PCNE X at UST urges faithful to continue embracing synodality

The Philippine Conference for New Evangelization returned to its original home for its tenth edition. Over 2000 lay and religious faithful gathered for the three-day conference on synodality at the Quadricentennial Pavilion of the University of Santo Tomas from January 19 to 22, 2024.

Centering synodality, a process of collaboration and understanding that means “journeying together as the People of God’, at the heart of the conference’s discussions, the keynote address was delivered by His Eminence Mario Cardinal Grech, the Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops.

With the theme “Salya: Let us cross to the other side (Mk 4:35)”, PCNE X emphasizes the way synodality is evident in Filipino Catholic Traditions practiced today.

On the first Eucharistic Celebration of the conference, Thomasian alumnus and Manila Archbishop His Eminence Most Rev. Jose F. Advincula, D.D., O.P., in his homily, reflected on the concept of “Salya”, a devotional practice that means ‘pressing forth’, which is also a word traditionally cried out in rhythmic unison by the crowd during the Traslacion of the Nazareno.

“For devotees, salya refers to the act of periodically sprinting forth behind the carriage of the Nazareno, in order to ram their bodies against it.  From an outsider point-of-view, it may seem that they are only trying to push forward the andas.  But devotees say that salya is not only meant to drive the andas of the Senyor forward; it is also an act whereby they bring each other closer to the Senyor.  As they press forth towards the carriage of the Senyor, they press themselves more closely towards the Lord,” said Archbishop Advincula.

Most Rev. Advincula further shared, “Synodality expands our vision to make us look beyond personal interests, blood ties, locality, business gains, and political parties, towards recognizing the sacred presence of the Lord within ourselves, within each other.  Synodality is Jesus accompanying us in the path of personal, social, and ecclesial conversion. Pressing forth and crossing over, solidarity and conversion, salya at Traslacion.  These are the graces we seek as we celebrate PCNE X, and as we continue in our synodal journey as a local Church.”

In the keynote address, Cardinal Grech shared some key points from the general assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October 2023 and discussed relevant points from its Synthesis Report.

Highlighting that the majority of the world’s youth population lives in Asia, he mentioned that the Catholic Church in Asia and the Philippines is well-placed “to provide leadership to the Universal Church in responding to what the First Session of the General Assembly referred to as ‘making [the Church] a preferential option for young people.’”

Further, the Cardinal urged that “None of our enthusiasm for evangelization of the youth, for seeking to actualize their unique contributions, for inviting them to share co-responsibility in the Church’s Mission, should blind us to the many social, cultural, and personal challenges that young people face today, which are well-documented in Christus Vivit. We need to learn from young people themselves how to respond to their needs, and so in a special way, we need to listen to them.”

Aside from the main plenary gatherings at the Quadricentennial Pavilion, the University also hosted concurrent workshops and discussions among the different sectors like the youth, the educators, the clergy, catechists, and different focuses such as digital and social media, interreligious and ecumenical dialogue, and the Filipino family, among others, in the different buildings within campus.

“We welcome with enthusiasm the return of PCNE to its original home, UST. Nothing will give the UST community a more profound sense of mission and identity than to be of service to the Church, nation, and global community. May the conference allow us to discern God’s message in the spirit of active listening and dialogue, and to have a meaningful encounter with the Lord as well as each other,” said UST Rector Very Rev. Fr. Richard G. Ang, O.P., Ph.D. in his welcome remarks.

“As educators, we do not forget that we are just instruments of God. We let go and let God and allow the Holy Spirit to come and lead us to a deeper life of prayer, communal discernment, collaborative service in the mission of evangelization,” shared Sr. Aileen Bonifacio, SPC during the concurrent workshop for educators.

For the concurrent workshop for digital and social media, Ms. Jane Patiño said that “By listening to different perspectives, ideas, and experiences, the Church can better understand the needs and concerns of the audience and tailor its digital evangelization efforts accordingly. To be effective in digital media evangelization, it is important for the Church to be bold, authentic and circular in each approach.”

Meanwhile, Ted Toledo and Sr. Genevieve Rubio, MCST, shared during the concurrent workshop for youth that “Leaders of the Church must step on the same ground as the young people, become more accepting and uplifting, impartial and encouraging. The Church needs to continue youth empowerment programs and proper spiritual accompaniment so that we could all be heard, listened to, and understood.”

PCNE Founder and current Pro-Prefect for the Section of Evangelization of Dicastery for Evangelization His Eminence Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, also continued the “Heart to Heart” series in the tenth PCNE. He interacted with the Bishop of Kalookan Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio David, Archbishop of Manila Most Rev. Jose Advincula, CBCP Vice President and Bishop of Pasig Most Rev. Mylo Hubert Bergara, and Dr. Estella Padilla, where they discussed the transformative power of listening, characterized by humility and openness.

PCNE has been held at UST since its start in 2013––initiated by Cardinal Tagle, who was then the Archbishop of Manila––until PCNE VI in 2019. PCNE X is the first to be held in-person since the onset of the pandemic.

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