QUEZON City, Jan. 29, 2015—Stressing there is much they have to thank God for, members of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP) have placed gratitude at the heart of their observance of the “Year of Consecrated Life” themed “Prophetic Witnesses of the Gospel of Joy among the Poor.”

The Catholic Church celebrates 2015 as the "Year of Consecrated Life." (Photo: CBCPNews)

“We remember the past with gratitude. With joy that comes from Christ (cf. Jn 15:11) and is fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22), we thank God for the gift of Religious life which He has filled with a rich diversity of charisms for the life and mission of the Church in and for the world,” shares AMRSP in a collective statement signed by co-chairs Sr. Eden Panganiban, SSpS and Fr. Leo Dalmao, CMF; and co-executive secretaries Sr. Michaela Gaudelia Gotangco, FdCC and Fr. Dexter Toledo, OFM.

“We remember with joyful gratitude the day of our consecration, when we entered into a special covenant of love with God, turning us into prophets, missionaries, and servants so that all “may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10). We also remember with gratitude the generous and courageous consecrated women and men who, in crucial moments of the history of the Filipino people, stood up for the Gospel as what had happened in those turbulent years of dictatorship, which was put to an end through a peaceful exercise of People Power,” it adds.

Live present with passion

According to AMRSP, the religious are called to “live the present with passion” in keeping with the Holy Father’s reminder that “Religious life is prophecy” (Conversation with the USG, 29 Nov 2013, Rome).

“More precisely, it is prophecy from the margins. We are called to go to the places where the great majority of our sisters and brothers have been driven away from the centers of power, wealth, and opportunities and from there – with the marginalized – proclaim the Gospel and act on its demands. Passion for the Reign of God means, first and foremost, focusing single-heartedly on the ‘weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith” (Mt 23:23),” the group explains.

“In other words, we are urged to join the victims of typhoons, earthquakes, and floods, of injustices and corruptions, of neglect of one’s social and personal responsibilities to be the prophetic voice of the Spirit, who, deep in the hearts of the marginalized and abandoned, is crying for mercy, justice, and compassion. Let our words and actions be signs of assurance that a better life is possible for those who have been pushed to the social, economic, and political peripheries,” it stresses.

AMRSP also underscores the need for consecrated people to “embrace the future with hope,” viewing religious life as an “eschatological sign,” a constant and living reminder of the mystery of the Church as a Pilgrim People, journeying towards the “new heaven and new earth” (Is 66:27).”

Vital role

Keeping in mind their important role in the Church in the Philippine’s own journey to the ultimate future,” women and men religious declare, “Our consecration is a sign of total faith: the Reign of God is worth abandoning everything and dedicating one’s whole self and entire life for its sake. Our fraternal life in community is a sign of inclusive love: the grand design of God includes the communion of all peoples in their diversities.”

According to the group, missionary life is a sign of “radical hope” as they proclaim God’s Word and work towards the complete transformation of society.

They note, “This is all because we hope in the God of the Covenant, who promises fullness of life and love for all peoples.” (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)