CIRCULAR OF THE MOST REV. RUBEN T. PROFUGO, D.D. (NOW BISHOP EMERITUS OF LUCENA) CONVOKING THE SECOND SYNOD OF THE DIOCESE OF LUCENA
No. 2. S. 1999
TO: Our Dearly Beloved Clergy, Religious and Catholic Lay Faithful
Joyful Greeting of Peace!
The Immense joy that the advent of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 brings about, springs forth from the well of the infinite love of God the Father, who for our sake and our salvation has sent his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have life eternal (Jn 3: 16). The universal Church, therefore, eagerly anticipates and prepares for this Jubilee of the Lord’s Incarnation, which took place in human history when the fullness of time had come (Gal 4:4) according to the Great Apostle to the Gentiles, St. Paul. In his Apostolic Letter, Tertio Millenio Adveniente, Pope John Paul II vividly teaches us what the Jubilee Year 2000 means for the universal Church: a great prayer of praise and thanksgiving, especially for the gift of Incarnation of the Son of God and of the redemption which he accomplished (TMA, 32). Hence, while admitting the immediately recognizable Christological character of the Jubilee 2000, yet firmly teaching that the same must be also characteristically Trinitarian, Pope John Paul, un the same Apostolic Letter, outlined a three-year preparatory phrase for the Jubilee Year, thereby assigning the years 1997, 1998, and, 1999, as years devoted to the reflections on Christ, on the Holy Spirit and on God the Father, respectively (TMA, 39).
Ever aware of the profound significance of this universal event, we feel ourselves fully blest as we look forward to our Golden Anniversary celebration as a local Church. Throughout these fifty years, God’s hand has been upon each one of us, leading us through a gradual growth of the seed of Christian faith and its continuous sustenance and strength. The Golden Jubilee of our local Church summons us in a most meaningful way, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour (IS. 61:2). Likewise, we recognize the invaluable efforts and contributions rendered to our local Church by our venerable and illustrious predecessors, the former Administrators and Bishops of Lucena to whom we are forever indebted, the support of the local clergy as our co-workers in the Lord’s vineyard, and the cooperation of the religious and of all our Catholic lay faithful. We have enough reason to be grateful to the Lord, who calls us to follow him as a people, and who gathers us day by day around the table of his Word and the table of the Eucharist. We stand before him, with our hearts and minds raised up in sincere gratitude, for without his providence, we could not have done and achieved what we have and are today. We pray for all our deceased cooperators: priests, religious and lay people alike. May they earn their eternal reward with God, who in his wisdom, only knows how much they labored, sacrificed and prayed for our local Church
While we recall with jubilation and gratitude our past, we immediately realize that the advent of the 21st century sets before us both a call and a challenge. Already at the threshold of the Third Millennium, our attention is caught up with the panorama of the world with all its pastoral and spiritual challenges to prepare humankind– and in particular the Catholic faithful of our local Church– so that we may altogether welcome the new millennium truly as a community of Christ’s disciples, a visible mystery of communion and mission, and the sacrament, in Christ, of universal salvation both signifying and serving the union of persons with God and the unity of all mankind. (PCP II, 190; LG, 1; GS, 45).
How then are we to meet these challenges? Let me encourage you, dear brothers and sisters, to draw inspiration and courage from a constant awareness of the reality that we are neither left unaided nor are we groping in the dark. First, with us is the ever-present and constant guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete whom the Father sends in Jesus’ name (Jn. 14: 26), actively present as in Pentecost. In the very same way that the pillar of cloud at daytime and the pillar of fire at night guided Israel, the pilgrim people of God, on their journey to the promised land (Ex. 13: 21), so God will always be with us, never leaving us alone as he promised, I am with you always, to the close of the age (Matt. 28:20). Second, we have given birth to two daughter Dioceses– the Dioceses of Boac (1978) and Gumaca (1985)– a fact which made our territorial area smaller than before. Now, we have an increase in the number of our Catholic faithful. This pool of human resources and potentials– priests, lay leaders and religious– like grains of wheat full-grown and ready for harvest, we must harness and make use of. And third, we are equipped with whatever the First Synod of Lucena in 1979 has achieved as our guide twenty years since then. True enough, while we recognize all these, our pastoral zeal impels us to come out with humility and openness to meet the challenge of improving our pastoral and missionary approach.
Hence, after invoking the Almighty God and his infinite wisdom, and after much prayer and due consultation, we are formally and officially announcing the celebration of the Second Diocesan Synod of Lucena next year, the year of the Great Jubilee of the Incarnation of the Son of God and the year of our Golden Anniversary celebration as a local Church. The exact date and venue of the said Synod will be announced in due time as it is our sincere desire to align our diocesan affairs with the universal.
And national programs connected with the celebration of the Jubilee Year 2000. To serve as guidepost for the Second Synod will be the Acts, Decrees and Resolutions of the First Diocesan Synod. We hope to examine what course and direction our pastoral and missionary efforts have taken in terms of programs and their implementations, how far have we gone and what aspects need refinement or re-thinking twenty years after the First Synod. In connection with this, the Socio-Political-Economic and Spiritual (SPES) Profile of each of our 31 parishes, which is an important accomplishment of our ongoing research and history-writing project, is one of the best available sources that will surely be of paramount help to us. The said SPES Profile can be useful for both our local Church and government officials as it gives us a firsthand information on the situation of our constituents. Along with the SPES Profile, we hope to give as a legacy and not only as a souvenir to the next generations’ books on the history of the entire Diocese of Lucena and of each of our parishes. Just as we have generously received from our predecessors, it is but fitting that we hand over to the succeeding generations a testimony of the life of faith we began as a local Church, with God’s grace, fifty years ago. In this way, we can better respond to the summons of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines for a renewed evangelization characterized by clarity of its goals, and by the newness of its fervor, methods and expressions (PCP II, 186).
We never lose sight of the vision which our First Diocesan Synod has set for our local Church: the emergence of a genuinely Filipino Christian community in our Diocese– Filipino in its way of thinking, praying, living and communicating its own Christ-experience to others (First Synod of Lucena, Declaration on the Building up of the Local Church, 11). The ecclesial community to which we belong in no way sets us apart from the whole Body of Christ, accepting and believing in one Lord, one faith and one baptism (Eph. 4:5). Therefore, we share with the rest of God’s people a divine calling to life of faith– to an integration of our faith and life as a community of disciples. The early Christian communities left us both a model and an inspiration. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers… And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need (Acts 2:42, 44-45).
To help accomplish this enormous task that with God’s help we now take upon ourselves, we created a Steering Committee tasked to come up with a draft of the Preparatory Scheme of the Second Synod. The following are hereby appointed as members of the Steering Committee:
Msgr. Mariano Melicia, H.P.
Msgr. Antonio Obeña, H.P.
Msgr. Atilano Oracion, H.P.
Msgr. Luis Balquiedra, H.P.
Msgr. Beato Racelis, P.C.
Msgr. Oscar Leaño, P.C.
Msgr. Alfredo LaO, P.C.
Fr. Alexander Cruz
Fr. Joseph Estremera
Fr. Melicio Verastigue
Fr. Wilson Divina
Fr. Carlos Pedro Herrera
Fr. Romeo Padillo
Fr. Renato Pareja
Fr. Antonio Viray
Fr. Gerardo Juarez
Sr. Gracia Rodil, MCST
Sr. Consuelo Custodio, D.C.
Mrs. Estela Villareal
Engr. Efren Micor
Mr. Jojo Rañeses
Ms. Jane Dumlao
This forthcoming Synod is a sign of our loyalty to Christ, Redemptor Hominis, and to Holy Mother Church. Inspired by the Word of God and guided by the Magisterial teaching of the Church, we shall respond to the call and challenge of this new millennium, so that renewed and purified by God’s Spirit, we may present ourselves before Christ as a local Church, without spot or wrinkle…holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:27).
We humbly call on the Blessed Virgin Mary on whose birthday we celebrate the canonical establishment of Lucena as a Diocese and invoke her maternal intercession. Likewise, we entrust all our endeavors to St. Joseph, Custos Redemptoris and Patron of the Universal Church, and to St. Ferdinand, King, the patron of our Diocese.
Issued this 30th day of March, 1999, Holy Tuesday, at the Cathedral of St. Ferdinand, Lucena City.
+RUBEN T. PROFUGO, D.D.
Bishop of Lucena