Thursday, January 22, 2009

Catechetics and the NNCDP

DURING the clergy meeting on January 12 in Cagayan de Oro, we discussed the summary of the Catechetical Review and Strategic Planning started by a core group earlier. We then recommended that the process of reviewing and planning our catechetical program should be continued and brought down to the parish level.

In this regard, each priest/deacon received a copy of the New National Catechetical Directory for the Philippines 2007. We suggested that the district priests discuss the contents of this book during their monthly meeting over the next six months. They could discuss one chapter at a time—e.g., for one hour, like a BEC session. The priests could take turns in facilitating the discussion. A written summary would be presented at the next clergy meeting for consolidation with the other reports.

There were five reasons why we invited everyone to read and reflect on the NNCDP together.

1. This is a concrete follow-up of our Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly held last December 12-13. The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (1991) considered catechesis as the most fundamental area of renewal. The National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal (2001) affirmed this by making “Integral Faith Formation”—through catechesis—as the first of its nine pastoral priorities.

2. The NNCDP incorporates and integrates all our ad intra ministries—i.e., Catechetics, BEC formation, Liturgy, Bible Apostolate, Family Life, Youth, etc. It also points out their intimate relationship with our ad extra ministries—i.e., the social apostolate and works of charity.

3. Parish priests are the primary “educators in the faith” and “the key source for the parish catechetical ministry” (NNCDP, nos. 441-442). Without the support of the parish priest, the catechetical program in the parish will be hobbled and may become moribund.

4. Concretely, the NNCDP gives us a comprehensive framework for evaluating our current catechetical program – as we approach the end of the school year, and prepare for the coming school year.

5. For the individual priest, the NNCDP can serve as a pastorally-oriented synthesis of our theology courses in the seminary. For instance, the threefold pattern of Christian Faith indicated in No. 213—in terms of Creed, Code, and Cult; or Jesus as the Truth, the Way, and the Life—can give us a manner of envisioning the interconnection among our various parish ministries.

To start off the discussions on Chapter One of the NNCDP at their next district meeting, three guide questions were proposed to the priests:

1. What are the expressions of religiosity (devotions) in your parish today?

2. What are the core values behind these expressions of religiosity (devotions)?

3. How do you include these core values in your catechesis?

They were of course free to focus on other matters of relevance to your local communities. In due time, members of the catechetical core group would be suggesting guide questions for the other chapters. We proposed that this collective effort at catechetical renewal would be our way of starting off the next 75 years of the archdiocese after our jubilee celebrations last year.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A pastoral call for environmental protection

To our brothers and sisters in the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro:

During this period of calamity I would first like to express my solidarity and prayers for all those families who have been displaced by the sudden floods. These first occurred on January 3 with the swelling of the Cagayan de Oro river. Then on January 11 until now flash floods have taken place more extensively throughout various parts of the city and several municipalities in Misamis Oriental.

As of the latest reports more than 75,000 persons have been displaced and 44 barangays in the city have been affected.

In visiting some of the displaced families that have been forced to seek shelter in chapels or formation centers of the church or community centers in the barangays, I see the faces of children with their mothers waiting patiently for some assistance.
On the other hand, I am also heartened to see many parish communities mobilizing to distribute relief goods among those displaced communities.

Many individuals, companies and organizations have also sent their assistance in goods or in cash to the Bishop’s House or directly to the parishes affected by the floods. These are indeed signs of solidarity and brotherhood regardless of religious or cultural differences.

Even as we attend to the immediate needs of displaced families, we must not lose sight of the long term factors that have aggravated the effects of natural calamities. Among these man-made factors are:

• Continued logging operations in the upstream areas of the city; these include the more remote areas of the city and watershed areas in the ARMM region and Bukidnon

• Hydraulic flush mining that have caused the heavy siltation of Iponan river and its tributaries

• Small scale and large scale mining in other upland areas of the city

• Lack of solid waste management that has led to clogging of the city’s drainage canals

• Similarly housing developments that have obstructed the natural flow of water

These and many other factors have to be reviewed carefully by public officials with the participation of civil society groups. The church and other parish communities are ready to join and support all these efforts for a safer, cleaner and brighter Cagayan de Oro and surrounding areas.