GRATITUDE, HOSPITALITY, AND SUPPORT
Pastoral Letter on General Reshuffle of Priests on June 1, 2021
Bp. Mylo Hubert C. Vergara, Feb. 21, 2021
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
A Blessed First Sunday of Lent!
Last Ash Wednesday, we entered this holy season of repentance, conversion, and renewal. Once again, for forty days, we will be given an opportunity to encounter the Lord and one another by engaging in the three disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This not only our obligation to live up to who we are as Catholic Christians but part and parcel of living our lives meaningfully as servants of God in our families and parish communities. Napakalaking biyaya mula sa Diyos na sa taóng ito ay ipinagdiriwang natin ang ika-500 anibersaryo ng Kristiyanismo sa ating bansa. Pagkakataon po ito na mas lalo nating maisabuhay ang mga hamon o disiplina ng kuwaresma at seryosong ipahayag ang ating pananampalataya kahit sa gitna ng pandemyang dulot ng COVID-19.
In our gospel today, we heard the short version of the account of the temptation of Jesus Christ in the desert according to the evangelist, St. Mark. After his baptism in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, Jesus was driven out into the desert by the Holy Spirit as a preparation for his public ministry. Somehow, this provides a fitting context for the upcoming general reshuffle of priest assignments that will take place in the month of June this year. Like Jesus who was sent by his Father to fulfill the mission of proclaiming the Good News of God’s kingdom, all our priests will be sent on another mission to better serve you and meet the growing demands of the pastoral needs of the diocese. After six years since our first general reshuffle of priests in the Diocese of Pasig, each incardinated diocesan priest will be given a new pastoral assignment to serve you in your parish and your parochial school.
Ang lipatan ng mga pari ay konkretong halimbawa ng pagmimisyon. Ang tema po ng ika-500 taóng anibersaryo ng Kristiyanismo ay sa salitang Latin Missio ad Gentes na ibig sabihin ay “misyon sa lahat ng tao”. Ang mga pari po sa taóng ito ay mga misyonero. Maaari din pong sabihin na ang desyerto na pinasok ni Hesus na kung saan siya ay tinukso ng diyablo ay ang pandemya na ating nararanasan ngayon. Ang pagmimisyon at ang pagpapahayag ng Mabuting Balita ay walang pinipiling panahon, hindi kahapon, hindi mamaya, hindi bukas kung hindi ngayon, kahit sa panahong ito ng matinding pagsubok.
As the process of transfers to new pastoral assignments occurs in the following months, allow me to share with you some fatherly advice as you bid farewell to your outgoing pastor and welcome your incoming pastor. So, what should be our mature disposition to ensure a smooth transition for our priests being sent to shepherd you? Una ay gratitude, ang magpasalamat. Ikalawa ay hospitality, ang mabuting pagtanggap at pakikitungo at ang ikatlo ay support, ang maging katuwang sa pagmimisyon.
The first disposition should be GRATITUDE. Show your gratitude to the priest who served you in the past years. Amidst his imperfections, he did his best to live his priestly, prophetic, and kingly role to be Jesus Christ to you. Ako po ang inyong obispo at lahat ng pari ay hindi perpekto; kami po ay may mga karupukan at kapintasan. Lahat naman po tayo ay makasalan at walang maipagyayabang sa Diyos. Subalit sa kabila ng kahinaan naming mga pari, kami’y ginanagamit ng Poong Maykapal para maglingkod sa inyo.
Even during times that your priest found himself tired or sick, he presided over your Masses, facilitated pastoral meetings, anointed the sick, visited the elderly, and reached out to the poor in the peripheries. A priest will not expect any expression of gratitude from you in his service to God and the Church. But if we show gratitude to him, this will lift his heart and spirit as he embarks on his new mission. Pasalamatan natin ang ating pari na naglingkod sa sambayanan ng Diyos ng buong pagpapakasakit at pag-aalay ng sarili upang madama natin ang pag-ibig ng ating Panginoong Hesukristo sa pamamagitan niya.
The second disposition must be HOSPITALITY. Filipino hospitality is well-known throughout the world. It has been our family upbringing to be hospitable. It is second nature to us to welcome visitors, pilgrims, and even strangers to our homes. Because of this, I encourage you to show a very warm welcome to the new priest assigned to your parish and parochial school. Make him feel that he belongs to his new family and community. After all, he will be your spiritual father to guide you in your spiritual needs. Afford him the respect and love due to a father who will show love and spiritual providence to you, his children.
Naalala ko tuloy ang isang karanasan ko maraming taón na ang nakararaan. Hindi pa po ako obispo noon. Minsan ay may isang kaibigan akong naka-skedyul na makipagkita sa akin sa umaga ng nakatakdang araw. Bago dumating ang araw ng aming pagkikita, tumawag siya sa akin at nakiusap kung puedeng sa hapon na lang kami magkita imbis na sa umaga. Tinanong ko kung bakit iniba niya ang skedyul ng appointment namin. Sabi niya: “Kasi Father Mylo, biglang nag skedyul na ihatid namin ang aming parish priest sa bago niyang parokya. Eh, sasama ako sa grupo. Sa hapon naman ay salubong o welcome sa bago naming parish priest. Eh hindi ko gusto yun papalit na kura paroko. Kaya okay lang na wala ako sa pag-welcome sa kanya. Kaya puede po bang sa hapon na tayo magkita.”
Many times, the problem in not warmly welcoming our new priest is the temptation and tendency to compare him to our previous pastor. Maging maliwanag po sana sa atin na ang ating pinaglilingkuran ay ang Diyos at ang kanyang Simbahan. Our loyalty must be to the institution and not to the person. We may have felt the love and care of the priest who served us for the past six years. We may even be beholden to him because of his pastoral zeal and service. But this should not hinder us from having an open mind and heart to the person and service of our new priest who is also God’s gift to us. Let us show a hospitable welcome to our new priest who will show the face of Jesus to us.
The third and final disposition is SUPPORT. The mission of your new pastor is entrusted to him by the Lord through me, your unworthy bishop. But this mission is not his alone. This is his mission and yours, too. This is our mission. Thus, we have to work together to fulfill the mission Jesus Christ has started and accomplished. We should all collaborate together to participate in Christ’s mission for the Church. We are all co-workers in the Lord’s vineyard as a pilgrim people journeying to God’s kingdom.
Ang paring maglilingkod sa bago niyang misyon ay hindi spartan o superman. Siya po ay tao din na nangangailangan ng suporta sa inyo. Kaya ang lahat ng lider-laiko pati na rin mga madre ay katuwang ng pari sa paglilingkod sa parokya at paaralang pamparokya. Tulungan po ninyo ang inyong pari para lalo niyang maisakatuparan ang misyon ng pagpapalaganap ng Mabuting Balita ng Kaharian ng Diyos.
By showing your unconditional support to your priest in his new pastoral assignment, we can continue to accomplish together the pastoral priorities of the diocese that is, inculcating stewardship, strengthening basic ecclesial communities, evangelizing through formation and reaching out to the peripheries by our social service to the poor.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, these are the three dispositions. I hope you can show gratitude, hospitality, and support to our priests as they go through the process of the second general reshuffle of pastoral assignments.
I have decided to announce the new assignments of our priests tomorrow, February 22, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. This will be posted on our diocesan Facebook social media account so all will be informed.
Napili ko ang pormal na pag-aanunsiyo ng mga bagong assignment ng ating mga pari sa araw ng kapistahang ito dahil ito’y tumutukoy sa pagkakaloob ni Hesus kay San Pedro, ang unang Santo Papa ng Santa Iglesia, na magpahanggang ngayon sa katauhan ni Papa Francisco, at pakikiisa ng mga obispo at mga pari – sa iniatas na tungkuling magturo, mamastol at magmisyon sa Sambayanan ng Diyos.
What a coincidence that our general reshuffle will take place on this Year of Missio Ad Gentes. Our priests have been gifted with a new mission in which they will give themselves wholeheartedly, as what Pope Francis challenges them to be: “joyful missionary disciples” serving the Church. Let us be grateful to them as they leave their current assignments. Let us hospitably welcome them as they enter their new ecclesial family. Let us fully support them as they engage in their new pastoral ministry. And most of all, let us always pray for them that they may be faithful to the gift of the priesthood which God has bestowed on them. Amen.
MOST REV. MYLO HUBERT C. VERGARA, D.D.
Bishop of Pasig