Church’s Lenten program an opportunity to help poor—prelate

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MANILA, Feb. 20, 2015—In line with the ongoing observance of the Year of the Poor, a high-ranking cleric has called on the faithful to take Lent as an opportunity to help people in need, stressing getting involved in the Church’s “Alay Kapwa” program this holy season is one way to do so.

Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona leads the Way of the Cross in his archdiocese, Feb. 18, 2015. (Photo: Natalie Quimlat)

“Let us once more show our concern for the poor by supporting Alay Kapwa,” Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona shared in an interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas.

40 years of giving

Alay Kapwa, the Lenten Evangelization-Action Program created in 1975 by the prelates of the Philippines, celebrated its 40th year anniversary recently, and continues its thrust of answering the signs of the times as “good stewards taking responsibility to care for our neighbors and creation through evangelization and resource mobilization of the local church”.

Tirona, who also chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice, and Peace (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines, explained Lent is a 40-day holy period during which all able Catholics are enjoined to pray, meditate on and share in Christ’s Passion, not only by doing the usual penance like fasting, but more so by practicing works of charity, and by living out Pope Francis’ message of mercy and compassion.

Helping poor help themselves

In an earlier CBCP News article, Fr. Edu Gariguez, NASSA/Caritas Philippines executive secretary, noted that Alay Kapwa aims to help the poor help themselves.

Besides raising the quality of their lives, the priest stressed the program is designed to encourage a “culture of self-reliance” among its beneficiaries.

According to him, reminding the faithful of their Christian duty to help others is only one of the Church’s missions.

Christian duty of helping

“Earning money is just one of its many components, because Alay Kapwa (AK) also involves formation. Each Lent, when we commemorate the Lord’s Passion, it’s been our practice to give away to different dioceses modules that invite the faithful to connect the salvific death of Christ with our Christian responsibility of serving those most in need,” he said.

The priest added Alay Kapwa responds to the Holy Father’s ideal of the Church of the Poor, one that reaches out to people “in the margins” of society.

Church of the Poor

“The Church is constantly challenged to take the side of the poor and the oppressed, particularly in the situation where there is a continuing violation of human rights where injustice is being denied [to] sectors like farmers, indigenous people, fisherfolk, labor and even the victims of calamities,” he said.

Alay Kapwa also supports NASSA/Caritas Philippines’ disaster emergency response and advocacies for social transformation and resiliency. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCPNews)

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