Nurturing the grassroots of faith

Nurturing the grassroots of faith

* Poor Philippine farming community finds a new way to be a Church

By Anthony S. Allada

Farmers in a village in the southern Philippine province of Davao del Sur are keeping their faith alive through weekly celebrations and catechism.

About 300 farming families in Poblacion in the town of Magsaysay gather every week for a weekly Eucharistic celebration led by their lay minister.

Every Friday evening the villagers troop to their chapel for the celebration, the sharing of experiences and catechism classes for the children.

“They are setting a very good example to their children and bringing them closer to God,” said Father Leo Pepito of nearby Sto Nino parish.

The farmers, under the supervision of Father Pepito, have already undergone seminars on popular religiosity and have chosen from among themselves their own catechists and lay leaders.

Father Pepito said all hamlets in the village have a chapel through the efforts of the villagers.

“This is how devoted the people here are to their faith,” the priest said.

Although some villagers are members of local religious sects, 90 percent of the population is Catholic.

Basic ecclesial communities in far-flung areas ofMindanaohave played important roles in the propagation of faith, said Father Pepito.

During a recent meeting of the Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference, Church leaders emphasized the role played by basic ecclesial communities.

“We now find ourselves dominated by globalization. Conscious of the identity, vocation and mission of the Church, we have been reflecting on the restoration of moral values through basic ecclesial communities,” the Mindanao-Sulu Pastoral Conference said in a statement.

“Despite some lapses and limitations, we strongly affirm the important role of the [communities] as a new way of being a Church, helping to identify, intensify and cultivate the core Gospel values — a potent force for social transformation,” it added.


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