“Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life to many.” (Mt20:26-28)
The year 2017 for our diocese marks the halfway point of the Decade of New Evangelization. Through the work of cultivating the parish into a communion of communities, we have realized the graces hoped for from the programs of action developed by the Diocesan BEC Animation group, achieved in three levels: (1) Establishment of a BEC Institute – [FORMATION]; (2) Institutionalization of BEC Day [CELEBRATION]; and, (3) Promotion & implementation of the BEC Outreach Program “SugodsaSambahayan” [MISSION].
For the year 2018, we shall turn our gaze towards the diocesan clergytogether with the religious and the consecrated persons. It will be a year of intensive reflection and formation on the role of the priests and consecrated persons in the life of the Church, especially in line with the contemporary challenges it faces. Called, blessed, and broken in order to be shared, we will look into the vocation of the diocesan & religious clergy (and consecrated persons) in their roles as servant-leaders.
There are many ways to appreciate the meaning of Christ-like Servant Leadership. This year, I would like to consider servant-leadership particularly in the spirit of ACCOMPANIMENT. Under this key concept, the servant-leader is one who accompanies God’s people - asKALAKBAY, KAAKBAY, and KAAGAPAY.
KALAKBAY: Servant Leadership is a Call to ALL Disciples of Jesus
As baptized children of God, the clergy, consecrated persons and the laityare all called to a life of holiness & to be servant-leaders, where wereceived the threefold mission (triple munera): Prophetic, Priestly, Kingly roles. However, in the exercise of their missions, they each have their own charisms that are distinct but related gifts in the evangelization of God’s people and in the exercise of their servant leadership. Despite their diversities, all of them are united in theirjourney as missionary disciples of Jesus in the building up of the Church. For the year 2018, the clergy is being asked to discern how their own gifts in relation to that of the Laity and the Consecrated Persons can blend and contribute to the life of the community as co-pilgrims or co-sojourners (Kalakbay).
KAAKBAY: The Diocesan Priest & Religious Clergy Working Together in Parish Building
From the prism of Kaakbay, let us now contemplate on the relationship between the diocesan priest and the religious clergy involved in the work of the parish. As a diocesan priest, he works hand in hand with the religious clergy to evangelize the various parishes and communities in the diocese. Magkaakbay, the diocesan priest is like the “salt of the earth”because like the salt which is mixed with the food to give it a taste, he is summoned to be immersed in the life of his community - being close to them and bringing out the Christian flavor of love in their lives. On the other hand, the religious clergy (and consecrated persons) are like the “light of the world”whoilluminate a way of life that is “not of this world” and live out in steadfast fidelity their evangelical vows. In this Year of the Clergy and the Consecrated Persons, we are to reflect on how the diocesan priest and the religious clergy can concretely and meaningfully applytheir respective charisms while also working together within the context of the diocese.
KAAGAPAY: The Parish Priest and the Parishioners Supporting Each Other
In this third perspective,we look at the relationship that exists between the parish priest and the parishioners. The priest is one who acts in persona Christi Capitis (in the person of Christ the Head) in his parish and community. Like Jesus, who “came not to be served but to serve” (Mk 10:45), his brand of leadership is characterized primarily by service.
While the priest and the faithful are supporting each other in the building up of the parish, the priest is afforded by his ordination the opportunity to serve God’s people in manners available only to him. He is able to serve as a mediator between God and his people through preaching the Word of God, leading the congregation in worship, presiding over the Sacraments and taking the lead in the Church’s hierarchy of service.
Thus, he is called to be a Teacher, Preacher, Presider, Builder, Architect, Bridge, Healer, Administrator, Conductor – all rolled into one!
At the same time, the parishioners are called to support and complement the leadership roles of the parish priest by prayer, by sharing their time, talents and treasure, by actively involving themselves in the various parish ministries and by harmoniously working together with their pastor in the planning and implementation of the parish plans and programs. In essence, it is a collaborative partnership (kaagapay) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
I invite everyone therefore, first to keep our clergy and consecrated persons in your prayers - that they may be faithful to their desire to give their lives as an offering to God by serving His people. As a diocese, let us also work towards seeking out individuals, especially those among the youth, who are genuinely being called by God to be a priest, religious or a consecrated person.
Let us turn to our Blessed Mother and ask her to intercede for us, to commend to God the clergy of the Diocese of Parañaque, and the consecrated persons working in and for the diocese, “and to the gracious Word of His that can build [them] up and give [them] the inheritance among all who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32)
(sgd.)Jesse E. Mercado, D.D.
Bishop of Parañaque