Message of the Bishop during the 2009 Diocesan Annual Convention
DCENT Center, Bulua, Cagayan de Oro City
February 20-21, 2009
I warmly welcome the Diocesan Council, Clergy and lay delegates, including some resource persons from our church in Bonacao, and guests to this 2009 Diocesan Annual convention. We are gathered at this DCENT Center as the highest governing body of this Local Church to collectively discern the work of the Holy Spirit for His church and to commonly mold our creative ways in fulfilling the ministry set before us by the Lord of history.
Main Annual Thrust
We come at a point to thank the Lord of history of his mercy for granting us another momentous year in the service of his kingdom. This year, we will put premium on Evangelism and Church Growth as our priority thrust in commencing the work of forming another diocese, this time, the Diocese of Malaybalay in 2012; a dream of four years! We start this endeavor with the correct understanding that forming a new Local Church is a product of painstaking work based on the principle of church growth. Our redistricting task is propelled when our ministry becomes insufficient due to the great presence of growth in every aspect of our church life. MOBUCA 2012 projects the establishment of three stable dioceses in 2012 as our humble offering to the Church during its decadal celebration after the centenary.
The 2009 Theme
Guided by the theme, “Kabilin Huptan, Ebanghelyo Isangyaw alang sa Kalambuan ug Kalinaw”, every Filipinista is called to proclaim the gospel of genuine development and lasting peace for, of and by the Filipino people and nation. The IFI has a unique heritage as a church born out of the struggle for national independence from the bondage of foreign domination and control. While today we have Filipino leaders but most of them are influenced by foreign culture. The Charter Change is a concrete manifestation of this creeping foreign culture that easily provides foreign investors greater economic leverage at the expense of our rich natural resources and, indeed, of the poor. The call of some influential congressmen for a CHA CHA to amend economic provisions to give foreign investment a 100% opportunity to exploit our resources is short of the virtue of nationalism and national patrimony. We, as a nationalist church should be compelled to be vigilant to this scary move that will dislocate our own people from our own land.
Call to Oppose CHA-CHA
Together, let us call on all patriotic legislators like our very own congressmen in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Camiguin and Bukidnon to oppose any move to tinker on the Constitution unless a good climate of socio-political, economic and culture security benefiting the majority, especially the poor and impoverished, is guaranteed. In other words, there is no development unless it responds to the true clamor of the poor to be liberated from poverty. Development aggresses because it only caters on the enrichment of foreign and big local investments. Cognizant with this call is the invitation to pursue proclamation as the core task entrusted us to guide our fellow Filipinos in our common aspiration to alleviate from the socio-political, economic and cultural maladies obtaining our country.
Expression of Gratitude
Let me officially express my overwhelming gratitude to the leaders and general membership of MOBUCA for a job very well done in hosting the 11th Triennial General Assembly in May 2008. Even the minute things that each had contributed mattered much to us. How grateful the Bishop is to mention the support received from Edrolin family (20,000.00), Mayor Jaraula (30,000.00) Jollibee IFI-Bulua Store (2 meals & snacks), Jovy Galorport family (1 cow) and Josefina Dragon family (1 cow) and the generous assistance of the Romualdo’s (25,000.00) and the late Congressman Lagbas (10,000.00), among others, and likewise on the generous hosting of IFI families and the use of their vehicles and resources for the delegates from the 36 dioceses and guests. The SCB expressed their appreciation to the Parish leadership of Mambajao and the Quibod family (FREWILL) for hosting their entire stay during the General Assembly.
Participation in the National Church
In the National level, our Diocese is represented by the Bishop, some clergy and lay in various capacities. Through the General Assembly, the Bishop was chosen to chair the Commission on Programs and Projects while Fr. Antonio Ablon set as clergy representative to the EXECOM. Fr. Christopher Ablon, representing the clergy to set as member of the COPP while Reyno Sevilla and Aldem Yanez were chosen as members of CTEOM and CEER, respectively.
Each year, a campaign for the Lenten fund is initiated by the National Church. For this year, we are enjoined to skip one meal during the Season of Lent (Ash Wednesday-Passion Sunday) and the proceeds will be earmarked for the Lenten Fund. Lenten Fund envelops are distributed to all churches in the diocese. The EXECOM acted a 60-40 sharing starting this year wherein, 60% of the Lenten Fund proceeds will go to the National Church and 40% will be retained and divided between the Diocese and the Parish. The use of this fund is restricted to the Social Ministry of the Church so that social concerns will be highlighted in our respective churches.
We also receive request for support to renovate the roofing of the National Cathedral where the EXECOM expects us to contribute at least PhP 60,000.00. The Diocesan Council initially responded by giving PhP 10T.
Another fund campaign that the National Church initiates is the Pension Plan. Each year during the August 3 celebrations, we are enjoined to offer our thanksgiving to God for giving us this Church. This offering will cater on the payment of the clergy’s pension plan amounting to some PhP 8T annually. The Committee expects all clergy to involve aggressively in the campaign. Only those who participate will be enrolled in the plan.
The bishop is proud to inform that one of our youth leaders in this diocese is chosen to join the youth exposure program between IFI and the Church of Sweden. Mr. Roland Cruz of Sugbongcogon was invited through our strong endorsement to go to Sweden on March 9-May 31. Let us pray that his inclusion to the exposure program strengthens the partnership of the two churches.
MINBISCON, on the other hand, have regular activities in the region. In recent past, this DCENT Center served as venue of several MINBISCON conferences. This arrangement will continue within this year. With a monthly activities within the Mindanao island to bring all stakeholders in Mindanao to a process of forging a common ministry of the IFI in this region.
One important matter to undertake for this year is the strengthening of the Clergy Spouses Organization and the facilitation of the Clergy Children’s Organization in order to empower the two special sectors in our church to make their respective contribution to the ministry and mission of the church.
Libertad elevated into a New Local Church
The year that passed was glorious and providential for the IFI when the Diocesan Program of elevating the Diocese of Libertad was pursued. At its regular session in May last year, the Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB) favorably acted on our petition to elevate the Diocese of Libertad owing to the growth that MOBUCA experienced. It was an action that was immediately confirmed by the 11th Triennial General Assembly on its meeting held at this DCENT Center also in May last year. We have great reasons to celebrate with this development because this motivates us to work more in realizing our MOBUCA 2012.
2nd Synchronized Clergy Reshuffling
Immediately after the May 2008 GA, the second National Clergy Reshuffling (2008-2013) ensued; and, in June 1, 2008, all clergy moved with their families to their new tasks and challenges. One positive thing about the clergy reshuffling is the opportunity to enrich the ministry of every cleric as they sustain their ordination vows in a new setting/parish and, on the same level, the courage of the general membership in doing their baptismal vows. Our analysis of the second half of 2008 brought a reactivation of the general membership in church life and ministry. Even the financial downtrend experienced during the first half was rectified during the second semester
2008 Financials & Parish Performance Rating
Comparatively, our basic financials for 2008 remains stable though it fell short of our annual projections. Although only seven churches hit the mark, we reached as much as 96.44%. The new Mission of Bayabas topped it all with a performance rating of 133.11%, followed by Agusan (124.73), Mambajao (110.47), Bulua (109.57), Kitaotao (107.32), Lapasan (105), and Macabalan (102.63). Although No surplus is awarded though to the 7 churches.
In October last year, the diocese held a Diocesan Program Conference in this venue which was well-attended by the prominence of leadership from the various parishes. A Program Cabinet, composed of several clergy and lay, was formed by the bishop to finalize the program of the diocese for 2009. We will hear a report on this matter within this convention.
Synchronized Parish Conventions
Since 2008 is the culmination of the Parish triennium, the last quarter of the year was devoted to call the Parish Synchronized Triennial Convention. The Bishop presided over these conventions, although in some instances, he was assisted by the able support of the members of the Diocesan Council.
Our campaign to raise funds for the DCENT Center yielded much with the assistance of our strong membership immediately prior to the General Assembly. We see the fruits of our support with this place becoming a more conducive center for nurturance. Indeed, we have already shown much of our capacities to withstand the challenges posted us as a true Local Church. But we have more to do while we continue reaching our goal in pursuing mission. Prior to this gathering, the Diocesan Council appropriated PhP 75T to introduce some make up which we find today. From this fund, we likewise acquire a new amplifier to be used solely for this center. However, we still need around PhP 2M to fully furnish this center into a two-storey building. The EXECOM acted on our request of raising this fund through a loan or an investment scheme to be paid through the rent of the Bulua Commercial Complex. The OM now authorized the bishop to implement this proposal. Earlier, the bishop advised the Pro-Cathedral Council that some PhP 500T of this amount shall be earmarked to develop the second floor of the commercial center. I will recommend that an investment scheme to raise the PhP 2M will be acted by this body to generate funds for the development of both the DCENT Center and the Commercial building.
Pastoral Activities of the Bishop
Pastoral visits provided an opportunity for the Bishop and the Parish leadership bodies to see each other and find strength in our respective ministry. The bishop found in his rounds the need to enhance the Financial Management System, the appropriate understanding and implementation of the IFI Faith Standard (9PG), maximization of our real estates and cemetery developments, and the need to expand to more areas especially in Bukidnon and eastern part of the diocese due to the huge opportunities within the said areas. In San Fernando alone, the Bishop, together with the clergy of Malaybalay Cluster with the prominence of Msgr. Galera, saw a large horizon of our mission as we observed how our members there sustained the work of mission even without a priest to attend. As a result of a consultation in two chapels at Bonacao and Cayaga, they are asking this body the declaration of a Mission in that part of the province. On the other hand, our churches in Gingoog, especially the chapels in Kalipay, Lunao and Medina are potential churches to become new parishes in the near future. The bishop conducted a consultation with Fr. Apal at Kalipay Chapel with the aggressive participation of chapel leadership surrounding the said outstation.
On the other, as a result of the elevation of the Diocese of Libertad, the Bishop was appointed Bishop in Charge of the new local church. Adhoc formation and several series of conferences and meetings to prepare for the historic Diocesan Triennial Convention were held. Foremost of the activities undertaken were: 1) Diocesan Processing aimed at orienting the leadership bodies (clergy and lay leaders) regarding the process to follow in the making of the diocese. This processing conference resulted in the formation of various ministries and creation of working committees to implement plans especially in holding a Diocesan Convention to elect the new set of Diocesan Council and trisectoral leadership bodies and the formulation of the Diocesan Comprehensive Program. After the Convention at the start of the year, the Diocese is all set for the election of their new bishop. A Bilateral Conference with the Diocese of Pagadian opportuned us to orient of the process of acquiring a new bishop by the orientation conducted the National search Committee. As time of the essence, the diocese hope that the mandate of the Convention that in three months, a bishop will be nominated for the SCB’s perusal and action is done. The Bishop expects the in-placing of a new bishop to pastorally care the new diocese after the May 2009 regular meeting.
The calamitous month of January affected almost the entirety of the MOBUCA. Several churches like Bulua, were opened as sanctuary of the victims and relief operations were done. We served around 300 family victims of the floods. This experience taught us to ask for relief assistance with other partners such as the St John’s Cathedral in Hongkong and St. John’s Vicariate in London where Fr. Dwight de la Torre and Fr. Boboy Telen served as chaplains, respectively. We are humbled by the generosity of our partners, especially that aside from the local contributions, the St John’s Cathedral in Hongkong sent support for this matter. Whatever is left after the relief operations, we will keep it as seed fund for the MOBUCA Advocacy Program.
Concerning the ministries in the parishes, our clergy, although not all, submitted their Parish Annual reports. Common in the report are the expression of the pastoral, priestly and prophetic ministries of the church. Panon and family ministries, Pastoral visits, Bible study and Christian stewardship, stewardship of members and the members in Diaspora are but some of the common ministries that enabled the parishes to find their respective ministries. Another revealing condition in the reports concerns about parish finances. While all of us experienced a bad economy but our ministries cannot be overtaken by the said problem. The role of clergy to motivate all baptized to aggressively perform their baptismal vows is an inherent task of the clergy.
In this respect, professional enrichment of the clergy is inherent. Few years back, the clergy had the opportunity to list down our training needs to “professionalize” our response to the growing demands in the ministry. The need to provide import in the continuing professionalizing our clergy cannot be undermined if only to lighten up the demands of the ministry in this era when our Pro Deo et Patria stance is constantly threatened with the advancement of globalization. We have a new opportunity because people in the world are suffering from the excesses of globalization. Recently for instance as soon as the US suffered economic setback, all suffers because the entire world is connected with the net of the Super power. We come to realize the evil that globalization bring. Nationalism and national sovereignty which are the essence of our Pro Deo et patria cannot be undermined then. It is still a dominant value for people of dignity and national pride. It is what we need and as a nationalist Church, this stance should lift us up to the levels in our ministry. This we need to grow and be professionalized.
To this end, the bishop would like to share his concerns to this body:
For this body to adopt Evangelism and Church Growth as the main annual thrust for the year to prepare for the four year program of elevating the diocese of Malaybalay in Bukidnon.
For this body to adopt the theme, “Kabilin Huptan, Ebanghelyo Isangyaw alang sa Kalambuan ug Kalinaw”, to provide every Filipinista an opportunity to proclaim the gospel of genuine development and lasting peace for, of and by the Filipino people.
For this body to adopt a statement urging our congressmen in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental, Camiguin and Bukidnon to be patriotic by opposing any move to tinker on the Constitution unless a good climate of socio-political, economic and culture security benefiting the majority, especially the poor and impoverished, is guaranteed.
For this body to give our expression of gratitude to major contributors for the success of the GA hosting especially to the Edrolin family, Mayor Jaraula, Jollibee IFI-Bulua Store, Jovy Galorport family, Josefina Dragon family, the Romualdo’s, the late Congressman Lagbas, the generous hosting of IFI families and the use of their vehicles and resources for the delegates from the 36 dioceses and guests, the Parish leadership of Mambajao and the Quibod family (FREWILL).
For this body to extend pocket money to Mr. Roland Cruz as he represent the Church to the youth exchange program in Sweden.
For this body to adopt the investment scheme inviting members to invest with a 5% interest rate to raise PhP 2M for the furnishing of the DCENT Center and the Bulua Commercial Building. Provided that payment of such scheme shall be borne out of the rent proceeds of the Bulua commercial center.
For this body to express its gratitude to St. John’s Cathedral Hongkong, through Fr. Dwight de la Torre, of its support to the victims of flooding in Cagayan de Oro City.
For this body to study and take action on the petition of Bonacao and Cayaga churches to be elevated into a Mission Parish. Provided that the center of the Mission shall be in Bonacao Mission.
For this body to task the Evangelism and Church Expansion Committee to come up with a study on the redistricting of bigger parishes such as Gingoog City and recommends the elevation of the churches in Kalipay, Lunao and Medina, respectively.
For this body to extend support to the CSO and the CCO in their struggle to get involve in the ministry and mission of the church.
It is our hope that each parish and sector becomes acquainted with the corporate life and ministry of the diocese and help in further pushing the mission thereof.
A text message I received this week saying, “A candle losses nothing of its light by lighting another candle.” I pray with great enthusiasm that we will never get tired of sharing our light with others. Maayong hapon.
BISHOP BERT CALANG