The New Evangelization has begun this year, 2013, as the first year of the nine years era. Each year is devoted to a particular aspect of the Philippine Church and its people. We summarize the focus on each year for your reflection and prayers.
There are four areas of concern that we look at in our country in pursuit of the New Evangelization. First is the intensification of promoting missio ad gentes in all communities, among all peoples. Second is the imperative of bringing Good News to the poor through the missionary vocation of the Filipino. Third, we have to reach out to former Catholics who have drifted from the Church, and last, we must renew our attention and zeal toward the fuller formation and animation of young people and youth groups.
Together with these concerns and planned activities there is a need to emphasize three faith imperatives for these evangelizing efforts to be fruitful. They are the centrality of the Eucharist, especially in the liturgy, the necessity of Prayer so that we will be able to listen to the Holy Spirit and do His bidding, and, the necessity of Conversion and discipleship in Christ that involves a deep meaningful change of mind and heart.
With these postulates of the New Evangelization, we respond to the call of the Spirit for a New Evangelization by focusing on the Nine Pastoral Priorities of the Church in the Philippines as the key themes over a 9-year period.
Year 2013: Integral Faith Formation. Our pastoral concern goes out to the great many whose faith hardly plays a significant role in daily private and public life, noting with sadness the erosion of the faith and our need for true conversion. Sacred Scriptures and Tradition, Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Catechism for Filipino Catholics will be fundamental references of the New Evangelization. Blessed John Paul uses three phrases: evangelization with “new methods, new expressions, and new fervor.”
Year 2014: Laity. This year is to be devoted to the renewal of the laity, to their “empowerment” or more accurately to activating their charisms from the “Spirit, so that they may indeed take up their role as co-responsible agents of evangelization and lead in the task of social transformation. In this regard, of paramount global importance is the ecological challenge of climate change.
Year 2015: The Poor. This year is dedicated to committing ourselves more firmly to our vision of becoming truly a Church of the Poor … to be evangelically poor. Foremost among the challenges for this year are the challenges of hunger and poverty, of globalization and climate change, of corruption and the economic and political imbalances of our society. We are challenged to be united, the whole Church, rich and poor, powerful and powerless, in the work of restoring integrity and truth, justice and peace – love – in our benighted land.
Year 2016: The Eucharist and of the Family. This is a year of great blessing for us. The Holy Father has chosen Cebu as the host of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. Special emphasis will be on forming the Filipino Family as a Eucharistic community of parents and children, true to its name as a domestic church, rooted in the Eucharist. We shall intensify our efforts to strengthen marriage and the family so that every evangelized family will become an evangelizing family.
Year 2017: The Parish as a Communion of Communities. In this year we will discern the quality of faith life in the parish, the fellowship, belongingness, and participation experienced by its members. Efforts will be focused on making the parish a communion of communities, a communion of Basic Ecclesial Communities and of covenanted faith-communities and ecclesial movements. All these various communities should be thus integrated into the life and mission of the parish so that the parish will be truly be a faith community immersed in the lives of its people.
Year 2018: Clergy and Religious. In our culture, clergy and religious are the key to the New Evangelization. This is a year dedicated to the integral renewal of the values, mind-sets, behavior, and life-styles of the clergy and religious. The aim is to become servant-leaders in the manner of the Good Shepherd, living the spirit of evangelical counsels and being authentic prophets of the Good News of Jesus and of the Kingdom.
Year 2019: Youth. The youth are both the future and the present of the Church as they are its most numerous members. In this year we shall focus on the youth and involve them in the various activities of evangelization and social transformation, and greater participation in the Church. How we, as Church, respond to the aspirations of the youth will shape the third millennium.
Year 2020: Ecumenism and Inter-Religious Dialogue. 2010 will be devoted to exploring new ways of being community through ecumenical and inter-religious relationships and action. Caritas in veritate, open, honest, respectful, loving dialogue of life, prayer and action is the only way towards community. At stake are the great values of peace and harmony, particularly in areas of armed conflict, solidarity in the struggle for social change, unity in healing social ills, integrity and social justice in our land. We will strive for unity in diversity.
Year 2021: Missio ad gentes. It is the duty of faith in Christ to tell his story to others, especially to those who have not sufficiently heard of him. In addition to the present activities of our OFWs, we need to explore new ways of assisting them as evangelizers. We have been challenged by Blessed John Paul to become the “foremost missionaries” in Asia. This year will be devoted to how we are fulfilling that vocation, how a mission-consciousness in all the faithful can be formed, how each one can be animated into becoming a missionary even at home.
Bishop Jose S. Palma, D.D., Archbishop of Cebu, President, CBCP, who, for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, issued the Primer on the Year of Faith and the New Evangelization from which the above material was excerpted, concluded the primer with these words:
“Beloved People of God, we invite you to pray and reflect on what the New Evangelization asks of all of us, from each of us. The Lord of History, without any merits of our own, first gave the priceless gift of the Christian faith to our people and our land, nearly 500 years ago. Each year, in our own “uniquely Filipino” novena before Christmas Day, our ‘Misa de Gallo’ novena, we thank God’s goodness for this gift of faith, and beg for grace that our people may persevere in it.
“In the face of pervasive secularism and materialism, in the midst of billions who have not truly encountered Jesus Christ nor heard of His Gospel, how challenged we must be to embark on the New Evangelization! How can we not want to share Jesus the Way, the Truth and the Life with those who are yet to know and love Him who is the answer to the restlessness of every human heart?
“In this Year of Faith and throughout the nine-year period of special New Evangelization – and beyond – let us celebrate our faith. Live Christ, Share Christ!
“May our Lady, Mary Mother of Our Lord and the Star of Evangelization intercede for us and guide us in sharing Christ, our Emmanuel, God-with-us now and forever.