MANILA, April 25, 2013—To revitalize the faith of the people particularly in this year of faith, the diocese of Virac in Catanduanes held its 1st Diocesan Mission Congress last April 20-21 at the St. John the Baptist Parish in Bato, Catanduanes.
Around 200 lay mission leaders, seminarians, members of the clergy and religious nuns attended the congress aimed to strengthen missionary efforts through a deeper faith among the faithful.
Themed “Misyon: Pagpatalubo asin Pagpabungan kan Comunidad nin Pagtubod,” the congress sought to strengthen the Basic Faith Communities (BFC) in all parishes of the diocese as well as to promote the four societies of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS).
Instead of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC), the diocese is using the BFC to emphasize the focus on faith in this year’s celebration of the year of faith.
Fr. Nestor Buena, diocesan mission director of Virac, said the congress was also part of the preparatory activities leading to the Ruby Jubilee Canonical Foundation of the diocese this coming 2014.
Congress’ talks dwelt on revisiting of the vision and mission of the diocese, pastoral challenges of the new evangelization, mission: fanning the flame of faith, and the four PMS societies.
Speakers were Fr. Joseph de la Providencia, the diocesan director for the commission on new evangelization; Fr. Socrates Mesiona, the national director of PMS; Mr. Anthony Dameg, PMS staff; and Fr. Nestor Buena.
Teaching the flock
In his homily during the closing Mass, Virac Bishop Manolo de los Santos talked about the good shepherd and as a teacher of the flock.
“The flock must listen to the shepherd. You will never be afraid to go on mission if you are always with our Lord Jesus Christ, He is our Church and our good shepherd,” de los Santos said.
He also stressed that missionaries need to teach the people about stewardship and caring for creation.
“That is our mission, as bishop, as pastors, or lay leaders, we are all missionaries,” de los Santos added.
He also mentioned the importance of nurturing vocation and the need of further studies for members of his clergy on canon law in order to tend the needs of the diocese for ecclesiastical tribunal.
The bishops also cited the mining issue they are currently facing where the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) already approved an Australian company in Virac to do mining covering 7,000 hectares of land to which 5 towns in the province are affected.
And with the upcoming midterm election, de los Santos told the flock that the diocese is not recommending or promoting any particular candidate.
“You, the faithful, need to know the stand and the service that a particular candidate has done, whether incumbent or new candidate. The Church on the other hand, is here to guide you especially on the qualifications of the candidates. But most important is, we should vote for a candidate who is for life,” de los Santos furthered. (Jandel Posion)