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New Naval bishop assumes post

Bishop Rex Ramirez (center) is greeted by his predecessor retired Bishop Filomeno Bactol (right) and Palo Archbishop John Du during his installation at the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral as the second bishop of the Diocese of Naval, January 12, 2018.

TACLOBAN City—Newly-ordained Bishop Rex Ramirez has formally took office as the new head of the Catholic diocese of Naval in Biliran province.

Ramirez was officially installed as the diocese’s second bishop in a solemn ceremony held at the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral on Friday morning.

The installation rite took place three days after his episcopal ordination in Palo, Leyte attended by leading church figures including Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and Papal Nuncio Archbishop Gabriele Cassia.

The 50-year-old prelate succeeded Bishop Filomeno Bactol who retired from the ministry after reaching the mandatory age of 75 three years ago. He is now 78 years old.

Bactol said that Ramirez had long been waited by the clergy and the people of Biliran since his appointment last October 2017 by Pope Francis.

Bishop Ramirez earlier said he will detach from political pressures and not influenced by squabbles among local politicians.

“There are officials whom I know do not meet eye-to-eye. My role as a bishop is clear to me. I will stand by what the Church stands for. I am there for the Church and as the Church’s representative,” he said.

The Naval diocese is one of the four suffragans of the Archdiocese of Palo with more than 300,000 Catholics in 16 parishes administered by around 30 priests.

Posted by  | Jan 13, 2018 – CBCPNews

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Parents urged: ‘Don’t discourage your kids from becoming priests’

Sto. Niño Parish clerics Fathers Niño Escaloran (left) and Wilson Chu (right) cheer up female inmates at the Tacloban City Jail as part of the parish’s month-long spiritual activities. STO. NIÑO DE TACLOBAN PARISH

TACLOBAN City – “Do not prevent your children who want to be priests or religious.”

This was the emphatic message of a priest during his homily at a Dec. 23 Simbang Gabi Mass, held at the Sto. Niño Parish Church.

“A child is a grace from God and there are among you whose children want to serve God by being priest or religious, thus it is the moment for you to say yes to their calling and allow them to follow such calling,” explained Fr. Niño Escaloran, underscoring the role of priests and consecrated persons in evangelization.

No priest, no Mass

The priest also stressed the unique privilege of priests, saying: “There is no Mass if there are no priests to celebrate it.”

The Parish of Sto. Niño de Tacloban, in collaboration with the Daughters of St. Paul congregation, the St. John the Evangelist School of Theology, and the Sacred Heart Seminar have been consistently inviting young people to consider the religious or priestly vocation.

Within the 9-year preparation of the Catholic Church in the Philippines for the fifth centenary of Christianity of the Philippines, two bishops emerged from the clergy of the Archdiocese of Palo.

Pope Francis appointed SJEST formator Fr. Oscar Jamie Florencio as Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu in 2016 together with Fr. Oscar Villarojo.

In July 2017, the Holy Father appointed him apostolic administrator of the Military Ordinariate concurrent with his being Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu.

Proud of his priests

A new bishop was also appointed in October in the person of Msgr. Rex Ramirez, who at the time was rector of the Palo Metropolitan Cathedral.

In an earlier interview, Palo Archbishop John Forroosuelo Du remarked, “I am very proud of my priests in the Archdiocese of Palo.”

He said the appointment of a new bishop from Palo is an affirmation of the “commitment shown by our local priests.”

“What we are witnessing is a communion among the priests, and because of that, God has blessed us to be privileged, a gift to have a bishop,” said the prelate.

 

Posted by | Dec 26, 2017 | – CBCPNews

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The Filipino youth and the question of identity

A delegate to the National Youth Day 2017 in Zamboanga City. JOHANN MANGUSSAD

PASAY City – Who is the Filipino youth? More importantly, does he know himself?

In a recent talk, a lay speaker reminded young Filipinos of the importance of identity in an age which values Instagram personas and personal social media mileage.

“…[I]t’s about going away from what society dictates who you are. Because the youth they want to fit in with the trend or idols of society …[and] they end up frustrated, worst they do no longer know who they really are and their purpose,” said Paul Richard Guimary, a board member of Prolife Philippines, during a talk on identity for the Baclaran Church Youth Ministry on Sept. 2, 2017.

‘Floating generation’

According to Guimary, young people need to have firm foundations of security. “No matter how strong external influences are, they will be able to face and win over it.”

Related to this, he said, is a sense of self-worth. “[The youth’s] uniqueness is a gift! Their uniqueness gives complementarity and beauty not only in their life but [to] the life of others.”

He summed these all up as “the importance of identity and being identified.”

Guimary, who also used to serve as a leader in the Diocese of Parañaque Youth Ministry, reminded them of some truths that could anchor their sense of self in a fast-changing world: that they are God’s perfect masterpiece; that they are the extension of God’s peace; that they are God’s “ray of hope”; that they are God’s “shining light”; that they are God’s gift; and lastly, that they are love.

While the rise of technology may be blamed for what some perceive to be a “floating generation,” Guimary said the reason could be closer to home.

“I think what’s the primary reason is within their own homes … they don’t feel loved, appreciated… when they feel that their families are no longer avenues of support.. when lines of communication are blocked due to fear,” he said.

Media to blame?

For Fr. Ramon Jade Licuanan, youth director of the Archdiocese of Manila, it would be unfair to tag an entire generation of young Filipinos as “rudderless.”

While he notes that a “good number of youth who are grounded [on] their deepest identity as Christians” go on to give up personal ambitions to become missionaries or pastoral workers, he admits there are “a lot more young people [who] are at a [loss with regard to] their true identity.”

“They try to become a person the materialistic and individualistic world has enticed them to become,” observed Licuanan, who runs a vlog called “Catechism on the Go.”

The priest believes an overexposure to media is the culprit behind young people’s shaky sense of self.

“….They are confused [about] who they really are. Media has bombarded them with so many images, and they happen so fast, they lose their self identity. That’s why we speak of ‘new normal,’ but actually they do not know what really to follow, what is good and which is bad,” he said.

Victims of relativism

Fr. Osias Ibarreta of the Diocese of Tarlac goes deeper by tracing the hand of relativism to which young people have fallen prey.

“Every age has its bullies. Today’s youth experiences a new kind of bullying called the dictatorship of relativism. It does not recognize anything definitive, its goal consists of ego and desires,” explained the priest.

According to him, the idea that there is no absolute truth, that each individual decides for himself what is true, what is right and wrong, can easily corrupt how young people see themselves and others.

The young person with such a mindset, Ibarreta added, also learns to keep the Church at an arm’s length.

“Unfortunately, post modernity has taught young people to view the Christian tradition with suspicion, to see it not as an aid to living a happy life, but as an oppressive, restrictive force that prevents them from discovering the meaning of existence and charting the course of their life,” he explained.

Such a perception, said the priest, soon proves detrimental to a young person’s personal development and growth.

“This outlook cuts off the young generation from the very source that help us flourish. Whatever the case maybe our youth must know that they have been cheated!,” he stressed.

 

Posted by | Dec 12, 2017 | – CBCPNews

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Parents urged: ‘Help your kids discover their mission’

Fr. Felipe Pedraja, parish priest of San Antonio de Padua Parish, reminded parents that the success of the mission of the Church lies in the family.

ANTIPOLO City – Giving a timely reminder on the feast of the Holy Family, a priest said parents’ primary role is not to ensure that their children land high-paying jobs but that they discover their God-given mission.

“The mission of parents is not to make your children rich so that you yourselves get rich. The mission of parents is to prepare [their] children for their mission,” said Fr. Felipe Pedraja, parish priest of San Antonio de Padua Parish in this city, during his homily earlier this morning, Dec. 31.

During the first Mass of the day, the priest lamented how many parents are too focused on ensuring that their children have a “bright future” by forcing them to take college courses they do not like just because it will help them land jobs abroad and “earn dollars.”

Transmission of faith

“The role of the parents is to make their children Christians, to transmit the faith and to prepare them for their mission,” said Pedraja.

According to the priest, while all Christians need to respond to the “universal call to holiness,” everyone has a particular mission entrusted to him by God.

Pedraja also corrected parents’ tendency to shield their children from hardships and from experiencing failure or disappointment. “[Parents say]: ‘I don’t want him to experience the suffering I experienced before…”

Your child’s mission

While seemingly loving, such an attitude will hinder children, he said, from carrying out their mission.

“Your child will experience suffering, failure in carrying out his mission… Your child is not meant to experience just pleasure,” Pedraja explained, noting how Jesus Himself went through suffering to fulfill His mission on earth.

The priest also noted how many children, having known only comfort and success, get depressed when they finally experience disappointment in the real world, some resorting to suicide.

He also went on to stress how crucial the family is in the larger context. “The success of the mission of the Church lies in the family.”

 

Posted by | Dec 31, 2017 | -CBCPNews

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New CBCP president vows ‘open communication lines’ with gov’t

CBCP president Archbishop Romulo Valles MELO ACUÑA

VALLADOLID, Carcar City, Cebu – Weeks before his first Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) plenary assembly as CBCP president, Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said he is committed to engaging the Duterte administration through open dialogue.

“Communication lines are open,” said the prelate during an exclusive interview with CBCPNews, when asked about the relationship between the Philippine bishops and the national government led by former Davao City Mayor and now President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

This consideration of other view points, however, will always be weighed against Gospel values, explained the prelate.

“[Now matter] how [the government] proposes [their] critique, our standpoint is we come from the viewpoint of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church. We will continue to engage the government,” Valles said. He added he is “a little fortunate” because he and the president both come from Davao City.

Davao roots

While Valles downplayed media narratives that paint him as a close friend of President Duterte, he admitted, however that they are indeed friends.

He also mentioned knowing the president’s immediate staff, who all come from Davao City.

“Secretary Jun Evasco and I come from the same town, in Maribojoc, Bohol,” shared Valles. He revealed that Evasco’s mother assisted his mother when the would-be archbishop was born 66 years ago.

Early into his term, the prelate is stressing the collegial nature of the bishops’ conference.

2021 celebration

Unlike political parties, the CBCP decides on “a matter of consensus,” explained Valles, where bishops themselves submit possible issues to be discussed during their plenary assemblies. This January, the plenary assembly will be held in the Archdiocese of Cebu.

In an interview on the sidelines of the exhumation and examination of the remains of the Servant of God Bishop Teofilo Camomot at the Daughters of St. Teresa convent, the prelate said that while the bishops share “bright ideas” for discussion, there are major plans of action that are, more or less, universally recognized.

“There is also a ‘set play’ like the nine-year preparation for the celebration in 2021 (quincentennial of the establishment of Christianity in the Philippines) which I cannot just suddenly change,” the 66-year-old archbishop said.

Disaster preparedness

In terms of areas of improvement, Valles thinks the social action arm of the Catholic church should further strengthen its efforts in disaster preparedness and response, considering the number of natural calamities that recently hit the country, specifically the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

“While the social action arm is doing very well, we should learn from our weaknesses and respond to calamities soonest,” he stressed. He said there are still families in Davao temporarily staying at evacuation centers.

Valles expressed appreciation for the response from various dioceses to help the Prelature of Marawi and the survivors of the five-month armed conflict and the recent typhoons.

He also emphasized that the CBCP should focus on the laity, integrating the Catholic faithful, who are not members of the church-based organizations, into the Basic Ecclesial Communities “where they can play a more active role” in the Church.

 

Posted by | Jan 5, 2018 | -CBCPNews Website