“Somehow, this consultation allowed me to dream again. Parang it inspires me na there is still hope for the poor.”
This was the experience of Donna Caacbay from the Diocese of Paranaque who took part in the Ecclesiastical Province of Manila synodal journey.
The Holy Father Pope Francis formally opened the synodal process on October 9-10, 2021, at the Vatican and on October 16-17, 2021, in dioceses worldwide. With the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation and Mission,” churches in all parts of the world conducted a series of consultations where everyone has the chance to be heard and be guided by the Holy Spirit. Each diocese is asked to submit a report to its appropriate episcopal conference office. A report will then be presented to the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican. The two-year journey will culminate in the Synod of Bishops in October 2023, where a final document will be presented and used as a guide in the future.
Caacbay was one of the attendees of the whole-day synodal synthesis held at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center last June 15, 2022. She is a parishioner of Mary, Immaculate Parish and the diocesan lay coordinator of Paranaque’s synodal team.
She shared that she is still optimistic that the Church can still stand up from where she failed.
“There’s still hope for the Church. Coming from the pandemic, you think na may mangyayari pa ba like when you look at the situation sa Pilipinas, may mangyayari pa ba sa Pilipinas, pare-pareho lang. Like coming from dito bago magsimula, ilang dokumento na ba ang naproduce natin sa diocese, as a church, pero parang ganoon pa din,” Caacbay said.
The Church, though consistently extending aid and assistance to those who are in need, especially in the peripheries, still has a lot of work to do, said Caacbay. According to her, the Church should not just lend a listening ear but should completely involve herself in the lives of the faithful the way Christ did.
“The church is not really able to engage and identify itself with the poor. Sabi nga, nagtuturo ka, but you’re not listening. And when we speak about reaching out or outreach, pag-abot lang yan ng kamay. Babawiin mo rin ang kamay mo after,” Caacbay said.
“But you really need to immerse. Iba kasi yung nakikinig ka. Nakikinig ka with the heart, kesa doon sa nakikidama ka and that could only happen when you immerse yourself in the community. You should not be far away talaga,” she said.
As the Holy Father Pope Francis calls on a synodal church or a listening church, among the problems that arose during the consultation was the negligence to listen to the tiny voices of the people in the church.
As a member of the church, Caacbay sees the need to change the way the church evangelizes its people, especially in this day and age where they are destructed by a lot of things and happenings around. She also pointed out that the church should be “constantly moving, reading the signs of the times”.
Meanwhile, in his message for the faithful, Msgr. Gerardo O. Santos, synodal coordinator expressed his joy that through this consultation, many voices were heard.
“Isang tunay na pagpapala na magkatipun tipon dahil sa naranasan natin ang tinatawag na synoldality – pagbabahaginan ng kanya kanyang paglalakbay sa mga diyosesis na hango sa ibat ibang komunidad Kristiyano sa kani kanilang particular churches,” Msgr. Gerardo O. Santos, Synodal Coordinator told the Archdiocese of Manila Office of Communications.
“Alam ninyo ang isa sa magandang katangian ng pagtitipon na ito ay napakasaya. Napakasaya sapagkat nagkarinigan kami ng mga kwento ng pananampalataya. Mga kwento na nagbibgay sigla sa ating mga mananampalataya at dagdag ko na rin mga sana o mga mithiin natin na hango rin sa mga reports ng iba’t ibang mga diyosesis,” Msgr. Santos added.
The synodal synthesis was attended by the different bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Manila including the Military Ordinariate and the auxiliary bishop of Antipolo, religious and lay faithful.
The event was concluded by the celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the Santa Maria Goretti Parish inside the Catholic Center presided over by Manila Archbishop Jose F. Cardinal Advincula. Kalookan Bishop and CBCP President Pablo Virgilio David served as the homilist. (Jheng Prado | Photo by Rian Francis Salamat/RCAM-AOC)