La Huerta, Parañaque  (Kring Loquias/ Parish Formation Department) His Excellency Most Rev. Jesse E. Mercado closed the Year of the Eucharist and the Family, and launched the Year of the Parish as Communion of Communities in the annual Diocesan Day held last December 10, at the St. Andrew’s School Gymnasium.

The event aimed to gather all parishes and to take a look at how the diocese celebrated the Year of the Eucharist and the Family, which is the fifth year in the Decade of New Evangelization declared to prepare the diocese for the fifth centenary of the first Eucharistic Celebration and the first Baptism in the Philippines in 2021. It also aimed to orient the parishes on next year’s theme, “The Parish as a Communion of Communities,” particularly on what it should mean to the local church.

The morning praise was led by Rev. Fr. John Francis Frederick Manlapig. The first half of the programme focused on the report for the year of the Commission on the Family (CoF), and it was given by CoF Co-Chairman Rev. Fr. Jason Bill C. Valeza. To celebrate the Eucharist and the gift of Marriage and Family, and to encourage the participation of families in the Mission of the church, “evangelized families evangelizing other families” festivals were held throughout the year: the Festival of Parents (February 2016), the Festival of Mothers (May 2016), and the Festival of Fathers (June 2016) – each held at the Vicariate level; and the Festival of Families held at the Diocesan level. The Festival of Families was held on September 10, 2016, at the newly built Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Church. The winner of the search for the “Huwarang Pamilya ng Parokya” – Manuel Family of the Ascension of Our Lord Parish – was called on-stage to impart their family’s story. Videos were also shown about CoF’s marriage preparation program. Rev. Fr. Lambert Legaspino, CoF Chairman, also talked about a unique ministry within their commission – the Pastoral Spiritual Companions/Counselors.

For the second half of the programme, Bishop Mercado discussed in detail the theme for the year 2017, “The Parish as a Communion of Communities.” With the 2016 theme as the take-off point, the Bishop began by talking about the family as “the fruit of God’s love for us – in Christ, through Christ, and by Christ.” He went on to say that “the parish is the family of families…when you have families united together, you have a parish.” He also stressed that “if we have understood and experienced what a Christian family is, which is woven in our experience of the Eucharist, then we can understand much better what the parish is all about…the parish is about RELATIONSHIPS.” The Bishop also talked about how being gathered is the beginning of the communion we are aspiring for and that having a common objective is important. He went on to remind the congregation of the Vision, Mission, and Core Values of the diocese. Toward the end of the talk, he also talked about Baptismal Grace, how we are given “powers” when we were baptized to respond to God. “In a relationship, there isn’t only one ‘doing.’ There is another one ‘receiving’ and the one ‘receiving’ can also respond so God gave us (those) powers,” the Bishop said.

Sharing a meal together was the last activity and it is based on the “Hapag-Kainan: Altar ng Bawat Pamilya” program. Prayer before meals and the Act of Consecration to the Holy Family were said together. Over lunch, parish representatives took turns sharing what they contribute during the Year of the Parish.

The event was attended by Parish Priests, PPC Heads, the heads of the Tripartite Council (Direction Setting Department, Implementing Department and Finance Council), and the heads of the Six Priority Commissions.

Attendees from St. Peregrine Laziosi Parish and Diocesan Shrine are as follows: Rev. Fr. Joel Ma. Morata, OSM (Parish Priest), Mennie Gutierrez (Parish Council Secretary), Leila Amor (Parish Planning Department), Kring Loquias (Parish Formation Department), Joseph Amor (Parish Implementing Department), Doris Asis (BECANE Head), Shirley Balat (CLPR Head), and Odgie Francisco (MLCP Head).