9,000 people came to hear Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle

By: N.J. Viehland

Choir in the back, Mother Butler Guild members, some people in wheelchairs, groups in the Church's ministry to the deaf and security personnel at the Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center, Quezon City, northeast of Manila / N.J. Viehland Photos

Choir in the back, Mother Butler Guild members, some people in wheelchairs, groups in the Church’s ministry to the deaf and security personnel at the Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center, Quezon City, northeast of Manila / N.J. Viehland Photos

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s Easter Recollection was expecting a large crowd at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum last Sunday, April 21, but 9,000 people ? That is awesome.

More than the numbers, though, the mix of people I saw and spoke to was impressive: people in their 80’s, young adults in their 20’s, children, couples holding hands, nuns…

Outside the big arena, there was a lot of excitement, especially by the food stalls and tables for book and multi-media sales. Not surprising, the chatter included admiration and pride over how their cardinal was cited in the past month as possible next pope.

But inside the huge hall, especially while Cardinal Tagle spoke, all were still and quiet, interrupted periodically by bursts of laughter and applause. At one point when Cardinal Tagle shifted to a serious tone while challenging the audience to be missionaries and witness to Christ, he asked, why did you all suddenly get quiet?

The 9,000 people who spent their Sunday in an Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 included nuns, couples, young adults shown here during the break at Smart-Araneta Center. / N.J. Viehland Photo

The 9,000 people who spent their Sunday in an Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 included nuns, couples, young adults shown here during the break at Smart-Araneta Center. / N.J. Viehland Photo

Somehow, inside the big dome noted for big league and college basketball, pop concerts and the legendary “Thrilla in Manila” boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975, it seemed like everyone knew each other – like neighbors in one community.

Cardinal Tagle spoke in three parts:

Focusing on Christ’s instruction to the disciples to “Go to Galilee”, he reflected on “Galilees in our life” including the hurts and frustrations, fears and failures. Cardinal Tagle said as Jesus met the disciples in Galilee after resurrecting from the dead, he also meets us and stays with us in these places of hurt, frustration, fears and failures. He helps us to know more about Him. This prepares us to “go to the ends of the earth” to tell all people about God’s love and justice, by showing these to them in the way we live and relate with others.

Cardinal Tagle urged thousands of Catholics at the coliseum and many others listening on the radio to go out and serve in mission. [Click the link to read about it.]

Several people I spoke with said they felt “inspired” to become priests, or “challenged” to be patient and influential teachers.

Catechist Mirasol Bautista and Sherry Canchela of Pansol, Quezon City hope to have patience and be effective teacher to hundreds of students after listening to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

Catechist Mirasol Bautista and Sherry Canchela of Pansol, Quezon City hope to have patience and be effective teacher to hundreds of students after listening to Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

Aljon Carpio [left], 22 year-old religion teacher at Notre Dame of Greater Manila with Jose Miguel Pacheco, 4th year high school at University of Santo Tomas felt "inspired" and amused with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle's storytelling at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum.  / N.J. Viehland Photo

Aljon Carpio [left], 22 year-old religion teacher at Notre Dame of Greater Manila with Jose Miguel Pacheco, 4th year high school at University of Santo Tomas felt “inspired” and amused with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s storytelling at the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection in Smart-Araneta Coliseum. / N.J. Viehland Photo

Finally, Cardinal Tagle celebrated Mass with Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao, which covers Quezon City, and Fr. Emmanuel “Nono” Alfonso, JesCom director.

In the end, Cardinal Tagle directed the congregation to “go to the ends of the earth” and tell others about Christ.

Here are some of the things I saw while I was at Smart-Araneta Coliseum from 8:00-past 1 p.m.

Applauding Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as he returned to the stage for the second part of his talk for the Easter Recollection April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center in Quezon City, northeast of Manila./ N.J. Viehland Photo

Applauding Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle as he returned to the stage for the second part of his talk for the Easter Recollection April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Center in Quezon City, northeast of Manila./ N.J. Viehland Photo

Orchestra playing during the break in the Easter recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

Orchestra playing during the break in the Easter recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle April 21, 2013 at Smart-Araneta Coliseum / N. J. Viehland Photo

 

Breaktime at Smart-Araneta Coliseum during the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle - not exactly up-scale dining , but lots of a different kind of "nourishment" / N.J. Viehland Photos [display of brands not an endorsement]

Breaktime at Smart-Araneta Coliseum during the April 21, 2013 Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle – not exactly up-scale dining , but lots of a different kind of “nourishment” / N.J. Viehland Photos [display of brands not an endorsement]

Bringing the faith to the people: The 1975 "Thrilla", was in fact the legendary Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match. Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle on April 21,2013 ended with Mass for Good Shepherd Sunday. N.J. Viehland Photos [Product logos are not an endorsement by this blog.]

Bringing the faith to the people: The 1975 “Thrilla”, was in fact the legendary Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier boxing match. Easter Recollection with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle on April 21,2013 ended with Mass for Good Shepherd Sunday. N.J. Viehland Photos [Product logos are not an endorsement by this blog.]

 

After the Easter Recollection at Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Sunday TV program followers offered support for The Word Exposed featuring Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle / N.J. Viehland Photos

After the Easter Recollection at Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, Sunday TV program followers offered support for The Word Exposed featuring Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle / N.J. Viehland Photos

Bishop: North Korea’s threats might aim to increase aid, preserve pride

By N.J. Viehland

Catholic News Service

MANILA, Philippines (CNS) — The head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea said North Korea’s recent threats of aggression may be an attempt to shore up foreign aid while preserving pride.

“It is our presumption that they wish to draw out some financial assistance from abroad without conceding their pride or self-esteem,” Bishop Peter Kang U-Il of Cheju, South Korea, said in an April 9 email to Catholic News Service. [full report]

In the CNS report, the bishop said he personally appealed to people of Korea to pray for the peace in the peninsula. He offered a prayer he composed appealing for mercy for a “silly flock” whose actions are causing hunger, suffering and drawing people to violence and death.

He sent this English-language Prayer for Peace along to Catholic News Service April 9.

Interview : Fr. Andrew Recepcion on “Revolution” for Mission


By N.J. Viehland

“… mission is beyond geography. Every person that God places beside me in this present moment of my life is my mission space, and I have to be there for that person. That’s the revolution that should be understood at this time.” –  Father Andrew Recepcion, Filipino Missiologist

                                                                                           *************************

MARIKINA CITY, Philippines – Father Andrew Recepcion president of the Board of Directors of the International Association of Catholic Missiologists and director of Caceres Mission Office in the Archdiocese of Caceres in Camarines Sur province notes much has to be done for Filipinos to effectively serve the mission of evangelization in Asia. He spoke about this with Catholic in Asia in the sidelines of the Grand Mission Festival  at Marikina Sports Complex last April 18-20, while assessing the impact of the activity co-organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) commission on Mission , the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) and other groups. Recepcion, author of the book God’s Global Household: A Theology of Mission in the Context of Globalization holds a doctorate in Missiology from Gregorian University in Rome. While teaching in various schools of theology in the Philippines, he researches on globalization and mission, local rituals and mission history. Following are excerpts of our chat at the festival:

N.J. Viehland: What is the basic definition of mission?

Fr. Andrew Recepcion: Mission is both a journey of faith and a sharing of faith. Journey of faith because it involves a personal encounter with the Lord and you cannot give what you do not have. Sharing of faith because we cannot keep that Spirit of God to ourselves. We have to share it with others.

What are particular challenges to the Church in the Philippines?

The constant challenge to the Philippines Church is that it is always an island of faith. For many many years, we have been “the only Catholic country in Asia,” though now there is East Timor, but there’s still much for us to do.

It’s very important that Catholic Christians in the Philippines will go beyond the comfort zones of family tradition and commit deeply to proclaiming Jesus Christ in different situations.

We also have to balance mission “ad gentes” (to the nations) or mission “going to places that need explicit proclamation of Jesus Christ,” with mission as a way of life. And only when mission becomes a way of life among Filipinos can they make a difference in evangelization in Asia today.

Talks and sessions of the Grand Mission Festival sought to inculcate that awareness that mission is a way of life, and that every Christian wherever we are, can do evangelization and the Church’s missionary work. We don’t have to go right away to places outside the Philippines to do mission, but we start with our families, with our work environment, schools and so on, and then we begin to create a mission culture, so to speak, and that could facilitate mission ad gentes.

So many times, we have the impression that those who volunteer or do full-time mission work are extraordinary. In reality, it should be ordinary for us Christians to do mission because as John Paull II reiterated in Redemptoris Missio,  mission is an instrument of faith and we will lose that faith if we don’t share it. But, it should not be understood as sharing it only to those outside our territory. There’s a tendency even among priests to reduce mission to going to other nations.

The need for that should not be denied, but mission is beyond geography. Every person that God places beside me in this present moment of my life is my mission space and you have to be there for that person. That’s the revolution that should be understood at this time.

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, Catholic Bishops Conference president at the time, put on mission cross necklaces on volunteers during the mission sending ceremony at the end of the April 2012 Grand Mission Festival held at Marikina City Sports Complex. - NJ Viehland photos

Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, Catholic Bishops Conference president at the time, put on mission cross necklaces on volunteers during the mission sending ceremony at the end of the April 2012 Grand Mission Festival held at Marikina City Sports Complex. – NJ Viehland photos

What are the implications for orientation and training for mission?

Preparation for mission is “here” in the manner that we live out our faith, in the manner we share it with our family, with people who are close to us. Only when we are able to mature in this kind of missioning that we can eventually be committed to mission ad gentes.

From experience I see it has to be understood by priests that mission is not added work. For many priests, their concept of mission is that it is an activity that has to be done, when in fact mission should be the soul of pastoral work. Without the orientation to mission, pastoral work is reduced to empty administration work and other activities. If we do not do mission, we are not missionaries of Christ carrying out our pastoral work, but end up instead as social workers, organizers, event managers, CEO.

Mission Directors in the Philippimes Grand Mission Festival for CBCP Year of the Missions Marikina Sports Center, April 20-23, 2012 N.J. Viehland Photos

Mission Directors in the Philippimes
Grand Mission Festival for CBCP Year of the Missions
Marikina Sports Center, April 20-23, 2012
N.J. Viehland Photos

How important is it to include formation for mission in the seminary program?

Mission formation must be allowed to mature in one’s life. It’s important for seminarians to understand that they are becoming priests not just to do pastoral work, but to participate in the mission of the Church. Your pastoral and other work is part of the whole mission enterprise of the Church. For this mission, seminarians must nurture an attitude of availability for mission and joy of service. Their formation is programmed so that mission is intuitive. They are given exposure to mission situations in the diocese to understand that being in the parish is not merely celebrating the rituals and performing sacraments, but that all these and other activities are a constant life-giving witness to the faith.

What about overseas missions?

Aside from seminarians’ mission formation program, we also have had the Caceres Mission Aid Program since 1997. We have 16 priests right now who serve 3-year contracts with mission dioceses. Almost 50 of our 280 priests have gone to serve overseas.

What did the Grand Mission Festival achieve?

Mission is not result-oriented because the proclamation of the Gospel  is  always open-ended. The fruits are given not by any human effort but by the Holy Spirit. I think the fruit of the Grand Mission Festival, from the human point of view, was its succes with the organization, participation, also with the good general program.

From the point of view of God’s work, the fruits will have to be reaped in the future through the success of lay missionaries that were sent off to their missions. We hope that they will be able to inspire others and witness to Jesus, and that more missionaries will be sent from the Philippines.

Was there enough discussion of the role of dialogue in the mission of the Church?

Grand Mission Festival focused on PMS and that covers mission more as the work of the Church. Maybe at another time it would be opportune to talk about dialogue. But in the Philippines dialogue is always part of our understanding of mission because of growing religious and cultural pluralism in the country.

How do you respond to claims that some bishops, priests and Religious are not open to dialogue?

Even today, there are priests and bishops who do not want to talk about dialogue because of our training to fight for our faith as much as possible and as far as we can prevent it,  our faith should not be contaminated by other religions.  We cannot proselytize and aggressively convert Muslims. In a pluralistic situation, the challenge to Filipino Christians is to know more our faith and identity because if not we could be converted.

How do you see the conversion of Catholics to Born Again and other groups?

As far as I know, Born Again groups are very active, even in remote areas. For many people who have been in the margins of Church life – who we call the “un-churched” – they feel liberated by the manner in which Born Again Christians create a Pentecostal atmosphere in presenting the faith. For many it’s like liberation from a very traditional way of living faith and of liturgy. For example, they could spontaneously praise God. It’s very important that Catholic Christians are also able to live their faith without having to join Born Again Christians. If they only knew that there’s so much of the movement of the Spirit in our lives. If we only put the Gospel into practice, our faith can be as alive. Catechesis and basic education are important and it’s very important the very basics of our faith are clearly and deeply understood, including the basic question: Why do we believe in God?

END

 

80 Years of Pontifical Mission Societies – Philippines

By N. J. Viehland

Marikina City, Philippines – Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS), the pope’s worldwide office for missions operating in the Philippines, has contributed greatly to promoting mission in the Church in the Philippines, Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu and Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) president said at the closing Mass for the 3-day Grand Mission Festival.

At least 5,000 Catholics gathered here east of Manila last April 18-20 to celebrate Year of the Missions. CBCP dedicated 2012 to promoting the missionary orientation and give thanks and praise for eight decades of PMS.

PMS established around the world carries out the mission of the Church to propagate the faith, have children growing in sharing the faith, and preparing priests for mission work through four societies, Archbishop Palma explained in his homily.

The societies collect funds from Catholics worldwide to support missionary activity of the Church. Society for the Propagation of the Faith funds support general missionary activities, St. Peter the Apostle funds are raised to promote missionary vocation and formation of priests, seminarians and Women Religious, Missionary Union for lay mission workers in ecumenical dialogue and other evangelization work, and Holy Childhood Association for education and Christian formation of children and youth.

In the Philippines, PMS total funding for missionary work in 2011 reached 80 million pesos (roughly US $1.874 million), Mission Society of the Philippines Father Socrates Mesiona, PMS national director told me at the congress. He said Philippines Churches raised about 25 million pesos.

PMS staff said 50 mission directors from around the country came with delegations of priests, seminarians, lay officers and members of various parish groups, students and other youths.

Under the scorching sun or a starry sky, delegates joined in Masses, sang, danced, lit candles and sat silently on the ground in prayer. They huddled in halls to discuss lectures and videos, draw pictures and compose reflections, then mingled with strangers and interviewed missionaries at exhibit booths highlighting the festival theme “remembering history, proclaiming Jesus story, and celebrating our faith.”

Young Catholics joined candle lighting and prayers for lay missionaries during their mission send-off at the Grand Mission Festival 2012 closing Mass in Marikina City last April. (N.J. Viehland Photos)

Seminarian Feli Ayala, St. Alphonsus seminary second year theology student before bussing back to Quezon Province said the festival helped him realize he can be a missionary by “sharing and communicating Jesus Christ to others.”

“I learned from Archbishop (Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila) we can be good storytellers and we can be good missionaries who proclaim Jes

us Christ if we ourselves have first-hand experience of his presence,” he told me before heading home.

Doing Mission by Storytelling

Tagle spoke to participants at the athletics field April 19 evening about “Telling the Story of Jesus” as a way of doing mission. 

He told participants salvation history is “the story of God’s love affair with humanity” and all Christians can share in doing the Church’s mission by knowing Jesus’ story and sharing it through their lives.

Tagle said storytelling in order to fulfill the Church’s mission must be told by a credible witness who shows he “knows God” through his words and actions.

Citing Pope Paul VI, he said, “Our age listens more to witnesses than to teachers.”

Children are among people served by Fatima Center for Human Development established and run by Daughters of Saint Augustin nuns in Barrio San Agustin, Iriga City in Camarines Sur under the Archdiocese of Caceres. {Dave Viehland Photos)

The story one tells of Jesus’ love defines a person and builds community, Tagle added. “Our stories tell us who we are and what kind of community we are – what stories bind us together.”

He reminded delegates there are many ways to tell a story. “Our very persons could be the story of Jesus. That’s how the saints told the story of Jesus.

In Tagalog language, Tagle said, “Many of us cannot remember Pope John Paul II’s many teachings, but only looking at pictures will remind us of his life and his person. Until his body became bent and when he was almost completely stooped he continued to serve. That’s the story of Jesus.”

Photographs of the kindly face of Blessed Teresa embracing shabbily-dressed people from the gutters, her gentle stroking of dying people also tell the story of Jesus, Tagle added.

Reorienting Clergy to Mission                                  

Missiologist Father Andrew Recepcion of Caceres Archdiocese  shared Tagle’s hope. “It has to be understood by priests that mission is not added work. For many priests, their concept of mission is that it is an activity that has to be done when in fact mission should be the soul of pastoral work.

“If we do not do mission, we are not missionaries of Christ carrying out our pastoral work but we end up as social workers, organizers, event managers, CEO of the Church,” Recepcion said.

In his northern Philippines archdiocese, mission formation is part of the seminary formation program. Seminarians spend weeks of exposure to mission situations in the diocese “to understand that being in the parish is not merely celebrating rituals but a constant life-giving witness to the faith,” Recepcion said.

Since 1997, the archdiocese has sent almost 50 of its 280 priests to serve in mission abroad through the Caceres Mission Aid Program.

Mesiona acknowledges, Our problem is lack of enthusiasm for mission promotion and work. Maybe priests cannot connect. Maybe they’re thinking they already have enough pastoral work to do.”

Only about 80 percent of Philippines dioceses have appointed mission directors, and “fast turnover of leadership of the offices is another problem,” the missioner said.

Mission of the Whole Church

CBCP president Archbishop Jose Palma give lay missionaries their mission Crosses on their send-off to new assignments during the closing Mass for the Grand Mission Festival at Marikina Sports Center, April 20, 2012. (N.J. Viehland Photos)

Recepcion praised organizers and service team of the “fruitful” festival. In the long term, he said the impact of the festival could be determined by how effectively delegates and newly assigned missionaries will inspire people “by witnessing to Jesus through their lives.”

Palma at the closing Mass led send off prayers for a dozen newly assigned lay missionaries

– Mel Torralba, Youth for Christ (Middle East

– Maria Lenete B. Bertumen, Philippine Catholic Lay Mission (Thailand)

– Goi and Charmaine Villegas, Couples for Christ (CFC, Europe)
– Mike and Shay Serapio, CFC (USA) option=com_content&view=article&id=2&Itemid=3

– Jef and Emma Lou Arong, CFC (Seychelles)
– Richard and Fritzie Espanola, CFC (Zimbabwe
– Elmer and Lita Cadiz, CFC (Caribbean) 

In his homily, Palma invited delegates, specifying the youth, to volunteer for Church activities and offered Blessed Pedro Calungsod, the 17th century young sacristan from the Visayas Island whose life and work with Jesuit missioners to the Mariana Islands (Guam) ended in their martyrdom. The Vatican has set the canonization of Blessed Pedro and six other beatified people on World Mission Sunday, tomorrow Oct. 21. Blessed Pedro’s life and virtues offered themes for festival workshops and animation activities

Palma invited participants to pilgrimages from various countries to Rome around the time of the canonization, and suggested those who could not come join the thanksgiving Mass in Cebu or activities in their own dioceses when the new saint’s image is brought around the country.

END

Mission Directors in the Philippimes
Grand Mission Festival for CBCP Year of the Missions
Marikina Sports Center, April 20-23, 2012
N.J. Viehland Photos