Month of May - CFAM Catechists Assembly


Theme:  The Bangkok Document:  The Final Document of the FABC @ 50

The second quarterly assembly of the Catechetical Foundation of the Archdiocese of Manila (CFAM) catechists was held last May 9, 2023, at the Lay Formation Chapel.

The ongoing formation started with praying the Holy Rosary followed by the morning prayer.

The celebration of the Holy Eucharist was presided by the CFAM minister, Fr. Carlo Magno S. Marcelo.  In his homily, Fr. Carlo reiterated the message of Pope Francis on the Solemnity of Pentecost in June 2022.

Pope Francis gave 4 important points about the Holy Spirit.  In the great journey of life, the Holy Spirit teaches us where to begin, and what paths to take, the Holy Spirit makes us Church today and the Holy Spirit creates division and makes harmony with His division. 

The Holy Spirit teaches us “where to begin” and the Holy Spirit wants us to begin with love.   As it is written in the Gospel, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”   

With this, Fr. Carlo reminded us that in preparing for first communion and in teaching the commandments, we must always begin with “Mahal ko ang Diyos kaya ako sumusunod.”   

In addition to reminding us where to begin, the Holy Spirit teaches us “what paths to take”.  We must be able to distinguish the voice of the Holy Spirit from the voice of the spirit of evil so that we can follow its lead.

The third point is that the Holy Spirit “makes us Church today”.  The Holy Spirit teaches us to be an open house without walls of division.

Lastly, the Holy Spirit “creates division in charisms and creates harmony over this division”.                                                                                                   

After the break, Fr. Carlo started the session with a short report on what had happened in CFAM for the past months since the last ongoing formation.

In his talk, Fr. Carlo echoed the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) @ 50 General Conference and shared the summary of the document called the “Bangkok Document.”

The talk was divided into 3 parts.  The first part focused on the FABC’s ‘Pastoral Plan’ which is divided into 5 parts.  The second and third parts of the talk focused on the ‘Nine (9) Emerging Challenges in Asian Societies and the Pastoral Response’. 

Part of the dynamics of the talk was 3 moments where catechists are invited to three minutes of silence.

The Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conferences was held in October 2022 with the theme, Journeying Together as Peoples of Asia carrying the scriptural theme “…and they went a different way” from Matthew 2:12.

From the scriptural passage, Fr. Carlo drew out 7 important elements. Magi: we are on a journey together, Star: we discern the signs around us, Herod: we encounter challenges, Child: we discover God; Gifts: we share our graces; Disturbed: we reflect; Another way: we take new pathways.

Fr. Carlo showed a glimpse of the events of FABC through a video presentation followed by the launching of the Bangkok Document in summary presented by Bishop Ambo David also through a video presentation.

The Bangkok Document has 5 parts inspired by the five aspects of the Narrative of the Magi.

  1. Journeying together: SYN-HO-DOS ‘on the way together’ for their common quest for God. 

    The Church of Asia also has strayed from the right path. There were great pioneers like Mateo Ricci in China, great freedom             

    movements like EDSA Revolution but the prophetic voice of the Church has been stilled.  We have endeavored to find new pathways and

    one of these is the path to synodality.   

  1. Looking: Taking a serious phenomenological look at the emerging realities confronting the Churches in Asia.
  2. Discerning:  What is the Spirit saying to the Churches in our present times? 
  3. Offering gifts: The relationship between the Asian Church and the Universal Church.
  4. Taking new pathways: From dominative to enculturated evangelization; from basic Christian communities to ecclesial communities that promote basic human communities, from dialogue to synodality, from proclamation to storytelling, from beaten tracks to new pastoral priorities.

Nine Emerging Challenges in Asian Societies and the Pastoral Responses are as follows:

  1. The condition of migrants and Indigenous peoples:  Accompany them and contribute to their formation and empowerment.
  2. The Family:  Faith formation of children and youth requires ministry to parents who are the most important mentors in the life of their children.
  3. The Role of Women:  Open new roles of the leadership of women in the Asian Church
  4. Gender Identity:  Address the gender issues
  5. The relationship between the youth and today’s world:  The youth needs a Church which welcomes them to participate, is patient and forgiving when they fail, guides them in their life choices, and helps them grow into mature responsible Christian adults.
  6. The impact of Digital Technologies:  There is consequently a dire need for this generation of “digital migrants" to enter into the digital world to effectively use digital technology for the Church's mission.  We acknowledge the need for effective digital evangelization.
  7. The need for a Fair Economy:  The economy must be converted, it must be converted now.  We need to move from the liberal economy to an economy shared by the people, to a communitarian economy…” - Pope Francis
  8. The Climate Crisis/Care for a Common Home:  We need to learn from nature, as well as from the wisdom of our indigenous people who do not regard nature as something outside of themselves but rather as a mother who nurtures them.
  9. Interfaith Dialogue:  Becoming “bridges and bridge-builders” is the image that best describes the mission of the Church of Asia and the Good News that we bring to our peoples and the rest of the world.

The session with the minister concluded with a group sharing guided by the questions; “What strikes you the most?  Where is the Spirit leading you?”

The catechists’ ongoing formation ended with the praying of the Panalangin ng Katekista.