The 13th National PREX Convention
by Ate Beth Perez
The National PREX Convention, held every two years, is a joyful and fruitful event where PREX Graduates from the different parishes in the country gather to bond and renew relationships with KUYAs and ATEs, and to refresh and deepen their faith thru the inspiring and insightful Talks of Guest-Bishops, Priests and Lay Sharers. That is why almost one thousand PREX Graduates from Luzon and Visayas travelled all the way to Mindanao just to be at the 13th National PREX Convention held in the University of Southeastern Philippines Gymnasium in Davao City, on April 17, 18 & 19, 2015, where they were joined by more than two thousand KUYAs and ATEs from the Archdioceses of Davao and Cotabato, and Dioceses of Digos, Marbel and Kidapawan.
The Convention commenced with the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist, with the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Davao, Most Reverend George B. Rimando, as Mass Presider. In his homily, he explained how Christ is our Supreme Evangelizer, how we feel His love in His Word, in our life experiences and thru people we encounter. He shared his experience when he attended the PREX, first in the Archdiocese of Cebu, and later in the Diocese of Novaliches, and how he felt God’s love in the experiences of his KUYAs and ATEs in the PREX.
The Talks, “Talakayan” and even the joyful songs focused on the Convention Theme, “Sharing the Joy of the Gospel”, inspired by the encyclical of Pope Francis, the “Evangelii Gaudium”.
In the opening remarks of Msgr. Romy Ranada, the Spiritual Director of the NAPPS, he posed the challenge to PREX Graduates to share the joy of the Gospel in the context of the new evangelization, with newness in fervor, methods and expression. The NAPPS Bishop Protector, Most Rev. Antonio Tobias, challenged us further to share the joy of the Gospel not only locally but globally.
The Most Rev. Gilbert A. Garcera, Bishop of the Diocese of Daet, said that to be able to effectively share the joy of the Gospel, PREX Graduates have to be pastorally active Catholics – prayerful, participative, continuously learning, generous, peacemaker, joyful and renewed evangelizers – who encourage and train others to become evangelizers too; that would lead to our goals of social transformation and building ecclesial communities. He added that in evangelization, DAMA is needed – DAloy ng Awa para sa Maralita.
Msgr. Bart Santos, Vicar General of the Diocese of Malolos, emphasized that we must have empathy for those to whom we share the joy of the Gospel. We have to listen to them. . . and feel their situation. “RAMDAM KO” is our assurance of love to them when we respond to their situation with mercy and compassion.
Fr. Albert Alejo, the Chairman of the Board of the Philippine Jesuit Refugee Service, shared his experiences with our brothers and sisters in Mindanao, especially his immersion in the lives of the Lumads. He inspired the PREX Graduates to be promoter of peace; to have a listening heart not only for Christians and Muslims but also for the Lumads, our poor and marginalized brothers in Mindanao.
His Eminence Luis Antonio G. Cardinal Tagle admonished us to be the Church of the Poor, to translate our faith into action on behalf of the poor and with the poor. Our motivation for our action for the poor must be our faith in God, not of any selfish, ulterior motive, so that our action may be constant and sustaining. And as faith leads us to a missionary action for the poor, we experience the joy found in knowing that the Gospel has taken form in our loving encounter with the poor, and that is the joy of the Gospel. In this process, our faith deepens and that faith continues to move us again into action for the poor – from faith. . . to action. . . to faith – a cycle filled with love and joy.
Rev. Fr. Ramon Ramos reminded us that faith is all about relationships. We have to remain connected to our Lord, to talk with Him and share with Him our troubles and anxiety, for He is our Light and the source of our strength; and be connected with the Faith Community, for it is in sharing our lives that we experience Christ’s love.
We continue to experience the love and mercy of our Lord even in the midst of suffering and tragedies that we encounter in our lives. This was witnessed to us by the Talakayan Sharer, Joseph Babag, the lone survivor in his family who drowned during the typhoon Pablo, drifted over and under the flood for several hours, but was brought to safety and later to a loving and caring Guardian by our Lord.
Another Talakayan Sharer, Fatima Soriano, who was born blind, testified to the healing love of our Lord. Joyfully, she shared how God had healed her congenital kidney disease and continues to make her feel His love through her family and people around her. Although blind, she “sees” and shares the Light with gladness in her heart.
The Talakayan Moderator, Rev. Fr. Arnel Recinto, shared how he was humbled by his Parish Renewal Experience, when he realized that there is much more to learn about God’s love through the lives of his KUYAs and ATEs.
Refreshed and recharged by the insightful Talks and inspiring sharings that they heard, our KUYAs and ATEs resolved to reflect, internalize, practice and live what were learned in the 13th National PREX Convention. They thanked the Archdiocese of Davao & Diocese of Digos for hosting the successful convention and look forward to the next (14th) National PREX Convention that will be held in the Diocese of Malolos, Bulacan.
The 13th National PREX Convention ended with the Eucharistic Celebration and final blessing from Bishop Gilbert Garcera and Priests in attendance.