By Bishop Crispin B. Varquez
THE parish day celebrations with the theme,“Celebrate Communion, Listen to the Mother” and the talks on the messages of the Our Lady of Fatima were done to all the 36 parishes and chaplaincies in our Diocese. It started in the month of June, 2017 at St. John the Baptist Parish in the Island of Homonhon and ended last November 18,2017 at the Chaplaincy of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Sabang, Borongan. The almost half-year-long schedules of visiting the parishes to celebrate the Year of the Parish taught me many things. First, I discovered that there are many lay people who are committed and more than willing to give themselves and share their expertise to serve the Church. Second, through the open forum part of the celebrations, that there are many Catholics who do not yet know the basic teachings of the Church. Thus, adult catechesis is necessary to continue evangelizing them.Third, our people are extremely gifted with faith in God and a deep devotion to Mary, our Mother. Damo nga salama han full cooperation of our clergy, religious and lay leaders that made us successfully celebrate the year of the parish.
On December 3, 2017, the first Sunday of Advent, we have started to celebrate the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons. The renewal of the clergy and consecrated persons are key factors for the renewal of the Church. This is a pre-requisite to respond to the challenges of the New Evangelization. We, bishops, clergy and religious, should be constantly on guard against the cultures of secularism, relativism, individualism and religious extremism. Let us be aware of how these may influence our lives so that we can decide what to do in order to remain faithful to our vows, loyal to the teachings of the Church,passionate in the work of evangelization and steadfast amidst sufferings and even persecutions. Another big challenge on our part as priests and religious is that vocation to the priesthood and religious life in the Philippines is on the state of plateau if not tending to the descending state. Alarming is the fact that religious life has become the last option for our young people who have many choices. Making a difference is the challenge.“The contradiction of the cross proclaims the infinite wisdom of God”. We ought to make our priestly and religious life attractive to the young people.May our birthday gift to Jesus this Christmas be the offering of ourselves to Him as passionate priests and religious and committed lay faithful in the service of the Church for the greater glory of His Name.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND HAVE A NEW YEAR FULL OF COURAGE AND HOPE. GOD BLESS YOU.