Numerous number of lay faithful from the thirteen vicariates of the Archdiocese of Manila flocked together at Rizal Memorial Stadium in Malate, Manila on November 30, 2017, the Feast of St. Andrew, the Apostle. They wore their color coded shirts based on their respective vicariates and joined their parish priests and other consecrated persons to celebrate the closing of the Year of the Parish and the opening of the Year of the Priests and Consecrated Persons. The event was hosted by two vibrant and well-known personalities of the Archdiocese of Manila, Rev. Fr. Hans Magdurulang and Dra. Gaines Rosario. They had their energetic as well as inspiring conversation with a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Monera and a youth from Baseco whom at present are tirelessly dedicating their services in their own parishes. Their stories show that the lay faithful are indeed the primary forces that make up the parishes and from them the future of the parish lies. Along with this, groups of youth from different parishes within the archdiocese animated the crowd with their action songs and reflective performances
His Eminence, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle who is always known with his famous homilies and deep reflections took over the program. He had his heart to heart conversation with Sr. Bernadeth Eugene Topacio Casas, a religious nun of the Assumption Congregation and Msgr. Esteban “Bong” Lo, a missionary priest of Lorenzo Ruiz Mission Seminary. From their exchange of words, the family emerged as indeed the basic and the starting point of each individual. Sr. Bernadeth emphasized that the family incorporates us to the parish based on her experience of their family Sunday Masses. Fr. Bong also shared that being raised from a half Filipino, half Chinese family, (his father is a Buddhist and his mother is a Catholic); he experienced the “inter-religious dialogue. Those experiences in the family, Fr. Bong said, would then be reflected as we deal within our respective community.
The culminating part of the event was the celebration of the Holy Eucahrist, which was presided over by His Eminence, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle together with Bishop Broderick Pabillo and all the priests who were present in the assembly. In his homily, the Cardinal reminded the faithful of being in communion with one another. Each one may have different gifts but have one mission of evangelization. Action, Mission, Communion are the key points he emphasized. He even simplified the notion of Evangelization as “pagbabahagi ng Salita ng Diyos” just like in our own experiences of informing or talking to our friend or relative. He mentioned the life of St. Andrew who was called by Jesus in the Sea of Galilee, let us also find our own Galilee and allow ourselves to encounter Jesus and let him encounter us again. For as we encounter Jesus, we find the treasure of our lives.
Before his homily ends, the Cardinal addressed this message to his fellow priests and religious brothers and sisters: “Mission NOT Ambition.” He also urged all the families present in the assembly to also consider the life of the priesthood and consecrated persons as they decide the future of children and the youth entrusted to them. He ended his message by challenging each one to contribute in helping the Church on how to preach the Good News in the present time when it is no longer as it is before. He encouraged creativity with new ardor and animated spirit.
The celebration ended with the singing of the theme song of the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons entitled “Father, Bless Them” a song composed by no other than our CFAM Minister Rev. Fr. Carlo Magno S. Marcelo who was celebrating his 24th Sacerdotal Anniversary on that day. The catechists of the Archdiocese of Manila led the people in singing.
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By Concepcion Remoroza Sanchez