Pioneer Zamboangueños founded Mindanao’s Catholic faith, Valles tells region’s priests PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 17 February 2011 14:42

More than 500 secular priests and 11 of their bishops in southern Philippines attended the three-day Diocesan Clergy of Mindanao convention held on February 14-16 here in Zamboanga City.
During the welcome Eucharistic celebration at the shrine of the Nuestra Señora del Pilar on Monday evening, host Archbishop Romulo Valles told the priests that they stand on “sacred ground” where the Roman Catholic faith first took root and from there spread throughout Mindanao. Fort Pilar was the home base of the first Spanish Jesuit missionaries who came to evangelize starting in the 1600s.
Valles said during the mass that the first Zamboangueños who lived in and around the fort overcame hardships and dangers because they “placed all their trust in Our Mother” and through her on “our Savior”. ‘They prayed together, and that is how they became church,” he said.

They taught by example, by the way they lived their faith and this is how each generation inspired the next, Archbishop Valles said.  Even we priests in Zamboanga come to pray and light candles here, and we are inspired by the strong devotion of the people in Our Mother, he told the visitors.
The convention brought together the diocesan priests, who total to over 700 in Mindanao, for pastoral sharings and to strengthen their bond towards one another, archdiocese’s publicity committee chairman Msgr. David Alonzo said. They also engaged in sports activities in the afternoon of the second day; the third and last day was capped by a closing morning eucharistic mass in the Immaculate Conception Metropolitan Cathedral.

Ateneo de Zamboanga University president Fr. Antonio Moreno gave the main talk on the second day on the subject of the convention theme of “The Word of God, Our Response to Good Governance and Peace”.

Fr. Moreno told the participants that “peace and good governance will make or break the development of Mindanao” and urged them to seize the new “climate of peace”.

He said local Catholic pastors must claim ownership of the exhortations made by bishops of the Philippines regarding peace and governance through their 26 pastoral letters and statements on the two subjects from 1986 to the present.

Our bishops “are not wanting in their statements” on these concerns, he told his fellow priests, and our challenge is to promote and implement their exhortations – from interfaith solidarity to fight against corruption to total human development, among others.

The lessons in these pastoral letters and statements are that peace is founded on development and social justice and on a need to work with peoples belonging to all faith traditions as well as to foster peace education in schools, he said.  The overarching themes to build peace and  promote good  governance, he emphasized, are discipleship such as learning from the poor, participation through inclusion of all stakeholders, communion that binds all together in common quests, and servant-leadership wherein the priests put themselves in the service of people.

The archbishops and bishops also gave short talks to the general assembly on topics ranging from environment to liturgy to upcoming regional ecclesiastical events.

Zamboanga archdiocesan vicar-general Msgr. Crisologo Manungas said the convention is part of the two-year long centenary jubilee of the archdiocese as the first diocese in Mindanao.  The main venue of the DCM convention was the Tetuan parish’s St. Ignatius of Loyola church, which is also marking its 150th anniversary this year as the first parish established in Mindanao.

Manungas as local DCM coordinator closely assisted DCM president Fr. Danny Fuentes of Davao Oriental in managing the convention activities and requirements. — PR