Calungsod parish seeks to bring hope to informal settlers

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MANILA, Nov. 28, 2012— A new parish named for the country’s second saint and focused on serving a community for informal settlers has been created in Muntinlupa City.

The San Pedro Calungsod Quasi-Parish was established last October 14 by Parañaque Bishop Jesse Mercado to address the spiritual needs of the residents.

The parish covers the housing resettlement projects for informal settlers in the 50-hectare portion of the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) reservation.

Fr. Benjamin Molina Jr., parish priest, said they see the need that is present, and the church wants to reach out to the people in the area with around 50,000 population.

“The quasi-parish envisions itself as a church of the poor, a refuge for those seeking hope and healing, a venue for people to be agents of change through spiritual formation and livelihood programs,” he said.

Molina said among the parish’s priorities is to intensify teaching the life and faith of Calungsod among the parishioners.

“We’ve been holding catechism on the life of San Pedro Calungsod in different venues including public schools,” Molina said.

While the parish has no church yet, Molina said he currently hold office and services at a covered court managed by the National Housing Authority (NHA).

Aware of the conditions of the residents, the parish also administers sacraments like baptism, marriage including funeral and house blessings without parish fees or “arancel”.

“We bring the sacraments closer to the people for free,” said Molina, who currently resides at the Ina ng Awa Parish Church’s convent inside the NBP minimum security compound.

On December 29, the parish will also hold a Christmas gift-giving activity for around 2,000 children in the NBP reservation.

According to canon law, a quasi-parish is a community of faithful within a particular Church, entrusted to a priest, but because of special circumstances not yet established as a parish.

Following Calungsod’s canonization, church officials expect that more parishes across the country will be established in honor of the Visayan martyr who was canonized in Rome last October 21.

In Cebu, the Pedro Calungsod Parish Church stands in barangay Cantabaco, Toledo City although there is another plan to build another parish church for the new saint in Talamban town.

The San Pedro Calungsod Institute for the Young (SPCIY) was also established in the Diocese of Laoag in Ilocos Norte, which aims to mobilize young faithful to be missionaries for the “New Evangelization”.

On Nov. 30, thousands of bishops, priests, religious, government officials and Catholic pilgrims will gather in Cebu City for the national thanksgiving Mass for Calungsod’s canonization.

President Benigno Aquino III and Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, are also expected to grace the occasion. (RL/CBCPNews)

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