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Circular Letter

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.

 

 

THE CHURCH AND OUR ELECTIONS

Pastoral Letter for the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan

My dear people of God:

As responsible citizens of heaven and citizens of our nation, we must face the forthcoming elections always from the viewpoint of faith and with the mind of the Church enlightened by the values of the Gospel.

Our Gift

What can the Church—bishops, priests and laity gathered by the Spirit of God—contribute to the forthcoming elections?

Our best contribution is to PRAY that the Lord of history guide every voter and guide every candidate in the forthcoming exercise of civil responsibility. It is only the Lord who can give us peace during elections. It is only God who can enlighten us in our decision making so that the voice of the people can truly reflect the voice of God. If we cease to be a praying people and lose our link to God, our humanly inspired decisions can only lead to the loss of our soul as a nation. Prayer is the most important untapped resource in nation building often ignored and even ridiculed. The Church must restore the confidence of our citizenry in prayer. Remember EDSA.

The Church can also contribute a reverential SILENCE in the forum of public discussion. Silence is the language of God. We must regain our vision to be a contemplative Church and refuse the temptation to be popular and attractive. The silence of contemplation is the only antidote to the insane and ridiculous campaign strategies that we watch. The silence of contemplation is the cure to the disgusting, unreal and chaotic flavour of the election period. The Church can be a prophetic sign of the mystical silence of God in the midst of the cacophony of mud throwing and name calling in campaign platforms.

The Church is the CONSCIENCE of society and it must remain so. The beatitudes need to be re-proposed. The Ten Commandments need to be re-injected into the lifeblood of our national conscience. The Catholic social teachings about the promotion of the common good, the challenge of solidarity, the spirituality of stewardship and similar teachings must be taught more vigorously and passionately. The best time to teach these gospel lessons is now as we choose our civil leaders.

The Church must be a MOTHER and TEACHER of voters and candidates together. The Church must be a mother and teacher also for all the candidates from opposing political parties. As mother she loves all and refuses no one. As a teacher, she rebukes with love; she corrects with mercy; she guides firmly always celebrating what is right and beautiful among her opposing children. She must be an example of humility in the midst of arrogance. She must be a reminder of the presence of the divine among us.

Our Boundary

What must the Church—bishops, priests and laity—not do during this campaign and election period?

When the Church ENDORSES CANDIDATES in political elections she always ends up a LOSER. The endorsed candidate may win in the votes but the Church never wins with him. In endorsing candidates, the Bride of Christ the Church tarnishes her spiritual mission with the stain of the mundane. The endorsed candidate might win but religion has been reduced to a political party; religion has been used for political gain and our spiritual mission has been compromised. We will be lonesome widows after the elections for marrying partisan politics during the campaign.

The Church must refuse to play with the fire of political power or it risks burning herself. The Church does not win when her endorsed candidate wins. The Church should not be perceived as winning or losing an election. The Church must be beyond such. Paraphrasing the Lord in the Garden of Agony, those who live by the sword will die by the sword. RELIGIONS THAT WALTZ WITH POLITICS WILL DIE BY POLITICS.

When elections are PEACEFUL and HONEST, the Church WINS in the elections. When elections are morally credible and losers and winners stay civil and courteous, the Church wins in the elections. When every vote is cast from CONSCIENCE and not from convenience, the Church has truly become the formator of conscience and has shown herself as a mother and teacher faithful and obedient to her Master and Lord. Candidates and voters are children of the Church. Candidates against one another are brothers and sisters in God.

The Church must guide and not dictate.

The Church must unite and not contribute to the division.

The Church must pray and not add to the confusion.

The Church must heal and not inflict hurts.

The Church must be in the world but not belong to it.

Our Guidance

How can we your shepherds help you to exercise your civic duty as Catholics? What guidance can the pastors give to the flock entrusted to their care? We your archbishop and priests in Lingayen Dagupan admonish you to examine your candidates diligently in the light of our Catholic faith. We advise you not to vote for the candidates if:

1. The candidate cannot declare a categorical and clear NO to divorce, abortion, euthanasia, total birth control and homosexual marriages or D.E.A.T.H issues. Pro choice is anti life.

2. The candidate has been linked to drug trade, drug possession or drug use or receives money from illegal gambling or has done nothing to stop illegal gambling specially jueteng. Silence is consent.

3. The candidate has been convicted for a criminal offense. Government officials must be honourable.

4. The candidate supports black sand mining or tolerates irresponsible quarrying or illegal fish pens. Nature is our mother; if you can rape your own mother, what else will you not do?

5. The candidate has not done anything until now to uplift the plight of the poor. Performance is better than promises.

6. The candidate is giving money or distributing goods to voters during the campaign period. Vote buying is prostitution.

7. The candidate has been involved or linked to terrorism or the use of goons for self protection within or outside the campaign period. Peace is the only way to peace.

8. The candidate shows off religiosity only during the campaign period or is antagonistic to church teachings and practices. Corruption and hypocrisy are twins.

9. The candidate is unfaithful to his or her spouse and children. Corruption begins at home.

10. The candidate has other members of the immediate family in government positions already. Promoting family welfare and promoting the common good cannot mix.

We submit these guidelines to you and plead with you to bring them to prayer. If Jesus would vote, for whom would he vote? Vote like Jesus. If you cannot find Jesus from among the candidates just make sure you do not make Judas or Barabbas win.

If you sell your vote, you sell something sacred; you make yourself a cousin of Judas too.

Our Prayer

May Mary, Mirror of Justice, whom we tenderly venerate in Manaoag as Our Lady of the Rosary, help you to be good disciples of the Lord and patriotic citizens of our country.

From the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist, Dagupan City, April 14, 2013

+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS

Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan

EMHC/Lectors and Commentators — Updating Seminary 2013

February 2, 2013

St. John the Evangelist Parish

St. John the Evangelist District

February 9, 2013

Our Lady of the Holy Rosary

San Antonio de Padua

Chapel of the Resurrection

St. Catherine of Sienna

February 23, 2013

Our Lady of Purification

Our Lady of Immaculate Heart

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Sto. Tomas Catholic School

March 2, 2013

St. Vincent

Mary Help of Christians

San Isidro Labrador

San Lorenzo Ruiz

March 9, 2013

Epiphany of our Lord

Sta. Barbara

St. Columban’s College

March 16, 2013

St. Ildephonse

Our Mother of Perpetual Help

Visitation of the BVM

Malasiqui Catholic School

March 23, 2013

St. Hyacinth

Most Holy Rosary, Calmay

San Fabian

April 6, 2013

Sts.  Peter and Paul

Cirsto Divino Tesoro

Pastoral Station SB

St. Pius V

April 13, 2013

Annunciation of the Lord

Holy Cross

Binmaley Catholic School

April 20, 2013

St. Therese

St. Joseph

April 27, 2013

St. Rose of Lima

St. John the Baptist

St. Joseph Husband of Mary

May 4, 2013

St. Dominic

St. Charles Academy

VMUF

Holy Family, Tandoc

Blessed John Paul II

Jesus the Nazarene

May 11, 2013

St Gabriel the Archangel

St. Thomas Aquinas

March 25, 2013

Music Ministry

March 26, 2013

Altar Servers

March 27, 2013

Collecta Team

Ushers and Usherettes

April 7 and 14, 2013

Basic Formation Seminar for New Lectors and Commentators

April 21 and 28, 2013

Basic Formation for New EMHC

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