Priests called to renew their lives in holiness is the essence of the new liturgical year according to an official of the Diocese of Novaliches during local opening rites for the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Life held at the Shrine of St. Paul the Apostle in Casa Milan, Quezon City last November 18, 2017.
“The Clergy must be holy people,” began Vicar General for Pastoral Affairs Rev. Fr. Tony E. Labiao, Jr. during his introductory talk on the theme of the liturgical year during the whole-day Diocesan Theological Pastoral Congress on the Year of the Clergy & Consecrated Persons.
“Renewal of our integral lifestyle and values of being a (member of the) Clergy or the Religious must be the focus this year,” he emphasized.
He gave the history of Christianity in the Philippines and mentioned the reason for the liturgical theme, which is in line with the new evangelization in the Country. He said the bishops exhorted the Faithful to prepare for the upcoming 500 years of Christianity in the Country through nine years of different liturgical themes as part of a novena. The nine-year period has been called the Era of New Evangelization.
He explained that the bishops’ themes were meant to emphasize the nine major pastoral priorities during the era of New Evangelization: 2013 as Year of Faith, 2014 as Year of the Laity, 2015 as Year of the Poor, 2016 as Year of the Eucharist & Family, 2017 as Year of the Parish as Communion of the Communities, 2018 as Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, 2019 as Year of the Youth, 2020 as Year of Ecumenism or Year of Religious Dialogue, and 2021 as Year Ad Missio Adventes (Year of the Mission).
Moreover, Fr. Tony highlighted the challenge of Christianity in the Philippines in terms of being missionaries not only in the country but also in Asia. He pointed out that the current liturgical year encourages priests and the Religious to be more holy especially when it comes to their vows and their mission as holy prophets of Christ.
He also stated the importance of seminary formation and cited the focus on massive formation in the seminary that will be implemented this year in the Diocese. He then encouraged the laity on their important role in the life & growth of the Clergy and the Religious to become more holy and to be part of the mission of the Church.
Spearheaded by the Commission on Faith in Formation, the annual Theological Pastoral Congress was ended with a Eucharistic Celebration presided by His Excellency Antonio R. Tobias, DD. and some priest of the Diocese. Different congregations of Religious Women were also present along with many lay faithful from the different vicariates of the Diocese. (~John Martin De Guzman)