One notable event in this Year of Integral Faith Formation was the announcement of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) of a Day of National Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on June 8, 2013. On this feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Philippine Hierarchy has enjoined all Filipino Catholic faithful to offer a joint public act of entrustment to the Blessed Virgin Mary in a simultaneous liturgical celebration and recital of the Act of Consecration at 10:00 in the morning of June 8, 2013 in all Cathedrals, Parish Churches, Shrines and Chapels led by the Bishops in their respective ecclesiastical jurisdictions. This solemn act of consecration and entrustment is part of the nine-year spiritual journey of the Philippine Church towards the great jubilee of the Fifth Centenary of the coming of Christianity to our beloved land, the Philippines.
At the beginning of the second half of the year, from July 2 until 4, the Bishops entered into a spiritual sojourn at Betania Retreat House in Tagaytay City; this was followed by their semi-annual Plenary Assembly from July 6 until 8. The theme for this retreat was on Faith, especially, that faith reflected in the Sacred Scriptures. The facilitator was Fr. Francis Moloney, a Salesian Priest from Australia. During the 107th Plenary Assembly, a new set of CBCP Officers and Chairmen of different Episcopal Commissions was also elected to serve for the next two years (2014-2015).
The Episcopal Commission on Youth (ECY) has been preoccupied with the screening of and finalizing the, members of the Philippines delegation to the 28th World Youth Day held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on July 23 to 28, 2013. The theme for this year’s youth gathering is: “Go and make disciples of all nations,” taken from the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 28, verse 19. The delegation will be led by Bishop Joel Z. Baylon, Chairman of ECY and Fr. Conegundo B. Garganta, Executive Secretary of the Youth Commission.
Other national observances spearheaded by the various CBCP Episcopal Commissions are: (1) Filipino Mission Sunday (July 28) offering special prayers and sacrifices for the Filipino Diocesan Priest-Missionaries of the Mission Society of the Philippines with special collection for the support of the mission. (2) The whole month of September is usually dedicated as the National Catechetical Month under the auspices of the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education. (3) The celebration of the National Laity Week is slated on September 23 until 30 under the Episcopal Commission on Lay Apostolate. (4) The National Seafarer’s Sunday (September 26) organized by the Apostleship of the Sea, asks for prayers for the safety and guidance of the many Filipino seafarers scattered around the globe. (5) The Indigenous Peoples’ Sunday (October 13) is spearheaded by the Episcopal Commission on Indigenous Peoples. On this day, special prayers and collection are offered to our indigenous brethren. (6) World Mission Sunday (October 20) has a special appeal to all the faithful to assist in the mission of the Church in spreading the Gospel especially in those places where the good news is never heard. (7) Also October 20, the Sunday for Culture, initiated by the Episcopal Commission on Cultures, has its special intention in promoting civil culture to be more open to the Gospel. (8) The Prison Awareness Sunday is on October 27. Acts of compassion and solidarity are asked to offer to our brothers and sisters in prison, especially those who are denied with justice. (9) National Day for People with Disabilities (every First Sunday of December) proposed by the Episcopal Commission on Health Care, has special prayers for the people with handicapped conditions. (10) The observance of HIV-AIDS Sunday during the First Sunday of December, intends to create awareness in the prevention of the HIV-AIDS as part of the advocacy of the Episcopal Commission on Social Action, Justice and Peace. And (11) The National Youth Day (December 16) is organized by the Episcopal Commission on Youth with special collection to support the youth apostolate. –