Representatives of the Council of the Laity in Novaliches (CLaN) participated in the celebration of the Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas‘ National Laity Week that began with a launching last September 24, 2016 in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Dagupan City. The theme of the National Laity Week was “Masayang Familia Naglilingkod sa Sambayahan, sa Sambayanan.”
Most. Rev. Socrates Villegas, Bishop of the Archdiocese of Lingayen and Dagupan, presided over the concelebrated Holy Mass in the morning. In his homily, Bishop Villegas exhorted the laity to have three C’s: (1) Contemplation – to see Christ in everyone, especially the poor, sick, suffering, and marginalized; (2) Communication – to be the ear and voice of Jesus to everyone; and (3) Compassion – to be the minister of compassion of Christ to all.
Archbishop Villegas remarked that the Laity, rich in resources, constitutes 99.9% of the Church. He noted that the Clergy and Religious were Laity, too, before their ordination or consecration. While the President of Sangguniang Laiko ng Pilipinas (Council of the Laity of the Philippines), Zenaida Capistrano, called the Laity, the sleeping giant in the Church, that can wake up to actively serve the Lord and lead social transformation. The members of the Council are 51 diocesan Councils of Laity and 52 national Catholic Lay organizations.
The keynote speaker, Rogelio Singson, former Secretary of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), a family man, and member of a Catholic Charismatic community, recalled his reluctance to accept the government position. A retreat on Heroic Leadership and God’s message of, “Be not afraid. I will be with you always,” convinced him to lead the Department, complete his term of office, and introduce reforms, like values training for personnel, to reduce corruption and streamline operations.
His formula for heroic leadership is: (1) Stay close to Jesus daily, (2) Do God’s Will (only consolation in the desolation of heroic leadership), (3) Stop complaining, and (4) Pray for gift of fortitude (patience, perseverance, confidence, courage, and compassion).
The Workshop in the afternoon, a Lay Forum for Luzon Lay Leaders, was on Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love), the 2016 Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, issued after the 2015 Synod of Bishops and Meeting of Families. Fr. Francis Gustilo, SDB, workshop facilitator, explained and illustrated key passages in the exhortation, a pastoral accompaniment, on needed attitudes, aptitude, and networking skills to promote love within the family.
Also present to welcome the delegates was Dagupan City Mayor Belen Fernandez. He expressed his observation that the Archdiocese of Lingayen and Dagupan is known for its ministry of mercy. A total of 1,080 delegates from dioceses and national organizations attended the all-day event that honors the only Filipino saints, two lay persons, Saint Lorenzo Ruiz and Saint Pedro Calungsod.
Among the Lay activities during the week in in the Country, including the Diocese of Novaliches, were the showcasing of parish ministries, Masses in honor of Saints Ruiz and Calungsod, and film showing of their lives.
The week-long celebration ended for the Diocese of Novaliches through a Closing of the National Laity Week Holy Mass in St. Peter Shrine on October 1, 2016 concelebrated by the Most Rev. Antonio Tobias, D.D. and members of the Clergy. Bishop Tobias reminded the lay persons of their mission received in baptism to be a prophet, priest, and a king, like our Lord, Jesus Christ, wherever they are.
The new officers of the Council of Laity of Novaliches had their oath-taking before the Bishop. Council President Emma Estacio encouraged the Laity to be active in their parishes in the service of the Lord. Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr., Bishop Delegate of the Council, assisted the officers in the celebration. (~Vivien Talisayon)