MANILA, Jan. 15, 2012—The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ declaration of 2012 as “Year of the Mission” highlights the need for renewal of faith and missionary spirit among faithful as more and more people veer away from the Catholic Church and its teachings.
This reality was pointed out by Marawi Bishop Edwin Angot de la Peña, MSP after the launching ceremonies of the “Year of the Mission” at the Shrine of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus in Pasay City Saturday, when he said that the Catholic Church needs to do everything it could to keep its flock and win back those who have left.
“The Year of the Mission simply wants to keep the people’s faith alive because people are moving away from Jesus Christ and it seems we are a very ‘distracted’ people with so many things that pull us out of our faith,” he said.
The 57-year old prelate said it appears the Filipinos’ expression of their faith is cultural and “sometimes to the point of fanaticism.”
He added the faithful should experience Jesus in their lives and such a situation should challenge Church people, priests, religious and lay.
“Spirituality is what is needed by the people,” he emphasized.
Asked as to what causes all the distraction, De la Peña said advances in technology pull people away from faith along with advances in Science which continue to separate people from the faith of their forebears.
“Somehow, we have lost the sense of the divine,” he said.
Meanwhile, CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Mission executive secretary Fr. Socrates C. Mesiona, said there is a need to “fan the flame of missionary commitment.”
He noted the two big Church events that happened in the country, both of which emphasized the role of missionaries, —the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1991 and the National Mission Congress held in Cebu in 2000.
“The time has come to [re]kindle the missionary enthusiasm specifically among the young,” he said.
He said that after eight decades of its establishment in the Philippines, still very few people know of the Pontifical Mission Societies’ existence.
Mesiona said they are trying to introduce lay vocation in the mission.
The priest also expressed alarm at the “de-Christianization” of Europe and the Americas which only underscores the connection between the declaration of “Year of the Mission” in the Philippines and the “Year of Faith” which Pope Benedict XVI will launch in October 2012.
He said Filipino missionaries, including religious women from Asia, are sent to Europe, the Americas and “practically, all over the world.”
The Pontifical Mission Society is directly under the Pontifical Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. There are seven mission territories in the Philippines, including the Apostolic Vicariates of Calapan, San Jose de Mindoro, Tabuk, Puerto Princesa, Taytay (Palawan), Jolo (Sulu), and Bontoc-Lagawe. (Melo Acuna)