QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES – In the spirit of prayer and renewal, the clergy of the Diocese of Cubao were led by the Bishop of Daet, Most Rev. Rex Andrew Alarcon, DD, in a three-day spiritual retreat via Zoom focusing on the theme “Quo Vadis, Cubaoensis?” last October 4-6, 2021.
On the first day, Bishop Alarcon highlighted that in order “to know where we are going as a Diocese, it is important that we look back to the past by remembering the gift that we have received from God—our priesthood.” He emphasized that it is equally important for one to be aware also of the giver of the gift, God—and the purpose for the gift received, to be at the service of the People of God.
After recollecting the past and highlighting the importance of history and memory, during the second day of the retreat, the good Bishop invited the clergy to revisit how they make present the rituals or the sacraments that priests celebrate. For example, he observed that during weddings, wedding coordinators have already replaced the role of priests on how to make the celebration relevant, resulting in couples and guests who are more excited for the reception rather than the actual celebration of the Rite of Marriage.
“One of the greatest adversaries of our sacred time is haste—and so, I invite you not to celebrate the Sacraments hastily. Our rituals and sacred time are what transform the ordinary to holy,” Bishop Alarcon emphasized.
On the final day, Bishop Alarcon urged the clergy to align their dreams to those of Pope Francis who said: “I dream of a ‘missionary option,’ that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world, rather than for her self-preservation.”
He also mentioned that these synodal consultations may be a timely opportunity for the local Church of Cubao to journey with and listen to the flock and learn how to better respond to our people in this VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world.
Moreover, Bishop Alarcon encouraged the clergy to be faithful in carrying out their vows before God by reminding them that what makes a vow unique is that it is not easy, it is difficult. And so, it is important that they need to rely on God’s help for their faithfulness and fruitfulness in the priestly ministry.
Bishop Alarcon ended the three-day journey with the Cubao clergy by saying: “I invite you to be permanently in the state of mission; to be always available for the People of God. Dear Fathers, please spark hope in your communities during this time of pandemic and be priests of faith, hope, and charity.”
Truly, the retreat has been a wonderful journey for the Cubao clergy to remember the gift of the priesthood, to see how they make present the gift through the Sacraments, and to vivify them into becoming a missionary and a synodal Church.