The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan has agreed to establish a special committee based in Dagupan, Pangasinan to respond primarily to the call of help coming from an increasing number of Christians around the world who are being persecuted for their faith.
This decision comes after Aid to the Church in Need Philippines had held a Solidarity Congress last June 29 for religious and lay leaders of all parishes and congregations under the Archdiocese. Through the Congress, participants learned about the experiences of Christians undergoing oppression in countries like Syria, Iraq, and Nigeria. Meanwhile, Marawi Bishop Edwin dela Peña, the keynote speaker of the Congress, shared what it was like for a Filipino Christian to feel persecuted as a religious minority in Muslim Mindanao.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas has appointed Fr. Rey V. Romero, parish priest of San Fabian Parish to head the special committee that will initiate spiritual, informational and fund-raising activities for the intention of persecuted Christians.
“We will organize our community and continue praying for suffering brethren and even their persecutors. May God strengthen us [in our efforts],” said Fr. Romero.
The committee will serve as the regional office of Aid to the Church in Need Philippines, the pontifical foundation that serves the needs of persecuted and suffering Christian communities. The activities that the committee will undertake fall under three main focus areas: prayer, information, and action.
During the Solidarity Congress, participants, mostly lay leaders, suggested their own activities under the three areas which they believe will be feasible to implement in their own parishes.
Under prayer, the lay leaders have suggested holding different spiritual activities for the sole intention of suffering and persecuted Christians. These included praying a special Angelus, the Holy Hour, the Holy Rosary and Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
Under information, different parishes have volunteered to disseminate news and stories about persecution in order to raise awareness about the issue. These will be published on their respective social media accounts and bulletin boards. Several parishes have also signified their interest in echoing the Congress to their own respective communities so as to get the cooperation of the different parish committees and affiliate organizations under the parish.
Finally, under the area of action, participants suggested having a second collection for the intention of the Church in need along with a special donation box for the same intention. Different fund raising activities will also be held which will be initiated by the respective social action ministries of each parish.
Fr. Romero’s committee, in cooperation with ACN, will study all of these activities and submit a final proposal to Archbishop Villegas. Once approved, these activities will be implemented by all the parishes in the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. The committee aspires that this united effort will serve as the model for all the Archdioceses in the Philippines to follow so that the country may become a compelling voice in upholding religious freedom and in promoting the love of Christ during these troubled times.
“Please help them feel that they are not alone. Please make their sufferings our sufferings, and if the Lord has blessed us, let our blessings be their blessings,” pleaded Archbishop Villegas, who also sits as the President of ACN Philippines.
By Josemaria Claro, ACN Philippines