It is important to reflect on what makes a church, a church of the poor. There are, in my opinion, various elements. The most important is Spirituality. With the capital S. Without it, the move to become a church of the poor would be reduced to mere activism and ideology. A Marxist labeling would not be considered unfair. That is why a way of life that is grounded, centered and leading to Christ is important and must be driven home to the members of the community, from the priest, to the religious, lay volunteers and the newly baptized. This invitation to an intimate and loving relationship with Christ crucified must be the core of the kerygma of the Church. Because of this, the foundation of the community will be strong, no matter how strong the quakes, storms or waves that will come its way.
If transformation is to be desired by a community, one of the key factors to bring about change is awareness (teachings, catechism, etc).
5 minute basic catechism before the mass has been implemented. (Teachings on the life of San Pedro Calungsod, on the sacrament of confession, on the Eucharist…)
A theology series is currently being taught by Bro. Christian Manaloto, a friend and classmate, currently teaching in Miriam College.
A financial literacy series will be taught by Bro. Chris Cantal, from Ascension Parish.
A leadership series is currently being taught by Fr. Didoy Molina.
The arrancel is the system in a parish setting in which there are fixed rates whenever the sacraments are celebrated. There has been a lot of nuancing and explanation that the arrancel is not payment for the sacraments but that they should be seen as generous support to the operations of the parish. However, it cannot be avoided that connections will be made with the arrancel as payment, no matter how long or comprehensive the teachings or catechisms may be. There will still be people who will see the arrancel as payment for sacraments. And they are the majority.
How to correct it?
Through a radical move.
Remove the arrancel.
Will this work?
It has. And it will.
Many parishioners have received the sacraments especially that of baptism, confirmation and marriage. And people have been generous than ever.
Why then are some priests and parish leaders afraid of implementing this?
The heart has its reasons that reason cannot understand…
Here are key principles that will hopefully guide us build a strong foundation in building the community…
5 Aspects of Basic Ecclesial Communities
1. Koinonia: Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the communion, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
2. Kerygma: Luke 4:18-19 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
3. Leitourgia: Catechism of the Catholic Church 1070 “In the New Testament the word “liturgy” refers not only to the celebration of divine worship but also to the proclamation of the Gospel and to active charity.”
4. Diakonia: John 13:14-15 “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
5. Church of the Poor: Plenary Council of the Philippines II 137 “Our vision of the Church as communion, participation and mission… and a Church of the poor, that is a renewed Church…that is the movement to foster Basic Ecclesial Communities.”
6 Goals/Steps to Christian Growth (Matthew 28:19-20. Matthew 22:37, 39. Matthew 25:40)
1. Member: Matthew 28:19 “Baptize them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
2. Disciple: Matthew 28:19 “Teach them all that I have commanded you.”
3. Minister: Matthew 22:39 “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
4. Missionary: Matthew 28:19 “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
5. Prayer Leader: Matthew 22:37 “Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.”
6. Servant Leader: Matthew 25:40 “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me.”
The members of the community came from different areas of Muntinlupa City, as far as Sucat, Muntinlupa to Tunasan. Formerly informal settlers, now given the security of a place to stay without the fear of being evicted, a family was provided with a 20 sqm house by the National Housing Authority. Sometimes, a dwelling houses as many as 2-3 families. Many of the church volunteers have been active before in the parishes they have once belonged to. When they transferred starting 2008, there has been no celebration of the Eucharist for at least a year. After that, mass was celebrated once every Sunday in different locations, such as the National Housing Authority office as well as the covered court. When the quasi-parish was established October 14, 2012 under the patronage of the newly canonized saint, San Pedro Calungsod, 2 masses were celebrated every Sunday, 6AM and 5PM. Street masses were held on weekdays in the different areas of the community.
No community is created out of nothing. It comes into being because of people being brought together by chance or by choice. It is brought together because of God’s plan.
Members of the parish bring with them their hopes and dreams, their fears and biases, their best and worst practices and traditions when it comes to the faith. It is from these background that the joyful and challenging task of community building takes place.