Pastoral Visit & a Pastor’s ReflectionBy Diocese of Boac • May 18th, 2012 • Category: Diocesan News
“The Bishop is bound to visit his diocese in whole or in part each year, so that at least every five years he will have visited the whole diocese, either personally or, if he is lawfully impeded, through the coadjutor or auxiliary Bishop, the Vicar General, an episcopal Vicar or some other priest. The Bishop has a right to select any clerics he wishes as his companions and helpers in a visitation, any contrary privilege or custom being reprobated.” (Canon 396.1&2).
When the bishop announced his intention of having his pastoral visit to the parishes starting February of 2012 (five years after his first visit in 2007), I immediately chose March 26-30, 2012 for our parish. I started then the necessary preparations – ranging from the reports to be given by the different pastoral committees in the parish, the canonical documents in the parish office, the financial status of the parish, even up to the ocular inspection of the physical structures and edifices in the whole parish compound. Inclusive of course in the visitation are the pressing issues confronting the parish itself here in St. Isidore Labrador Parish, Mogpog, Marinduque. Thus, only six areas were visited namely: Barangays Puting Buhangin and Bocboc where mining and environmental problems are the main concerns; Barangays Mampaitan and Danao where gold panning is prevalent among the residents; Barangays Ino and Capayang as the possible communities for the expansion of our BPK Program specifically in SItio Ulong, Capayang, Mogpog, Marinduque. Group consultations and bonding with the different religious organizations were held one after the other during breakfast and dinner. A friendly visit to the Municipal Government resulted to a good relationship between the church and the state and a clear cut understanding of each one’s role in the total development of the people. Colloquium with the priests was a relevant part of the whole pastoral visit.
At the outset of the Pastoral Visit, I had a very clear idea of what a Pastoral Visit is all about. The Bishop has to see, feel and experience the real and true situation of the parish. His main concern in Pastoral Visitations is to check and balance the spiritual growth of the faithful, and ensure that his priests grow with his people in their efforts to truly and effectively share in the threefold functions of Jesus Christ. To my mind, it will be a great opportunity of grace for all of us – priests and the rest of our parishioners. Full of confidence I say to them all, it would definitely be a learning experience, a chance of growing maturely in faith and in loving service to God and His people.
We, in St. Isidore Labrador Parish, Mogpog, Marinduque were the first one to be visited by His Excellency Reynaldo G. Evangelista, D.D. in his capacity as Bishop of Boac for his Pastoral Visitation for the year 2012. Maybe you would ask me: “How was the experience? What was it like? Was it a successful pastoral visitation? I tell you: it was not just a simple visit, but a new encounter, a new realization, a new challenge and inspiration!
Majority of our parishioners in Mogpog are quite with Bishop Rey. For so many times, he had been with us officiating in liturgical celebrations. Sometimes he came to us as an ordinary visitor or guest in our social gatherings. In the past years, most of our barangays had been reached by him to celebrate the Simbang Gabi, yet the recently concluded Pastoral Visit was felt to be a new encounter with the Bishop. Amidst the on and off rain showers, they welcomed the Bishop with all excitements and cheers, with two groups of brass bands and drums and lyres playing their welcome and festive notes; with the children and old alike lined-up in the streets, cheering and waving their flaglets on their hands; common folks, teachers and government employees with their cameras ready to capture that famous killing smile of the Bishop – the tickling of our clock momentarily stopped because somebody is coming to us, not just Bishop Rey but the person and our God whom he represents, now, visiting His chosen people. Indeed, it was a different kind of encounter!
The three of us priests go to the same barangays that the Bishop visited, on a regular basis, but with the Bishop coming to their place is different. We shared with them the same admonition that the bishop gave them regarding those specific issues confronting them, but the Bishop’s words and voice sounded differently. We also exchanged pleasantries with the same people, dined and laughed with them, but the Bishop’s presence bring them a different kind of joy and happiness. We tried to listen to their longings and effect concrete solutions to their problems, but with the Bishop in their midst hope is not too long to wait. I pretty understand because the Bishop possesses the fullness of the priesthood. Whatever is lacking in his priests, the bishop supplies. How hard is it to be a Bishop! Yet, how fortunate still, though lacking and limited, is the life of one who shares the Bishop’s burden. That is why perfect collaboration with the Bishop is a must among us priests. Humble obedience plays equal importance to bring about the best of our service to the people. Though goodness and kindness may run short in our relationship with the flock entrusted to us priests, we will continue to strive “to be perfect and blameless in His sight.” (Mt. 5:48; Col 4:12; 2 Peter 3:140) These new realizations will certainly guide our future actions.
Since June 12, 2008 when I reported to St. Isidore Labrador Parish as the new Parish Priest, I brought along with me all the pastoral initiatives that I know, all the noble intentions and dreams of serving my people to the best of my capacity, to teach and lead them to the right direction of Christian life, to bring back to the church those who were lost, to regain the confidence and trust of the people to the churchmen in general and in particular make friends with them – the People of God in this parish. Physical construction, repairs/renovations were also planned and successfully carried out. Together with my brother priests who were assigned with me in the past and at present, we tried to realize all these things in full collaboration with one another and with the parish lay workers. With the Bishop’s Pastoral Visitation, certain things must be changed and reconstructed; some actions must be mellowed down, other motivations and intentions must run into their own course of time – in God’s time. The Bishop’s fatherly concern and admonition to us priests and parishioners was so inspiring. His wisdom surpasses beyond our human experiences and his goodness and preference for the people was a challenge to be met. It will never be easy. With all certainty, there will be difficulties and trials that would come along the way. But I believe in the boundless love of God, who called us and sent us to this vineyard. With hope in our hearts, the whole parish of St. Isidore will continue our journey, “for the Lord is the strength of our lives.” (Ps 27.1)