FROM THE UNDERSIDE OF HISTORY

This blog features some of the author's lengthy essays on sacred scriptures, theology and history.

Monday, November 14, 2016

AN OVERVIEW OF THE BASIC ECCLESIAL COMMUNITIES (BECs)



AN OVERVIEW OF THE BASIC ECCLESIAL
COMMUNITIES (BECs)

by Msgr Lope C. Robredillo, VG

[Note: This is the English version of a talk delivered by the author at the First Diocesan Congress of Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) of the Diocese of Borongan, participated in by all the parishes, held at the parish church of St Anthony of Padua, Llorente, Eastern Samar, on January 19, 2006]

Introduction: Why the BECs in the Diocese?

          The 1997 First Synod of Borongan is a milestone in the history of the
Diocese.  It enshrines a diocesan vision, and defines its mission to give direction to the life and work of the whole diocese. 

Included in its mission is the formation of basic ecclesial communities.  With PCP II, the Synod believes that the renewed diocese it envisions finds expression in one ecclesial movement: the BECs. (PCP II, 137).  That is why, the 2004 pastoral plan of the Diocese provides for the establishment of the BECs in all the parishes.

What Is Meant by Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC)?

          Terminology.  In trying to see the meaning of BECs, it is instructive to note that they came to us under various brands.  In the 1960s and 1970s, they were known as base communities, basic communities, or grassroots-communities. 

But to specify its religious character, and especially its adhesion to the Church, they became known, in Latin America, as communidades eclesiales de base, which is translated as base-level ecclesial communities or basic church communities (CEB).  In Africa, they are called small Christian communities (SCC). 

In the Philippines, they have various names: Kriska or Kristohanong Katilingban, Gagmayang Kristohanong Katilingban, Munting Sambayanang Kristiyano (MSK), Basic Christian Community.

But why are they called Basic Ecclesial Communities?  Before we describe them, let us first of all look at the meaning of each term:

Basic means “at the lowest level of society,” grass-root; they are not at the vertex (diocesan or universal); rather, their members are at the bottom of the social and ecclesiastical pyramid; it also means “coming from the faith of small or simple baptized Christians.  The word also refers to their size, which is small—small enough for each member to know each other, yet they are not a barkadahan.

Ecclesial signifies the basic motivation for the BECs—to live and continue the life and mission of Christ in a group of people, who are in communion with the local Church. The members of these communities manifest, experience and localize the Church at the grass-roots level. It is not a natural community.

Community is used to signify that the BECs are not prayer groups, discussion groups, or service groups.  Rather, it means that the members live in close proximity and know each other; personal relationships are important; they exercise sharing and mutual help; they have common values, common commitment, and common mission; each member participate in decision making; they face community problems and challenges.

How Did BECs Start?

          There is no doubt that the greatest factor that influenced the rise and growth
of BECs is the impact of the Second Vatican Council, with its emphasis on the communitarian model of the Church,  the active participation of the laity and the liturgical reform that allowed Sunday celebration without a priest.

          But how did the BECs come into being?  In Brazil (Latin America), they started in 1956 with the evangelization movement, which eventually evolved into a situation in which communities without a priest, among other things, would gather around the radio to pray aloud the people’s part of the mass being celebrated by the Bishop and hear his homily.  By 1963, there were about 1,410 radio schools.  

In the Philippines, the barangay sang birhen of the 1950s is their precedent, since this strengthened the sense of community, but the BECs as we have them now started in the rural areas of Mindanao as a pastoral strategy to renew the Church following Vatican II.  Many of them came from existing sociological or parochial structures (chapel organization, neighborhood organization), but were eventually Christianized.  While lay people composed them, they were organized and supported by the priest.  Others were organized by the Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference, the NASSA, and the Redemptorist Mission Teams.  But no doubt, the socio-economic and political situation influenced the way these were organized.

In Australia, we might single out the Adelaide Archdiocese where the BECs were established by Archbishop Faulkner himself in 1994; he enshrined their formation in the diocesan vision, and asks his priests to move toward the BECs.

How Are We to Define the BECs?
                 
          The 3rd General Conference of Latin American Bishops (1979) gave the following description (“Evangelization at Present and in the Future of Latin America,” par 642): “As a community, the CEB brings together families, adults and young people in an intimate interpersonal relationship grounded in the faith.  As an ecclesial reality, it is a community of faith, hope and charity.  It celebrates the word of God and takes its nourishment from the Eucharist, the culmination of all the sacraments.  It fleshes out the Word of God in life through solidarity and commitment to the new commandment of the Lord and through the service of approved coordinators; it makes present and operative the mission of the Church and the visible communion with the legitimate pastors.  It is a base-level community because it is composed of relatively few members as a permanent body, like a cell of a larger community.

The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines devotes two paragraphs to describe the BECs (138-139): “They are small communities of Christians, usually of families who gather together around the Word of God and the Eucharist.  These communities are united to their pastors but are ministered to regularly by lay leaders.  The members know each other by name and share not only the Word of God and the Eucharist, but also their concerns both material and spiritual.  They have a strong sense of belongingness and of responsibility for one another.
          “Usually emerging at the grassroots among poor farmers and workers, Basic
Ecclesial Communities consciously strive to integrate their faith and their daily life.  They are guided and encouraged by regular catechesis.  Poverty and their faith urge their members towards solidarity with one another, action for justice, and toward a vibrant celebration of life in the liturgy.”

          Personally, to me, one of the best descriptions of the BEC, if only because it is easy to grasp, comes from Abp Orlando Quevedo, formerly President of the CBCP.  According to him, the BEC is
1)    a small grassroots community of believers;
2)    that brings together families and individuals in intimate personal and social relationship based on faith;
3)    whose members gather together with their leaders to worship the Lord;
4)    listen prayerfully to the Word of God, reflect on it, apply it to their daily lives;
5)    take nourishment in the Eucharist;
6)    share with one another, serve and support one another;
7)    in a true fellowship of faith, hope and love—
8)    in a word, to evangelize others and at the same time to be evangelized.

Chief Characteristics of the BECs

          What are the chief characteristics of these communities?  In his book, Charism and Power, Latin American theological Leonardo Boff sees five points that characterize them: (1) an oppressed yet believing people; (2) born from the Word of God; (3) a new way of being Church; (4) sign and instrument of liberation; and (6) a celebration of faith and life.

          Following J. van Nieuwenhove, Lode Wosten, in his book, Doing Ecclesiology,
consider the following as key phrases in the Puebla description of the BECs: (1) centers of evangelization within a Church fellowship, (2) motive force for the renewal of the Church; (3) and a place, where Christians, especially the poor, (4) fashion their vocation for the service of the world.

          On the other hand, Quevedo enumerates 5 characteristics: (1) faith based; (2) Chris-centeredness; (3) Community-orientations; (4) participatory; (5) serving and sharing; (6) love.

For our purpose, the following may suffice:

(1)  Poor yet Believing—a concrete realization of the Church of the Poor:
1.     They emerge from among the poor, at the grass-roots level;
2.     Yet, they are people of faith, they are a community of faith
3.     They look at Jesus as the center of their lives—his life is the norm and the inspiration
4.     They believe in his promise of the Kingdom of God; God cares for them, and he will eventually change this world into a new one.
5.     Contrast feature: They imply that the Church need not always be a Church of the poblacion; it is also a Church of the periphery; it need not always be a Church of the learned, the famous, the money, but also of the illiterate, the neglected, the scum.
6.     Contrast feature: They do not profess any ideology (like communism, socialism, or capitalism), rather they draw inspiration from the Word of God, from the teachings of the Church, and look at realities from the perspective of their faith.

(2)  Community-oriented---
1.     Their members live in proximity or in the same neighborhood, like a squatter area, or a barangay where they know each other by name, and relate to each other.  Thus, it is small enough to permit personal relationship among the members, and large enough to contain itself in its basic needs;
2.     They strive to be of one heart and one mind;
3.     They have a strong sense of co-responsibility and solidarity; there is mutual care, sharing and support
4.     Contrast feature: it is not a church of individuals who do not know each other, who pray alone, who go to mass alone, who think that they go to heaven alone.

(3)  Participatory—Consultative
1.     Participation is absolutely necessary.  It is based on the understanding of and respect for the various charisms or gifts;
2.     The selection of leaders, process of decision-making, planning, prayer sessions, and implementation of decisions—all these are characterized by the widest member-participation.
3.     Charisms are recognized in the ministries: youth, family, liturgy, social action, catechesis, education, etc.
4.     Thus, the BECs participate in the life and mission of the Church.
5.     Contrast feature: unlike the parish, it is headed by a lay person who leads in the celebration of the Word, the priestless Sunday service, meeting, and other community affairs.  Hence, lay ministries are recognized in the small community.  It is not hierarchical, but closely connected with the hierarchy in the person of the priest.

(4)  Gathered around the Word of God and the Eucharist
1. The Gospel is heard, believed, shared, and lived in the community,
2. The participants reflect on the Gospel in order to interpret the life and events in the community, and see their life and happenings in the light of the Word of God.
3. Therefore, they look at realities and events in the light of their faith, and their reflection on the Word of God.
4. Hence, once or twice a week, the gather for Bible sharing and reflection, usually in one of the homes of the members
5. They study the Bible in relation to their daily life, and draw inspiration
for proper Christian action.
6. They denounce the sins of society in the light of the Gospel.
7. They announce the good news to the society.
8. They gather to celebrate the Sunday service without the Priest.
9. Contrast feature: it is not primarily for an income-generating project, for the building of a new structure, but they gather primarily to hear the Word, receive the Sacraments, and live the Word and Sacraments in their daily life.
9. They have high regard for popular religiosity—novenas, rosary, celebration of feasts, processions, etc.

(5) Sign and Instrument of Development and Liberation
              1. They are concerned with the material well-being of their members and the community.
              2. They try to build a community of peace, based on justice, freedom and love.  Thus, they have health care projects, mutual aid fund, transfer technology in agriculture.  Other may have communal farms, or involved in issues of justice and peace, or take position against business malpractices.
              3. That is why, during Martial Law, the BECs defended human rights, protested against oppressive laws, etc.
              3. Contrast feature: they are not concerned only with the spiritual realities, or with only one aspect of the human person; but with the entire aspects that make the human person—economic, political, cultural, environment, spiritual, bodily, etc.   They aim at total human development and liberation.

The BECs in the Diocese of Borongan 

In implementation of the diocesan thrust, the BEC program opened in the diocese under two forms, the first one being that of Daughters of Charity (DC), through Sr Alicia Arreglo, DC, diocesan coordinator of the basic ecclesial communities,  the second, that of the Redemptorist Mission Teams (RMTs), under Rev Carlo Villaflor, CSsR.

 (1) The DC model has several components: formation, community organizing, agricultural component, income-generating projects, cooperatives and health programs.  Sr Areglo started organizing basic ecclesial communities in June 1995 in 5 parishes (Guiuan, Borongan, Balangkayan, Lalawigan, and Sulat) and
16 barangays.  The first seminar was given for formators in October 16-20, 1995.  Its initial fund was borrowed from NEWSFi in the amount of P245,000.  It later expanded to 10 parishes (Oras, Giporlos, Salcedo, Canavid and San Policarpo) and 57 barangays.  When the DC turned over the program to the Diocese on May 18, 2004, it was headed by Sr. Jocelyn Verdadero, DC, whose staff ministers to 52 active areas with sustaining program. 

As of 2004, the program covers 11 parishes, with 70 BECs, and is under Ms. Virginia Raagas, a school supervisor of Oras.  In this sustaining phase, the BEC Office is engaged, among others, in the monitoring of on-going projects—(a) rice mill in Balogo, Balangkayan; (b) copra buying in Cantubi, Balangkayan; (c)
communal farm operation in Caisawan, Balangkayan; (d) tricycle operation in Maybocog, Maydolong; (e) individual income-generating projects in Sto. Niño, Sulat; (f) consumers’ cooperative in Buntay, Oras; (g) consumers’ cooperative in Dao, Oras; and (h) individual income-generating projects in San Eduardo, Oras.  More recently, as a result of the BEC-NASSA meeting on August 26, 2004, the BEC Office assists five parishes—San Policarpo, Oras, Dolores, Sulat, and San Julian—which have been chosen to implement the BEC-based NASSA project, which is Empowering Marginalized Sectors through BEC-Based Integral Evangelization. 

(2) In contrast with the first which is barangay-based, the other BEC model is parish-based, handled by the Redemptorist Mission Teams (RMTs).  The latter operated in Lawaan, Quinapondan, Sulat, Buenavista, San Julian and Sulangan.
 
As of December 31, 2005, the Diocese has 88 BECs, present in 14 parishes: Arteche (10), San Policarpo (10), Oras (10), Dolores (10), Maslog (2), Canavid (2), Sulat (10), San Julian (10), Borongan (4), Lalawigan (2), Balangkayan (4), Guiuan (7), Homonhon (3), and Salcedo (3).

Final Word: What Does the Hierarchy Say about These Communities?

         Since they emerge from the grassroots, one might wonder if these
communities have been recognized by the Church at the highest level.  It is instructive to note that Popes have given approval and encouragement to these communities.  Pope Paul VI, in his 1975 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Nuntiandi, calls them a source of hope for the universal Church (n 58).   More recently, John Paul II, in his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio, refers to them as “a sign of vitality within the Church, and instrument of formation and evangelization, a starting point for a new society based on a ‘civilization of love’.  [They] decentralize and organize the parish community, to which they always remain united… [These communities become a means of evangelization and of initial proclamation of the Gospel and a source of new ministries.  At the same time, by being imbued with Christ’s love, they also show how divisions, tribalism and racism are overcome” (n 51).  And in his 1999 apostolic exhortation, Ecclesia in Asia (n 25) the Holy Father recognizes “the value of basic ecclesial communities as an effective way of promoting communion and participation in parishes and Dioceses, and a genuine force of evangelization.”

          Not surprisingly enough, in 1991 during the Second Plenary Council (PCP-II), Church in the Philippines adopted the establishment of the BECs as the pastoral priority in all its diocese: “Basic Ecclesial Communities under various names and forms—BCCs, small Christian communities, covenant communities—must be vigorously promoted for the full living of the Christian vocation in both rural and urban areas.  Active non-violence will be a guiding principle in their approach to social change” (PCP II, Art 109).  For this reason, the Council directed the Conference to “issue an official statement on BECs, on their nature and function as recognized by the Church, making it clear that they are not simply another organization” (Art 110 #1).

FIRST DIOCESAN CONGRESS ON BECs
Parish of St Anthony of Padua, Llorente
January 18-20, 2006

Friday, October 28, 2016

HISTORY OF THE FIRST SYNOD OF THE DIOCESE OF BORONGAN

A HISTORY OF THE FIRST SYNOD OF THE DIOCESE OF BORONGAN


by Msgr Lope C Robredillo, SThD

THIS essay has two parts: the first one gives an account of the acts of the Synod; the second treats of its acts and decrees. 

PART I: THE ACTS OF THE FIRST DIOCESAN SYNOD OF BORONGAN

Introduction
 COVERING A SPAN of one year and seven months starting with its official convocation by the Most Rev Leonardo Y. Medroso, DD, Bishop of Borongan on April 11, 1996 and ending with the formal closing of the synodal celebration on Nov. 15, 1997, the First Diocesan Synod of Borongan represents the shared effort of Christ’s faithful in Eastern Samar, under the leadership of the Bishop, to renew the diocese in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, vis-a-vis the current situation which obtains in the diocese so as to realize its collective vision of a transformed local Church.  Looked at from the vantage point of content, the Synod was a collaborative exercise of learning, reflecting on, and exchanging of views on the situation in Eastern Samar, the ecclesiology of Second Vatican Council and the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines, and the program of action necessary for the diocese of Borongan in view of the communitarian ecclesiological understanding.  Ultimately then, it was a concerted act which, Bishop Medroso initiating, sought to define the kind of local Church which the diocese of Borongan will hopefully tur to be in the years ahead.

            In terms of process, two points may be underscored.  The design of the synodal process may have appeared complicated, and probably it was.  Admittedly, it could
have been simplified.  But in pursuit of the ecclesiological outlook of the PCP II, the plan was conceived by the synodal architect with the end in view emphasizing lay empowerment, and it was thus deemed necessary that the synodal process would begin with the laity themselves participating and would enlist their involvement in the very process itself.  What ultimately ensued, then, was a “from-the-bottom-up” approach.  Secondly, as regards participation, although many aspects of the synodal process could have been treated at the Synod proper itself, these were moved instead to the pre-synod phases to enhance the involvement of as many laymen as possible and the participation of the clergy and religious, at both the parochial and regional levels.  Such being the purpose, both the laity and the clergy could feel and realize that they were really part of the particular Church of the diocese of Borongan; at the same time, the celebration of the Synod proper became less convoluted.  The involvement of the people was impressive, what with the participation of 8,569 (or 2.45% of 349,617 Catholics in the diocese) in the preparatory seminars, and around 200 delegates in the actual celebration.

  
          Truth to tell, though, the  beginnings of the plan to hold the First Diocesan Synod of Borongan may be traced to as far as 1994, and the whole synodal process may be conveniently divided into six phases: (1) The Beginnings of the Synod; (2) The Stage of  Information, Organization and Catechesis; (3) The Stage of  Study and Discussion; (4) The Stage of Synodal Preparation; (5) The Stage of Celebration; and (6) The Stage of Promulgation.  It is the purpose of this short essay to delineate its beginnings and to give a brief account of each of the six phases through which Synod underwent.

THE BEGINNINGS OF THE BORONGAN
SYNOD

From Pastoral Assembly to Diocesan Synod.  In his effort to implement the decrees of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) and create a diocesan pastoral plan, the Most Rev Leonardo Y. Medroso, DD, on Feb. 15,1994, appointed Rev Renato A. Lucero Episcopal Vicar for PCP II.  As an initial step to concretize the mind of the Bishop, Rev Lucero, parish priest of Maydolong, invited the officials of all the existing Parish Pastoral Councils in the diocese to an assembly on July 9-10, 1994. The main speaker was Rev Lope C. Robredillo, professor at the St. John the Evangelist School of Theology (Palo, Leyte), who developed the theme, “The Theology of Lay Participation in the Church.” The following morning, he organized the Diocesan Council of the Laity, and Atty Henry Dala, president of the Parish Pastoral Council of Lalawigan, was elected president.  But Rev Lucero’s main concern, as set forth in the latter’s agendum, which was later presented during the meeting of the priests from the central region on April 19, 1994, was to create a special group, composed mainly of educators from Maydolong, which would formulate a survey on how the people of the diocese viewed the Church.  This group would visit the parishes to draw out feedback.  Then, he would  hire resource speakers for an intensive and special training of priests and laymen in preparation of the Diocesan Assembly.

            A few days, later, the Bishop had an informal talk with Rev Pedro C. Quitorio and Rev Robredillo, and having considered the idea of holding a Diocesan Synod instead of a Pastoral Assembly, they conferred with Rev. Lucero at the rectory in Maydolong.  The new plan of holding a Synod was the main agendum when the “Diocesan PCP II Core Group” formed by some priests (Rev Lucero, Rev Lesme A. Afable, Rev Anacleto S. Asebias Jr., Rev Joberto A. Picardal), a religious (Sr Ma. Fe d. Gerodias, RVM), laymen (Atty Henry Dala and Mr Estanislao Quelitano) and a consultant in theology (Rev Robredillo) were invited by the Bishop to a meeting at the parish rectory of Sulat, Eastern Samar, on July 30, 1994, with Rev Picardal as host.  Bishop Medroso presiding, the Episcopal Vicar for PCP II, Rev Lucero, revealed the plan which, in addition to what has been said, provides for the training of 35 lay leaders as diocesan lay animators for the for the survey in different parishes, and separate and joint conventions of priests and lay men, in which resource persons would be invited as speakers. The plan may be sketched as follows:

            It was hoped that the conventions would be the proximate preparation for the First Diocesan Synod to be held in 1996 to mark the 35th anniversary of the erection of Borongan as diocese.  Rev Lucero presented his model for the Synod in more details when, together with the Bishop and Mr Quelitano, Jr, he attended the 2nd Visayas Pastoral Assembly held at the Holy Family Retreat House, Nivel Hill, Cebu City on August 29-September 1, 1994.

The Shift from the Lucero Plan to the Robredillo Model.  At the stance of the Most Rev Medroso, the “Diocesan PCP II Core group” gathered again at the bishop’s residence on September 18, 1994, and the meeting was attended by the Bishop, Rev Lucero, Atty Dala, Mr Quelitano, Rev Asebias, Jr., and Rev Robredillo.  However, after some deliberations on the Lucero model at this meeting, the core group opted for the alternative process of holding a Synod, which Rev Robredillo roughly sketched as the discussion of the Lucero plan progressed. The group met again the following Sunday, September 25, at the bishop’s residence, and Rev Robredillo presented a revision of his architectural design of the synodal process which he outlined in the previous meeting.  According to the Robredillo model, the pre-synodal process involves four stages (stage of organization, stage of information and survey, stage of study and discussion, and stage of synodal preparation), and except for the last, each of these has corresponding activities at three levels: diocesan, regional and parochial. The most important activities are the seminar-workshops in the parishes at stage one, the making of the various working papers and the workshops on them in the parishes at the second stage, and the pre-synodal assembly of all official delegates in the three regions at the third stage, before the celebration of the synod proper.  The schematic diagram of the synodal process is rather complicated, but its simplified form, which saw print in the synodal kit, appears as follows:
                                                                                     

            The process was accepted.  The Bishop, with the concurrence of the “Diocesan PCP II Core Group”, as a consequence, commissioned him to present the plan for the Synod at the scheduled assembly of lay leaders and the Borongan clergy.  On December 27, 1994, Msgr Medroso invited lay leaders, mostly coming from the Parish Pastoral Councils, religious sisters and the priests of the diocese to gather at the bishop’s residence for a lecture on the proposed Diocesan Synod.  At midmorning, Rev Robredillo offered them a primer on the Synod in order to introduce them to what the forthcoming diocesan event was all about.  Handouts were distributed for this purpose.  After the presentation, the Bishop asked the assembly whether they were agreed to the holding of a Synod, and the motion was unanimously approved.  Consequently, Rev Robredillo, using a flow chart, explained to the participants the pre-synodal and the synodal processes.

            Because of problems of staffing, however, the implementation of the
pre-synodal phase could not take off .  Msgr Crescente B. Japzon, the vicar general, was considered, but the first choice for president of the Synod was Rev Asebias, Jr.  Because the latter refused the presidency, Rev Robredillo was suggested in absentia.  Originally, the staff was to be composed of the following: President, Rev Robredillo; Regional Vice-Presidents: Episcopal Vicars; Executive Secretary,  Msgr. Crescente Japzon; Asst. Secretary, Rev Lucero; Treasurer, Sr Gerodias, RVM; Chair, Commission on the Laity and Christian Life, Rev Lucero; Chair, Commission on Social Concerns, Rev Picardal; Chair, Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education, Rev Joseph Orsal; Commission on the Clergy and Religious, Rev Afable; Commission on Youth, Rev Edwin E. Juaban; Commission on Worship and Religious Concerns, Rev Asebias, Jr; Chair, Education and Training Committee, Rev Lope Robredillo; Chair, Survey, Monitoring and Evaluating Team, Rev Lucero; Chair, Editorial and Publication Committee, Rev Benito Noroña; Chair, Communications and Promotions Committee, Rev Sheldon Amasa; Chair, Procedures and Other Committee Msgr Crescente Japzon; Chair, Finance Department, Sr. Gerodias, RVM.  When Rev Robredillo was informed of his appointment, however, he declined, and the plan to hold the synod was shelved.


THE STAGE OF INFORMATION, ORGANIZATION
AND CATECHESIS

Diocesan Clergy and Lay Leaders Attend Lecture on Synod.   It was not, however, until January 1996 that the plan to hold a Synod was revived.  The Most Rev Medroso asked Rev Venancio Amidar, Rev Eutiquio Belizar, Jr, and Rev Robredillo, who constituted the Ad-Hoc Committee for the Synod, to meet.  On January 16, these three priests gathered, together with six deacons (Rev Roderick Rodeles, Rev Honorio Aniano, Rev Manuel Lunario, Rev Luisito Guial, Rev Bernard Aljibe and Rev Lowie Palines), and after Rev Robredillo presented the flow chart of
the synodal process, the Ad-Hoc Committee made two decisions. First, it commissioned the six deacons, under the coordination of Rev Belizar, Jr, to make a retreat kit on the major theological themes of the PCP II, to be used during the Lenten season.  (A week before the Passion Sunday, Rev Belizar and the deacons were able to come up with an 18-pare kit entitled “An Katig-uban han mga Tinun-an.”)  Second it decided to hold a seminar on the PCP II for the diocesan priests, since as agents of change, they occupied decisive positions and important roles.  The topics to be discussed and their respective speakers were:  Church and Mission by Rev Robredillo; Priesthood by Rev Belizar, Jr; Laity by Rev Amidad; Basic Ecclesiastical Communities by Sr Alice Arreglo, DC; select decrees on the Priesthood by Msgr Japzon, and select decrees on the Laity by Rev Asebias, Jr.  The plan to hold a seminar was introduced to the presbyterium on the Feb. 7 meeting, and after much discussion, even disagreement, it was approved by the plenum.  For this reason, the Ad-Hoc Committee came together again on March 21 to map out the details of the seminar.

Seminar for the Diocesan Clergy.   Called by the Bishop on Marck 29 (Circular Letter No. 3, s. 1996), the seminar was held from April 9 through 11, 1996, at the Conference hall, fourth floor, bishop’s residence.  On the first day, Rev Robredillo, to
provide the participants with a background, gave an overview of the Major Ecclesiologies of the Catholic Church before he talked on the Church and its Mission according to PCP II.  The reactors to the talk were Rev Afable and Rev Romeo Solidon. The next day, Rev Belizar, Jr spoke on the Theology of the Priesthood and focused on its theology according to PCP II.  The panel of reactors was composed of Rev Asebias, Jr and Rev Erich Brandes.  Before lunch, Rev Amidar delivered a talk on the Thelogy of the Laity, stressing the differences in the theology before the Second Vatican Council and the PCP II.  The panel of reactors included Rev Fitzgerald Azul, Atty Dala and Mr Estanilao Quelitano.  The first lecture in the afternoon was on the Basic Ecclesial Communities, with Sr Arreglo, DC as speaker.  She prefaced the talk with a theological perspective for understanding the BECs.  The following formed the panel of reactors:  Rev Guido Ditalo, Rev Picardal, and Rev Moises Camp Jr.  The last speaker was Rev Asebias, Jr who talked on some of the decrees on the laity, with Mr Arnel Balbin and Rev Leroy Geli as reactors.  Msgr Japzon was  not able to give a lecture because he failed to arrive on time.

            On April 11, the whole morning was devoted to group discussion.  The clergy were divideed into three groups, one for each regional division.  They were asked to discuss four questions:  1. (a) In the light of the inputs of the 3-day seminar, identify all the areas/aspects of the life and mission of the diocese that need attention in order to renew the diocese; (b) enumerate them in the order of importance or priority.  These areas were worship and special religious concerns, formation and inter-religious concerns, social action apostolate, special social concerns, spirituality,
laity, religious, clergy and seminarians, institutions, inculturation, mass media and communications, and the BECs.  2.  How do you describe each of these areas? (a) What are the weak points of each? (b) What are the strong points of each?  3.  What concrete suggestions/actions should be made/done in each of these areas/aspects so that they will contribute to the renewal of the diocese?  4.  In general, how do you assess the ecclesiology of the diocese as reflected in its current life and mission?  Since the whole morning, it turned out, was not enough to answer these questions, the body decided to continue the discussion b region, at a meeting to be scheduled by the members of the region.  They were asked to submit the results to the Ad-Hoc Committee before April 30, 1996.  So, on April 16 and 29, the central region met in Borongan and San Julian respectively; the southern priests gathered in Balangiga on April 9 and in Salcedon on April 20, and the northern region clergy had their meeting on April 22 in Dolores and July 9 in Can-avid.

Appointments of Synod Officials.  As a major stride in the preparation of the Synod, the Most Rev Medroso, DD, Bishop of Borongan, at a meeting with the board of consultors, together with Rev Amidar, Rev Belizar, Jr, and Rev Robredillo, on April 11, made the following official appointments:

            Position                                                                     Name

Executive Committee
President                                                                    Rev Lope C Robredillo
Vice-President                                                          Rev Venancio L Amidar
Secretary                                                                   Rev  Leroy R Geli
Asst Secretary                                                           Rev Roderick R Rodeles
Treasurer                                                                   Rev Moises A Campo, Jr
General Secretariat                        
Sec. General                                                              Rev Leroy R Geli
Asst Secretary                                                           Mr Ian Mosquisa
Members                                                                    Mr Bong Lumactod
                                                                                    Ms Yelina Pinarok
Finance Committee                                                  Rev Anacleto Asebias
                                                                                    Rev Joberto A Picardal
Education Team                                                       Rev Venancio L Amidar
                                                                                    Rev Eutiquio B Belizar
                                                                                    Rev Leroy Geli
                                                                                    Rev Lope C Robredillo
                                                                                    Sr Alice Arreglo, DC
Theologians                                                              Rev Eutiquio B Belizar
                                                                                    Rev Moises A Campo, Jr
                                                                                    Rev Edwin C Lanuevo
Preparatory Commission’s Head
Spirituality                                                                Rev Anacleto Asebias, Jr.
Worship                                                                     Rev Euly B Belizar, Jr.
Formation and
            Evangelization                                              Rev Romeo C Solidon
Inculturation                                                             Rev Edwin C Lanuevo
Clergy and Seminarians                                          Msgr. Crescente Japzon
Religious                                                                   Rev Felix Rotor
Organizations                                                           Rev Antonio S Alconaba
Laity                                                                           Rev Fitzgeral M Azul
Institutions                                                                Rev Moises A Campo, Jr
Social Action/
            Concerns                                                       Rev Joberto A Picardal
Monitoring                                                                Mr Mario Ian Mosquisa
Members                                                                    Social Action Staff
General Editor                                                          Rev Lope C Robredillo
Canon Lawyer                                                          Rev Leroy R Geli
Exhibit and
            Souvenir Prog.                                              Rev Jude C Caliba
Communications,
            Updates and Promotions                             Rev Sheldon C Amasa

The Executive Committee and the General Secretariat.   Although all the synodal offices were indespensible to the Synod, the Executive Committee and its implementing arm, the General Secretariat, constituted the nerve center of the whole synodal process.  The Executive Committee frequently met, and it could be said that with the exception of a few instances, everything that transpired in the synodal process was first presented and deliberated on in the meetings of the committee, and it was a functioning one because of the smooth working relationship among its members.  The same may be said of the General Secretariat, headed by Rev Geli, who was assisted by Mr Mosquisa.  Although several persons worked in the Secretariat from time to time (e.g., Ms Margie C Baria, Ms Malou Arias, Ms Maricel M Picardal, Ms Janice Jane P Medroso, Ms Isabel Ibarbia, Ms Daisy Catubay), the mainsprings at the office were Mr Lumactod and Ms Pinarok, who did their job more and one could ever bargain for.  It is worth remembering that the Secretariat was itself in search of a home it could call its own.  It started functioning by sharing with the office of the
Catholic Social Services Center (CSSC), including from the latter.  Msgr Japzon, of course, agreed to share its staff the Marian Bible Center with the Secretariat.  But on Jan. 13, 1997, it finally occupied the room at the fourth floor which houses the Diocesan Archives, and gradually acquired equipment for its exclusive use.  By August, it was able, courtesy of the Bishop, to secure a mimeographing machine, and on Dec. 17, Sr Gerodias, RVM delivered 2 computer units from Cebu for the Synod.  One more computer was added when the Bishop brought along a computer from the NEWS-FI (North-East-West Samar Foundation, Inc.), Calbayog City, on April 24, 1997.  In its June 16 meeting, the Executive Committee approved the purchase of a new computer, and Mr Lumactod bought one, costing around P40,000.  But its most treasured equipment is the Risograph which Mr Lumactod purchased for P190,790.00 on Oct. 2 in Cebu City.  That it lightened the work load of the Secretariat can hardly be overemphasized too strongly.

Seminar for the Religious.   Meanwhile, another seminar was organized on June 22-23 at the Conference hall, bishop’s residence in Borongan, this time for the religious men and women in the diocese.  The Bishop felt that the religious, too, necessitated an update on the theology after Vatican II and PCP II to prepare them for the forthcoming Synod.  In attendance were: 6 RVM sisters from St Joseph’s College, 3 RVM sisters from St Anthony’s Academy (Llorente), 2 RVM sisters from Our Lady of Fatima Academy (Gen MacArthur), 3 DC sisters; 3 MSH sisters, 2 from the Franciscans Sisters of the Sacred Heart, and 2 SDB priests.  The RVM school in Guiuan, Assumption Academy was the only religious house that was not represented; those in Holy Cross Academy were present at the seminar conducted in Oras, and the Mater Divinae Gratiae College in Dolores sent in representative there.  The speakers of the seminar were Rev Robredillo (Church and Mission), Rev Belizar, Jr. (Priesthood), Rev Amidar (Laity), and Sr Arreglo, DC (BEC).  Rev Rotor was also asked to talk on the religious according to PCP II.  A workshop followed, at which the
same questions which were given to the clergy were posed to the Religious.  It was at this point that Mr Lumactod and Ms Pinarok began to serve, it turned out later on, as members of the Secretariat.

Seminars for Parish Lay Leaders.   But even more in need of theological updating were the lay people.  In accord with the synodal plan, and the with the consent of the presbyterium in its June 18, 1996 meeting, the Diocesan Synodal Education Team(DSET) gaves seminars for the three diocesan regions.  In attendance were several delegates--five was the minimum number, as was decided in the meeting--from each Parish Synodal Educational Teams (PSETs).  In additional to Rev Robredillo, Rev Belizar, Rev Amidar and Sr Arreglo, DC, other speakers were invited to talk, because it was felt by the Executive Committee that other relevant topics needs to be given.  Thus, Rev Geli lectured on the social teachings in the PCP II, and Mr Mosquisa, Mr Lumactod and Miss Pinarok, spoke on the current situation of Eastern Samar and the diocese of Borongan.  For the central parishes, the seminar was held at Seminario de Jesus Nazareno, Borongan on Augus 9-11; for the northers parishes, at the Social Hall of the parish rectory in Oras, on August 23-25; and for those in the southern region, at the Assumption Academy in Guiuan, on July 5-7,1996.  Below is a list of delegates from each parish, who were trained to give seminars on the PCP II in their respective parishes.

Northern Region
August 23-25, 1996

            Parish                                                                                    Delegates
Arteche                                                                                                          0
San Policarpo                                                                                                5
Oras                                                                                                               28
Conception                                                                                                    4
Maslog                                                                                                           0
Dolores                                                                                                         14
Can-Avid                                                                                                       9
Taft                                                                                                                 5
Sulat                                                                                                               8
Jipapad                                                                                                          3

Central Region
August 9-11, 1996

            Parish                                                                                    Delegates

San Julian                                                                                                      7
Borongan                                                                                                       5
Balangkayan                                                                                                 5
Llorente                                                                                                         5
Maydolong                                                                                                    4
Hernani                                                                                                          4
Lalawigan                                                                                                      3
Gen MacArthur                                                                                            3
St Joseph’s College                                                                                      1


Southern Region
July 5-7, 1996

            Parish                                                                                    Delegates

Matarinao                                                                                                      2
Salcedo                                                                                                         15
Mercedes                                                                                                       6
Guiuan                                                                                                          24
Sulangan                                                                                                        9
Homonhon                                                                                                    3
Quinapondan                                                                                                4
Giporlos                                                                                                         5
Balangiga                                                                                                       5
Lawaan                                                                                                         12
(Llorente)                                                                                                      2
(Borongan)                                                                                                    3


            In his report to the priest’s assembly on Aug. 20, 1996 on the seminars given to the central and southern regions, Rev Amidar, chair of the Diocesan Synodal Education Team (DSET), pointed out that the delegates were attentive and were keen, during the open forum, on the lifestyle of the priests and on the need of lay participation; that, among others, they felt that much was still to be desired of the parish priest’s support to them in the pre-synodal process; and that they really saw the import of the renewal of the Church in view of the lectures given them (Minutes of Assembly, Aug. 19-20,1997).  At the conclusion of priest’s assembly, synodal committees at the regional level were also formed:

Regional Committee

Northern Region
                        Msgr Alfredo Amistoso  (chair)
                        Msgr Crescente Japzon
                        Rev Nemesio Quiloña
                        Rev Amabe Moslares
                        Rev Vittorio Cavallaro
                        Rev Edoardo Lanzalaco
                        Rev Pedro Aquino

Central Region
                        Rev Lesme Afable  (chair)
                        Rev Deogracias Gayo
                        Rev Erich Q Brandes
                        Rev Guido Ditalo
                        Rev Francisco Corado
                        Rev Romeo Solidon
                        Rev Teodoro Sison
Sounthern Region
                        Rev Anacleto Asebias, Jr.  (chair)
                        Rev Joberto Picardal
                        Rev Arturo Gonzales
                        Rev Eleuterio Gubiana
                        Rev Joseph Orsal
                        Rev Jose Tentativa, Jr.
                        Rev John Alcantara


Subsequent Seminars.   These data, of course, somehow conceal what transpired during these regional seminars.  The enthusiasm of the participants to renew the diocese in the light of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines cannot be exaggerated.  Nor the involvement of some priests could be overlooked.  The regional
seminar in Oras, for instance, was well prepared. True to the suggestions int he synodal kit, various committee were organized:  food, accomodation, secretariat, etc., and these committees were very well manned and functioning, thanks to the efforts of the parish priest, Msgr Amistoso.  The same may be said of the Guiuan seminar.  In the central region, another seminar was organized on September 20-22, because it was felt that the Borongan delegates who attended during the previous one were so few, and also, in order to accomodate the parish of Arteche, which did not send delegates to the seminar in Oras, and that of Lalawigan, whose delegates--the fiesta fast approaching--left after the first day of the August seminar.  The number of delegates is as follows:  Borongan 35; Lalawigan 7; Arteche 4; and Can-avid 3.  Then, Rev Amidar, who serves as spiritual director of the Knights of Columbus in Nativity of Our Lady parish of Borongan, too the initiative of holding the same seminar for the members of the Knights of Columbus (Sta. Maria Council #4526), together with their wives.  The seminar was conducted on January 31-February 2, 1997, with a total of 29 in attendance.


THE STAGE OF STUDY AND DISCUSSION

First Seminar in the Parishes and their Barangays.   Then came the more demanding work.  For if the regional seminars on the PCP II and the Diocesan Synod were organized in the three regions, they were with the end in view of training the various Parish Synodal Education Teams (PSETs) to give re-echo seminars in their respective parishes, even including their major barangays.  To facilitate these seminars, Rev Robredillo compose a synodal kit for the pre-synodal phase, which included, among others, the synodal timetable, officers, the Bishop’s Decree of Convocation, guide for the parish seminar on the PCP II and the Diocesan Synod, guide for making synodal working papers, guide for the parish seminar and workshop on the working papers and seminar inputs.  Aside from the synodal primer and flow chart, the inputs included:  Situational Analysis of the Diocese of Borongan
(by Mr Mosquisa), a Comparison of Ecclesiologies (by Rev Robredillo), schema on the Church and its Mission (by Rev Robredillo), the Laity in the PCP II (by Rev Amidar), the Priest in the PCP II ( by Rev Belizar,Jr), Social Teachings of PCP II (by Rev Geli), a Perspective for Understanding the BECs (by Sr Arreglo, DC).  The Secretariat started encoding the kit on April 9, 1996, and it took six days to mimeograph the materials (Sept. 1-6) because the machine broke down on Sept. 4.  The distribution of copies began on Sept. 6.  The number of synodal kits for seminar I given to each region was as follows: 82 for the northern region (Oras, 28; Dolores, 16; San Policarpo, 6 Taft, 6 Sulat, 8; Concepcion, 5; Jipapad, 4; Can-Avid, 9) 46 for the central region (Guiuan, 25; Lawaan, 13; Giporlos, 5; Balangiga, 6; Casuguran, 4; Salcedo, 16; Matarinao, 3; Sulangan, 10; Quinapondan, 4; and Mercedes, 7), a total of 221.  This does not include the number given to the BECs.  In conducting seminars to the respective parishes, the Parish Synodal Education Teams (PSET) used or based their lectures on these inputs.  To facilitate these seminars, each parish was asked to organize its own Parish Synodal Committee, Parish Synodal Education Team, Parish Synodal Monitoring Team, Parish Synodal Secretariat, Liturgy Committee, and Food Committee.

The Parish Synodal Education Team.   It has to be acknowledged that those who performed the ardous task of materializing the synodal process in the various parts of the parish were the Parish Synodal Education Teams.  Quite a number of them had to file a leave of absence both in order to attend and in order to give seminars on the Synod.  Their work ran the gamut from the scheduling of barangay seminars, through gathering of delegates, studying the lectures they would give, borrowing long bar typewriters, to translating the output into English.  Some would
walk their way to the barangays, others had to bear the difficult means of transportation, and still others had to pay not only the fare but even the chit from their own pockets, when these could not be arranged with or guarranted by the barangay chair, the chapel servant of the parish priest.  It may not  be an exaggeration to say that without these teams, the parish priest would have been much handicapped in effecting the synodal process.

The Seminar Output.   The output of the parish discussions, which started in mid- September, 1996, may be summarized as follows.  After listening to the 9 lectures on the Diocesan Synod and the PCP II, the participants were asked to discuss 27 areas of the life and mission of the parish they belong to, namely: Spirituality, Laity (Family and Life, Youth, Women, Catechists, Migrant Workers, Lay Evangelizers), Worship, Evangelization and Formation, Inculturation, Clergy (Seminary and Seminarians), Religious Organizations, Institutions (Media and Communication, Catholic Schools, Basic Ecclesial Communities, Religious Organizations and Movements, Temporalities, Arancel and Tithing), Parish Pastoral Council, Formation and Other Centers, Temporalities, Special Social Concerns (Peasants, Fisherfolk, Urban Poor/Squatters, Disabled/Impaired, Senior Citizens/Elderly, Children and Youth, Migrants, Women) Social Action and Social Services (Church and Politics, Peace and Justice, Economic Development, Ecology), and Special Concerns (Ecumenism, Fundamentalism and Iglesia ni Kristo, and Prisoners).  Three questions were raised in the parish sessions: (1) What are the strong points of each of these areas? What are the weak points of each?  (2) What concrete program of action can be suggested in each of these areas so the parish could be renewed in the light of the PCP II?  (3) What kind of Church do you envision for the diocese of Borongan?

            It may be instructive to take a random look at how, as the documented by the team of Rev Geli, Mr Lumactod and Ms Pinarok, who started monitoring the
pre-synodal activities on Sept. 17, the parishes went through the process.  To inform the parishioners about the Synod and the first seminar, the means used were, among others, homilies (all parishes), bandillo (Balangiga), cable TV (Jipapad), streamers (San Julian), area visit (BECs), and posting of schedule in conspicous places (Salcedo, Oras).  Invitatio was through formal letters, homilies, mass announcements, and bandillo (Balangiga, two days before the seminar).  The seminar was held in the parish church, barangay chapel, parish social hall/rectory (Oras, Salcedo), barangay center or school classroom (Quinapondan and Taft).  It usualy started with a meeting or consultation of the parish priest with the Parish Pastoral Council or with the zone coordinators of BEC areas (Lawaan).  Some parishes were late in carrying out the seminars (Can-Avid, Lalawigan, Arteche, Giporlos), others did not organize it at all (Maslog, Buenavista).  Some big parishes scheduled 4 to 5 seminars while the small ones only 1 t0 2.  As already noted, Parish Synodal Committees (PSC, PSET, PSMT, PSS, Liturgy and Food) were established, and all these committees were functional in Oras and Guiuan; but in most parishes, only the PSC and PSET.  The logistics came from solicitation, parish pastoral fund, donations (Guiuan and Borongan), barangay council counterpart (food, lighting, sound system), mass collection (Lalawigan), registration (Cabay, Balangkayan, and Lawaan), parish priest (food, transportation allowance, reproduction of materials).  These seminars were worked out by a number of teams sent to different areas (BECs and Oras 4 teams, Guiuan 4, Dolores 3, Balangiga 5, Lalawigan 5, Borongan 15).

            In terms of participation in the seminars, some parishes welcomed--in addition to the members of cofradias and barangay officials--everybody (Guiuan and BEC areas), accepted 1 (Llorente), 10 (Quinapondan and San Policarpo), or 2 (Mercedes) participants from each barangay.  If attendance was limited, it was because the seminars coincided with town or barangay fiestas or harvest time, or because of the poblacion--barangay tension, or barangay of transportation difficulties, among others.  In some parishes (Hernani, Guiuan, Taft, Can-avid, Balangkayan, Jipapad, Concepcion) the whole seminar was completed in one-day session; in others (San Julian, Mercedes, Oras, Quinapondan, Llorente, Giporlos,
Sulangan, San Policarpo, Maydolong, BEC), in two-day session, in still others, 5-day evening sessions (Sulat) or 4-evening sessions in poblacion and 3-evening sessions in barangays (Lawaan).  As regards the workshop on the various areas of concers, some parishes provided for discussion after the seminar, gave assignments to participants and scheduled another day for another discussion (Guiuan, Salcedo); but others chose only those areas of concern which were deemed applicable to their own situation (Dolores).  It may be noted that participants found the content heavy (Taft), and expressed the need to take up further such topics as Church and Mission, Comparative Ecclesiology and Social Doctrine (Salcedo, Sulat, BECs).  That is why some parishes had invited speakers: Dolores (Rev Robredillo, Ms Jean Asadon and PSET of Salcedo), Maydolong (Rev Francisco Corado), and Sulat (Rev Cyril Caliba).  It should not be surprising, however, that it did happen that the answers of the participants were not in keeping with the PCP II (Quinapondan).

            The results of the seminars were scheduled for submission on the first week of October, but the deadline was moved to Oct. 31.  The first to submit were the Religious (Oct. 15), and the last was the parish of Lalawigan (Jan. 15, 1997).  As documented by the Diocesan Monitoring Team (DSMT), which had its first staff meeting on Sept. 13, the various workshop yielded the following result:


                                No. of Concern
                                Areas of                                 Seminars               Brgys          No. of                      Sectors
Area/Parish          WP Treated                           Conducted            Covered     Participants     Represented

 Guiuan               34                              23                 31            1,120                      9
Mercedes            34                              2                   10                 40                       8
Matarinao           32                              1                   4                   39                       5
Quinapondan      23                             1                   20               133                      4
Sulangan             4                                4                   5                 206                      6
Balangiga            20                              7                   12              155                       12
Hernani               20                              1                   9                   36                       6
MacArthur          33                             1                                         42                       8         
Taft                      30                              5                   21               280                   10
San Policarpo     38                             1                  15                114                      4         
Jipapad               17                              1                                        58 
Concepcion          8                             1                      5                 51          
Sulat                    25                              4                     3               267
Can-avid             23                              7                     7               257
Salcedo               28                              4                   24              156                        10
Maydolong         11                              1                   11                83                           8
Oras                     12                             13                  27              465                          8
Lawaan               15                             4                    13                94                           8
Casuguran          12                             2                      8                62                           6
Lalawigan           13                              3                      6                55                           4
Llorente              25                              1                                      120                          5
Balangkayan       28                             2                      9                79          
San Julian           21                              1                      9                37                          8
Arteche               10                                                                        57
Giporlos              10                             15                 
Borongan            28                               7                    45              511                        11
Dolores               24                             18                    27              385                        11
BEC                     33                               1                    18              505                       5
Clergy                20                                1                                        40                           1
Religious            30                                                                         41                           1

            Total                                       123                 311          5,448        


The Working Papers.   The Regional Synodal Education Teams (RSETs) were then tasked with collating the responses of the workshops in all the parishes which belong to the respective regions, and were supposed to hand in the regional synthesis on Nov 15, 1996.  Thus, for instance, the answers of the parishes of Guiuan, Sulangan, Homonhon, Matarinao, Salcedo, Quinapondan, Giporlos, Balangiga and Lawaan were collected by the Regional Education Team headed by Mr Tirso Morante.  The
same may be said of the northern (Mr Jorge Agnes, chair) and the central region (Mr Alfonso Corado, chair),as well as the BECs (Sr Arreglo, DC, chair).  As a result, there were 8 output summaries, since those of the religious (Rev Rotor, SDB, chair), those of the clergy from the northern (Msgr Japzon), central (Rev Afable) and southern (Rev Asebias, Jr.) regions were added.  This meant that each of the 27 areas of concerns which had been treated in the discussion had 8 sets of summaries.  Each area of concern was entrusted to an individual who, on the basis of the 8 summaries, was to make the first draft of the synodal Working Paper (WP) on that particular area.

            The persons assigned to draft the Working Paper (Wps) were:  Rev Asebias, Jr, Spirituality; Rev Belizar, Jr, Worship; Rev Solidon, Evangelization and Formation; Ecumenism, Fundamentalism, and the Iglesia ni Kristo; Prisoners; Rev Lanuevo, Inculturation, Youth; Rev Picardal, Church and Politics, Family Life, Temporalities, Arancel and Tithing, Ms Eden Cidro, Media and Communication; Sr Aster Emadin, RVM, Catholic Schools; Sr Arreglo, DC and Ms Asadon, Basic Ecclesial Communities; Sr Nicetas Favorito, DC, Catechists, Formation and Other Centers; Rev Campo, Jr, Parish Pastoral Council; Mr Mosquisa, Peace and Social Justice; Mr Pionio Campo, Economic Development;  Mr Lumactod, Ecology; Ms Yelina Pinarok, Women, Migrants, Fisherfolk, Peasants, Disabled/Impaired; Rev J Caliba, Migrant Workers; Rev Fitzgerald Azul, Women; Msgr Japzon, Clergy and Seminarians; Rev Rotor, SDB, Religious; Rev Antonio Alconaba, Religious Organizations and Movements; Rev Aljibe, Lay Evangelizers.

            What was the appearance of the Working Papers? Each Working Paper of the various areas of concern had four parts.  The first part was (a) Observation on the
Current Situation, which summarizes both the negative and positive observations of the participants of the workshops.  The second was (b) Theologico-Pastoral Orientation, which tries to give a theological enlightenment on the situation in the light of the scriptures, the teachings of the Church and current theology.  The third part (c) consisted of the summary of the suggestions which surfaced during the workshops, on what to do in the light of the situation and theology.  A fourth part (d) on Pertinent PCP II Decrees was also provided, and placed between (b) and if only to guide the discussant in formulating the proposed decrees so these may not depart from the intention of the PCP II.

            At the Dec. 27,  1996 priest’s assembly, the president advised that, according to the schedule agree on earlier by the Preparatory Commissions heads, the Working Papers were supposed to be handed in by their respective writers to the Secretariat on Jan 15, 1997.  Most writers, however, failed to meet the deadline, for when the Diocesan Synodal Monitoring Team (DSMT) travelled on Jan 16, to collect the Working Papers, they would have returned empty handed, had it not been for the Working Papers of Sr Favorito, DC, Rev Solidon, Rev Asebias, Jr and Rev Picardal.  And even a few of those who were able to submit later did not comply with the stipulation that a theological orientation be provided in the third part of each Working Paper.      

            The task of providing one fell on the shoulders of the theologians, Rev Campo, Jr, Rev Belizar, Jr and Rev Lanuevo, and the president, Rev Robredillo.  Given to Rev
Campo, Jr were the Working Papers on Family, Youth, Women, Catechists, Migrant Workers, Lay Evangelizers, Church and Politics, Peace and Social Justice, Economic Development, Ecology and Social Concerns.  To Rev Belizar, Jr were submitted those of Evangelization and Formation, Fundamentalism and Iglesia ni Kristo, Ecumenism, Prisoners, Media and Communication, Catholic Schools, BECs, Formation and Other Centers, Religious Organizations, Temporalities and Parish Pastoral Council.  Rev Lanuevo read the documents on Spirituality, Worship, Inculturation, Clergy and Seminarians, and Religious.

Synodal Hymn.   It was at the same Dec. 27, 1996 priest’s general assembly that Rev Geli, aside from providing the priests with copies of the printed Pre-Synodal Prayer, which the Secretariat asked Msgr Japzon to compose, played for the first time the hymn “Himno han Sinodo”, which was composed for the Synod by Mr Ernesto Bandilla, a well known composer from Hernani, Eastern Samar.  The Secretariat received the composition on Oct. 14, 1996.  All the parish priests, as well as the school heads, received free copies of the tapes containing the interpretation of Mr Wilmar Blanco, a music teacher of Eastern Samar National Comprehensive High School (ESNCHS).  Corrections, however, were made on the lyrics of the hymn, including its original title, “Pagbag-o”, and the corrected copies were distributed on Jan. 8, 1997.  Then on Feb. 18, during the priest’s assembly, Rev Arturo Gonzales suggested additional modifications on the synodal hymn--changing the line “maki-Dyos, makitawo, maki-bayan” to “maka-Dyos, maka-tawo, maka-nasud”.  As far as the Diocesan Synodal Monitoring Team could gather, the hymn was sung at liturgical celebrations in the parishes of Borongan, Guiuan, Salcedo, Balangiga, Balangkayan, Oras, Arteche and Llorente.  Later, Rev Deogracias Gayo provided a minus-one tape for the hymn.

Synod Promotions at Diocesan Level.   Meanwhile, the Secretariat headed by Rev Geli, was already on the air, with a regular Saturday slot at the DYVW, updating the people on the Synod.  Led by Rev Geli himself, the radio program started on Feb. 22, 1997 and ended on the Saturday just before the Synod proper.  Sometimes, Mr Mosquisa, Ms Pinarok or Mr Lumactod was on the anchor.  Rev Amidar, vice-president, likewise promoted the Synod in his regular Friday program “Simbayan”, Twice he interviewed the president, Rev Robredillo.  Rev Amasa himself, the station manager, created some one-minute radio spots called “Synod Trivia” so that, throughout the day, something about the Synod was regularly broadcast.  It was also Rev Amasa who designed the Synod logo and the Synod poster.  Commissioned to do the work, he was through with the logo in Aug. 1996, and with the poster in Aug. 1997.  The Bishop also encouraged the putting up of a
diocesan newsletter, and the Secretariat revived  An Tiklos, published once every four months, its first issue printed on August 1-3, under the editorship of Mr Lumactod and Ms Pinarok, with Rev Robredillo.  Its next issue, which saw print on Dec. 12, featured the Synod, including its acts and implications.  In additio, it may be recalled that Rev Belizar, Jr was asked to write homilies for the Aguinaldo Masses which focused on Synod themes, and copies were distributed to the parishes of Dec. 12, 1996.  Of course, the Bishop himself was major disseminator of the Synod especially through homilies during fiestas.  All these were meant to help create an awareness among the people that something big was happening in the diocese of Borongan.  But the major concern of those involved in making the Synod happen was, at that point in time, the making of the Working Papers.

Regional Workshops on Synodal Workin Papers.   Even though the Working Papers (Wps) were not finished yet, synodal workshops on them were given on April 26, 27 and 30 to all the Parish Synodal Education Teams (PSET) by Rev Robredillo, president.  Assisting him were Ms Picardal and Ms Arias of the synod office.  The workshop for the northern region parishes was held at the parish formation center in Oras on April 26, attended by 65 participants: Oras 28, Can-avid 9, Dolores 8, Sulat 6, Taft 5, San Policarpo 5, and Arteche 4.  Jipapad and Concepcion were not able to send their delegates because their parish priest and his assistant (Rev Vittorio Cavallaro and Edoardo Lanzalaco) were in Italy. Also present were Msgr Amistoso (Oras) and Rev Alejandro Galo (Taft).  The next day, the regional workshop for the education teams of the central region was conducted at the Seminario de Jesus Nazareno, Borongan, with 55 lay women and men in attendance: Borongan 19, Lalawigan 9, Llorente 6, Maydolong 5, Balangkayan 5, Hernani 4, MacARthur 4 and San Julian 3.  It being Sunday, only Rev Guido Ditalo (Balangkayan) was able to come, although later in the afternoon, Rev Afable (Borongan) arrived, since according to the schedule, he was to say mass for the participants.  The regional workshop for the southern region parishes, held at the Guiuan parish church, on April 30, was the most attended one.  Five parish priests were there: Rev Asebias, Jr (Guiuan), Rev Jose Lugay (Balangiga), Rev Dan Gañas (Buenavista), Rev John Alcantara (Giporlos), and Rev Joseph Orsal ( Homonhon).  The lay participants numbered 78:  Balangiga 24, Guiuan 18, Salcedo 11, Giporlos 9, Buenavista 7, Homonhon 4, Quinapondan 3, and Matarinao 2.  Lawaan, Mercedes and Sulangan had no delegates.  A similar workshop was also given by Rev Robredillo to 7 lay pastoral leaders of the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) on May 7, graced with the presence of Sr Arreglo, DC, chair of the Commission on the BECs.

The Problem of Financing the Synod.   In passing on to the second synodal workshop, a digression is probably in order.  At the Dec. 27 assembly of priests, Rev Campo, Jr revealed at this meeting that the Secretariat depended on the Chancery to maintain the synod office (more than P45, 000 as Oct 15, 1996), and that financing the Synod has become a problem because the P1,585,000 project proposal--the Executive Committee later learned--was turned down by a foreign financial institution, to which it was sent on Sept. 8.  The president, Rev Robredillo, saw this as something positive, even grace, since the disapproval provided an opportunity for the people of the diocese to be involved in the synodal process, including its financing.  Rev Picardal also had the same insight.  For this reason, the Finance Committee, headed by Rev Asebias, Jr and Rev Picardal, activated and asked to do something about the problem, came up with a solution in which the parishes wer
e given qouta, which was read a few moments later.  Msgr Japzon and Msgr Amistoso explicitly objected to the plan, pointing out, among others, that they have many projects to attend to.  But they were prevailed upon by the Bishop, who quickly pressed home the importance of the ecclesial event for the life and mission of the diocese.

            Then, on Dec. 31, the members of the Executive Committee, (Rev Robredillo, Rev Amidar, Rev Geli, Rev Campo, Rev Rodeles), together with the Finance Committee (Rev Asebias and Rev Picardal) were summoned to Borongan for a Jan. 2, 1997 meeting which, it turned about, was about the budget.  The synodal process was criticized for operating without a budget, but the president replied that it was not a felt need at that time, considering that the Executive Committee was expecting a P1,585,000 aid from foreign funding; the budgeting could be done later.  Nonetheless, Rev Agustin Opalalic, Jr who was one of those who framed the budget of  P966,068.27, read the proposal, but the meeting was cut short because Rev Amidar, vice-president, objected to it.  He felt that the making of the budget was a task of the Finance Committee of the Synod, and the Executive Committee was more in a position to know the estimated expenses of the budget, since it was responsible for the planning of the entire synodal process. Rev Amidar’s objection carried the day, and so the meeting immediately adjourned.  It was agreed, however, that while the Finance Committee of Rev Asebias and Rev Picardal would tap local resources, Msgr Quitorio, III and Rev Opalalic would solicit funds in Manila and abroad.

            Because of the infirmity of the budget presented, the Executive Committee made its own, together with the members of the Secretariat who really knew the details.  The new budget appropriation, which was submitted to the Finance Committee for modification, may be capsuled as follows:

            A. Pre-Synod                                                 Amount
1. Materials/Supplies                                              P384, 618.00
2. Honoraria/Allowances                                           42, 000.00
            B. Synod Proper
1. Material/Office Supplies                                       214, 200.00
2. Celebration                                                              236, 500.00
3. Honoraria/Allowances                                           25, 500.00

Total                                                                  P        902, 818.00            

[Not included: honoraria for the Secretariat and driver]

            It was this new budget of P 902, 818.00 that was distributed to the parishes, and together with it, the list of quota which the Finance Committee of Rev Asebias, Jr. and Rev Picardal originally formulated.  The quota: P 40,000 for Borongan; 35,000 for Guiuan, Oras and Dolores; 25 for Taft, Sulat and Llorente; 20, 000 for MacArthur, Salcedo, Balangiga and San Julian; 15,000 for Can-avid, Lalawigan,
Maydolong, Hernani, Merceds, Sulangan, Giporlos and Lawaan; 10,000 for Arteche, San Policarpo, Balangkayan, Matarinao, Homonhon and Quinapondan; and 5,000 for Jipapad, Concepcion, Maslog and Buenavista.  As explained by Rev Asebias, Jr, chair, Finance Committee, the sending of remittances was scheduled into three phases: April, June and September, 1997.  On Feb. 18, 1997, Rev Picardal made it plain to the assembly that the assignment of quota was intended to raise 50% of the budget as the counterpart of the diocese, since the other half, as earlier reached at the Jan. 2, 1997 meeting with the Bishop, were to come from foreign funds (25%) and from people of the diocese residing outside the diocese (25%), e.g., Manila.

            Both Rev Asebias, Jr and Rev Picardal moved to translate their plan to finance the Synod and visited almost all the parishes.  Msgr Quitorio III took charge of printing the solicitation materials:  letters, envelopes (love offering), “Piso Para sa Sinodo” cover for solicitation boxes and folders.  The distribution of solicitation letters started in April, 1997.  But even before these could be sent to Borongan from Manila, some parish priests already forwarded their initial contribution, and the first three to make them were Rev Saturnino Obzunar, parish priest of Arteche (P5,925), Rev Lanzalaco, FdCC, parochial vicar of Jipapad (P5,000) and Rev Sergio Galbignani, in charge of Maslog (P5,000).  With this, the synod office was able to but its first substantial property: a second-hand mimeographing machine from the Secretariat of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), courtesy of Msgr Quitorio III.

            How was the solicitation in the various parishes carried on? The printed solicitation letters were sent to select individuals, envelopes were used during eucharistic celebrations, folders were utilized to solicit from students and other parishioners, and collection boxes were placed in strategic places (unfortunately, that of Lawaan was stolen, with the cash, according to Rev Alconaba). Aside from these means, some parishes chose to collect directly from the barangays (Llorente, Dolores, Casuguran, Oras, MacArthur), cofradias and pastoral councils (Oras, San Julian, Quinapondan, Balangiga).  Parishioners in other places, both here and abroad, were also tapped for solicitation (Gen MacArthur).  Some parishes could ot collect according to schedule because of some other priorities (e.g., town or barangay fiesta, parish rectory construction or renovation, etc.).  Anyhow, it came about, a few days after the celebration of the Synod, that save for a few, the parishes were able to meet their quota.  For the record, the parishes may be classified according to unpaid amount.  (1) In terms of the total remittances, the first five were as follows:  1.  Guiuan P45,000;  2. Oras P35,800.25;  3. Dolores P35,000 and Borongan P35,000; 4. Llorente P27,484; and Salcedo P26,341.50.  (2) In terms of surplus, that is , the amount in excess of the quota, the parishes which exceeded the quota were: 1. Guiuan 10,000; 2. Salcedo 6,341.50; 3. Llorente 2,464; 4. Giporlos 2,080; and 5. Buenavista 1,954.  (3) In terms of amount still to be paid to the Synod, the following still have unpaid accounts; 1. Sulat 18,000; 2. Lalawigan 11,581; 3. San Julian 10,500; Borongan 5,000; Jipapad 5,000 and Lawaan 4,500.  Below is the complete list:

Rank
Name of Parish
Remittance
Quota
Balance
Excess Revenue
1
Guiuan
45,000
35,000

P10,000
2
Oras
35,800.25
35,000

800.25
3
Dolores
35,000
35,000


4
Borongan
35,000
40,000
5,000

5
Llorente
27,484
25,000

2,464
6
Salcedo
26,341.50
20,000

6,341.50
7
Taft
25,000
25,000


8
Gen.MacArthhur
21,500
20,000

1,500
9
Balangiga
20,077.24
20,000

77.24
10
Giporlos
17,060
15,000

2,060
11
Mercedes
15,300
15,000

300
12
Sulangan
15,250
15,000

250
13
Can-avid
15,000
15,000


14
Maydolong
15,000
15,000


15
Quinapondan
10,500
10,000

500
16
Lawaan
10,500
15,000
4,500

17
Hernani
10,000
15,000


18
Arteche
10,000
10,000


19
San Policarpo
10,000
10,000


20
Balangkayan
10,000
10,000


21
Matarinao
10,000
10,000


22
Homonhon
10,000
10,000


23
San Julian
  9,500
20,000
10,500

24
Sulat
  7,000
25,000
18,000

25
Buenavista
  6,954
5,000

1,954
26
Concepcion
  5,000
5,000


27
Maslog
  5,000
5,000


28
Lalawigan
  3,419
15,000
11,581

29
Jipapad

5,000
5,000



(Note: On July 17, 1997, the parish priest of Hernani asked to change the quota from P15,000 to P10,000.  The request was presented to Rev Asebias, Jr. who readily approved it. This explains why the table shows Hernani without corresponding balance.)

            Below are three comparative charts which demonstrate the difference between the Data A and the Data B made by the parishes in each diocesan region:

                         Comparative Data on the Remittances of Each Region

            Northern Region: 
                                                                                


             Southern Region:



                   Central Region:




                                                                             
                                                                                                 
            To further increase the revenue, all the priests were given a quota of P1,000 as personal contribution, and Rev Deogracias A. Gayo, parish priest of San Julian, earned the distinction of having given the highest personal donation in the amount of P16,200.
            While efforts were made to solicit funds from local sources, the Most Rev Medroso, received the amount of P135,000 from the Pontifical Society of the Propagation of the Faith as an extraordinary subsidy granted to the diocese of Borongan for the Synod celebration.  The amount was sent by Msgr Jose Luis Irizar Artiach, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Society of Spain (Madrid) through Abp. Vicenzo Moreni, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines.  He also recipient of a cheque from the Archbishopric of Cologne, Germany, in the amount of DM 23,000 to help finance the Synod.  It may also be recalled that on Sept. 12, 1997, Bp Medroso, Rev Picardal and Rev Robredillo attended the Borongan fiesta celebration in Hongkong, and partial proceeds from the raffle ticket and the celebration, in the amount of P24,530 were remitted by Ms Angelina Manalili as contribution to the Synod.  Other donors were the Llorente Migrant Workers in Hongkong Association, headed by Antonio Oscar Alde, who remitted  P8,888, and the Guiuananons in the amount of P2,700.  In Manila, the threesome saw Cong Miguel Romero and Cong Zubiri who gave P30,000 each.

Parish, BEC, Clergy and Religious Workshops on the Working Papers.   To return to the second synodal workshop: the parish, BEC, clergy and religious workshops on the Working Papers (WP) were exactly the same with the one given to the Regional and Parish Synodal Education Teams (RSET,PSET), save that, this time, the participants were now in possession of copies of the Working Papers consisting of 134 pages each.  With his usual efficiency, Mr Lumactod reproduced copies of the Working Papers in book form, assisted by seminarians from the minor seminary, as well as by Mr Jerry Medroso and Ms Arias.  Twenty-five sets of Working Papers were
given to Guiuan and Borongan, 20 to Dolores and Oras, 15 to Mercedes, Salcedo, Matarinao, Quinapondan, Giporlos, Balangiga, Lawaan, Gen MacArthur, Hernani, Llorente, Balangkayan, Maydolong, Sulat, Taft, Jipapad, Concepcion, Lalawigan, Buenavista, Sulangan and Homonhon.

            Although the parish participants were provided with two sets of questionnaire, and were made to answer a total of 18 questions, the substance could be summarized into three concerns: to analyze the factors which gave rise to the current situation obtaining in the parish, to make addition, deletion and modification on the first draft of the 27 Working Papers, and to formulate the vision-mission of the parish.  The deadline of submission of the parish output was set on July 31, 1997.  What came about was that, the first to hand in the corrected Working Papers was the parish of Concepcion (July 11) and the last was that of Taft (September 18).  On the other hand, the first to submit the vision-mission was the parish of Llorente (July 11), while the last was that of Taft (Sept 15).  The output of these workshops on the Working Papers may be condensed as follows:


Area/
Parish

No of WP Treated

WP
Corrected

WP not Corrected

No. of Groups

No. of
Pax

Church-Based
Groups
Rep.

Civil
Groups
Rep.

Vision-MIssion

San Julian
11
17

1
20



Borongan
12
12

12
160
12
1
X
Lalawigan
14
12
2
9
47
9


Maydolong
24
14
2
23
232
11
18
X
Balangkayan
14
10
4
2
40
4
4
X
Llorente
17
17

1
9
2
7
X
Hernani
14
14

11
106
10
9

McArthur
24
11
13
18
128
8
11
X
Salcedo
26
19
7
10
133
11


Guiuan
25
25

25
356
14
19
X
Sulangan
4
4

4
58
6
3

Quinapondan
11
11






Giporlos
4
4

1
4


X
Balangiga
12
12

10
149
10
10
X
Lawaan
8
8






Sulat
26

26
16
133
10
2
X
Taft
8
5
3
8
132
16
10
X
Can-avid
26
20
6
26
390
16
2
X
Dolores
26
2
24
26
390
11
8
X
Oras
26
26

16
235
18
8
X
San Poli
7
7






Jipapad
15
8
7





Concepcion
17
17



4


Arteche




11



Matarinao








Casuguran








Mercedes








Religious
19
19

6
36
5

X
Clergy
21
26
3
3
17


X
BEC
26
26

21
335
6
10
X
                            
Total                                                               250       3,121                                    16

            Since the table does not fully mark the differences in what transpired in the second parish seminar-workshops, it might be germane to point out that in most parishes, these workshops began in either May or June:  May 4 (Salcedo), last week of May (San Policarpo, Mercedes), 1st week of June (Balangkayan, Balangiga, Hernani), June 2 (Guiuan), 3rd week of June (Arteche), June 14 (Lawaan).  Some started late because of their parish fiestas (Sulangan, Taft, Sulat), or because of the barangay election (Giporlos).  Still others had other limitations: the PSET did not attend the seminar in Guiuan, and the parish had a new parish priest (Lawaan).  As for the place of workshop, some parishes left to the the discussion groups initiative in selecting their own venue (Oras, Guiuan, Balangkayan, Lalawigan, Salcedo), others held the orientation in the parish church, and let the discussion groups chose their own venue for the workshop (San Policarpo, Balangkayan). For the group discussion of each area of concern, some parish let the PSET select the members of each discussion groups (Oras, MacArthur, Salcedo), others allowed the group leaders to choose their own members (Mercedes, Borongan, San Julian, Maydolong), but the BECs utilized the division by zone.

            The process of studying and deliberating on the Working Papers (WP) was the most varied:  WP were distributed to various professionals (Arteche), selected by groups (San Policarpo), divided among different barangays (Can-avid), given to participants for study, after which, they met for correction (Guiuan), assigned to participants for discussion (Mercedes), 17 WP were selected for discussion and allocation to different BEC groups (Quinapondan), apportioned among to cofradias and faith communities (Borongan, Maydolong, San Julian), were raffeled among various groups (Giporlos), parcelled out to different districts (Lawaan), or given as homework (Balangkayan).  Difficulties experienced at this stage include: some groups failed to forward the WP, others were late in submission (Maydolong, Borongan), the content was heavy (Salcedo), heavy and complicated (Lawaan), heavy and taxing (Balangiga); the changing of deadline of submission of WP lessened the
interest to finish the work early (Gen MacArthur); and lack of participants (varioius parishes).  How was the process facilitated? By group work (Guiuan, San Policarpo, Borongan, Salcedo, Lawaan, San Julian, Lalawigan, Sulat, Maydolong, Balangiga), meeting and personal visit to the barangays by the parish priest (Mercedes), and by homework (Giporlos, Gen MacArthur, Balangiga).  The number of groups organized for discussion were 26 (Guiuan, Borongan, San Policarpo, Gen MacArthur, Maydolong, Balangiga), 2 (Balangkayan, Arteche, Giporlos), 2-3(Balangiga).  District division was used in Lawaan, however.  Because of difficulties in meeting the number of participants for each group, the number of WP given to each group was sometimes 2 (Giporlos), or 2-3 (Salcedo), instead of only one.

            In moving on the next phase of  the synodal process, it might be helpful to provide a comparative chart on the number of delegates of each parish who attended the first (Data A) and second (Data B) parish seminar-workshops:

               Comparative Chart on Participation in Seminar I and Seminar II
       
               Northern and Central Regions:
                                                                           

                Southern Region:

                                               



THE STAGE OF SYNODAL PREPARATIONS

The Official Delegates.   Meanwhile, preparations were already under way for the celebration of the Synod proper.  As early as Feb 18, 1997, with the approval of Bishop Medroso, the presbyterium--as noted earlier--decided to hold the First Diocesan Synod of Borongan on Nov. 10-15, Monday through Saturday.  In its April 18 meeting, the clergy also approved to hold it at the Seminario de Jesus Nazareno, Borongan, Eastern Samar.  During the third presbyterium meeting on June 17, the clergy unanimously voted that a total of 93 delegates coming from all the parishes would attend the Synod proper.  This number, however, did not include those representing the sectoral groups, which was, at that time, still to be determined by the Bishop.  The distribution of the delegates per parish was as follows:  Borongan 5, Dolores 5, Guiuan 5, Llorente 5, Oras 5, Balangiga 4, Salcedo 4, Sulat 4, Taft 4, Can-avid 3, Giporlos 3, Hernani 3, Gen MacArthur 3, Maydolong 3, Quinapondan 3, Lawaan 3, San Julian 3, Arteche 2, Balangkayan 2, Buenavista 2, Casuguran 2, Concepcion 2,  Jipapad 2, Lalawigan 2, Maslog 2, Matarinao 2, Mercedes 2, San Policarpo 2, and Sulangan 2.  Just before the Synod, however, the following parishes had additional delegates:  Dolores 1, Can-avid 1, Maydolong 1, San Julian 1 and Buenavista 1.  Three parishes had only one delegate each:  Balangkayan, Matarinao, and Maslog.  As for the sectoral representatives, each region was asked to submit names, and in the end, the Bishop accepted 49 persons as sectoral delegates:  professionals 4, government employees 5, non-government organizations (NGOs 2; Pos 7) 9, Church movements, communities and organizations 12, basic ecclesial communities (BECs) 3, catechists 1, youth 4, media 2, business 2, special sectors (senior citizens and differently abled) 4, and invitati 3.
            To be sure, however, a total of 208 official delegates were summoned by Bishop Medroso, 44.7% of which were parish delegates, 23.6% sectoral representative, 4.8% religious, and 26.9% were clerics.  The actual number of delegates during the celebration proper, though, was only 198, 45.5% of which were parish delegates, 23.2% sectoral representatives, 5.1% religious, and 26.3%  clerics:

                           Comparative Data on Invited and Attending Delegates
                                                                              


                   Of the 198 actual delegaes, 42.9% were married, 26.3% clerics, 17.2% single, 7.1% widows, and 6.6% were religious:

                                             Civil Status of the Actual Delegates
                                                                          
     
       The delegates may be looked at from the different angle.  In terms of occupation, 28.8% of the lay delegates were teachers, 14.4% retires, 13.0% self-employed, 8.9% of national agencies, 8.9% religious, 8.2% from local government units, 4.1% elected officials, 2.7% housekeepers, 2.1% students, and 6.2% had no data.  In terms of age level, 24.7% of the lay delegates belong to the 51-60 age bracket, 19.2% to the 61-70, 18.5% to the 31-40, 17.8% to the 41-50, 12.3% to the 20-30, and 7.5% to the 70 above.  The following charts illustrate these data:

                                                            Occupation of Lay Delegates
                                                                                   

                                                                  Age Level of Lay Delegates
                                                              

            The priests, on the other hand, were mostly young in the priesthood, for 34.6% were 5 yrs in the priesthood or below,  28.8% were between 11-20 yrs, 13.5% between 6-10 yrs, 9.6% between 21-30 yrs, between 31-40 and 3.8% between 41-50.  According to age level, however, 38.5% were between ages 41 and 50, 23.2% between 31 and 40, 21.2% between 21 and 30, 9.6% between 61 and 70,
and 7.7% between 51 and 50.

                     Number of Years in the Ministry and Age Level of Clergy Delegates
                                                                         

            As resolved during the June 17, 1997 priest’s general assembly, all the lay delegates were to be recommended on the basis of five qualifications: (1) doctrinal formation, (2) good moral standing, (3) leadership qualities, (4) active involvement in apostolate, and (5) availability.  In that assembly, data sheets were distributed to all the priests for their delegates to fill up and submit on or before July 30, although the sheets, it came to pass, started coming back as early as July 18.  The personalized letters summoning all the delegates to attend the Synod were distributed from Sept 22 to Oct 15, 1997.  As of Nov 5, 1997, there were supposed to be 199 official delegates: clergy 56, religious women 10, parish delegates 93, and sectoral representatives 50.

The Final Draft of the Working Paper and Some Changes in Synodal Preparations.   If there was any knot with the synodal preparation, it was connected with the Working Paper. As early as the Nov 18-22, 1996 retreat of the clergy in Baguio City, the president informed Bishop Medroso that, judging from the progress of the parish seminars, it appeared that the regional pre-synodal assembly of all the delegates, during which the official participants of the Synod were to discuss for the first time the penultimate draft of the Working Paper, might be scrapped, however crucial it might be.  When the Executive Committee had a short meeting on June 16, 1997, he informed the Committee members that, with the approval of the
Bishop, the pre-synodal assembly,which was supposed to be the last leg in the synodal preparation, had to be omitted, because of the slow response of the participants and because of the time constraints.  The synodal process was then abridged:  after the submission of the collated comments by the religious, the BECs, the clergy and the lay in the different parishes on the firs draft of the Workign Paper, the general editor would have to make a synthesis, and then the edited document would serve as the final Working Paper.  Another modification was made.  Since the actual Synod would last only for a week, the document for the discussion would no longer include the situational analysis and the theological orientations, but would be limited to the vision-mission, the general orientations and decrees.  The Bishop consented to all this, with the stipulation, however, that the synthesis of the observations on the current situation and the theological orientations would appear in the full-length book.  It was already in October when comments on the Working Papers were all received, and the general editor began his work.  The edited draft was given to the Secretariat for reproduction, and was distributed to all the official delegates of the Synod on October 30-31, in the hope that, by Nov 7, final comments would be received for final incorporation.  Comments poured in.  Then, on Nov 8, the Bishop and the members of the Executive Committee (Rev Robredillo, Rev Amidar, Rev Geli, Rev Campo, Jr and Rev Rodeles) gathered for the final editing and revision of the draft.  The final Working Paper was printed on Nov 9.

The Subsidiary Committees of the Synod.   In another step in preparation of the Synod proper, the president, Rev Robredillo, during the 4th prebyterial assembly (Aug 19,1997) asked the body to nominate persons who could serve as chairmen and members of the Subsidiary Committees, subject to the blessing of the Bishop.  As approved, the following composed the committees: (1) Liturgy Committee: Rev Aljibe, chair; Sr Favorito, DC, Ms Martina Cabo, Rev Gonzales, Rev Robredillo; (2)
Registration and Information Committee:  Rev Porio, SDB; chair; Rev Manuel Lunario, Ms Clarita Corado; (3) Food Committee: Rev Rodeles, chair, Mo Gemma Silvero, MSH, Rev Ryan Lopez, Mr Moises Ty, Sr Milagros Gregorio, DC (4) Accomodation Committee: Rev Geli, chair; Rev Afable, Dr Iñigo Evardone, Mr Butch Cabrera; (5) Physical Arrangement Committee:  Ms Evangeline Pantaleon, chair; Rev Gayo, Rev Aniao, Rev Juderick Calumpiano and Mr Wilijado M Dadia; (6) Socials and Entertainment Committee: Rev Solidon, chair; Sr Ma Luisa Dy, RVM, Rev Amasa, Rev Obzunar, and Rev Corado (7) Transportation Committee: Rev Campo, Jr, chair; Hon Evangeline Cainday, Mr Allan Ambil, Mr Edgar Amoyo and Engr Jacinto Dadia (8) Medical Assistance Committee: Rev Juaban, chair; Dr Ethel Lagria, Dr Hegina E. Juaban, Dr Daniel Pomida, and Ms Carmela de Lira (9) Exhibit Committee: Rev Caliba; and (10) Communication, Update and Promotion Committee: Rev Amasa and Mr Edmundo Balan.

            The committee heads and members, presided over by Rev Geli, secretary general, had a general meeting for the first time on Sept. 15.  Then, each Committee scheduled its own meeting about its plans and programs (Registration, Sept. 19; Liturgy, Sept 20; Transportation, Medical and Food, Sept. 22; Accomodation, Sept 23; Socials and Physical Arrangement, Oct. 1).  Finally, on Nov 5, they finalized their plans and programs and established proper coordination.  How each committee functioned and contributed to the over-all success of the Synod will be exhibited in the blow-by-blow account of the Synod proper.  It may be admitted, to begin with, that 8 hand-held radios lent to the various committees were of much help in the communication (Medical Assistance 2, Transportation 3, Mobile 1, Food 2, Secretariat 2, Physical Arrangement 2, Registration 1 and Socials 1).

The Synodal Preparation by the Secretariat.   Being a part of the nerve center of the synodal process, the Secretariat was among the busiest synodal compartment.  In the first place, all the Subsidiary Committees II (Working Committees) were directly responsible to it.  It is for this reason that, during the General Secretariat meeting on 11 Oct, it named coordinators, whose main job was to oversee the developments of all the committees at the Stage of Synodal Preparations, to promote efficiency in the work of the different committees.  The were Mr Mosquisa (Liturgy), Mr Lumactod, Jr (Exhibit, Registration and Information), Judith Arma (Food), Rev Geli (Accomodation and Maintenance), Ms Pinarok (Socials and Entertainment, Communication, Update and Promotion), Mr Geronimo Cidro (Transportation and Physical Arrangement), Ms Baria (Medical Assistance) and Ms Picardal (Finance).  Secondly, in preparation of the actual work of the Secretariat officers divided the assiginments:  the Borongan theology students of  St John the Evangelist School of  Theology (Palo, Leyte) were to serve as documentors and transcribers, Mr Lumactod and Sem Panfilo Garcia III as photographers, Ms Baria as encoder, Mr Ben Erro as utility manager, Ms Pinarok as custodian, Ms Arma as liason officer.

            But the physical straining work of the General Secretariat, especially for Mr Lumactod and Ms Pinarok, was the production of most items in the synodal kit, which started as early as July 2, with the encoding of the Samareño Liturgy of the Hours by Ms Pinarok (Its publication was a combined effort of the Secretariat, the Commission on Liturgy and the seminarians at the Seminario de Jesus Nazareno).  The kit was quite bulky, since it contained 19 items: schedule of activities, schedule of liturgy, liturgical songs, liturgy of the hours, directory of participants, officers and personnel, synodal prayer, final draft of the Working Paper,  procedural norms, order of group sessions, workshop groupings, lodging assignments, intervention sheets, blank sheets, list of parish financial contributors, evaluation form, ID, notebook and pen.  Tasked with putting all these materials on the Synod bags, which were given free, were the seminarians of the Nativity of Our Lady College Seminary and Seminario de Jesus Nazareno.  The kits were given to the Registration Committee for
distribution.  Synod T-Shirts, which bore the poster design, were sold at half the price to delegates, although each of the clergy received free T-Shirt.  It is to be acknowledge, however, that the General Secretariat was greatly helped by Mr Elvie Gayosa, who works as Samar Island representative at the Visayas Secretariat of Social Action (VISSA) in Cebu City for the purchase of office supplies, and for the printing of posters and T-Shirts.  Meanwhile, copies of the synod poster, were distributed in the third week of October in all the parishes, schools and other important places throughout the province of Eastern Samar.  On Oct. 22, streamers, which heralded the synodal celebration, were posted in strategic and conspicuous places in Taft, Gen MacArthur and Borongan.  And just a week before the actual celebration, two billboards of the Synod were put up on the church park of Borongan and at the entrance to the Seminario de Jesus de Nazareno in Campesao, Borongan.

            Suffice it to say at this juncture that when the day of celebration began, almost everything was all set and, it later came off, transpired almost exactly as planned.  The services of Mr Mario Bertos, a video cameraman, was availed of to document the momentous event.  During the Synod days, all the Basic Ecclesial Communities organized prayer groups, several Catholic schools prayed for its success, and the members of the Community of the Risen Lord Jesus held a vigil at the Borongan Cathedral on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

THE STAGE OF SYNODAL CELEBRATION

Day One:  Arrivals.   The Synod celebration actually started on Nov 9, with the registration of delegates at the Merchweiller Hall, behind the Borongan Cathedral, where the delegates, through the help of Rev Porio, SDB, Rev Lunario, Mr Cabrera, and rest of the Registration Committee, were provided with blue bags containing the synod kit and were informed of their accomodation.  When supper at the Seminario de Jesus Nazareno was over, the lay men were brought to the Eastern Samar Educational and Cultural Center (ESECC), the lay women remained in the seminary, and the religious went to their respective houses, while the diocesan priests were billeted at the bishop’s residence.  These places, even before the registration started, were already prepared, through the efforts of Rev Geli, Dr Evardone, Mr Cabrera, Fr Afable and other members of the Accomodation Committee.  The seminarians at Seminario de Jesus Nazareno served as ushers at ESECC and SJN.  It may be also remarked that the transport of delegates during the entire week was med possible by
Rev Campo, Jr, Ms Evangeline Cainday, other members of the Transportation Committee, and thanks to Mr Justino Cainday who made available some units from the JK Boy Bus Services.  Meanwhile, doctors and nurses maintained a desk at the seminary lobby, and an ambulance was always parked on stand-by, courtesy of Rev Juaban, together with Dr Ethel Lagria and other medical employees of the Provincial Health Office  who formed the Medical Committee.  (During the entire synodal celebration, only one delegate, Atty Dala, was sent to the hospital; but medicine, when needed, was offered free of charge.)  At the lobby too, were exhibits on some aspects of the Synod and the diocese, provided by Rev J. Caliba and the other members of the Exhibit and Souvenir Program Committee.

Day Two:  Opening Liturgy, Plenary Session on the Church In Itself.   The formal opening of the Synod began the next day, Nov 10, with a Stational Mass, presided over by the Msgr Medroso, with almost all the diocesan and religious clergy concelebrating.  In charge of the liturgy of the entire week were Rev Aljibe and the members of the Liturgy Committee.  The liturgical celebration was prefaced with a creative dance rendered by the Lalawigan catechists under Sr Favorito, DC.  The Borongan Youth Chorale, which led the singing, sang “Himno han Sinodo,” the synodal hymn.  During the mass, at which he stressed that God is the principal source of renewal and the faithful are mere agents and co-workers, the Bishop read the decree formally opening the Synod.  Then, the delegates were recognized and made the Profession of Faith in Samarenyo.  From the Cathedral, they proceeded to the Bishop Reyes Hall at the Seminario de Jesus Nazareno.  (The hall, like the other parts of the building used during the entire celebration, including their decoration, sound system, and cleanliness maintenance, was placed under the responsibility of Ms Evangeline Pantaleon and the members of the Physical Arrangement Committee.).  The Bible was solemnly enthroned, led by Rev Ryan Lopez.  The enthronement of the image of Mary, the Mother of God, with Rev Gonzales as minister, followed. Before lunch was served, Rev Robredillo, president, gave a general orientation to the Synod celebration, while Rev Geli, secretary general, using a chart, explained the norms and procedures of the Synodal celebration to the delegates.

            In the afternoon, the First Plenary Session, in the presence of the Most Rev Medroso, DD, Bishop of Borongan, who presided over the entire 5-day celebration of the Synod, began with Rev Amidar, vice-president, as facilitator. After the presentation of the situationer and theology on Cluster One of the decrees on the Church in Itself  by Rev Caliba, the participants were divided into 8 workshop groups for the discussion and approval of the decrees.  Each group had a facilitator, and a secretary:

            Group Facilitator                                        Secretary

Rev Benito Noroña                                                   Mrs Aurea Amano
Mrs Germana Pomarejos                                        Ms Myrna Gagatiga
Mrs Bernarda Abuda                                               Mrs Meren Yauna
Mr Angel D Balderama                                           Mrs Estefa A Padit
Rev Venancio Amidar                                             Ms Arminda D Siso
Mrs Eutropia S Pimentel                                         Mrs Isabel Abella
Mrs Lydia Benitez                                                     Mr Arnel Balbin
Mrs Margie dela Cruz                                              Dr Mario Baconawa

Supper was preceded by a recap of the day’s activities by Rev Belizar, Jr and a common celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours in Samarenyo.  To entertain the delegates in the evening, “Welcome to Borongan” was presented, emceed by Rev Obzunar and Rev Corado.  The Eugenio Daza Elem. School teachers, Knights of Columbus, Charismatic Music Ministry, Mrs Gloria Duran, Rev Gañas and Mo Gemma Silvero, MSH, contributed numbers.  (Of course, Rev Solidon and the members of the Social and Entertainment Committee were responsible for the nightly entertainment, including the maintenance of the mini-bar).  Meanwhile, the facilitators of the group discussions, together with Rev Robredillo, Rev Amidar, and Rev Geli, made a synthesis of the output of the group discussions.  In preparation of the next day’s deliberation, the synthesis was given to the secretariat for printing.  Needless to say, the documentation and all other paper works were handled by Mr Mosquisa, Mr Lumactod, Ms Pinarok and other members and volunteers of the Secretariat, Ms Baria, Ms Picardal, Ms Ibarbia and Ms Arma, under Rev Geli, not mention the SJC (Saint Joseph College) High School Batch ‘83 (Ms Gondelyn Sabate, Ms Melanie Lou Garcia, Ms Nelfa Basada).  The theology seminarians of the diocese (Sems Lito Amande, Raul Jamie Anacta, Joaquin Bertos, Glenn Borita, Roniel Canillas, Carlo Carlon, Meljun Diasanta, Priscillano Elardo, Jr, Elmer Guira, Rey David Loyola, Jacinto Pagapos, Panfilo Garcia and Marlon Bagacay) served the Secretariat as documentors in the plenary assembly, workshop groups and synthesis discussions.

Day Three:  Plenary Session on the Inner Life of the Church.   The third day, Nov 11, started with a eucharistic celebration, with Msgr Japzon as main celebrant.  the Charismatic Community of the Risen Lord music ministry served as choir, while Rev Rodeles delivered a homily on “servanthood and service.”  After the communal recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, and the short explanation by Rev Robredillo on the meaning of the synodal theme (“Radicati et Superaedificati in Christo”),  the First Plenary Session continued.  Using colored cards, the whole assembly voted on each of the 66 proposed decrees of Cluster One on the People of God in Itself (dealing on family and life, youth, women, catechists, migrant workers, religious, clergy and seminarians).  Although there were few interventions, which were read after Rev Geli screened them, the first session ended at around 1:00 pm with the recitation of the synodal prayer, earlier composed by Msgr Japzon, PA.  The plenary assembly nixed 2 resolutions (12 and 25).

            The Second Plenary Session began in the afternoon, Rev Asebias, Jr facilitating. Rev Edwin Lanuevo gave a situational and theological introduction to Cluster Two (the Inner Life of the Church) of the decrees involving spirituality, worship, catechesis and evangelization, fundamentalism, Iglesia ni Kristo, prisoner and inculturation.  As happened on the first day, these were discussed and voted on in the group workshops and, again, their output was synthesized and printed.  Recap, evening prayer and supper followed.  (It should not be forgotten that the meal preparations during the Synod were the efforts of Rev Rodeles, Rev Lopez, Mr Ty, the chief,  Sr Silvero, MSH, and other members of the Food Committee. Superb was the work offered by the MSH sisters who stood as table servers).  After the meal, students from the St Joseph’s College, through Mr Jessie Tentativa, entertained the delegates with dances.  As in previous night, the participants went to their respective boarding places after the show.  But they slept with assurance that the surroundings were safe, what with the services of the Philippine National Police (PNP) of Borongan.

Day Four: Plenary Session on the Church in Its Mission.   On the fourth day, Rev Afable presided over the eucharistic celebration, with Rev Honorio Aniano as homilist, focusing on Jesus, the healer of the whole man.  The Knights of Columbus choir sang.  Then the delegates proceeded to the seminary grounds for the pictore taking.  After the usual breakfast and celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, the Second Plenary Session briefly paused to listen to the explanation of Rev Amasa, the synodal artist, on the synodal logo and poster.  He was assisted by Mr Edmundo Balan, another artist. (Both of them were responsible for the update, promotion of the Synod and the decoration of the venues).  Then, with the delegates feeling the warmth of the hall because the ESAMELCO power supply went pfft, the session continued, and each of the 63 proposed synodal decrees of Cluster Two on the Inner Life of the Church was voted on.  Assisted by Sem Carlo Carlong and other theology seminarians, Mr Mosquisa was in charge of the difficult task of counting the votes.  Resolution 81 was disapproved.  A few interventions preceded the voting of a number of them.  The session ended with the recitation of the synodal prayer in English in time for lunch at 12:00 noon.
            In the afternoon, Rev Solidon, facilitator, opened the Third Plenary Session, and Rev Inocentes Abuda read the presentation paper which gave a situational and theological orientation to the resolutions included in Cluster Three on the Mission of the Church.  These resolutions were then discussed and voted on in all the 8 workshop groups into which all the delegates were divided.  Liturgy of the Hours and supper followed the wrap up given to the assembly by Rev Belizar, Jr.  Meanwhile, at around 6:15, the seminary was enveloped in darkness because the magnet wire of the seminary generator burnt, but soon Mr Cainday dispatched his generator and saved the day.  At 8:00 pm, Rev Juderick Paul L Calumpiano ministered in the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, while the group facilitators spent the evening synthesizing the workshop output in preparation of the next day’s continuation of the plenary session.

Day Five:  Plenary Session on the Church on Its Institutions.   The presider of the eucharistic celebration which began the fifth day was Msgr Amistoso.  In his homily, Rev Alconaba developed the theme of the Kingdom of God.  The Community of the Risen Lord music ministry led the singing for the second time.  Breakfast and morning prayer followed.  To continue the Third Plenary Session started the previous day, Rev Solidon presided the assembly, and took up each of the 33 resolutions pertaining to the Mission of the Church, grouped according to the following topics: Church and politics, economic development, peace and social justice, ecology, disaster preparedness, and special social concerns.  Though interventions on some resolutions were read before being voted on, the session was quite fast, as it was over with the recitation of the English synodal paper, 20 minutes before noon.  An hour later, the ESAMELCO power supply came back.

            Rev Picardal facilitated the Fourth Plenary Session, which started with the Samarenyo synodal prayer and the presentation of the situation and theological introduction to Cluster Four of the synodal decrees by Msgr Quitorio III.  This cluster of decrees, which pertain to the Church in Its Institutions, Movements and Communities, was immediately discussed and each decree was voted on in the 8 workshop groups.  The output these groups were collated by the synthesizers who worked to make it a unified document.  After the group workshops, the delegates went back to the plenary hall to listen to the recap of Rev Belizar, Jr, and then pray the Liturgy of the Hours.  “ESSC Night”, a variety show presented by the students of Eastern Samar State College courtesy of Mr Rodrigo Aserit, entertained the delegates in the evening.

Day Six:  Plenary Session on the Vision, Mission, General Orientation and Implementation.  The sixth day, Nov 15, began with a mass presided over by Msgr Santos A Paco, HP, with the seminarians of the Nativity of Our Lady College Seminary leading the assembly in singing.  Rev Campo, Jr delivered a homily with “Evening Came, Morning Followed” for its theme.  Breakfast and Liturgy of the
Hours followed the eucharistic celebration.  At 8:00 am, Rev Picardal continued the Fourth Plenary Session with the voting of all the 67 proposed decrees of Cluster Four, which were grouped under the following headings: media and communication, Catholic schools, basic ecclesial communities, formation centers, religious organizations and renewal movements, temporalities and parish pastoral councils.  As in the previous days, many interventions were read, after having been screened by Rev Geli.  The session adjourned at around 12:30 and lunch was immediately served.

            The Fifth Plenary Session, the final one, began at 12:15 with Sr Gerodias, RVM, facilitating Ms Marie Jane B Asadon, a BEC diocesan pastoral worker, introduced the vision-mission, the general orientation and implementation decrees of the Synod.  After this, the assembly broke up into groups for the workshop which was devoted to making comments and suggestions for revision of the vision, mission and the general orientation.  Only the 11 implementation decrees were voted on.  The groups having finished the workshop, they proceeded to the plenary hall for the evening prayer, while the group facilitators and the executive officers made the final synthesis.  Unfortunately, the continuation of the Fifth Plenary Session was delayed because of brown out and because no generator was available; owing to human error, that of Mr Cainday broke down the day earlier.  Fortunately, the ESAMELCO power supply was restored.  The last item to be deliberated on was an amendment on resolution 35, which was unanimously approved.  It was already around 7:15 pm when the last session was over.

            Then Rev Belizar having given the recap, the Eastern Samar National Comprehensive High School’s Rayhak Theater Arts Group (ESNCHS-RTAG) presented the highly acclaimed “Samut Sari:  A Synergy of Songs, Dances and Drama”, featuring “”Excerpts from Miss Saigon”, by the Dramatic Guild under Mr Ramon Gonzales, “The Day of Conquistadores” and “Bahandi” by the Rayhak Dance Troupe under Mr Neil Alejandro A Pinarok, and intermission numbers by the Glee Club under Mr Blanco. This being the last evening, dinner was tendered at the seminary tennis court, where the delegates were divided according to the vicariates they belong to.  Among others, four big lechons were served and 20 cases of beer and hard drinks freely flowed.  Each of the 6 vicariates of the diocese were asked to give a number to the program, emceed by Rev Obzunar and Rev Nemesio L Quiloña.  The evening affair was entitled “Evening Came and Morning Followed” with Mrs Lydia Benitez, a San Policarpo delegate, opening it with her, insightful “Impressions on the Synod.”  The evening affair ended at around 2:00 am, though some still had the stamina to prolong it.

Day Seven:  Closing Liturgy, Appreciations and Departures.   The delegates woke up quite late in the morning.  After the Liturgy of the Hours and breakfast, they proceeded to DYVW grounds on Baybay Blvd. to witness the solemn ground-breaking ceremonies of the Nativity of Our Lady College Seminary new building site.  Then, the delegates were transported to the Cathedral for the closing rites.  As in the beginning, so in the end: the Most Rev Medroso presided over the eucharistic celebration, with almost all of the diocesan priests concelebrating.  The Sabang Choir animated the community singing.  Before the Most Rev Medroso read the decree declaring the synodal celebration formally closed, Rev Robredillo, president, offered some words of appreciation to all who gave their share to make the Synod succeed, Rev Amidar, vice-president, read the “Final Statement of the Delegates to the People of God” in Eastern Samar, the Bishop, assisted by Rev Geli, secretary general, distributed the Certificates of Appreciation and, finally, Rev Afable led the singing of the “Te Deum”.  The celebration of the Synod ended at exactly 12:00 noon.  Lunch having been served at the high school seminary, the delegates started departing for home.


THE STAGE OF SYNODAL DECREES PROMULGATION

Editorial Work.   In preparation of the promulgation of the decrees, the Bishop and the Executive Committee reached a decision to name a number of persons who could provide assistance in editing the version of the decrees of the Synod approved by the assembly.  Suggested to Bishop Medroso were Mrs Margarita T dela Cruz, Rev Belizar, Jr, Rev Asebias, Jr, Rev Picardal, Rev Opalalic, Jr., Mrs Benitez, Atty Esmene Tomenio-Azul, Dr Nelsie Loste, Ms Marietta Pombo, Mrs Edita Sepulvida, Atty Henry Juaban, Rev Geli, Rev Amidar, and Rev Robredillo.  The list was given to the Bishop who communicated with them on Dec. 14, 1997.  In this letter to them, the Bishop, however, made it clear that in the process, they would have to observe an important norm, namely, that in principle the substance of the decrees would not be changed, since they have been approved in the Assembly and since, owned by the official delegates, they represent the mind of Christ’s faithful in the diocese.  Their job was basically to see if there were any inconsistencies in the decrees or if any improvement on the formulation could still be made.  The Secretariat collected the unsubmitted comments on Jan. 6, 1998.  On Jan 8, at 3:00 pm, the Bishop conferred with the Executive Committee members (Rev Robredillo, president, Rev Amidar, vice-president, Rev Geli, secretary general) to deliberate on the suggestions made by those asked to comment on the approved version and to determine the final version of the decrees.  The deliberations could not be finished, and so they had to hold another long session on Jan 15, starting at 6:00 pm.  Meanwhile, the Secretariat continued encoding data for publication of the booklet on the Acts and Decrees of the Synod.

Promulgation Day.   In accord with the plan submitted to the Dec. 30, 1997 meeting of the presbyterium at Seminario de Jesus Nazareno, the promulgation of the decrees of the First Diocesan Synod of Borongan was scheduled on Feb 28, 1998.  It was announced that all the delegates would have to return to Borongan for the promulgation, and it was agreed that the Food, Physical Arrangement, Liturgy and Transportation Committees of the Synod would be re-activated.  On Feb 26-27, 1998, all the delegates gathered again at the Seminario de Jesus Nazareno, Borongan, Eastern Samar, to attend a two-day seminar on Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), facilitated by Rev Dr Amado Picardal, CSSR, a specialist on the BECs.  The reason for the seminar was that the formation of the BECs was the pastoral thrust of the
diocese, according to the synodal decrees.  The next day, the Most Rev Medroso presided over the Stational Mass at the Cathedral of the Nativity of Our Lady, during  which he solemnly promulgated the decrees of the Synod.  Copies of the Acts and Decrees of the Synod have been distributed to the delegates earlier.  Before the solemn act of promulgation, the decrees were introduced by the president, Rev Robredillo.  Then the Bishop read the decree of promulgation.  Mrs Lydia Benitez, delegate from San Policarpo, gave a response on behalf of the lay delegates, Sr Arreglo, DC, chair of the Commission on the BECs, read a response on behalf of the religious, and Rev Quiloña, responded on behalf of the diocesan clergy.  The three-day affair was capped with a dinner served at the Seminario de Jesus Nazareno, Borongan.

CONCLUSION

            In more ways than one, the First Diocesan Synod of Borongan may be considered the greates event in the history of the diocese.  Never before has the diocese gathered all the clergy, religious representatives and a great number of lay women and men for nearly a week to discuss matters affecting its life and mission in a collective manner.  Never in its recent history has the diocese involved itself in a diocesan-wide fund raising and never have the parishes met their quota in so short time.  Never before has the diocese engaged for more than a year in a collective and participative preparation which involved all the parishes in terms of educating the laity and the clergy on the theology of Vatican II.  Never before has the diocese celebrated a Synod in its 37-year of existence of the diocese.  But the greatest significance of the Synod most likely consists in that, in the Holy Spirit, lay women and men, religious and the diocesan clergy together envisioned what kind of local Church the diocese will hopefully turn out to be in the years ahead.

            The newness of that vision can be gleaned from a comparison of the vision-mission formulated in 1990 and that of the First Synod.  In July 1990, when the diocesan priests, with the help of experts from Manila, were engaged in pastoral planning for five days at the bishop’s residence, they drafted a diocesan vision-mission which reads:

            The Diocese of Borongan aspring to fulfill the Kingdom of God in the liturgical, evangelical and socio-economic ministry to the people of Eastern Samar seeks to: (a) become a concerned and responsive Christian Community; (b) ameliorate the quality of life; (c) assist in the total development and proper conservation of our natural resources; (d) generate the optimum utilization of human resources, and; (e) attain peace in the structures, formation programs, media, linkages, mobilized local and external resources, and income generating projects (IGPs) in the spirit of the Gospel and collaboration of the Faith.

            On the other hand, the vision and mission which were formulated at the last session of the synod states:

Vision

            We, the people of God of the Diocese of Borongan, envision ourselves as a family of communities of disciples, who live an integrated form of spirituality, promote communion and participation among our members, foster holistic formation in the faith through our various communities, renewal movements and institutions, and with a love of preference for the poor, journey in faith toward total social transformation in the realization of the Kingdom of God in the here and now.


Mission

            To evangelize the Christian faithful and, as pastoral thrust, to form them into basic ecclesial communities of disciples, under various names and forms, as a way of being Church;

            To promote among the community members--especially lay women and men, children and youth--participation and shared responsibility, fostering the humble exercise of their service roles in and for the life and ministry in the community in the spirit of the Servant of Yahweh;

            To be rooted in, nourished, and transformed by the Word of God and sacraments, to integrate personal sanctification and social transformation in personal and communitarian life; to be built up in Christ and give account of the faith; and celebrate that faith in and through the community, especially in the Eucharist celebrations.

            To establish or strengthen the community’s agents of renewal for the systematic and integral evangelization and formation of all the Christian faithful; and with a love of preference for the poor and the disadvantaged in the community, to work together, in a journey in faith, toward the integral human development and liberation and the total transformation of society.


            Although it be unnecessay to draw the ecclesiological implications, it is not difficult to affirm that a comparison between the two would indicate a difference in ecclesiology and pastoral approach, and how far the faithful moved in their self-understanding.  But of importance in the Synod is the self-realization that the diocese is a Church of communion and participation, expressed in basic ecclesial communities, in which lay women and men, in more ways than one, are co-workers in the realization of that vision.  Equally important, that communitarian vision of a Church now provides the diocese with a blue print by means of which it can chart the future and therefore take steps, through the diocesan and parish pastoral plans, to achieve its mission.  If, in the past, the people of the diocese went about being members of the Church without an awareness of their collective identity and clear direction, now they have a self-understanding which they can always compare themselves with and look forward to both in their life and work.  Truth tell, this is the third time that the diocese formulated its own vision-mission, the first time during the retreat of the presbyterium in Antipolo, Rizal on Nov 1-13, 1983, facilitated by the Southeast Asia Interdisciplinary Development Institute (SAIDI).  While there are various reasons why the first and second vision-mission formulated failed to materialize, it is not farfetched to say that, among other major reasons, they lacked implements by means of which the mission could be translated into programs of action.  But if the Synod has any advantage at all, it is that it provides concrete measures for renewal, which can be drawn from the individual synodal decrees.

            But as the vision, mission and decrees bear it out, of no less importance is the implication that the Synod posits a paradigm shift in the self-understanding of the lay women and men, the religious and the clergy as a local Church.  From a Church highly dominated by clerics to a Church in which the laity participate, from a Church which is mainly sacrementalized to a Church which gives priority to evangelization and formation, from a Church of individuals who work out their own salvation to a Church of various forms of communities that a collectively try to achieve integral liberation, from a Church which views social services as a form of charity to a Church which considers it as integral part of its mission, from an institutional Church to a Church which fosters the humble exercise of service roles in the spirit of the Servant of Yahweh--all this constitutes a change in Church paradigm.  Such being the case, it would be futile and serious mistake to expect that all these shifts can happen overnight.  The translation of knowledge of the shift to eccelisial life and practice is far from easy, for this presupposes that the paradigm shift is first assimilated into one’s own frame of mind and outlook, which is hardly the same as knowing it.  A government may change its model from dictatorship to democracy, but such change in no way guarantees the immediate disapperance of outlook, behavior and action easily identified with a dictatorial government.  But what is important is that change had began.  After all, a journey of thousand miles, as a Chinese maxim goes, begins with one step.*


(Acknowledgement:  This history of the First Diocesan Synod of Borongan could not have appeared in its present form had not been for the invaluable assistance, specially in terms of content, charts, tables and statistical data, of Ms Yelina A. Pinarok.  She is likewise responsible for some of the original paragraphs--Lope C. Robredillo, Editor in Chief.)


PART II: 
THE VISION, MISSION AND DECREES
OF THE FIRST SYNOD OF THE
DIOCESE OF BORONGAN

Radicati et Superaedificati in Christo (Col 2:7)

VISION

            We, the people of God of the Diocese of Borongan, envision ourselves as a family of communities of disciples, who live an integrated from of spirituality, promote communion and participation among our members, foster holistic formation in the faith through our various communities, renewal movements and institutions, and, with a love of preference for the poor, journey in faith toward total social transformation in the realization of the Kingdom of God in the here and now.

MISSION

            1.  To evangelize the Christian faithful and, as pastoral thrust, to form them into basic ecclesial communities of disciples, under various names and forms, as a way of being Church;

            2.  To promote among the community members--especially lay women and men, children and youth--participation and  shared responsibility, fostering the humble exercise of their service roles in and for the life and ministry in the community in the spirit of the Servant of Yahweh;

            3.  To be rooted in, nourished, and transformed by the Word of  God and sacraments; to integrate personal sanctification and social transformation in personal and communitarian life; to be built up in Christ and give account of the faith; and celebrate that faith in and through the community, especially in the Eucharistic Celebrations;

            4.  To establish or strengthen the community’s agents or renewal for the systematic and integral evangelization and formation of all the Christian faithful; and

            5.  With a love of preference for the poor and the disadvantaged in the community, to work together, in a journey in faith, toward the integral human development and liberation and the total transformation of society.


SYNODAL DECREES

I. GENERAL ORIENTATIONS

1.  The resolutions of the First Diocesan Synod of Borongan embody the concrete measures of Christ’s faithful in Eastern Samar to renew the diocese in the light of the Second Vatican Council, the Code of Canon Law, and Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) vis-a-vis the current situation in the diocese so as to realize its collective vision of a transformed local Church.

2.  The resolutions will become decrees after having been promulgated by the Bishop of Borongan, who is the sole legislator of the diocese.  Once promulgated, they will serve as laws which regulate and give orientation and direction to the life and mission of the local Church.

3.  All diocesan and parish communities, renewal movements, organizations, ministries and programs must be directed and oriented toward the establishment, growth and nurturing of basic ecclesial communities (BECs).

4.  The decrees shall be mandatory, and shall be implemented and followed by all the Christia faithful of the Diocese of Borongan, unless the Bishop explicitly defer the implementation of any relevant decrees.

5.  Any diocesan norms, statutes or customs which are contrary to the decrees of the Synod shall be deemed revoked.


II.  THE PEOPLE OF GOD IN ITSELF

6.  A Church of communion among the laity, the diocesan clergy and the religious shall be promoted.  Both the exclusive control by clergy and religious and the virtual domination by the laity in pastoral decisions and activities shall be avoided.


III.  LAITY

7.  The formation of the laity which, among others, educates them in faith, fosters the exercise of service roles in the life and ministry of the Diocese of Borongan, and orients them toward the formation of basic ecclesial communities, shall receive the highest priority in pastoral programs both at the diocesan and parochial levels.

8. The laity shall actively participate in the management, i.e., planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of pastoral programs intended for their benefit at both diocesan and parochial levels, and shall be encouraged to put their talents and charisms in the service of the local Church.

9.  The diocese shall facilitate the creation of the Council of the Laity, to be composed of lay women and men selected from among the members of all Parish Pastoral Councils, with clearly defined nature and functions.

A.  Family and Life            

10.  Through the Diocesan Commission on Family and Life, the diocese shall formulate a program on family and life, which shall provide, among others, for various forms of catecesis and activities to promote Christian family values, family spirituality and responsible parenthood, based on the Gospel and the revered Traditions of the Church.

11.  A Pastoral program shall be drawn up for those in broken homes, abused spouses, single parents, and battered or abused children.  Linkages with relevant government agencies shall be highly encouraged.

12.  The members of the Diocesan Matrimonial Tribunal shall disseminate information on its nature, functions and procedures.

B.  Youth

13.  The diocese shall establish an office for the Episcopal Vicar for Youth and a Youth Center. (cf PCP II, 51, 2).

14.  The Diocesan Commission on Youth shall design a systematic and comprehensive program that, among others, includes catechesis, Bible study, spirituality formation, leadership and skillss training, annual youth encounter and sporsfest; and shall orient the youth toward the formation of basic ecclesial communities.

15.  The youth shall be represented in the Parish Pastoral Councils and in the Council of the Laity.

16.  A parish youth ministry shall be established in every parish with the support of the parish priest and in coordination with the Diocesan Commission on Youth.  Such ministry shall creatively involve the youth in the Church’s mission of evangelization and in socio-eco-cultural and political action for social transformation in line with the social teachings of the Church. 

17.  The diocese and all the parishes shall allocate funds for youth programs.

18.  The Diocesan Commission on Youth shall establish linkages with the government sector, non-government organizations (NGOs) and other groups in creating youth programs.

19.  The Diocesan Commission on Youth shall put up a publication.

20.  A Parish Youth Day shall be celebrated in every parish every year, and a Diocesan Youth Day every after three years.


C. Women

21.  A Desk on Women shall be established to formulate and implement programs which, among others, shall value their dignity, protect their rights, and address such problems as domestic violence and violence against women.

D. Catechists

22.  Every parish, under the leadership of the parish priest, shall organize a group of catechists responsible for the catechetical apostolate.

23.  All kinds of catechists shall receive an on-going formation, which shall be instituted by the Commission on Catechesis.

E. Migrant Workers

24.  A Diocesan Commission on Migrants shall be established to provide pastoral care for, and coordinate parish programs on migrant workers.

25.  The parish program for migrant workers shall among others, include the establishment of an organization of families of migrant workers which may serve as a support group promote and defend their dignity and rights, and as a forum for sharing common problems and experiences.


II.  RELIGIOUS (MEN AND WOMEN)

26.  The religious shall live out their respective charisms in the context of, and in harmony with, the diocesan vision and mission.

27.  The religious shall, at the diocesan level and in the parishes in which they reside,  willingly cooperate in pastoral work that includes among others, campus ministry, and especially the building of basic ecclesial communities.

28.  The religious shall be represented in the Diocesan Pastoral Secretariat and in the Diocesan Pastoral Council.

29.  An Office of Episcopal Vicar for the Religious shall be created.  Among others, it shall establish linkage and coordination with the Bishop and the diocesan clergy.

30.  The diocesan priests and the religious shall support each other in the evangelical work for justice and the empowerment of the poor.

31.  An association of all religious men and women shall be established.

32.  The religious shall submit to the Curia their respective policies for recruitment, screening, and admission of candidates.

33.  The diocesan clergy and the religious shall keep each other informed of their respective apostolic situation and programs for better pastoral collaboration and coordination.

34.  All forms of apostolate, in which the religious are engaged, shall be properly coordinated with the relevant Commissions of the diocese.

35.  Programs and activities shall be organized to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between the religious and the diocesan priests.


III. CLERGY AND SEMINARIANS

A. Vocation

36.  A vocation committee, composed of the parish priest, religious, lay women and men, shall be established in all parishes.  It shall promote priestly and religious vocations, the screening of candidates to the seminary and serve as evaluation committee for seminarians on regency or on summer apostolate.

B. Formation

37.  The structure of the seminary community shall be so organized as to reflect a basic ecclesial community.

38.  The diocesan seminaries shall have a regular evaluation in terms of their relevance, goals and objectives, thrust and their programs in all aspects of formation.

39.  The training of seminarians shall be such that they become aware of the pastoral thrust of the diocese and that they are able to exercise transparency, participation, love for the poor and servant  leadership.

40.  The diocesan seminaries shall submit an annual report on the performance of seminarians to their foster/parents, their benefactors, their parish priest and Bishop.

41.  The whole people of God in the diocese shall actively involve themselves in pooling resources for the construction and maintenance of seminary plants.  Toward this end, lay associations shall be organized in all parishes, and a committee shall be tasked to devise ways and means whereby the whole diocese can contribute toward their realization.

42.  The Commission on Vocation and Major Seminarians shall come up with a long range program for major seminarians’ summer apostolate. Such program shall include, among others, their orientation to the basic ecclesial communities.

43.  An organization of parents of college and theology seminarians shall be established.

44.  Once a seminarian petitions for ordination to the diaconate, the parish priests and lay people of the parishes where the ordinants worked during summer, was engaged in apostolate, or stayed, shall be consulted.

45.  Before being ordained priest, a candidate shall undergo a diaconal program of at least one year, which includes, among others, teaching, residency with the Bishop, pastoral immersion in basic ecclesial communities, and hospital work.  He may be also asked to avail himself of summer job opportunities.  Priests and lay faithful shall be consulted before his ordination.

46.  The diocese shall frame a holistic program for the regular on-going formation (human, intellectual, spiritual, and pastoral) of the clergy.  Such program, shall stress biblical, theological and canonical updating, pastoral management, psycho-sexual and emotional development, and spritual growth.

47.  The diocesan priests shall strive to attain a ministerial spirituality which is rooted in prayer, nourished by the Word and sacraments, strengthened by fellowship with their brother-priests and the community, and expressed in faithful witnessing to and in shepherding of the flock.

C.  Relationships

48.  Guidelines shall be codified to help established smooth personal relationships among priests, and define wholesome relationship between the parish priest and the parochial vicars in the spirit of fraternity, equality, collegiality and co-responsibility.

49.  The relationship among priests shall be marked equality, fraternity, mutual respect and trust in the spirit of Christian discipleship.  To achieve such relationship, priests shall be encouraged to form gatherings where personal faith is shared, to join at priests’ special celebrations, to enhance fellowship among them through common activities (e.g., outing), and to attend regular recollections, retreats and the priests’ assemblies.

50.  A day in a week shall be set aside for priests as day-off, without prejudice to basic pastoral needs.

51.  The relationship between priests and the laity shall be characterized by equality, respect, openness, professionalism, and mutual concern.

52.  The laity shall be encouraged to form groups which support their priests.

53.  The Bishop shall create a program for priests in need.

D. Shepherding

54.  Evangelization and formation shall be the priority of every priest upon his installation as parish priest, and every effort must be made in such a way that there exists an evagelization and formation program before the first year of his assignment ends.  Infrastructure projects, though necessary, shall not be pursued to the neglect of evangelization and formation, nor shall the parish priest focus on mere administration of sacraments.  Parochial system of services shall restructured accordingly.

55.  The Bishop shall into reality the system of team ministry in the parishes.  Such a system of ministry shall, to start with, be established in at least one parish of each region.

56.  Moreover, the Bishop shall seriously consider the system of placing several parishes under a team of parish priests through a scheme which provides, among others, for a unified program of action for all the parishes, centralization of funds and standardized remuneration, and shared ministry.

57.  Assignments to parishes shall be based not primarily on seniority, but on competence, willingness to work to attain the diocesan vision and mission integrity of life, ability to settle obligations with the Curia, and to establish smooth, wholesome relationship with fellow priests, parochial vicars, and the laity.

58.  In changing parish assignments, the Bishop may also consult the Council of the Laity or, in its absence, representatives from parishes known for their response-ability, active involvement, and love for the Church.

59.  Parish priests shall receive basic orientation to undergo immersion in the basic ecclesial communities as a way of being Church.

60.  The parish priest shall willingly work for the establishment of basic ecclesial communities in his parish, and, where they have been formed, sustain them, and consider the program as his own.  By virtue of his office, he shall be the servant leader of these communities, and regard their formation as the over-arching pastoral program to which all other pastoral programs of the parish are integrated.  He shall give pastoral priority to areas in which basic ecclesial communities have been established.

61.  The parish priest upon assumption of office as pastor, automatically becomes the spiritual director of all the religious organizations (e.g., cofradias), faith communities and renewal movements of his parish; and therefore sees to it that their members are nourished by the Word of God and sacraments, sustaining their growth in communal as well as personal faith.

62.  As pastor of the flock, the parish priest shall do home visits, and not limit himself to his circle of friends, nor just  confine himself to the rectory (cf canon 529).

63.  Parish priests shall show special concern for the poor and the disadvantaged (cf canon 529).

64.   The pastor shall recognize the competence and maturity of the faithful, and promote lay empowerment (cf canon 529).

65.  Priests shall observe simplicity in lifestyle, cultivate solidarity with the poor, and avoid behavior and external appearance which are unbecoming or alien to their priestly vocation, or not acceptable to local customs or standards decorum.

66.  Parish priests shall keep a historical and yearly statistical profile of his parish, and submit a copy to the Diocesan Archives.

67.  The turn-over of parish administration to the new parish priest shall be orderly, the outgoin pastor providing an orientation on the parish to the incoming.

68.  Provisions shall be made in such a way that priests who work in the seminary and in the diocesan offices are somehow related to the community of Christ’s faithful.

69.  The Bishop shall task a committee to study an insurance and retirement program for the diocesan priest.

III.  THE INNER LIFE OF THE CHURCH

I.  SPIRITUALITY

70.  By virtue of baptism, lay women and men, priests and religious share a common vocation to holiness.  Therefore, they shall be oriented toward developing a form of spirituality which integrates prayer and love-filled action, faith and practice, devotion and justice, personal sanctification and social transformation, growing from a purely devotion-centered, decalogue-oriented, form of spirituality.  The Bishop shall create a committee tasked with drafting a program to achieve such form of spirituality.

71.  Effort shall be exerted to realize the program--through, among others, seminars, lectures, renewal sessions, and retreats--at the parish level so that the parishioners can grow in such spirituality.

72.  In drafting the program for lay spirituality, effort shall be made on forming a “Church of the Home” which is rooted in prayer--especially the Liturgy of the Hours--the Word of God, the Eucharist and sacraments, nurtured in family Bible study and popular piety, and expressed in the work of service for the poor and disadvantaged.

II. WORSHIP

A. Liturgical Education and Ministry

73.  Updating in liturgical matters shall be regularly given to the clergy and the laity.  The priests themselves shall continue learning and implementing new liturgical norms.  The Commission on Liturgy shall prepare and provide updated guidelines, and, with the cooperation of the clergy shall promote intensive liturgical information in all the parishes to implement these norms on liturgical renewal.

74.  The Commission on Liturgy shall design for qualified liturgical ministers (readers, cantors, commentators, special ministers of holy communion, choir, liturgical environmentalists, sacristans, altars servers, ushers, collectors, etc.) a program which, among others, trains them on the meaning of liturgy, signs, symbols and celebrations, and on the role of lay ministers in the life and mission of the Church.  It shall also formulate guidelines for the admission, proper conduct and exercise of the ministers, and design a syllabus for an ongoing formation program.

75.  The active participation of the community in the celebration of liturgy shall be fostered.  Lay liturgical ministries be promoted in all parishes.

76.  Prayer leaders in popular piety (mamaratbat)shall be organized and be given formation in prayer and liturgy; and in their role in parish life.  Popular devotions, as well as literature and symbols used to promote them, shall be reviewed and revised to conform with the new developments in Catholic theological understanding of the faith.

77.  Efforts shall be made to promote a proper understanding of, and love for, liturgy among children.

B.  Sacramental Celebrations

78.  A liturgical committee, which shall receive formation from the Commission on Liturgy of the diocese, shall be set up in each parish to promote meaningful, lively and effective liturgical celebration, in which the laity fully participate in the ministries.  Hurried, ill-prepared or haphazard celebrations shall be discouraged.

79.  In liturgical services, care shall be taken to avoid any semblance of discrimination of the poor or class distinction.  No one may be refused liturgical service for lack of money, and special celebrations of baptism shall be discouraged.

80.  The laity shall be taught and encouraged to participate actively in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours.

81.  Liturgical celebrations for children and the youth shall be fostered.

82.  A Samarenyo sacramentary, lectionary, ritual, books of prayer (especially the Liturgy of the Hours) and common hymnal shall be published.

83.  The sense of the sacred and the priest’s representation of the community before God and of God before the community shall be safeguarded during celebrations.  The priest and the laity shall therefore wear appropriate vestments or attire and observe proper decorum.  Cleanliness of liturgical vessels, articles and the place of assembly shall be maintained.

84.  Guidelines shall be drafted on the celebration of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, anointing of the sick and marriage. Such guidelines shall provide, among others, for pre-sacramental catecheses, choice of names not to foreign to Christian sentiments and presence of both parents and all godparents in the celebration of baptism, and the proper positioning and discipline of cameraman and bystanders in celebrations.

85.  Since the legitimate place of worship is the church, oratories and sacred places, guidelines shall be promulgated to govern celebration of masses in private houses or chapels.  Such guidelines shall not discriminate the poor, nor exhibit class distinction.

86.  The centrality and pre-eminence of the eucharistic celebration (i.e., Mass) in Christian life and worship shall be safeguarded over and above all religious devotions and activities in the parish.

87.  The sacraments, especially the Eucharist, shall be made more available to the greater number of Catholics especially among the poor and in far-flung barangays or districts through regular schedule celebrations.

88.   Where Sunday mass cannot be celebrated, the Sunday Liturgy in the Absence of a Priest shall be highly recommended.

89.  Communal celebration of the sacrament of anointing shall be encouraged.

90.  Communal celebration of the sacrament of reconciliation shall be held regularly and frequently to create awareness among the faithful of the communitarian (social and ecclesial) dimensions of sin and conversion.

91.  Guidelines for the celebration of marriage--which provide for the procedures to be observed, seminars to be attended, issuance of marriage banns and other pre-requisites for a valid and licit marriage, the place and time of celebration--shall be issued.  Hurried marriage preparations are to be avoided.

C.  Fiesta Celebrations

92.  The existing system of the celebrations of feasts and solemnities shall be reviewed and evaluated.

93.  The “hermano mayor system” during celebrations of solemnities and feasts is to be reformed in such wise that will encourage a more communitarian participation, enable the poor to be “hermano mayor”, and avoid display of wealth and pageantry.

94.  Every year, town and barangay fiestas shall have different themes, developed in the homilies of the novena masses, aimed at renewal in theological understanding and in the practical life of the Church.

95.  On the eve of barangay and town fiestas, the solemn celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours (Vespers of Evening Prayer I) shall be highly recommended.

III. CATECHESIS, EVANGELIZATION
AND FORMATION

A. Catechesis and Evangelization

96.  The primary task of the Church is integral evangelization and total formation; it should therefore be given the highest priority in the life and ministry of the Church in the diocese, both at the diocesan and parochial levels.  Evangelization and formation should be oriented toward the formation of the basic ecclesial communities, which is the present overarching thrust of the diocese.

97.  The Diocesan Formation Center shall organize, catechetical institute and formation courses, annual refresheer courses and on-going formation courses, especially for priests, religious, lay leaders and catechists.

98.  The Commission on Doctrine of the Faith shall, through print, television and radio, respond to biblical and doctrinal issues which confuse the Catholic faithful, and provide them with proper guidance and enlightenment.

99.  The Bishop shall seriously consider the formation of a Roving Formator’s Team, composed of priests, religious and select lay leaders, who shall make a yearly three-day lectures in each of the parishes, where the faithful shall have an opportunity to learn, and ask questions about, their faith.

100.  Clerics shall deliver well-prepared and meaningful homilies, based on the Word of God, and able to relate to contemporary life and needs of the parishioners.

101.  The Commission on Catechesis shall formulate and implement a long-term catechetical program for the whole diocese.  Among others, the program shall be holistic and Christ-centered, Bible-based, doctrinal, participative and relevant, and shall stress conscientization on social and political concerns.

102.  The Commission on Catechesis shall initiate the setting up of Regional Catechetical Offices to serve the different parishes in the region in terms of animation, formation, and equiping of catechetical program.

103.  The Commission on Catechesis shall ensure that catechists are trained to carry out their office properly, and shall therefore guarantee that continuing formation is available to them, that they have an appropriate knowledge of the teaching of the Church, and that they learn both the theory and practice of the principles of pedagogy (canon 780).

104.  Every Catholic college and high school shall have an Office for Catechetical Instruction, giving students an opportunity to teach religion in the public schools (CBCP Pastoral Letter, July 15, 1987).

105.  As the first catechist in the parish, the parish priest shall primarily ensure that catechetical instruction is being undertaken in his parish through his leadership, presence and financial support.

106.  A catechetical fund shall be established in every parish to cover the training of catechists, the salaries of professional catechist, and the allowances of volunteers (cf NCY ‘90 Resolution).

107.  The Commission on Catechesis shall set up and maintain a library for printed, video and other materials to be lent to catechesis on part time basis (cf NCY ‘90 Resolution).

108.  The Commission on Catechesis shall closely coordinate with the Department of Education Culture and Sports (DECS) for the full implementation of the constitutional clause on religious instruction in public schools in all parishes.

109.  The diocese shall strengthen the Alay Kapwa program, and particularly its education component, to enable the people to view it as an integral part of evangelization program.

B. Biblical Apostolate

110.  The Commission on Biblical Apostolate shall devise a program which, among others, promotes Bible study among families, various faith communities, renewal movements, and religious organizations, equips lay ministers with the necessary biblical apologetics and, more importantly, introduces the laity to biblical sprituality.

111.  Those involved in the biblical apostolate shall receive intensive training and avail themselves of the various seminars to promote the biblical apostolate.

112.  The Commission on Biblical Apostolate shall launch the diocesan and parochial celebrations of the Bible Month every year.

113.  Means and ways shall be devised to encourage families and individuals to own and read the Bible, share and live the Word of God.  Bible guides shall be made easily available to them.

C.  Campus Ministry

114.  A diocesan Office on Campus Ministry shall be established and draw up a program on the nature and functions of campus ministry.  Among others, it shall include the formation and strengthening of basic ecclesial communities of students, teachers and staff of the school, as well as the participation of the ministry in the programs and activities of the parish in which the school is located.

115.  In parishes where non-sectarian high schools and colleges exist, it shall be among the urgent responsibilities of the parish priest to establish, in coordination with the diocesan office, campus ministry in these schools so students are given spiritual and intellectual assistance by the local Church.  The help of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports for this purpose shall be sought.

116.  The Diocesan Office on Campus Ministry shall offer human resource program for campus ministers and shall ensure coordination and mutual help among parishes with such ministry.

D.  Missions

117.  The Commission on Missions shall devise a program through which awareness of Christian mission may be created, and a missionary spirit is fostered among Christian faithful, especially among children and youth.  The program shall include the establishment of parish units on mission and the celebration of the Parish Mission Month.

118.  Vocation for the Missions shall be encouraged.

119.  The Commission on Missions shall be so restructured as to involve the participation of lay leaders in the three diocesan regions.

120.  The Commission on Missions shall come up with a plan to improve the annual collection for the missions.

IV.  SPECIAL CONCERNS: PRISONERS, ECUMENISM,
FUNDAMENTALISM, IGLESIA NI KRISTO AND
OTHER GROUPS

A.  Prisoners

121.  The spiritual, educational, moral and temporal services for prisoners and their families shall form part of the service program of parishes.

B.  Ecumenism

122.  The holding of ecumenical prayer services and prayer for unity with other Catholic and mainline Protestant Churhes shall be supported specially in such important occassions as Independence Day, Labor Day, times of national emergencies and Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

123.  The Commission of Social Action shall study ways and means by which the diocese can work with other Christian communities in matters pertaining to charity, justice and peace, protection of human rights, ecology and other relevant issues.

C.  Fundamentalism and Iglesia ni Cristo

124.  Catholics shall treat fundamentalist an Iglesia ni Cristo attacks against the Roman Catholic Church with tolerance, respect and charity.

125.  Catholic Faith Defenders or a Catholic organization of similar nature shall be established, encouraged, supported and trained in Bible and doctrine.  It shall avoid purely polemical stance.

126.  The Commission on the Doctrine of the Faith shall produce a literature in which objections by Fundamentalists and the Iglesia ni Cristo to the life and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are ably answered from the point of view of Scriptures, history of the doctrine and tradition, as well as theology and philosophy.

127.  Catholic shall be desuaded from joining such organizations as Freemasonry and other groups whose teachings and orientations are irreconciliable with those of the Roman Catholic Church (cf. 1374).

V. INCULTURATION

128.  The Diocese shall task the Commission on Liturgy with studying the Samarenyo culture, formulating a catechesis and a program of formation on inculturation, examining the theological and pastoral implications of different religious activities, composing and translating liturgical rites, prayers and songs, and coming up with the norms and guidelines for inculturated liturgical celebrations.

129.  The Commission on Liturgy shall make efforts to educate the people on the integration of Gospel and Samarenyo values.

130.  The parish priest shall give more attention to, and emphasis on, the religious aspects of town and barangay fiestas and Christmas celebrations in accordance with the approved norms and guidelines in inculturated liturgical celebrations.

IV.  THE CHURCH IN ITS MISSION

I.  MEDIA AND COMMUNICATION

131.  The diocesan radio station shall be updated regularly, and a diocesan printing press shall be established to help, among others, inform the faithful of the renewal in the Church’s self-understanding, life and mission, update them on Church’s programs and events, promote critical awareness, as well as assist in molding public opinion on important social issues.  The radio station and the publication shall be evaluated periodically in terms of their goal, mission, programs and impact.

132.  Both radio and print shall have Board of Directors composed of priests, religious and laity to give general direction and thrust, and formulate general policies and guidelines.

133.  The Commission on Mass Media and Communication, which handles both radio and print, shall include in its program the formation and training of its personnel.

134.  The Bishop may appoint an official spokesperson for the diocese.

135.  Twice a year, a Sunday second collection in all parishes shall be made for the maintenance of the local radio station.

II.  CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

136.  All the Catholic schools in the diocese shall align their respective vision-mission statement with that of the Diocese of Borongan.

137.  Catholic schools shall formulate a holistic program for an on-going formation of their teachers and staff in Church faith and life.

138.  The administrators, teachers, staff and students of each Catholic school shall be so organized as to form a basic ecclesial community where the participation and communion are held in high esteem.

139.  The Bishop shall create a committee to formulate a plan that will ensure the survival and development of the diocesan Catholic school.

140.  Catholic schools shall engage in outreach programs which are consistent with the mission and programs of the diocese, geared toward helping the parish to which they belong.

141.  Catholic schools shall offer scholarship, other educational programs, benefits and services to economically disadvantaged students.

142.  A comprehensive training school administrators and teachers shall be organized to make Christian living the core of the curriculum.

143. Catholic schools shall initiate a strong school-home partnership program to promote the development and strengthening of Christian values.

144.  A concerted effort at networking and resource accessing shall be made to support development strategies of Catholic schools.

145.  The benefits and incentives package for teachers and other school personnel shall be so revised as to enable them to live out their profession decently and competitively.

146.  The diocese shall put a Committee on Catholic Schools to coordinate and evaluate plans and programs for Catholic schools.

147.  Catholic families should be encouraged to enroll their children in Catholic schools.

III.  BASIC ECCLESIAL COMMUNITIES

148.  In the formation of basic ecclesial communities, re-evangelization must be given the highest priority (PCP II, 111 #1).

149.  The Commission on Basic-Ecclesial Communities shall coordinate and help formulate, implement, monitor and evaluate the various BEC parish programs in the diocese.

150.  The Commission on Basic Ecclesial Communities shall provide its pastoral workers and volunteers with an on-going holistic formation program to equip them with necessary pastoral knowledge and skill, and a common manual shall be made available to them (PCP II, 111 #2).

151.  Considering that the key role in the implementation of any program at the parish level depends so much on the parish priests together with their assistants, parish priests shall promote, support and assist the pastoral workers in the planning, implementation, evaluation and monitoring of the BEC program to make it more effective and faithful to the diocesan thrust.

152.  All the parishioners shall be encouraged to participate fully in the formation of basic ecclesial communities.  Local leaders must be recruited and trained in the program.

153.  The Commission on Basic Ecclesial Communities shall devise an appropriate and effective mechanism to pool human and material resources from the diocesan, parish and local members, which are to be maximized, rather than merely depend on external financial subsidies.

154.  The parish priest, together with the Parish Pastoral Council, shall allocate fund for the BEC program in the parish.

155.  The diocese, through a directory to be published by the Diocesan Pastoral Secretariat, shall define the relationship between the basic ecclesial communities, other faith communities, renewal movements, and church-based organizations.

IV.  FORMATION AND OTHER CENTERS

156.  The diocese shall put a Diocesan Formation Center, to be administered by adequately trained priests, religious and laymen, which shall serve as venue for human, moral, spiritual, theological and pastoral formation and regular on-going formation of the Christian faithful, especially lay volunteers, diocesan pastoral workers, religious and clergy through retreats, seminars, workshops, and other fora.

157.  The diocesan shall, at the Diocesan Formation Center, establish a Theologico-Pastoral Institute in which formal training in theology and other ecclesiastical disciplines are offered to priests, religious and lay women and men.

158.  Every parish shall be encouraged to construct a Parish Formation Center to serve as venue for parish catechists, seminars, recollections, retreats, marriage encounters, meetings and social gatherings, among others.

V.  FAITH COMMUNITIES, RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS
AND RENEWAL MOVEMENTS

159.  The diocese and parishes shall foster the growth of all faith communities, relgious organizations and renewed movements, and shall offer them opportunities for on-going formation especially through their parish spiritual directors, diocesan directors and theological formators.  Such growth shall be oriented toward the formation of basic ecclesial communities.

160.  Parish faith communities, religious organizations and renewal movements shall exercise their charisms for the building up of the parish community.

161.  Faith communities, religious organizations and renewal movements shall strive with a common effort to foster a more perfect life, promote public worship and Christian teaching.  They should not limit their goal to personal sanctification, but shall devote themselves to the work of apostolate in the parish, especially initiatives for evangelization and formation, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order (cf canon 298).

162.  Faith communities, religious organizations and renewal movements shall see to it that, without prejudice to their respective identities, their goals and objectives are in harmony with, and redirected to, those of the parish and the diocese which is total human liberation and development, through the formation of the basic ecclesial communities.

163.  Each faith community, religious organization and renewal movement shall be encouraged to formulate and submit to the Parish Pastoral Council a program of activities to be implemented during the year, and shall consider the coordination of similar activities to avoid unnecessary duplication.

VI.  TEMPORALITIES, ARANCEL SYSTEM
AND TITHING

164.  The diocese shall formulate norms for the creation, nature and functions of the Parish Finance Council.

165.  Every parish shall have a Parish Finance Council, whose members shall include laymen elected by the Parish Pastoral Council.

166.  A simplified accounting system shall be established in the diocese, after a consultation participated in by representatives from the different sectors of the Church.

167.  The Diocesan Finance Council shall be tasked, among others, with the internal auditing of all parish funds and parish properties.

168.  Parish priests or their equivalent in law shall present an annual report of their administration of ecclesiastical goods to the Bishop (cf canon 1287.1).

169.  Parish priests or their equivalent in law, faith communities, religious organizations and renewal movements shall render a prompt and detailed account, with the necessary supporting documents, to the faithful concerning the goods the latter offered to them for the support of the parish communities, organizations and movements (cf canon 1287).

170.  Parish priests, faith communities, religious organizations and renewal movements which receive grants or aids from funding agencies should render an account to the Bishop and the community concerning the total amount received and the expenditures, if these entities or part thereof is beneficiary of these grants or aids.

171.  The diocese, with its lawyers and surveyors, shall look into the titles and declarations of its properties with the Register of Deeds.  The original copy of titles shall be deposited at the diocesan archives, and a duplicate copy shall be kept at the parish archives.

172.  The poorest  parishes of the diocese  shall receive monthly subsidy from both diocese and monthly contribution of the parishes.

173.  The Parish Pastoral Council shall equip the church and the rectory with furnishings for a decent living and efficient and administration of the parish to be entered in the book of inventories.

174.  The upkeep, repair and maintenance of parish properties shall be the responsibility of the parish priest, to be assisted by the Parish Pastoral Council.

175.  The outgoing parish priest shall physicall and officially turn over the parish books, inventory and financial records to his successor in the presence of the Parish Pastoral Council members to ensure that parish temporal goods are kept intact before he leaves for his new assignment.

176.  No church property shall be lent, mortgaged or alienated without the written permission from the Bishop.

177.  The whole diocese shall be involved in putting up a trust fund, to be administered by a seminary board, to subsidize the seminaries.

178.  Parish priests, religious communities and diocesan offices shall be models of justice and charity in giving salaries and benefits to church workers.

179.  Parish priest or their equivalent in law shall promptly report and remit to the Diocesan Curia the just diocesan share.

180.  No new parish plant shall be established, nor major changes in parish plant structures be made unless the general plan, perspective and cost estimate have been presented to and approved by the Diocesan Church Construction and Improvement Committee or, in its absece, the Bishop, and the necessary building permit has been secured.  The Parish Committee on Construction and Improvement shall see to it that the general plan is strictly implemented.  All sketch plans ad blueprints of construction and renovation shall be kept at the Diocesan Archives.

181.  The diocese shall issue policies to govern the use and maintenance of Catholic cemeteries, including the lease or sale of lots.

182.  The Parish Pastoral Council shall be encouraged to acquire land to be developed into parish cemetery.

B.  Arancel System

183.  While the arancel system remains in force, no arancel may be levied which is higher than the standard rate.  Such rate shall be made public.

184.  Moreover, as the arancel system is in force, the existing arrangement in the sharing of stole fees shall be reviewed and evaluated before being replaced with a more proportionate system which reflects the renewed Church according to the PCP II, and the demands of justice and charity.

C. Tithing

185.  As part of the program to abolish the arancel system and to institute the tithing system in the entire diocese, a good theologico-pastoral catechesis shall be designed (PCP II, 118), thoroughly studied, and systematically implemented, stressing lay participation and co-responsibility in the life and mission of the Church.

186.  As soon as the tithing system stabilized and is enforced, allocation from tithes received shall be so devised as to reflect the demands of justice and charity. Such allocation shall provide, among others, for a standardized remuneration of diocesan priests and workers.

VII. PARISH PASTORAL COUNCIL

187.  The establishment of a Parish Pastoral Council in every parish shall be deemed compulsory, not at the discretion of the parish priest.  This council shall be regulated by a common constitution and by-laws drafted by the diocese.

188.  Before a Parish Pastoral Council is created, the parishioners shall receive a comprehensive seminar or catechesis to orient them on the nature, functions and dynamics of the Parish Pastoral Council.

189.  The organization of the Parish Pastoral Council shall adopt the structure and principles of the basic ecclesial communities so it will be cross-sectionally represented.  Such structure shall follow the LESI (liturgy and worship, evangelization and formation, social services, and institutions, movements and communities) plan to facilitate active lay participation in its program and activities.

190.  The Parish Pastoral Council, as a consultative body, shall participate in the major decisions which affect the whole parish.  Matters which involve major decisions include infrastructural projects, parish loans, and those which may be identified by the Bishop.

191.  The Parish Pastoral Council shall give priority to the formation and building up of the faithful, especially lay leaders, rather than with the building up of physical structures.

192.  The Parish Pastoral Council shall not only limits its involvement in the religio-liturgical planning, program and activities of the parish, but also in the cultural, socio-economic and political.  It shall also spearhead the inventory of parish properties.

193.  A Barangay Pastoral Council shall be established in all barangays of the parish, and adopt the structure of the Parish Pastoral Council.

194.  The pre-existing constitution and by-laws of the Parish Pastoral Council, which has been approved by the diocese, shall be reviewed, studied and amended in conformity with the provisions of the PCP II and the Diocesan Synod.

V.  THE CHURCH AND ITS MISSION

General Concerns

195.  The social action apostolate should be regarded as a constitutive part of the mission of the Diocese of Borongan.

196.  The Commission on Social Action shall formulate a long-range program on its ministry, geared toward integral human development and liberation, animated by a love of preference for the poor.

197.  The Commission on Social Action shall submit a yearly report on its programs, activities, accomplishments and financial status to the presbyterium, and publish it in the diocesan newsletter.

198.  The Social Action Committee of the Parish Pastoral Council shall be the coordinating body of the parish with the Commission on Social Action.

199.  All parishes shall have a social action program to help the economically and socially disadvantaged and victims of calamities.

I. CHURCH AND POLITICS

200.  A catechesis on the role of the Church in politics shall be formulated and properly disseminated in various forms to all the faithful through, among others, the basic ecclesial communities, other faith communities, religious organizations and renewal movements.

201.  Christ’s faithful shall take stand and appropriate action on all relevant and decisive political issues.

202.  Through the Commission on Social Action, together with lay leaders, the diocese shall formulate a program of conscientization for Christian involvement and lay empowerment in politics.  Such program shall, among others, include formation of social conscience, education on moral obligations of voters and standards for candidates for public office.  It shall also include the holding of various fora for candidates, organization of symposia for the clarification and identification of correct issues and concerns, and steps toward clean, honest and peaceful elections.

203.  The Church hierarchy must refrain from partisan politics, avoiding especially the use of the pulpit for partisan purposes so as to avoid division among the flock (PCP II, ,28); it shall instead promote the unity and solidarity among the faithful of diverse political persuasions.

204.  Roman Catholics shall actively participate in the political process, faithfully abiding by the Gospel and the moral and social teachings of the Church.

205.  Lay leaders who wish to run for elective government offices shall be deemed resigned from their positions upon filing of candidacy and can re-assume such offices only upon approval by the parish priest or, in the case of the diocesan workers, by the Bishop.

II.  ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

206.  The diocese shall evolve a program for the poorest of the poor which provides access to resources, technologies, livelihood opportunities and alternative credit facilities. Proper values formation and orientation especially on the value and dignity of work as well as the social teachings of the Church shall be integral component of the program.

207.  The diocese shall advocate sustainable economic development of the rural communities, and integral approach to community problems, issues and concerns, and a highly participatory process in addressing them.

208.  The diocese shall establish linkages with the proper government agencies and instrumentalities, as well as with non-government organizations with similar aspirations in pursuit of its development mission for proper coordination and more focused response to the needs of the people, particularly the poorest of the poor.

III.  PEACE AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

209.  A catechesis on peace and social justice shall be formulated and disseminated in various forms to all the faithful through, among others, the basic ecclesial communities, other faith communities, religious organizations and renewal movements.  The Commission on Mass Media shall, through the radio, television and print, spread the teachings of the Church on peace and social justive which are relevant to the Eastern Samar situation.

210.  The Commission on Social Action shall formulate an advocacy program on issues related to justice and peace (e.g., peace zones), and some concrete programs which respond to the spiritual, material and legal needs of victims of violation of human rights, armed conflicts and other social injustice.  The program shall include monitoring and assistance to the victims.

211.  Basic Ecclesial Communities, other faith communities, religious organizations and renewal movements shall be encouraged to take concrete actions on such social and political issues as human rights, genuine land reform, drug addiction and illegal activities, among others.

IV. ECOLOGY

212.  A Desk on Ecology shall be established to formulate and implement programs which shall, among others, gather ecological data on Eastern Samar, identify ecological problems, and establish linkages with government agencies, non-government organizations with similar concerns, and the academe.

213.  A catechesis on ecology, stressing the web of life and the principle of stewardship, shall be developed and disseminated to all the faithful through, among others, the basic ecclesial communities, other faith communities, religious organization, ang renewal movements.

214.  The diocese shall encourage communities to promote balance of ecosystem through advocacy and active involvement in such environmental projects as reforestation, rehabilitation of degraded ecosystem, establishment of sanctuaries, waste management, water conservation, etc., as well as advocacy against pollutive and destructive activities, like mining, illegal fishing, indiscriminate waste disposal, among others.

V.  DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

215.  The diocese, through the Commission on Social Action, shall exert effort to respond immediately and effectively to emergencies through relief support and rehabilitation projects.

216.  The Commission on Social Action shall help the parishes in creating Parish Emergency Management Council.

VI.  SPECIAL SOCIAL CONCERNS

A.  Peasants

217.  Parishes shall provide adult catechesis to peasants and encourage them to participate actively in Church programs and activities, particularly the formation of basic ecclesial communities.

218.  Parishes shall develop programs to empower the basic ecclesial communities to enable peasants to engage in socio-economic activities.

B. Fisherfolks

219.  Parishes shall provid catechesis to fisherfolks and encourage them to participate actively in Church programs and activities, particularly the formation of basic ecclesial communities.

220.  Parishes shall develop a socio-economic program to empower the fisherfolk and to improve their quality of life.

221.  Fisherfolk shall be encouraged to use ecology-friendly means of fishing and to be vigilant in their responsibility to conserve the natural resources for future generations.

C.  Differently Abled

222.  The diocese shall devise programs and services and coordinate with other agencies to address the needs of the differently abled.

D.  Senior Citizens

223.  The diocese shall create a program for the pastoral care of senior citizen.

224.  The parishes shall work out a program which, after proper formation in catechesis, shall tap senior citizens for parish services as catechests and lay evangelizers, among others.

VI.  IMPLEMENTATION  DECREES

225.  As soon as the synodal decrees are promulgated by the Bishop, a comprehensive diocesan pastoral plan shall be immediately formulated to translate these decrees into programs of action. In the formulation, the principles of  participation and solidarity shall be observed.

226.     Existing diocesan structures and systems shall be activated, changed or adjusted.  New ones may be created to bring about a systematic implementation of the synodal decrees and the diocesan pastoral plan.  The Bishop shall create a Diocesan Pastoral Board for this purpose.

227.  The Diocesan Pastoral Board shall, among others, formulate a program for the implementation, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the diocesan pastoral plan.

228.  A diocesan fund shall be set aside for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the Synod at the diocesan level.

229.  A directory of structures, organizations, roles and functions of all the offices at the diocesan, regional and parochial levels shall be published.

230.  To implement these synodal decrees at the parish level, all parishes shall formulate a long term parish pastoral plan, and a yearly program plan of action.

231.  The task of implementing the synodal decrees and the diocesan pastoral plan at the parochial level is a duty and right of the parish priest, with other members of the Parish Pastoral Council.

232.  Parochial programs which have been started, in implementation of the pastoral plan, do not cease with the transfer of the parish priest; to the contrary, the incoming one shall sustain them.

233.  The Bishop shall task a committee with translating the major documents of the First Diocesan Synod of Borongan into Samarenyo language, although the English text remains the official one, as approved by the ordinary.

234.  The Diocesan Archives and Library shall gather and store all data pertaining to the Synod.

235.  Notwithstanding the existing tenure of office of parish priests, all current pastoral or parochial and administrative assignments shall be terminated to facilitate the implementation of the approved synodal decrees.  Toward this effect, each holder of any of the said assignment shall, upon promulgation of the decrees, tender a letter of resignation to the Bishop.  The acceptance of such resignation depends on the authority of the Bishop.



Approved:


+ LEONARDO  Y. MEDROSO, DD
Bishop of Borongan



Promulgated:
February 28, 1998