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Circular Letter

Circular 2017-2: Archdiocesan Synod

January 3, 2017

Most Holy Name of Jesus Memorial

Circular 2017-2

RE: Archdiocesan Synod

My dear people of God:

In eager anticipation of our Synod due to be held in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan fromSeptember 2 to 9, 2017, we must prepare the survey questionnaires to help us better appreciate the socio-pastoral situation in our Church.

We shall have a meeting on January 13, second Friday, starting promptly at 8:00am until 12:00 noon at the Lay Formation Center, Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan City.  The following are expected to be at the meeting during which we will validate the survey questionnaire:

1.    All the diocesan and religious priests who exercise priestly ministry in the Archdiocese;

2.   All local superiors of religious congregations of women (ARMWALD);

3.   One lay representative per parish:

  • From the Vicariate of Saints Peter and Paul, one lay representative per parish between 18 to 25 years old;
  • From the Vicariate of the Epiphany, one lay representative per parish between 26 to 35 years old;
  • From the Vicariate of Saint Thomas Aquinas, one lay representative per parish between 36 to 45 years old;
  • From the Vicariate of Saint Dominic, one representative per parish between 46 to 55 years old;
  • From the Vicariate of Saint Vincent, one representative per parish between 56 to 65 years old.

I request you to diligently and prayerfully choose the lay parish representative keeping in mind only the good of the Church. They must be morally and intellectually equipped to handle the duties of preparing for the Synod. This historical ecclesial event needs men and women from the parish communities who can truly represent the sentiments of our Catholic faithful.

Let us pray that the renewed Church we want to become may be blessed by God every step along the way.

Sincerely yours,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

 

Circular 2017-1: Priests in the 2017 Year of the Parish

January 1, 2017

Circular 2017-1

RE: Priests in the 2017 Year of the Parish

Dearly beloved brothers in the priesthood:

The Church in the Philippines celebrates 2017 as Year of the Parish.

What is the best way to describe the parish? The only word and the best word to define a parish is COMMUNIO. A parish is a communion of little communities. What an affirmation from the Good Shepherd that we in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan will celebrate our Second Archdiocesan Synod on Communio from September 2 to 9 this year.

Communio is the summary of the identity of the Church. This identity of communio comes from God who is communio–Father Son and Holy Spirit.

Communio is the summary of the task of the Church. The Church exists to make all one. Any pastoral activity of the Church that does to start, build and sustain communio is not worth pursuing at all.

Communio is the sole power that animates the Church to carry on. If there is no passion for communio, the rivers of commitment will run dry and the Church’s lighthouse of hope will turn dim.

Communio is everything for us. Without it, we have no identity; we have nothing to do; we have no spiritual strength.

SOURCE

Where does communio come from? It comes from the humility of God who reaches out to mortal sinners like us and offers us a hand of unity. It is a hand that shakes our hands as equals. He has become like us.

“Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross”. (Phil.2:7).

Communio mandates us Churchmen to be a humbler Church. A humbler Church listens without any urge to rebut. A humbler Church accompanies the weak without being judgmental and accompanies the strong without competition. A humbler Church sees the best in others and downplays defects and weaknesses. A humbler Church is forgiving yet not reluctant to denounce wrongdoing. A humbler Church seeks unity in doctrine, allows liberty in opinions but always opts for charity in everything.

If communio is to be our sole power for evangelization, let it be said that the power that makes the Church credible is humility in service, humility in teaching and humility in worship. Arrogance is a big turn off. Church arrogance has turned many of our flock against us. Humility is the cure. Humility is the way.

STEPS

How shall we live the challenge and task of building communion?

1.    Only God can build communio and the first way to God is PRAYER. Pray if you want to be in communio. Our best contribution to the world is our prayer. All else follows from this life of prayer. Offer the parish church for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Teach our hungry youth that time spent with God is not wasted. Be seen praying not for public show but as a God’s witness. It is mystics not the activists who will renew the parish.

2.    We have a long history of Catholic ORTHODOXY. Stay in line; stay in the communio of faith. Our people want to hear the logic of the Gospel. Our people need to hear Christ again and again. Entertainment is not our business. Partisan politics is not our arena. Our expertise must be the faith of the apostles.

3.    When communio is hurt, communio needs healing. There will be massive parish renewal when CONFESSIONS are constantly celebrated. We cannot promote communio without the tender mercy of Confession.

4.    There is no communio without Jesus. Show by your life, preach from the pulpit; speak in public that JESUS IS ALIVE! People need to hear that Jesus lives and He lives with us. Our people need hope and how much hope we will ignite by those simple proclamation of faith: Jesus is alive and lives forever.

5.    There is no communio without unity of word and life. The Gospel becomes a victim when the proclaimer lives contrary to his ordination vows. I renew my request for a simpler priestly LIFESTYLE that is close to the lifestyle of our ordinary parishioners not the rich and affluent.

6.    Communio is best nurtured in a stewardship Church.

May all be one! Pray for me. Pray for one another.

Sincerely yours,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

 

Circular 2016-19: Auxiliary Bishop of Lingayen-Dagupan

June 1, 2016

Memorial of Saint Justin, Martyr

Circular 2016-19

RE: Auxiliary Bishop of Lingayen Dagupan

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ:

The Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed Monsignor ELMER MANGALINAO titular bishop of Urusi and auxiliary bishop of Lingayen Dagupan. His appointment is a blessing for us in our archdiocese.  Prior to his appointment, he was a priest of the Diocese of Cabanatuan.

As we await his episcopal ordination and the day of his arrival in our archdiocese, liturgical norms prescribe that we include his name in the Eucharistic Prayer.

In the English form, after mentioning Pope Francis, the presider says “Socrates our bishop, Elmer his assistant bishop and all the clergy”.

In the Pangasinan form, the liturgical text will be “tan si Socrates ya Obispo mi, si Elmer a katulongan to, tan amin a clero.”

In the succeeding weeks, we shall receive more information about his ordination and his liturgical reception among us. He will certainly reside and hold office at the Cathedral of Saint John in Dagupan City.

Please pray for him and pray for me. I assure you of my prayers too.

Sincerely yours,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

 

Circular 2015-1: The Priests in the Year of the Poor

January 1, 2015

Solemnity of Mary Mother of God

Circular 2015-1: The PRIESTS IN THE YEAR OF THE POOR

 

My brother priests:

2015 is Year of the Poor. It is also Year of Consecrated Life for the universal Church as willed by Pope Francis. As our year opens, I wish to offer you some thoughts on living out the call to simplicity so that the Gospel to the poor may better glow through us priests.

From Pope Francis

Addressing the Curia, the Holy Father laid out his thoughts on the danger of avarice and greed and materialism in our vocation. He said one of the maladies of ecclesiastics is the sickness of accumulating: when the apostle seeks to fill an existential void in his heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but only to feel secure.

In reality, we can take nothing material with us because “the shroud does not have pockets” and all our earthly treasures – also if they are gifts – will never be able to fill that void, in fact, they will render it ever more exacting and more profound.

To these persons, the Lord repeats: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked … Therefore, be zealous and be converted” (Revelation 3:17-19).

Accumulation only weighs down and slows the inexorable journey! And I think of an anecdote: one time the Spanish Jesuits described the Society of Jesus as the “light cavalry of the Church.” I remember the transfer of a young Jesuit that while loading his many belongings on a truck: bags, books, objects and gifts, heard an old Jesuit who was observing him say, with a wise smile: Is this the Church’s “light cavalry”?! Our transfers give a sign of this sickness. (December 23, 2014)

From Our Vocation

Let us return to our original reason for desiring to be a priest. We were trained for a difficult life in the seminary. We seemed to be in a perennial food lack; remember those days? We deprived ourselves of the warmth of family life and contented ourselves with living together with the brother seminarians. We cleaned the seminary ourselves, maintained the garden and observed the rules. We wanted to be priests hence nothing was unbearable.

The ordination was our turning point. The Church entrusted her mission to our hands. We also received in trust the money of the faithful believing that priests help so many poor people. They gave us money to send poor children to school, to feed the malnourished, to help the sick receive medication, to defray the cost of burying the poor and so many more duties.

Accumulation, Comfort and Security

And the sickness of accumulating possessed us so quickly. Money got stuck in our hands instead of sliding to the needy. The car became a status symbol even for the newly ordained when the chrism of anointing had hardly dried. The recreation became more sophisticated to expensive tourist sites unreached by the working class. We were no longer lacking in food; we were now choosing our food after being initiated into the palate of the filthy wealthy.

It is bad for a priest to fall in love with a woman. It is worse if he falls in love with money. Ordination gave us access to church money but that money is not ours to enjoy.

Our ordination gave us powers. In a manner of speaking, the ordained are supermen. But the awesome plan of God cannot be restored by a Church that is more concerned about power than of service, more interested in convenience than sacrifice. A Church that is so focused on the powers of supermen clerics will hardly inspire hearts for renewal. We priests can start touching hearts again if we talk less about our powers and instead expose ourselves more to the power of Christ to change us. When we demand integrity from public officials, can we humbly say like Saint Paul “imitate me because I imitate Christ”? In this Year of the Poor self accusation must precede prophetic denunciation of social corruption.

Materialism and Clericalism

If our youth and children see shepherds who are more concerned about imitation than money we will see them staying with God. If we would be more focused on imitation of Christ before imposing fixed rates for the sacraments, we would see renewal. These times call for imitation before proclamation, imitation before teaching, imitation before mission, imitation fund raising. Imitation of Christ before all else! Our confused flock, like everyone else, listen only to life examples. The best fund raiser is the holy priest because he is credible. People know his hands are slippery when he touches money. The donations always end in the tables of the poor.

Clericalism speaks of privilege, prerogatives, entitlement and special treatment. Clericalism prefers sacristies to the slums. Clericalism is more concerned with embroidered vestments than reconciled souls. When we look back at the history of the Church, Church reform always started with clergy reform. As the shepherds go so the sheep follow.

When we lose humility, we lose perspective. When we lose perspective, we also become too reactive. When we become too reactive and possessive and materialistic, we become less effective and less credible as pastors. The loss of humility and the sickness of accumulation in Church ministry can be very costly. With materialistic clericalism laid aside, and Gospel empowered humble shepherding taking its place, we might be able to see the rainbow of hope in the Year of the Poor.

Clerical accumulation injures the idealism of our seminarians, hurts the sensibilities of the youth and confuses many of the faithful who know that Christ lived as a poor man and His disciples cannot be anybody less than that.

Signs of Simplicity

As a brother in the vocation whose mission is to bring the Good News to the poor, let us impose on ourselves strict discipline in the following areas of priestly life:

  1. Avoid as much as you can foreign travels and frequent recreation in expensive tourist destinations. Even if such are paid for by friends and family, it is best to decline and choose austerity and simplicity. Rest is important but luxurious recreation is disrespectful for the poor who cannot even take a rest from their backbreaking jobs. Be more sensitive.
  2. High end cars and expensive vehicles smack of vainglory and luxury especially in a province like ours where there are so many who are poor who cannot afford a tricycle ride. There is no excuse for any priest to have such high end vehicles. We need vehicles to reach the poor barangays and bring them the blessings of God. Expensive cars alienate the poor from the Church. We smell differently from the sheep.
  3. We need to return to the clerical attire or clerical cross in public places as a form of witnessing to the poverty of Christ. Loud colored signature shirts and pants are fashionable but we cannot let Christ glow unless we let our glamour go. To be simple is to be great in the eyes of God. The poor priest does not need to dress sloppy. We must give dignity to our vocation.
  4. It is a serious sin of omission for a priest not to have a regular poor person to help whether for education, health or livelihood. While it is morally acceptable to set aside some savings for future needs, it must be done with prudence. The money spent for the poor on earth are savings in the heavenly kingdom. It is a scandal for a priest to die a rich man. We bring to heaven only what we give away on earth.
  5. We must be honest in reporting to the Curia the true financial condition of the parish or school. There are no fixed rates of offerings for the celebration of Masses, for confirmations, for funerals, for weddings and other sacramentals in our archdiocese as we agreed on. What the archdiocese forbids, the parish priest must not circumvent. We are only temporary stewards not chief executive officers. Our goal is ministry not revenue upgrade.
  6. We need to re examine what we keep in our bedrooms. A priest’s room and a bachelor’s pad are exact opposites. Is the Lord our only companion in this sacred space of the rectory? “The bread which you withhold belongs to the hungry: the clothing you shut away belongs to the naked” (Saint Thomas Aquinas)
  7. Always give alms to the poor who come to you. Do not be afraid to be fooled nor turn them away empty. Do not be afraid to pamper the beggars. They have no one to help them. If you have to make a mistake, make a mistake in being too charitable, in being too kind. There is no excess in kindness. We cannot outdo Christ in kindness.

There is much to be done in the Year of the Poor but the first in the list is the simplification of priestly lifestyle. The renewal of the Church begins with the renewal of the priests. Let us take the lead in embracing the poverty of Jesus on the Cross.

I impose all these challenges on myself first before inviting you to embrace them too. Let us look at Jesus. Let us look at Him and let us be like Him. That is our only duty—to be Jesus and to give Jesus who alone is our treasure.

Sincerely yours,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

Obligatory Prayer against Calamities

May 11, 2014

Good Shepherd Sunday

Circular 2014-15

RE:  OBLIGATORY PRAYER against CALAMITIES

Dear brothers in the priestly ministry, men and women in consecrated life, brothers and sisters in Christ:

At all times we must pray and invoke the protection of God against every evil and against all troubles. We have been forewarned by experts and scientists that the rest of the year 2014 may be challenging months for the country bringing exceptionally strong typhoons, rains and winds. Let us turn to prayer and beg the Lord for deliverance and protection.

Invoking my authority as head pastor and primary intercessor of the Church in Lingayen Dagupan, I am obliging everyone in our archdiocese to pray the enclosed prayer against calamities and disasters starting May 15, 2014, Memorial of San Isidro Labrador until September 29, 2014, the Feast of the Archangels, in all Masses, after the Liturgy of the Hours and before the first class period in all our Catholic schools.

We cannot control the wrath of nature but we believe that God has power over all creation. Even now, we claim from the hands of Our Lady of Manaoag her motherly protection for her children in Pangasinan.

I enjoin everyone concerned to observe this mandate to pray.

Sincerely yours,

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan

————-

ORATIO IMPERATA

In the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan

To be prayed BEFORE the Post Communion Prayer

In all Masses from May 15, 2014, Memorial of San Isidro

Until September 29, 2014, Feast of the Archangels

Leader:

Almighty God, Lord of the universe, Creator of everything, we come to you seeking your divine protection as we face our fears and confront the threats that cause us anxiety.

After every invocation let us say

“DELIVER YOUR PEOPLE LORD”.

From strong typhoons

From relentless rains

From destructive earthquakes

From drought and pests

From deadly floods and storm surges

From red tides and fish kills

From deadly lightning

From violence and wars

From corruption and sin

From criminality and terrorism

From selfishness and indifference

Leader:

Divine Jesus, you calmed the storms and walked over the waters. Give us fine weather. Shield us from distress. Drive away from our land all calamities and disasters of nature. We entrust ourselves you now and forever.

Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, pray for us.

 

 

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