THE CONTEXT OF OUR MISSION
Our “Project” originates from and takes shape within the journey upon which the PIME community in the Philippines has embarked for more than 25 years, responding to the invitation of this local church. It is a journey of uniting ourselves to the will and call of God. God it is who has loved us and called us to commit ourselves to His Kingdom in a particular historical, geographic, social, religious and ecclesial situation.
Deeply touched by the history of this people and the witness of the confreres who have gone before us – in particular, Fr. Tullio Favali (Tulunan, 1985), Fr. Salvatore Carzedda (Zamboanga City, 1992) and Fr. Fausto Tentorio (Arakan, 2011) – our journey proceeds with faithful certainty that the promises of the Kingdom will be fulfilled. The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines
(PCP II, held in Manila from Jan. 20 – Feb. 17, 1991), a foundational event for the future of evangelization in this country, clearly identifies the context:
It [the Kingdom of God] is promised to those who do the will of the Father, to those who serve the “least” of Christ’s brothers and sisters, the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the homeless, the sick, those languishing in prison. It is promised to the meek and the pure of heart, to those who hunger and thirst for justice. (#43)
History, the world and the Church provide the setting for our endeavors. We are in a constant stance of listening and dialogue, so that all might be perceived as richness and gift. The hope and pain, the joys and sorrows of our people touch and move us. The human, social and ecclesial reality of the country is a challenge that does not allow for any false tranquility, comfortable memories or impractical dreams. Always attentive to what we have “seen and heard” (Cfr. Mt. 11:4-6), we discover the loving and merciful goodness of God, His plan for the world, the reason that we must be converted, and the limitless source of joy and hope.
The Word leads us to live in a profound experience of the God of Jesus Christ, the only reason for our mission among these people. Truly, we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, sent from the Father who loves us, so that we might have life through Him. It is precisely in Jesus Christ that..
The Kingdom of God has already broken into our world: by the word and work of Jesus, in the person of Jesus. When Jesus proclaims His Father’s word, the Kingdom comes. When he expels demons, the Kingdom of God comes. His table-fellowship with sinners anticipates the eternal banquet of the Kingdom. (PCP II, #40)
THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
The acceptance of the complexity of the context in which we work, the encounter with the Word and the celebration of the Eucharist, from which we receive the light and strength needed for our journey: all of these help us to prepare ourselves in a realistic way; they allow us to formulate credible plans for evangelization and service to the Kingdom.
We desire to pursue such plans and sentiments by means of some attitudes and practices that we deem to be absolutely necessary:
– Individual and communal prayers
– Communion among ourselves in dialogue, in sharing and fraternal correction
– A simple lifestyle, manifesting that the only goal of our lives is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It is particularly important for us to be situated in “local communities.” These are normally composed of all the members of the Institute assigned to a given Prelature or Diocese, or otherwise working in a specific and identifiable geographical area. The purpose of such local communities is not only to work together, but especially to promote communion among the individual missionaries.
In order to reinforce unity and solidarity and make our witness true and credible, the local community plans occasions for gathering together, where prayer and the sharing of faith and pastoral experiences are signs and instruments of trust, acceptance and mutual encouragement.
COMMUNION WITH THE LOCAL CHURCH
To preach the Gospel in Asia today – the bishops of this continent tell us – we must make the message and life of Christ truly incarnate in the lives and minds of our people. The primary focus of our task of evangelization, at this time of our history, is the building up a of a truly local church… The local church is a church incarnate in a people, a church indigenous and inculturated. And this means concretely a church in continuous, humble and loving dialogue with living traditions, the cultures, the religions – in brief, with all the life-realities of the people in whose midst it has sunk its roots deeply and whose history and life it gladly makes its own.” (FABC First Plenary Assembly, Tapei 1974, #9,12)
It is not apart from, but rather within the journey of society and the local church itself, that we intend to be humble servants, bearers of a prophetic word which inspires and gives life, and which leads us toward a future of renewal, redemption and liberation.
The local church, while not cut off from the larger communion of believers in Christ, is the true subject of mission in its own area, and we are servants of its missionary character. Our specific vocation of primary evangelization “ad gentes” is in no way negated in this context. On the contrary, it provides the stimulus for openness in our faith communities, for service, for new types of presence and initiatives, especially in areas where Christ and His Gospel still need to be made manifest.
It is natural, then, that our goals and priorities are the same as those of the local church. Besides verifying activities within the PIME community, every choice and project, whether personal or by group, must be in accord with the local church.
A pastoral strategy of particular note, especially in the South of the Philippines, consists in the promotion of Basic Ecclesial Communities, under various names and forms. They have been particularly recommended by PCP II (Cfr. Decrees, #109-122), as “not simply another organization,” (#110), but rather a new way of being church, which discovers the salvific presence of God among the simple people and gives opportunities to develop the charisms of the laity and all persons of good will, who participate in a dialogue of life and in the journey toward salvation of their people.
EVANGELIZATION AND DIALOGUE WITH NON-CHRISTIANS
Out of all the vast range of missionary activities described in the Conciliar Decree “Ad Gentes”, PIME chooses and designates as its priority the commitment to announce the Gospel to non-Christians. It shall give this task first priority in the assignment of personnel and funds, and in the search for new fields and methods of work. (PIME Constitution, #1)
In particular, we propose to live and witness the values of the Kingdom of the One God among non-Christians; in our context, this refers to Muslim and Tribal populations. The bishops of Asia remind us that “in the great religious traditions of our peoples…we recognize and respect profound spiritual and ethical meanings and values.” (FABC Plenary Assembly, Tapei, 1974, #14)
PCP II points out:
In the areas of Mindanao and Sulu where Muslims and Christians live and work together, a “dialogue of life” is taking place. In daily life they witness to each other their religious values and they both contribute to the building of a just society. We need to encourage these efforts, especially where suspicions easily arise due to historic animosities and biases.” (#114-155)
And in regard to the Tribals, the same Council adds:
It is most ironic that centuries of foreign domination have made us most conscious of the freedom we must have as a sovereign nation, and yet the very people who kept their freedom intact and never came wholly under colonial rule until recent times – our tribal communities – are losing their freedom to the Filipino majority even as we strive to become genuinely sovereign economically and politically. (#377)
This means that both we and the local church must commit ourselves to respecting and promoting the positive values of the various indigenous cultures and assist them in their efforts to organize themselves in solidarity with one another, in order to claim their basic human rights, especially the rights to their ancestral lands as a first step toward liberation and harmonious participation in a changing society.Together with them, through dialogue and service, we can discover the Good News, the plan of salvation, which has been at work in their history, and we can unite ourselves with them on their journey.
SOLIDARITY AND SHARING TOWARD SERVICE TO THE POOR
In our work, we will always choose to go among the poorest and most marginalized people. The PIME community in the Philippines is committed to solidarity with the “least” and with the oppressed: solidarity which is expressed through sharing in their experience and trying to see reality through their eyes; attempting to discover and expose the causes of poverty and oppression which continue to afflict the majority of the people; rejecting any kind of paternalism, and choosing instead to be with them, to discover in their lives the values of the Kingdom; concretely encouraging their liberation from sinful structures, which cause their situation of misery and frustration, conscious that in the end it is only they who can free themselves. Through our pastoral and social activities, we must animate the evangelical forces which are like treasures hidden in our communities and which can bring about a surprising new evangelization, transforming both the person and the entire society.
We entrust this “Project” and life-commitment to Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, that through her intercession, we can continue to experience the amazing goodness of God and the great dignity of the fully free human person.
We always want to feel in communion with our confreres spread throughout the world, so that together we can live out the gift of the mission as source and sign of hope for the Church in its openness to universality, bringing about unity among all people.
For the church in the Philippines and for all people of good will, we want to be a small mustard seed that produces much fruit, salt that gives flavor, a sign of life that goes beyond death.
Our little group welcomes with gratitude all the enthusiasm, the hopes and dreams, the friendship that these people offer to us in our everyday experience.
PIME Regional Assembly
February 7, 1994