Philippine Conference on New Evangelization
October 16, 17 & 18, University of Santo Tomas
The Philippine Conference on New Evangelization (PCNE) was wide in its scope and breadth. The moment we met the organizers led by Msgr. Gerry a few weeks prior, you knew that their sincerity to get the message across was paramount to their endeavour. We had a crash course on Philippine church history, PCP II, and Vatican II. Curious was how the technical part of how to moderate (we were invited as moderators) was not discussed. In retrospect, the crash course was enough to get us into the groove of things given that we only came to be part of PCNE weeks prior.
Online Registration was a little bit intimidating because of the many choices and new jargon of ‘streams’ and ‘pathways’.
One (1) day before the 3-day conference, we heard mass together with the other moderators, facilitators and organizers. His Eminence Cardinal Tagle celebrated the mass with at least 30 other priests. It set the tone of what was to happen in the next 3 days – a tone of solidarity, sincerity, joyfulness, and humility.
Day 1 – “Come and See” A Personal Encounter with Jesus:
The Beginning of All Evangelization
The day started with the enthronement of the crucifix from España to the inside of the UST arena, followed with a ‘Filipinized’ procession with dancers of all ages and we were encouraged to dance and sway with them.
The Misa ng Bayang Filipino led by the good Cardinal was inspired. With the many traditions in the mass celebration, one gets awed in its symbolism.
The Heart to Heart with Cardinal Chito Tagle was ingenious. Rather than a keynote speech, Cardinal Tagle invited people from different ‘industries’ and had a talk show type of activity on stage. Tina Munoz Palma and Mike Enriquez was there to represent the media. There was a youth, catechist, bible society, and differently-abled representatives as well. It was a fun ‘show’ as Cardinal Tagle was in his element in talking to them and he was very clear with how to facilitate the show. In the end, when asked what they want the church to do more of for them, each answered:
Media (ABS-CBN) – We want a listening church, a church who does not judge, but listens to all of its people.
Media (GMA) – We want a church who is more visible. Not just in the physical churches, but in media, in the streets and everywhere where it is needed.
Youth – We want the church to be mothers and fathers to our youth.
Differently-abled- We want to have a ministry specific to the ‘disabled’ and accessibility to all churches and church related buildings.
Bible Society – We want a bible in every Filipino’s home. Our target is 5 million and so far we have only 1 million that we have given out.
Catechist – We need help with the lesson plans and the learning materials that we use for teaching.
In the afternoon, we, together with other Serviam members went to the talk on Benedictine Prayer/Contemplative Prayer in the Contemporary Times by Dom Pachomius Ma. San Juan, OSB.
Day 2 – “Stay with Us” We Encounter Jesus on the Church through the Word and the Eucharist
Day 2 was marked by the testimonies of popular figures on devotions or popular piety. Christopher de Leon spoke on San Lorenzo Ruiz, Judy Ann Santos on Our Lady of Manaoag, and Coco Martin on the Black Nazarene.
This was an opportune time for people to relate to these celebrities and their faith.
The afternoon was the pathway talk. I was assigned to Holistic Spirituality where Sister Leticia Andrea Garcia, DC spoke on the consistency of faith – from male and female, the feminine and the masculine, in relation to its psycho-social brain mapping, and its different paradigm. She says that holistic spirituality is creation-centred and it all boils down to dignity.
My only comment about this talk is how if you’re new in your formation of faith, you may get confused about its very feminist views.
Day 3 – “ Duc in Altum” ‘ Go… and Preach the Gospel to the Whole Creation” (Mission and Spirituality)
Assisi Revisited: An Interfaith Prayer for Peace was a wonderful way to start the final day. Leaders from different religions and denominations shared their faith and how as one, we can work in peace with one another. Most poignant was when Cardinal Tagle sought everyone’s forgiveness from the past transgressions of the church to the present where the church has yet to care for all of its lambs and the promise to do better in the future.
In the next part of the program, Cardinal Tagle invited visitors from different countries to talk about their lives of mission – from Brunei, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and more. Important to note how the Filipino migrant initiates and builds communities of faith where they are and they become the rallying point of their community.
In the afternoon, we went to moderate our ‘wellsprings of hope’. We were late in this part because the morning spilled over into the afternoon. The group that I was moderating was an interesting group of nuns, priests, catechists, lay, and youth from all over the Philippines. Important to note from their sharing is the feeling that they are not alone in their struggles in their community and that their efforts plus the efforts of the people around them are not for naught. And that their church under the leadership of Cardinal Tagle is a humble church ,acknowledging ‘malaki and kanilang pagkukulang’.
The culminating activity of the 3-day conference was the end of conference mass where the Holy Spirit was felt all over the UST arena. Emotions ran high in the candle lighting ceremony that started in the dark. When the whole arena was filled with candlelight throughout the bleachers, the video message of Pope Francis became a hope-filled voice amidst the quiet. You truly felt the spirit moving in everyone.