QUEZON CITY— “Who is my neighbor?” is the theme of the 7th Philippine Conference on the New Evangelization (PCNE7). This theme is in connection with the Year of Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue. Unlike the previous PCNEs which were held at the University of Santo Tomas, this year’s event was held at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last January 28 and 29, 2020.
The two-day event started at around 7:30 in the morning with a caracol by the delegates from the Diocese of Imus to welcome the image of Nuestra Senora del Pilar de Imus, the patroness of the said diocese. The Misa ng Bayang Pilipino presided by his Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the outgoing Archbishop of Manila.
After the mass, Bishop Pablo Virgilio “Ambo” David, DD, of the Diocese of Caloocan gave a talk on the theme “pakikipagkapwa.” He explained Jesus’ use of Midrash in the Parable of the Good Samaritan in contrast with the much older Jewish Parable of the Good Israelite, to criticize the legalistic mentality of the Jews and their view of primacy of the law versus charity. Bishop Ambo emphasized that our sense of “pakikipagkapwa” should go beyond those in our proximity.
The talks throughout the day focused on identifying commonalities rather than differences. In the talk show “heart to heart” hosted by Cardinal Tagle, different personalities from business, showbiz, and non-government organizations talked about how they try to build unity in their respective fields. Bai Rohaniza Sumnad-Usman stressed the importance of investing in nurturing a culture of love and peace in the hearts and minds of the youth; Bernadette Sembrano-Aguinaldo said that it’s a miracle when people help; Kirk Damasco said that “salvation that our religion offers is the greatest and the biggest gift we have.”; Husband and wife Robin and Mariel Padilla expressed the importance of being involved in each other’s faith; and Secretary Leonor Briones emphasize the importance of education in building a peaceful society. Afterwhich, the day was concluded with a concert for peace by various artists.
Continuing the next morning, the second day began with an ecumenical Taize prayer service. Then, Bishop Prudencio Andaya of the Apostolic Vicariate of Tabuk gave a talk on the indigenous people entitled “magkaugnay.” He said that the Church will strive more in spreading the good news to deepen the faith of our indigenous brothers and sisters so that they may find the Lord in the beauty of their cultural practices and traditions.
In the afternoon, Cardinal Tagle gave the synthesis of the PCNE7. He said that the key step in the journery of dialogue is having a “personal encounter with others. He urged everyone to become weavers of a good society of unity.
The PCNE7 was concluded by the Holy Mass, again presided by the outgoing Archbishop of Manila. Reflecting on his new mission in Rome, he urged his priests to be fruitful wherever they are assigned and not choose where they think there is rich soil to grow in. It is only where God wills them to be is the soil that its right for them. The Holy Mass was concluded by the commissioning of the participants but before that, an emotional show of gratitude, well wishes, prayers, and send of were given to the Cardinal which brought him to tears and perhaps many of the delegates as well.
The top things off, as tradition in the PCNE, the cardinal asked everyone to post in the social media at the same time the words “Kapatid kita, kapwa kita, mahal kita. Magkasama tayo sa misyon ni Hesus,” with the hashtag #PCNEvii. It was indeed a short, fruitful, and emotional conference and send-off to our Beloved Cardinal. Let us continue to pray for him in his new mission.
photo credits: Office of Communication, Archdiocese of Manila