The teaching of the Church with regard to the moral standards of Marriage will only be accepted and observed if there is a full understanding of the genuine meaning of a Christian marriage.34

 

CHAPTER III

CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

 

                41. Among the various organs of education, school education is important in forming a human being.35 Catholic educational institutions have been making a distinct contribution to the total well-being of our country. Catholic educational institutions are among the most necessary and potent means of evangelization.36

 

Christian Living in the Curriculum

 

                42. One of the primary mandates of the Church is the dissemination of Christian teaching as well as the deepening of the faith of its constituents. Education in Christian living within the school curriculum is one of the most effective ways of dissemination and formation.

Integration of the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) in the Curriculum of Catholic Schools

 

                43. It is time that Catholic schools reviewed their charism vis-à-vis the current Philippine context. Hence, these schools need to align themselves with the aim and program for the renewal of the particular Church. In this way, they will serve as catalysts of change in the renewal of the Church in the image of the Basic Ecclesial Communities.37

 

Faculty and School Personnel Formation

 

                44. Teachers and administrators must bear in mind that it is their serious responsibility to see to it that the Catholic schools achieve their aim of developing the whole person of their students. Animated by an apostolic spirit and authentic concern for the students and for one another, they must bear testimony, in their lives and their teaching, to Christ, the one Teacher.38

 

School Parents’ Formation

 

                45. Since they are the ones who give life to their children, parents are responsible for the their education.39 Teaching the children, therefore, is the primary duty of the parents. In some instances, however, the parents themselves do not possess sufficient knowledge to teach their children, particularly about the faith.

 

CHAPTER IV

CONTINUING FORMATION

 

                46. It is clear that we need more catechists. They must be trained professionally in schools of catechism. There is a need for the ongoing formation of all catechists in order to increase their fervor, purify their motives, and improve their knowledge and teaching skills.40 This synod stresses the continuing formation of catechists, pastoral lay workers, lay leaders, Church workers, parish secretaries, and social communicators.

 

Continuing Formation of Catechists

 

                47. Article 55 #1 of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines states that (P)riority should be given to the calling, training and formation of professional and volunteer catechists for children and youth in public and non-sectarian schools and out-of-school children and youth. Article 55 #2 adds that (C)atechists should be… adequately compensated, ideally with financial support from parishioners.

 

Continuing Formation of Pastoral Lay Workers  

 

                48. The formation of pastoral lay workers is a program of the diocese specifically stated in Article 111 #2 of the Decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is tasked with organizing and fielding in the different dioceses a training program for workers and missionaries of the Basic Ecclesial Communities.

 

                49. This formation aims at training those who want to serve in organizing, strengthening, and propagating the Basic Ecclesial Communities. Above all, it seeks to develop the skills, knowledge, and experience of lay workers in relation to the Basic Ecclesial Communities.

 

Continuing Formation of Social Communicators

 

                50. The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines stresses the importance of the mass media and their influence on society. This council gives special recognition to the Catholic practitioners working in the media of social communication because of the tremendous potentials these media possess for good or for evil. Through the mass media, not only news or images but also values are communicated to millions of people right into their very homes. Hence, there is an urgent need for media education and media awareness.

 

                51. It is important and necessary to have priests who will exercise pastoral care for and promote the formation of practitioners in the field of social communication.43 This is an effective means of supporting the renewal of evangelization.

 

CHAPTER V

COMMUNITY FORMATION

 

                52. The task of renewal includes the formation of the community. Attention must be focused not only on personal and individual formation but also on the holistic formation of the entire community.

 

                53. At all times and in every race, anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him (Cf. Acts 10:35). He has, however, willed to make men holy and save them, not as individuals without any bond or link between them, but rather to make them into a people who might acknowledge him and serve him in holiness.

 

                54. In the Old Testament, God considered the Israelites his chosen people and prepared them to be the image of the new and everlasting covenant made perfect through Christ, the Incarnate Word of God.

 

                55. In the liturgy the Church is compared to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people (Cf. 1 Pt. 2:9-10).

 

Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs)

 

                56. In the Diocese of Lucena, the Church envisioned as communion, participation, and mission; the Church envisioned as a priestly, prophetic and kingly people; and the Church envisioned as a Church of the poora Church that is renewed is today finding expression in one ecclesial thrust. This is the building up of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs). They are small communities of Christians, usually of families who gather together around the Word of God and the Eucharist. These communities are united to their pastors but are ministered to regularly by lay leaders. The members know each other by name, and share not only the Word of God and the Eucharist but also their concerns both material and spiritual. They have a strong sense of belongingness and of responsibility for one another.46 The primary pastoral responsibility of the Diocese of Lucena is the organization of Basic Ecclesial Communities.

 

Mandated Religious Organizations

 

                57. Many religious and devotional organizations exist today. These are Church-based organizations composed of laypeople who promote the works of apostolate and evangelization.

 

CHAPTER VI

COMMUNITY FORMATION THROUGH CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP

 

                58. In the renewal of the Church, greater emphasis is placed on the appropriate ways of supporting its thrust. The Christian Stewardship program is one of the new ways of supporting the Church. Being a Christian Steward means actively sharing one’s Time, Talent, and Treasure. Through the stewardship program, the Church can address the plight of those identified in the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines as the unchurched.

 

                59. God owns all his creation; we are only his stewards. It is only right that we as stewards should give back to God his owner’s share. According to the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, a catechesis that is based on the teaching of the Church and the Bible must be developed and implemented in relation to the social character of spending and tithing as part of Church life.48 Tithing is part of being a Christian Steward.

 

                60. It is the duty of every Church member to support and propagate the Christian Stewardship program.

 

Pastoral Formation Center and Media Center in the Diocese

 

                61. In order to implement a renewed formation in the Diocese of Lucena according to the enumerated areas of concern, there is a need to focus on the following: (a) the establishment of a Pastoral Formation Center, (b) the establishment of a Diocesan Media Center, and (c) the allocation of funds to support the activities related to the innovative ways of formation.

 

                62. It cannot be denied that institutions and centers of formation are needed to make the work of evangelization prosper. In the Philippines today there are many centers of formation for future priests and for those who enter the religious life. There is also a good number of formation centers for catechists. Among those formation centers are retreat houses and prayer centers. More and more people show a longing to mature in the Christian life and to learn the spirit and techniques of evangelization. The Church must respond to this need, for it is a formed and informed laity that will mainly carry the torch of evangelization.

 

                63. The First Synod of the Diocese of Lucena recommended that a Catechetical Formation Center shall be put up in the diocese as soon as possible in order to maximize the present human and material resources.50 It will be staffed by especially trained personnel51 and shall be adequately financed.52 This recommendation is reiterated in this second synod.

 

                64. The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines also expressed the need to appeal to the bishops to organize and manage these centers of formation. In addition, the priests should also be encouraged, together with the laypeople, to avail of continuing updating programs in lay centers of formation. The bishops must also have a close watch on these centers in order to ensure that only the correct teachings of the Church are propagated and the appropriate Christian life is promoted.

 

Temporalities of a Renewed Formation Program

 

                65. Finance is always part of any program. The creation of a Pastoral Formation Center and a Media Center involves some expense. The Christian community must be made aware of this challenge, and they should be asked to support the new ways of formation. A portion of the diocesan income may be allocated for catechesis, and special contributions may be solicited from time to time to support the catechetical apostolate.

 

                66. The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines reiterates the words of the Sacred Scriptures about the poor being blessed. Thus, in order to witness to the love of God, we need to become the Church of the Poor.53 Nevertheless, the Church still needs to solicit funds to finance her programs for the benefit of her flock. It is but appropriate to teach the Christian community regarding this financial issue in order to address the need to support the Church’s efforts towards renewal. The Church may solicit the help of her flock to promote her worthy objectives for a renewed formation.

 

CHAPTER VII

FORMATION OF THE MISSIONARY COMMUNITY IN THE DIOCESE

 

                67. It is the will of God that all humans be saved: God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him (Jn. 3:17). Salvation can only be attained through faith in Christ, whom the Father has sent so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life (Jn. 3:16).

 

                68. But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? (Rom. 10:14-15) Therefore, anyone who will preach about Christ must be sent.

 

                69. That is why before he ascended into heaven, Christ gathered and commissioned his apostles to preach the Good News to all nations: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 28: 19-20; cf. Mk. 16:16; Lk. 24:47; Acts 1:8).

 

The Church as Missionary

 

                70. The Lord Jesus Christ entrusted the pursuit of his salvific mission to the Church. As the Father has sent me, so I send you (Jn. 20:21). This salvific mission is today carried on by the Church through the preaching of the Word, the administration of the sacraments, and the witnessing to Christ through service to others.

 

                71. The nature of the Church as a missionary54 derives from the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit.55 The Church became a missionary when it received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4; Jn. 20:22) to continue the work of Jesus among mankind… to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

 

                72. Through Baptism, every Christian is united in the life of Christ as a priest, prophet, and king and in his Mystical Body, the Church. Baptism links each of the baptized to a Christ-like life. In Baptism, each of the believers is called to be a disciple and to partake in the mission of the Church throughout the world at all times.

 

The Diocese as a Missionary Community

 

                73. The call to participate in Jesus’ mission is not only for every Christian follower. It is also a call for the whole community where God’s Spirit dwells (1 Cor. 3:16). This community of Christians is the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.

 

                74. The Catholic Church responds to the call of Christ for the worldwide mission. Therefore, the diocese as a particular Church must participate in responding to this call.

 

                75. Today it is necessary for the particular Church to work with unity towards the realization of evangelization. Relative to this, the diocese shall minister to all her sectors, promote their needs, and have an understanding of their work.

 

                76. The bishop must in a very special way foster missionary vocations and solidarity with missionary work.

 

                77. As collaborators of the bishop, the priests are called, through the sacrament of Holy Orders, to share in the propagation of the Church’s missionary work. The grace of the Holy Spirit that the priests received on ordination day prepares them to have concern not only for the diocese that they are to serve but also for the whole Church so that it can fulfill the entire mission of salvation until the end of the world.

 

                78. Popes who have recently led the Church stressed the important role of the laity in the missionary work of the Church. Pope John Paul II declared, Whereas the foundation of a new Church requires the Eucharist and hence the priestly ministry, missionary activity, which is carried out in a wide variety of ways, is the task of all the Christian faithful.59

 

                79. As a result, with the leadership of the bishop, who is the shepherd of the particular Church, with the help of the priests who assist in his work, and with the cooperation of the laity, the missionary work of the diocese is realized.

 

Concrete Response of the Diocese of Lucena to the Missionary Work of the Church

 

                80. After healing the sick and casting away demons, Jesus went to the wilderness to pray. His disciples looked for him and when they found him they told him that the people were looking for him. Instead of acceding to their request, Jesus said to them, Let us go on to the neighboring towns so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do (Mk. 1:38).

 

                81. Christ preached the Good News of salvation in different places, and the Church continues this work. The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines states that (T)he Church is a communion in a state of mission.60 God is launching us into a new age of mission.61 There are many signs of missionary awakening for which we thank the Lord of the harvest. We need to provide encouragement, support, and personnel to this important mission.

 

                82. In spite of the fact that the Diocese of Lucena has been in existence for the last fifty-three (53) years, with the exception of the foundation of the Missionary Catechists of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus (MCST) whose contributions to mission work within and outside the diocese cannot be quantified, mission work outside the Church (missio ad extra) remains largely ignored.

 

                83. As a matter of fact, missio ad extra was not even mentioned in the First Synod of Lucena. In general, although mission work is for all who were baptized in Christ (the laity, the priests, the religious),63 generally speaking, there are only a few who devote themselves to this work. There are only a few missionaries working outside the diocese, that is, in other dioceses or overseas, particularly in non-Christian countries.

 

                84. Today the diocese is hoping for a renewal of the life of its flock. This is the primary objective of the Second Synod of the Diocese of Lucena. It is an appropriate response to the call of the times that mission work, particularly missio ad extra, be given emphasis. In addition, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines stated in its pastoral letter entitled “Missions and the Church in the Philippines” that [W]e want to begin the new millennium by pledging that our local Churches will be truly missionary in spirit and in action.

 

MARY, MODEL DISCIPLE AND EXEMPLAR OF MISSIONARY LIFE

 

                85. The Virgin Mary is the exemplary disciple and the model of the Church. Through faith she conceived the Son of God in her heart and by the power of the Holy Spirit conceived him in her body. Possessed by the grace of God from the beginning of her life, she gave an unambiguous and definitive “Yes” to the Lord.65 Thus, she became the Mother of God and the first of the Lord’s disciples.

 

                86. Mary was formed by her Son Jesus in the sense that during those times when she did not understand the events in his life, she continued to believe in God’s will.66 This became possible because of the alliance of the hearts of Jesus and Mary. They had a covenant for the salvation of mankind.

 

                87. Mary was not only the first to be evangelized, that is, to receive the Good News, but she was also the first evangelizer. As quickly as she could, she brought Jesus, the Good News, to her cousin Elizabeth. She also proclaimed the Word of God to her cousin through her Magnificat. She not only spoke of the great things the Lord had done for her. She was always giving Jesus to the people. After giving birth to Jesus, she presented her Son to the shepherds, the magi, and to Simeon, who received him joyfully in his arms. Mary persevered in witnessing to her faith in Jesus even as he hung on the cross.67 Mary was the model witness of Christ. She possessed the fire and enthusiasm rooted in her love for God and the grace of the Holy Spirit.

 

                88. Mary was indeed the radiant embodiment of discipleship―she who heard the Word and acted upon it. Thus, her present role in the formation for the Church’s missionary work can never be left out of account.

 

                89. Mary was a missionary in extraordinary ways. As a servant of the Lord (Cf. Lk. 1:38), she was chosen by the Father to offer his Son to mankind through the Holy Spirit. On account of this, Mary remains a living example in the formation of the missionary community in the diocese.

 

                90. Mary’s faith, silence, intensive listening,69 and obedience (fiat) must be developed among Christians so that they can be living witnesses of Christ.

 

CALL TO ACTION

 

In view of the discussions and reflections on Integral Evangelical Formation Towards Proclamation and Evangelization, the following recommendations (Call to Action) are proposed.

 

                I. A RENEWED CATECHESIS

 

Catechesis for Children

 

                CTA-1. A regular study program of catechism for children must be organized. Parents shall be encouraged to join their children in the deepening of their personal relationship with Jesus.

 

                CTA-2. It is also beneficial to catechize the children every Sunday, especially during vacation times, in the parishes, barangay chapels, and Basic Ecclesial Communities. The teaching of catechism to children who attend schools run by Protestant denominations, especially in the pre-school level, must be emphasized.

 

                CTA-3. A common syllabus or course guide that can be used in the different grade levels in all parishes can create uniformity in the teaching of catechism.

 

                CTA-4. Children who attend catechetical activities can be motivated if there are outings, pilgrimages, and regular recollections, especially for those who are in the intermediate grades (Grades V and VI), visitations by catechists in the homes of the learners, and if innovative teaching approaches like participative or team approach are used.

 

Catechesis for the Youth (High School and Out-of-School Youth)

 

                CTA-5. A catechetical program must be implemented in the public high schools. There should be a similar program for out-of-school youth on Sundays. A comprehensive program of Christian instruction for adolescents who are in prison has to be formulated.

 

                CTA-6. Linkage must be established between the Church and the schools in order to solicit the cooperation of parents and other authorities for a diocesan and parish catechetical program.

 

                CTA-7. It is beneficial to have a program for adolescents concerning spiritual life, basic catechism, values education, vocation discernment, media awareness, doctrinal catechism, morality, worship, sex education, and marriage so as to guide them to maturity.

 

                CTA-8. Summer programs or projects such as regular recollections must be devised in order that the youth may be interested in catechism. Catechists must use not only traditional but also innovative approaches to teaching such as interactive media or visual aids.

 

                CTA-9. A youth or campus ministry must be organized in schools and Basic Ecclesial Communities in order to propagate the faith among the youth, especially through a “one-on-one approach,” Bible study, and other appropriate methodologies.

 

                CTA-10. Additional school and home-based (for BECs) catechists must be trained and their financial and moral needs supported.

 

Catechesis for Adults

 

                CTA-11. In the pursuance of this work, a catechetical program or guide must be devised for adults. It shall contain the following: Basic Catechism (doctrine, morality, and worship), Ten Commandments, Teachings of the Church, Bible Study, Pre-Sacramental Seminars (Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage), Family Life and Responsible Parenthood, Counseling, and Basic Ecclesial Communities shall be developed for the catechesis for adults. These teachings or doctrines shall also be taught to adults who are languishing in prison in order to impart to them the hope that can pave the way for their conversion.

 

                CTA-12. Catechists must conduct house-to-house visits in order to motivate adults to join the catechetical program.

 

                CTA-13. A catechetical program must be organized so as to reinvigorate the catechesis for adults in the Basic Ecclesial Communities, in coordination with the members of the Couples for Christ, Marriage Encounter, charismatic leaders, and other members of religious organizations who can be recruited to teach catechism.

 

Catechesis for Families

 

                CTA-14. Support for the formation of families must be continued through seminars that can deepen their understanding of their parental responsibility and the sacrament of Marriage.

 

                CTA-15. Monthly recollections for families can also help deepen their spiritual lives.

 

                CTA-16. The community, particularly the priests, must support the programs of the Family and Life Ministry. Groups like the Couples for Christ, Marriage Encounter, and others are asked to cooperate in these programs.

 

Catechesis for the Anointing of the Sick

 

                CTA-17. A program of catechesis for the sick must be organized in every parish. On particular occasions such as the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes on February 11th, the celebration of Healing Masses, or when the sick are gathered, the sacrament of the Anointing of the sick must be explained to the ailing persons and their families so that that they will not be afraid of receiving it.

 

                CTA-18. It will help to strengthen and inspire the sick if the priests and other volunteers (pastoral teams) committed to this kind of apostolate can visit them.

 

Catechesis for the Families of the Departed

 

                CTA-19. The practice of holding vigil for departed brethren must be continued. Whenever possible, catechesis on death shall be undertaken on this occasion.

 

                CTA-20. Bereavement sessions for the relatives of the departed must be organized in every parish in order that their sorrow may be assuaged.

 

Catechesis for the Stewardship Program              

 

                CTA-21. There should be a catechesis on the Christian Stewardship Program in order to correctly explain its objectives and importance. After in-depth discussion and dissemination in the grassroots level, the said program shall be implemented in the entire diocese.

 

                CTA-22. Follow-up seminars on the details of the Stewardship Program must be conducted.

 

II. PRE-SACRAMENTAL CATECHESIS

 

Pre-Baptismal Seminar

 

                CTA-23. Primary attention must be given to the pre-baptismal seminar. The presence of the parents and godparents must be emphasized.

 

                CTA-24. New approaches such as audio-visual aids can contribute to making the seminar more meaningful. Those who conduct the seminar are also encouraged to continuously deepen their knowledge about the sacrament of Baptism.

 

Pre-Confirmation Seminar

 

                CTA-25. Proper attention must be given to the pre-confirmation seminar. The presence of the parents and godparents must be stressed.

 

                CTA-26. New approaches such as audio-visual aids can contribute to making the seminar more meaningful. Those who conduct the seminar are also encouraged to continuously deepen their knowledge about the sacrament of Confirmation.

 

                CTA-27. The Basic Ecclesial Communities can help deepen the knowledge about the sacrament of Confirmation. They can also assist in the recruitment of those who should be confirmed.

 

Pre-First Communion Seminar

 

                CTA-28. The giving of lectures for the proper formation of first communicants must be intensified in schools. It is strongly recommended that the said lectures be given to pupils who are in Grade IV so that they can prepare themselves well and receive the Body of Christ more meaningfully.

 

                CTA-29. It will also help if the catechists continue learning new teaching methodologies and using innovative instructional materials such as audio-visual aids.

 

                CTA-30. Parents must be encouraged to join their children in the preparation for, study, and reception of First Communion so that the latter can be properly guided.

 

                CTA-31. There is a need to create a program to prepare for First Communion those children who are of-age but are out-of-school.

 

Pre-Cana Seminar

 

                CTA-32. It is important that couples who want to be married undergo a Pre-Cana Seminar so that they can understand the nature of Marriage inasmuch as there is no school that teaches about married life and raising a family. The Pre-Cana Seminar must be covered by the month-long preparation from the day of registration up to the day of the Marriage.

 

                CTA-33. The persons tasked to conduct the Pre-Cana Seminar must have the appropriate training, skills, and time for this work. The seminar shall be done for approximately six hours, preferably from 1:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. on a weekend for three consecutive weeks. This seminar must have its own schedule, that is, it must not be combined with the seminars for Baptism, Confirmation, and Communion, especially when the couples have not yet received these sacraments.

 

                CTA-34. Innovative ways of instruction such as audiovisual aids, one-on-one evangelization or Catholic Lay

 

Evangelization method (CLAYE), witnessing, and others can enhance the Pre-Cana Seminar.

 

                CTA-35. Should time permit and in accordance with the program that will be adopted by the apostolate group conducting the Pre-Cana Seminar, Post-Cana Seminars must be given to the newlyweds in each parish in order to further guide them.

 

III. CATHOLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

 

Christian Living in the Curriculum

 

                CTA-36. The teaching of and formation in Christian living must be emphasized in Catholic schools. Moreover, this same privilege shall not be withheld from students in the public schools or non-Catholic private schools. This program can be implemented fully if there is coordination among the parish priest, school administrators, teachers, and catechists. If necessary, Catholic schools must allow the full use of their facilities for evangelization work. Again, coordination will help.

 

                CTA-37. Catechists must be given definite and adequate time to teach catechism in the schools. As much as possible, Christian Living should be included in the schools’ curriculum. If this is not possible, it is hoped that there will be a regular schedule for the teaching of catechism in the schools.

 

                CTA-38. While children do have the opportunity to listen to or participate in catechetical instruction, it is important that they feel they are part of the Church. Hence, they shall be involved in parish activities according to their abilities.

 

                CTA-39. The needs, whether they are related to training or to finance, of the catechetical program must be studied so that the catechists can be effective in their missionary work. Besides being excellent teachers, the catechists are also expected to serve as exemplars of Christian living to their pupils.

 

Integration of the Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) in the Curriculum of Catholic Schools

 

               CTA-40. The Basic Ecclesial Community must be integrated in the curriculum of Christian Living, especially in Catholic schools, so that the students can understand its concept.. Moreover, the students must be encouraged to be involved or immerse themselves in the actual work of the BECs as part of their outreach mission.

 

                CTA-41. The Lucena Diocese Catholic Schools Association (LUDICSA) must strategize to lower the tuition fees of its member schools in pursuance of the mission of the Church of the Poor and the BECs. The diocese is similarly encouraged to put up mission schools that will serve the children of the poor.

 

Faculty and School Personnel Formation

 

                CTA-42. Aside from the students, the school administrators, teachers, and other school personnel are also expected to undertake special studies, training, and formation in Christian living. It is proper that they undergo spiritual training such as recollections and retreats.

 

School Parents’ Formation

 

                CTA-43. Although they are the ones who support their children’s education, parents must also undertake study and formation on Christian Living. Hence, they must be included in the catechetical work to be undertaken by either the school or the Church.

 

IV. CONTINUING FORMATION

 

Continuing Formation of Catechists

 

                CTA-44. Primary attention must be given to a program for the continuing formation of catechists through the Basic Orientation Program I-IV, mass in-service training, meetings, recollections, and annual retreats in order to instill dynamism in their human, spiritual, and intellectual aspects since they are disseminators of the Good News.

 

                CTA-45. To ensure a formation program that is meaningful and related to formation, catechists must be given adequate time and trained in the teaching processes through the use of innovative ways.

 

                CTA-46. Adequate funds must be allocated for the training program of catechists, their just remuneration and other benefits, and teaching aids like audiovisual material and other pedagogical devices.

 

                CTA-47. There is a need to create a dynamic program of recruitment of catechists who will be involved in the Basic Ecclesial Communities and other Church apostolates.

 

Continuing Formation of Pastoral Lay Workers

 

                CTA-48. Although a number of parishes already have pastoral lay workers who assist in the organization of Basic Ecclesial Communities, there is no certainty that the formation these workers have received is adequate. Continuing formation is still a primary need of pastoral lay workers. On account of this, formation centers, whether parochial or diocesan, must be established for this purpose.

 

                CTA-49. The active recruitment of pastoral lay workers who will serve the Church full-time must be intensified in order to achieve the aim of organizing and strengthening the Basic Ecclesial Communities in the diocese. It is also hoped that Parish Pastoral Mission Teams (PPMT) can be trained to voluntarily assist the pastoral lay workers in their missionary work in the Basic Ecclesial Communities.

 

Continuing Formation of Church Leaders and Workers

 

                CTA-50. Adequate resources must be allocated for the continuing training and formation of Church leaders and workers.

 

Continuing Formation of Parish Secretaries

 

                CTA-51. A formation/training program must be created for parish secretaries. The program shall consist of the following modules: (a) training for efficient management, and (b) formation in spiritual life and Christian behavior, with emphasis on personal traits such as patience, sacrifice, charity, loyalty, and good human relations.

 

Continuing Formation of Social Communicators

 

                CTA-52. Because the media have an all-pervading influence in all levels of society, it is important that the particular Church employs media-savvy means of evangelization through the recruitment, formation, training, and development of interested individuals who have the skills to become media practitioners. This is necessary to combat the harmful influence of the media on the lives of people, particularly the youth.

 

                   CTA-53. Radio, television, and other forms of mass media must be used for the dissemination of the Good News. As resolved in the First Synod of Lucena, each parish shall be encouraged to publish its own bulletin.70

 

V. COMMUNITY FORMATION

 

Mandated Religious Organizations

 

                CTA-54. All members of religious organizations are called upon to be holy. In order to deepen their spiritual life, they must be actively involved in the apostolate of Mother Church.

 

                CTA-55. Parishes where mandated religious organizations are already established must assist in organizing them in parishes where these organizations do not yet exist.

 

                CTA-56. The formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities is the primary pastoral thrust of the Diocese of Lucena. In order to realize this, all religious organizations are encouraged to get involved in BEC-related activities.

 

Covenant Communities

 

                CTA-57. Inasmuch as covenant communities help in the formation and renewal of the faith of their members, strategies must be formulated to find out how these can be organized, and their importance explained, in the parishes.

 

                CTA-58. Covenant communities can help in the renewal of their organizations and in the dissemination of their apostolate, but they must also give greater attention to their involvement and cooperation in the work of the

 

Basic Ecclesial Communities.

 

Transparochial Communities

 

                CTA-59. Transparochial communities can help greatly in the deepening and renewal of the faith of their members. Hence, the recruitment of new members in every parish, especially in parishes where these communities do not yet exist, must be continued.

 

                CTA-60. Holy Mother Church hopes that peace, unity, cooperation, and love will prevail. It is therefore suggested that transparochial communities emphasize these values in order to avoid factionalism and fragmentation.

 

                CTA-61. Members of the transparochial communities must give priority to parochial activities. They must cooperate with the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), the Parish Council on Economic Affairs (PCEA), and the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs).

 

VI. COMMUNITY FORMATION THROUGH THE CHRISTIAN STEWARDSHIP PROGRAM

 

                CTA-62. It is specifically suggested that the way of life of every Christian in the diocese be that of a Christian Steward by which each one’s Time, Talent, and Treasure are shared with God and others.

                CTA-63. It will help greatly if there is adequate preparation for the Christian Stewardship Program through a broad and thorough discussion on its concept in the entire diocese. This program must not be left to the initiative of only a few parishes.

                CTA-64. For the effective implementation of the Christian Stewardship Program in the parishes, there must be a system of registration of all members in each parish in order to raise the level of lay involvement. The implementation of the said program can be of great help in the gradual abolition of the Arancel system, the current system of parish financial support where donations for the endowment of sacraments given by the Church are mistaken as payments.

Pastoral Formation Center and Media Center in the Diocese

 

                CTA-65. The recommendation of the First Synod of Lucena concerning the creation of a Diocesan Pastoral Formation Center in response to the serious need for more catechists who will assist the priests in the work of formation must be implemented.

 

                CTA-66. It is beneficial to inform the faithful about the nature of the said formation center so that they can be motivated to support it financially in the spirit of charity.

 

                CTA-67. The establishment of a similar center of formation in each district and parish is likewise recommended.

 

                CTA-68. A full-time director must be appointed for the Commission on Formation. He will not be in charge of any parish in view of the breadth and magnitude of the work of the said commission.

 

                CTA-69. A Diocesan Media Center must be established. Its main concern is to train workers in the use of media for evangelization. Moreover, this center shall focus on the training of workers on the use of the different media according to the teachings of the Church.

 

              CTA-70. Programs on evangelization must be initiated in the local television and radio stations. The actual training of lay leaders for radio and television work must also be considered. Radio programs on catechesis at DWVM, the diocesan radio station, shall continue and shall be increased. The people in the parish must be taught to support radio and television programs that help in the attainment of human fullness and the propagation of the faith. Emphasis must be given on the need to enlighten the people, particularly the youth, about the adverse effects of the mass media.

 

Scholarships for Catechists in a Formation Center

 

                CTA-71. Qualified catechists must be sent as scholars to a catechetical formation center such as the Bishop Obviar Evangelization Center (BOEC) for basic formation.

 

                CTA-72. The formation program must be restructured in order to reinvigorate the dynamism, purify the motives, and deepen the knowledge and skills of the catechists. A Catechetical Formation Center, staffed by especially trained persons and adequately financed, must be put up in the diocese so that the said objectives can be attained.73

 

Allocation of Funds for the Renewal of Formation

 

                CTA-73. A centralized budgetary system for all catechists in the diocese must be instituted so that the parishes can share pro rata in the expenses, in that well-off parishes contribute more than financially-strapped ones.

 

                CTA-74. The economic situation of professional catechists, especially those who work full-time in propagating the Word of God, must be considered so that they can live decently.

 

                CTA-75. The funds for the catechetical program can be derived from the 10% Evangelization Fund of the Arancel, Propaganda Fide, Lucena Diocese Catholic Schools Association, Parish Pastoral Council, Parish Council for Economic Affairs, Kusang Loob na Paghahandog sa Diyos (KLPD), Stewardship Program, proceeds from the celebration of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Matrimony, and others.

 

VII. FORMATION OF THE MISSIONARY COMMUNITY IN THE DIOCESE

 

The Missionary Church

 

                CTA-76. The mission-awareness of the faithful in the diocese must be deepened through (a) family prayer for the mission, (b) frequent treatment of missionary work in homilies, (c) holding of mission-animations in the different schools in the diocese, and (d) use of the mass media such as the Boletin Lucentino and Radio DWVM.

 

                CTA-77. Mission-awareness in the sense of missio ad extra must be emphasized by (a) inviting missionaries, priests, religious, and laypeople to give seminars and recollections on their missionary experiences, and (b) recognizing missionaries who came from the diocese.

 

The Diocese as a Missionary Community

 

                CTA-78. The bishop must in a very special way promote vocations not only to the priesthood and religious life but also to missionary work.74

 

                CTA-79. The bishop shall motivate his priests to carry out missionary work in other places.

 

                CTA-80. Guidelines must be instituted on missionary work that a new priest may undertake in the first year of his ministry so that he can explore whether he has a predisposition for it. Moreover, there should be support for diocesan priests who have a predisposition for missionary work.

 

                CTA-81. An open linkage and cooperation must be maintained between the parish priests and the missionary communities.

 

                CTA-82. Through the leadership of the parish priests, mission work shall be included in the formation of the Basic Ecclesial Communities.

 

                CTA-83. Volunteerism for mission work among seminarians must be stressed.

 

                CTA-84. The religious must be given the opportunity to be involved in the missionary work of the diocese.

 

                CTA-85. The pastoral program of the diocese must be animated for mission work.

 

                CTA-86. Diocesan institutions must be used for the propagation of mission work.

 

Concrete Response of the Diocese of Lucena to the Missionary Work of the Church

 

                The consultation with the faithful of the diocese showed that their awareness of missionary work is only parish-centered. There are diverse reactions whenever missio ad extra is discussed. The following Call To Action are proposed to emphasize world mission.

 

                CTA-87. A missionary congregation of diocesan priests must be organized under the leadership of the bishop.

 

                CTA-88. A commission that will take charge of the formation of a missionary community in the diocese similar to the Pontifical Missionary of the Philippines and the Missionary Society of the Philippines must be set up.

 

                CTA-89. This new commission must coordinate with missionary congregations.

 

                CTA-90. A formation house for prospective missionaries must be established.

 

                CTA-91. Other ways of soliciting funds for mission work, such as increasing mission collection in the months of April and October, must be explored.

 

                CTA-92. Lessons on the importance of the mission must be included in the curriculum of the Lucena Diocese Catholic Schools Association. The organizing of mission activities in the far-flung areas of the diocese during the months of summer vacation is one way by which the Catholic schools can integrate mission in their program.

 

                CTA-93. The hospital apostolate must integrate in its program an instruction about mission in order that the sick may offer their physical pains for the advancement of mission work.

 

                CTA-94. Diocesan devotion to the patron saints of the mission, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and St. Francis Xavier, must be promoted.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Circulars and Announcements

Circular No. 3

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