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Priests share their experiences of Second National Congress of the Clergy

Submitted by: regina
On: 02/02/2010

Priests who celebrated Mass at the Good Shepherd compound in Quezon City shared at various occasions their experiences during the Second National Congress of the Clergy (NCC 2) held from January 25-29 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

Right photo: The participants of NCC2 gather at WTC. (Noli Yamsuan) 

During the Sunday Mass on January 31, Msgr. Felix Abadies of  Maramag in the Diocese of Malaybalay, said that he was overwhelmed by the experience of  fellowship among the clergy during the congress. He lauded the way the congress, done in a retreat-style, was facilitated by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa OFMCap, the preacher of the Papal Household. He also shared that priests accepted the pastoral challenges before them; these challenges were presented to them by Bishop Chito Tagle of the Diocese of Imus.

Left photo. Mass at the Good Shepherd Chapel

Msgr. Abadies, who concelebrated the Mass with Fr. James Meehan SJ, also took the opportunity to thank the Philippine Province for the presence of the Good Shepherd Sisters in the diocese. At present, Sr. Grace Butalid RGS and Sr. Diana Madulara RGS are in his parish in Maramag helping in the training of catechists and lay leaders. Sr. Grace who is the diocesan coordinator of Women’s Desk in Malaybalay has successfully started the project and has set up women’s desk in parishes located in Valencia, Maramag, Don Carlos and Quezon. Sr. Diana, while engaged in the training of lay leaders, also help in the youth ministry and in vocation work.  Sr. Angelina Sanchez RGS, who is now in charge of the Maria Droste Infirmary in Quezon City, and Sr. Grace began the apostolate in Maramag.

Another priest who shared about the NCC 2 experience was Fr. Nestor Bahala of the Diocese of Pagadian. On Saturday, January 30, Fr. Nestor said the congress was a blessing to the clergy, all 5,500 gathered to listen to the talk of Fr. Cantalamessa and affirmation of the beauty of priesthood and the call to fidelity. He recalled the special devotion that priests need to have towards the Holy Eucharist.

Photo. From left, Msgr. Felix Abadies, Sr. Teresa Danganan RGS, Sr. Angelina Sanchez RGS

Fr. Efren Borromeo and Fr. Gil Saligumba who were at Bahay Ugnayan for the Healing Ministry, both relived the experience of fraternity during the congress. They, too, were blessed to listen to Fr. Cantalamessa and to see former classmates in the seminary and fellow priests whom they have not seen for the past 16 or 30 years.

The NCC 2 was organized as part of the celebration of Year for Priests, a year that began on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart on June 9, 2009 and will end on June 10, 2010. Pope Benedict XVI declared the celebration in remembrance of the 150th death anniversary of St. John Mary Vianney, patron of diocesan priests. The Pope also declared St. John Mary Vianney not only the patron saint of diocesean priests but of religious priests, as well. Vianney was the parish priest of a small village, Ars, in France and was known for his priestly and pastoral work in his parish.  His stole and breviary, two important relics, that were brought from France, were on display during the congress, and later visited several shrines in the country.

His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop of Manila, initiated the celebration of the recently-concluded NCC 2, and  NCC 1 which was held in June 2004. While NCC 1 gathered close to 4,000 priests, NCC 2 outnumbered the first gathering with a total of 5,454 priests from all over the country, those in mission abroad, and several foreign priests in the Philippines.

With the theme, “Faithfulnes of Christ, faithfulness of priests,” the five-day congress was aimed at providing the priests a deep and religious experience that will hopefully lead to a spiritual conversion and greater commitment.

The dynamics of the congress involved prayer and liturgy conferences, group reflection and journal writing, and the encounter with host families.  Fr. Cantalamessa delivered five conferences including Holy Eucharist and the vow of celibacy. He also delivered on January 28 two conferences at the Aranera Coliseum for the laity. On that day, at the congress, Bishop Tagle provided the pastoral challenges of the Church in the Philippines.

Left photo: NCC2 Subcommittee on Media, from left, seated, Ms. Peachy Yamsuan, standing, Sr.Regina Kuizon RGS, Msgr. Ding Coronel, Ms. Teresa Tunay and Fr. Anton Pascual.  

NCC 1 was held in 2004 amid controversies about sensitive issues that surround members of the clergy, particularly in the United States and Europe. Speakers and activities of NCC 1 helped priests understand better their role and mission.

NCC 2 concluded with a Mass presided by Cardinal Rosales. Held at the Cuneta Astrodome, the afternoon Mass was preceded by a procession of bishops, priests and some lay people, a 1.2 km distance from the World Trade Center.

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