The University of Santo Tomas once again was the primary host of the
Philippine Conference for New Evangelization (PCNE) for its fifth year. In
its five-day run from July 18 to July 22, the conference focused on the theme “Moved by Compassion… Feed the Multitude.” Inspired by the gospel story of Jesus’ miraculous feeding of the multitude, the conference intended to reflect on the gift of priesthood – ministerial and baptismal – and the gift of consecrated life.
UST Vice Rector for Religious Affairs, Rev. Fr. Pablo T. Tiong, O.P., in his message to the participants, thanked the many clergy, consecrated, and lay attendees of the conference for coming despite the heavy rain and class suspension, saying, “Your faith inspires the Thomasian community.”
Fr. Tiong also shared that, “Evangelization is always in the hands of
God. Whether it is evangelization as missio ad gentes, or evangelization to Christian communities, or new evangelization, in faith, we all rely on God’s mercy and compassion.”
Archbishop of Manila His Eminence Most Rev. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle
read a letter to the participants from the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines and Titular Archbishop of Sepino His Excellency Msgr. Gabriele Giordano Caccia, S.Th.D., J.C.L, in which Archbishop Caccia passed
along a message from the Holy Father.
“[The Pope] sends his fraternal best wishes to you, your brother bishops, the clergy, the men and women religious and the lay faithful who will participate in it,” the letter said.
Archbishop Caccia also shared Pope Francis’ prayer “that the participants will be challenged to a missionary discipleshipand transformation setting their vision not only within the Philippine archipelago but also to the vast continent of Asia and even beyond.”
New Evangelization is a term first used by Pope Paul VI in his 1975
apostolic exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi which affirms the role of every Christian in spreading the Gospel of the Lord. The term was then popularized by Pope John Paul II, now Saint John Paul II, during an address to Latin-American Bishops inIn anticipation of the quincentennial anniversary of evangelization in the Americas (1492-1992), Pope John Paul II declared that the milestone should spark a new era of evangelization, which “will gain its full energy if it is a commitment, not to re-evangelize but to a New Evangelization, new in its ardor, methods and expression.”
There is a call for a new evangelization to those who have already been baptized, so as to deepen and enkindle their faith and to motivate the baptized to reach out to other Christians in need of a new encounter with the Lord. In today’s context, this means sharing the Word and the teachings of the Church to people in countries and cultures heavily influenced by secularization.
The Philippines will celebrate 500 years of evangelization in 2021. Yet despite being heavily entrenched in Catholicism for those five centuries,
in 2018, “the Filipino Church is bleeding – 740,000 Catholics per year – stopped going to church,” said Episcopal Vicar for Parish Renewal and Leadership Support for the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth in
Canada Fr. James Mallon.
One of PCNE’s main objectives is therefore to revitalize the Catholic Church in the face of changesin the social, cultural economic, civil, and religious
landscapes in the country and across the world.
Conversations with Cardinal Tagle
Cardinal Tagle delivered a plenary talk “Sharing in the One Priesthood of Christ” and led three panel discussions throughout the five-day conference. He emphasized that “the holiness of Jesus [is] a life totally given to do the will of God and a life of total intercession for erring sinners,” and urged the public to share in this holiness by sharing and emulating the priesthood of Christ.
into motion a powerful movement of holiness, of solidarity, of reconciliation, of communion – abolishing all barriers and separation, reuniting people among themselves as brothers and sisters in compassion, and reuniting sinful humanity with the Holy God. In Jesus, a new dynamism is being spread all over the world: ‘Have no fear.
The distant God wants to come near. Do not run away from the throne of Mercy.’ This is the dynamism that Jesus’ priesthood wants to share with
us and to start as a movement of life with Christians.”
Conversations with Father Mallon
Fr. Mallon delivered two plenary talks and led a group discussion. The first talk was on “Renewed Servant Leaders for the New Evangelization.” He described servant leadership as leadership by character and cited seven values that one needed to have and prioritize, namely, confidence, commitment, [initiative to] empower others], courage, passion, trustworthiness, and likability. He also urged listeners to cling to an accountable model of leadership where those who are great must become
the least and where real leaders must develop and follow a culture that raises up others.
In his second address, Fr. Mallon tackled “From 5 to 5,000: The Challenge
of Pastoral Conversion and Missionary Transformation.” He shared information on the dwindling Church attendance and highly recommended a “missionary mode of Church” motivated by self-giving love
over a “maintenance mode of Church.” The priest warned that, “When the rate of change outside an organization becomes greater than the rate of change within, that organization will become irrelevant,” and said, “Our culture has changed entirely and yet we still use the same methods as we did in the past.”
Fr. Mallon then challenged participants: “Are you more attached to your method or to your mission?” ‘Moved with Compassion… Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines His Excellency Msgr. Gabriele Giordano Caccia, was the main presider of the Eucharistic Celebration for Day 5 of the PCNE. In his
parting message, he urged the participants to realize that being compassionate means not looking at people as numbers. “If we
want to have compassion, don’t look at numbers. Look at people. Each one is unique. Each one has a name. Do as Jesus does. He knows us by name,” he said. “And when you see that the needs [of the people] are so many, do not think, ‘Who will accomplish [what needs to be done]’?
But say ‘What can I do?’ and give what you have and what you are to Jesus. He will perform miracles, not us,” Archbishop Caccia added. …Feed the Multitude’ To cap off the five-day conference, Cardinal Tagle gave 6,000 pieces of bread for participants to pass to and share with their fellow participants, saying that “Jesus sends us to be bread broken and shared for
Baked in the shape of fish, the bread was a two-fold symbol for Jesus, who is
the Bread of Life and IXИYУ (Ichthys), an ancient Greek word meaning ‘fish’ that also functions as an acronym for the phrase Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter (Jesus Christ God’s Son is Saviour). The fish functioned as one of the earliest symbols of Christianity – a simple and discreet means by which to identify themselves as believers in a time of persecution. It also brings
to memory the two fish and five loaves multiplied by Jesus to feed the multitude.
The Cardinal said that it is a “reminder of our call to compassion and solidarity.” “Faced with so many kinds of hunger in our world, we hear the words of Jesus: You give them something to eat,” said Cardinal Tagle.
PCNE in UST
PCNE first took place in 2013 at Cardinal Tagle’s initiative as a local
response to the call of new evangelization. With the theme of “God makes all things new (Revelations 21:15),” PCNE I focused on renewing and rekindling the ardor of faith within the local and Asian context and was
held from October 16 to 18, 2013.
PCNE II coincided with the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines and was held from January 15 to 17 2015, with the theme “Blessed are you… (Matthew 5:1-12).” PCNE III centered on the theme of “Awa, Unawa, Gawa (Mercy, Understanding, Action): The Filipino Experience of Mercy” and was
held from July 15 to 17, 2016. PCNE IV celebrated the Year of the
Parish, occurring from July 28 to 30, 2017, with the theme “Of One Heart and Soul (Acts 4:32).” PCNE has been hosted by the Universityof Santo Tomas since 2013