CBCP President’s Tribute to teachers on World Teachers’ Day 2014

Student from Aeta tribe in Subic returned to St. Francis school in Subic to teach Aeta students - by NJ Viehland

Student from Aeta tribe in Subic returned to St. Francis school in Subic to teach Aeta students – by NJ Viehland

HOLY AND HEROIC TEACHERS
In the Year of the Laity

Tribute to Teachers during World Teachers’ Day
October 5, 2014

Dear People of God:

If you wish, you can be taught; if you are willing to listen, you will learn; if you give heed, you will be wise. Frequent the company of the elders; whoever is wise, stay close to him. Be eager to hear every godly discourse; let no wise saying escape you. If you see a man of prudence, seek him out; let your feet wear away his doorstep! Reflect on the precepts of the LORD, let his commandments be your constant meditation; then he will enlighten your mind, and the wisdom you desire he will grant. (Sirach 6:32-37)

Parents as first teachers

Parents are the primary teachers of faith and morals. “Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2223)

And when they had accomplished all things that were according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew, and waxed strong, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. (Luke 2:39-40)

Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years… Parents have the mission of teaching their children to pray and to discover their vocation as children of God (CCC, 2226). Jesus grew up in the city of Nazareth where there was no formal schooling, Nazareth became his first school with Mary and Joseph his first teachers. Even without formal schooling, just from the lives of witnessing by his parents, Jesus was filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him. After all, children learn from what they see.
We do know that the education of a child does not end in the home. It has always been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Thus, the parents must exercise their right to choose a school for their children that will best help them in their task as Christian educators (CCC, 2229).

Teachers as formators of character and competence

Children grow in faith and wisdom when nurtured by proper education. Proper education as a supplement for the formation in the home must be given well in the schools. This includes having the best possible teachers. “The nobility of the task to which teachers are called demands that, in imitation of Christ, they reveal the Christian message not only by word, but also by every gesture of their behaviour.” (The Catholic School, 43) These teachers educate not only the mind but also the heart. 

Teachers are shapers of competence and character. They never deliver mediocrity, only excellence. They come to class prepared and on time. In so doing, they model for the students what is expected from each of them. Thus, pushing their students to become responsible and helping them develop their full potentials.

Teachers draw out what is best in students. They are patient in dealing with those who are discipline-challenged and as well as the academically-challenged. They try to find the unique giftedness in each person, drawing out the Christ in them.

Moreover, as formators of competence and character they are witnesses of faith. They take learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. Teachers open the eyes of the students to the realities and problems of the world. They show how each we are connected with nature and with one another. “If one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain.  And if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy” (1 Corinthians 12:26). Teachers then encourage each student to contemplate on how she or he can contribute to the betterment of the world. When they teach, they “bring the experience of their own lives to this social development and social awareness, so that students can be prepared to take their place in society …” (LCIS, 19)

We owe much to teachers. They mold and inspire the young to work for social transformation. The current situation that we have in our country, however, presents a rather bleak condition for those engaged in the teaching profession.

Plight of teachers

Time and again we would hear stories of teachers going abroad for better pay as caregivers or domestic helpers. We have private school teachers migrating to public schools for higher pay because some private school salaries are so low cannot even afford raise a family. Yet even the public school system with a relatively higher salary scale has its share of challenges for teachers. There is the challenge of multi-grade teaching especially in schools located in the hinterlands. Teachers are faced with the difficulty of managing their time handling two classes inside the same classroom divided only by a blackboard to allow the teacher to monitor activities happening on the other side of the room. The tedious task of preparing lessons and the additional task of checking for two grade levels would be very taxing for these teachers. Sometimes, those hired to do multi-grade teaching are even new graduates without any teaching experience and yet, they persevere in with their work. There are also principals who even use part of their salaries just to improve the conditions of the schools under their care – true stewards in the service of the providing education for the nation. We have volunteer catechists who give religious instruction in the public schools without any pay at all.

There are also teachers, both in the public and private sector (those in small mission schools), who travel hours on end to scale mountains and cross rivers before they can reach the schools. Some schools do not have the proper amenities, with buildings that are ready to collapse in the next natural disaster. Some do not have electricity and therefore are not conducive to learning but the teachers continue to persevere anyway and make do with the available resources. There are those who have dedicated themselves for the education of the Indigenous People away from the cities. This would mean that they would be away from their families for days just so they could deliver education.

Teachers as heroes and saints

Teachers prepare for class, undergo ongoing training for their discipline, build community with other teachers, and continue to be formed by the church. Outside the school, they have families to raise on their own and sometimes their salaries are not enough to support their families. Even in the face of the seemingly dire situations that we find these educators in, they persist in their vocation because they believe in the cause of education, because they know that education gives hope and leads to social transformation. These educators are the true missionaries who “fully respond to all of its demands, secure in the knowledge that their response is vital for the construction and ongoing renewal of the earthly city, and for the evangelization of the world.” (LCIS, 37)

Teachers are challenged to be brave amidst the turbulent times. They are called to holiness and heroism. They look to the teacher par excellence, Jesus Christ. Jesus never rejected the title teacher. “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.” [John 13:13]. He spoke with authority. He was a great communicator of the vision of the Kingdom. Teachers then look to Christ as example. By their witness of the faith and through their example, they make saints and heroes out of their students. They use the discipline of love to lead them to holiness and heroism.

There is no retirement for teachers. Even as employment ends, teachers devote their time as volunteer catechists in public schools, they lead in forming the basic ecclesial communities in parishes. They take active part in their dioceses. They take part in the building of the Kingdom.

Gratitude to Teachers

For this reason, we would like to thank all those who have committed their lives in the teaching profession. We thank them for the service they deliver to our nation by their excellent teaching. They are our heroes. They are the true missionaries. They give without counting the cost. They “develop in themselves, and cultivate in their students, a keen social awareness and a profound sense of civic and political responsibility… committed to the task of forming men and women who will make the ” civilization of love ” a reality.” (LCIS, 19)
We also thank all those who help in one way or another in making the circumstances for our teachers a little better. We thank the Department of Education for trying to close the gap in teacher and student ratio and providing better salaries for the public school teachers. We thank all the school administrators for always looking after the interest of our teachers. We thank parish priests who encourage volunteer catechists to go to public schools and deliver religious instruction.

In as much as we feel the support of government, we ask you to go the extra mile. We call on our legislators and budget personnel to continue to support our education system.

We also call on our brother priests to strengthen catechetical instruction in the public schools within your parishes. Moreover, make your parishes youth friendly. As pastors of souls you are teachers of the faith. Visit the public schools and be present in the youth of the schools, encourage and inspire the young people to choose education as a vocation.

We admonish the young people to love and respect their teachers. They have sacrificed much of their lives to make you responsible members of society. It is our prayer that the best ones among you will find it in your hearts to be teachers.

We appeal to the administrators of the schools to ensure that schools are places of encounter with God; that your students and teachers experience God in your campus. Continue to give your teachers support they need so they can deliver quality education to the students.

Finally, we thank the teachers for your generosity of spirit. We pray that you persevere in the good work that you are doing. Continue to let the face of God shine on you. “May the Lord who began his good work in you will see it to completion in the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:9).

May Mary mother of all teachers bring us closer to Jesus our only Teacher!

For the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, October 5, 2014, World Teachers’ Day
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

Iglesia ni Cristo anniversary draws ‘thank you’ from Aquino, guidelines from Catholic bishops

preached at the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral for his 75th birthday and his creation as cardinal by Pope Francis  last Feb. 22. - NJ Viehland Photos

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato preached at the March 11, 2014 thanksgiving Mass at Cotabato’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral for his 75th birthday and his creation as cardinal by Pope Francis last Feb. 22. – NJ Viehland Photos

President Benigno Aquino III  celebrated with a throng of members and friends in events related to the centennial of homegrown Iglesia ni Cristo (INC, Church of Christ) whose teachings contradict Catholic doctrine, a Catholic bishops’ primer on the INC says.

INC celebrated the centennial of its foundation on July 27 mainly in Philippine Arena, a 55,000-seater dome arena legally owned by its New Era University. 

Iglesia officials said more than 1 million people joined their celebration in the arena in Ciudad de Victoria (Victory City), a 75-hectare tourism complex it built in Bocaue town, Bulacan province just north of Manila.

Aquino in his address to  the July 22 gathering of members and friends for the arena’s inauguration thanked the group for the service the arena and the group provide Filipinos.

Officials of INC  endorsed the candidacy of Aquino and his vice president in the 2010 elections. Regarded among “influential” religious groups in the country, INC rules that its 5-8 million member voters  elect its leaders’ choices. 

Last week, House Representatives endorsed the third impeachment complaint filed against the president over use of discretionary funds that the Supreme Court has ruled as unconstitutional.

Iglesia Ni Cristo was registered in the Philippines on July 27, 1914 by Felix Y. Manalo, a Catholic who became a protestant preacher then established his own religion after claiming to be  the last Messenger of God. The group does not publicize the number of its members in the Philippines and abroad.

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo of Cotabato, who heads the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Commission on the Doctrine of the Faith had  issued in March a primer  explaining conflicting beliefs of the Catholic Church and Iglesia ni Kristo.

The document hoped to offer guidance particularly to catechists and Catholic educators and formators.

“The respect we give to the religious beliefs of others should motivate us to get to understand those beliefs deeply, as this is demanded by the requirements of sincere dialogue. Differences in what we believe in do not make us distant from those who hold those beliefs, because as J. Maritain put it, among ideas contradictions are inevitable, but not among persons,” Cardinal Quevedo wrote.

Notheless, he stresses, “We cannot close our eyes to the fact that there are serious and deep differences between the Christian Faith and the doctrines of the Iglesia ni Cristo.”

Read A Primer on the Beliefs of Iglesia ni Cristo with the full text of Cardinal Quevedo’s introduction

Priests apologize for shaming of unwed mom

The priest who harangued and scolded an unwed teenage mother during the baptism of her baby has apologized and his religious order has promised to discipline the priest.

Screenshot of Fr. Obach's letter of apology.

Screenshot of Fr. Obach’s letter of apology.

The baby’s grandmother recorded the incident on her cellphone and later uploaded it to her Facebook page. She also wrote about the humiliation the priest subjected her daughter to.

Read full report

The baptizing priest, Father Romeo Obach belongs to the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists) – Cebu Province  which issued on July 8 its statement on Fr. Obach, CSsR

Following is the full text of the Redemptorists-Cebu statement :

CONGREGATIO SS. REDEMPTORIS
Provincial Superior
Cebu Province
Provincial Office
Don Ramon Aboitiz St.
6000 Cebu City, Philippines

1. We, the Redemptorists of the Province of Cebu are deeply saddened by the incident that happened on July 6, 2014 at the Sacred Heart Chaplaincy in Jagobiao, Mandaue City. The said incident involved one of our confreres, Fr. Romeo Obach, CSsR. We were made aware that the incident was videoed and uploaded on social media and has since gone viral.

As a religious community we DO NOT CONDONE such an UNACCEPTABLE ACT as it is contrary to the Charism and Mission for which our Congregation was founded – compassion especially to the poor and the most abandoned. We sincerely feel for the family and to them we extend our heartfelt apology.

2. An INTERNAL INVESTIGATION is underway. Rest assured that appropriate SANCTIONS on the part of the involved will be applied once the investigation is complete so that justice may prevail.

3. We will reach out the aggrieved family at the appropriate and most opportune time to address this particular matter. We respect their situation at the moment and sympathize with their hurt and anger over this matter.

4. The Redemptorist Community has always upheld the rights of the poor and disenfranchised since the first missionaries arrived here in Cebu in 1906. And this has been our conviction through the decades. It is but unfortunate that the incident involving Fr. Obach occurred, as he has been a good missionary for many years. He has served in many capacities and various places heeding the challenges of the congregation, yet he is also human and prone to lapse of judgment and imprudence.

5. We appeal for calm and sobriety from everyone even as we try to assess both the outcome of the investigation of our confrere and at the same time reach out to the family. We appreciate that if you have further concerns, address them to the SUPERIOR of the Redemptorists.

6. May this also serve as a reminder to us in the religious life and the clergy of our role as pastors: that we are called to serve and not be served and to offer our lives for all (cf. Mt. 20:28). On behalf of the Redemptorist Community of Cebu, we extend our sincere and humble apologies.

Fr. Alfonso Suico, Jr, C.Ss.R
Media Liaison