Palma to priests: Serve underprivileged communities
CEBU, Philippines — Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma is receptive to the idea of sending diocesan priests in Cebu to isolated communities or countries that lack ordained ministers as part of their missionary works.
And he hopes that the local clergy, which has been growing in number, would also support the idea.
“The fact that there are many in Cebu entering the priestly vocation hopefully will benefit other people as well as in other countries that they will be open to being missionaries and after one to three years then they come back to Cebu,” he told reporters on the sidelines after presiding over the ordination rites of 12 deacons and one priest.
He said the initiative is fitting for the Jubilee Year in 2021, the fifth centenary or 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines.
The Jubilee Year is considered significant for the Catholic faithful, especially the Cebuanos, since history has it that Christianity first took root in the shores of Cebu in 1521 during the Spanish expedition of Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.
Magellan offered a wooden image of the Child Jesus, now named the Santo Nino, as gift to Rajah Humabon’s wife – Humani when she was baptized and converted as Christian with other 800 Cebuanos.
Christian faith was then propagated to other islands in the country and is continuing to flourish until today.
Cebu is recognized as the “cradle of Christian civilization” and its archdiocese is considered as the largest in the country with the most number of Catholics, seminarians, and priests.
Palma, in his 12-minute homily, said Cebu is also blessed with many members and an addition to the hierarchy is the 13 newly-ordained clerics joining the ministry.
“My prayer is that our ordained ministers here will also be open to the life of a missionary work to reach out to the less privileged places that are in need of the service of a priest,” he said.
He said there are even dioceses outside the country that could hardly ordain one priest in a year.
Missionary works differ from serving a diocese or parish communities since the former entail difficult tasks of travelling to impoverished regions and even to hostile communities.
Palma reminded the ministers that the path to priesthood does not promise comfort, joy and security.
He added that the priestly life is not an easy task and therefore one should “sacrifice” his life for the service of others and bring one’s mission to those beyond the peripheries.
Also, he urged the newly-ordained deacons and priest to listen and follow the will of the Lord, and not only one’s own personal interest or agenda.
Meanwhile, Palma is hoping that the public will celebrate the true essence of Christmas.
“This Christmas, there should be more of Christ in the celebration. Sometimes we can be worrying more on the food and gifts but there is less of our spiritual, then that may not be as fruitful as it should be,” he said.
The 68-year-old prelate said Catholics should deepen more their spirituality in preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25.
Palma said one way of preparing oneself this Advent season is receiving confession to cleanse one’s spirit and to renew the heart, allowing God to reside.
“A good confession will always be of big help,” he said. —/KBQ (FREEMAN)