To be disempowered to be empowered


Last 20 February 2019, I was asked by Fr. Cesar Malasa, OFM, of St. Claire of Assisi Parish in Malabon to share my experience in the area before OFM Minister General Br. Michael Perry, OFM. Allow me to share my sharing...

Fray Michael Anthony Perry, Minister General of the Order of the Friars Minor, Fr. Greg, general definitor, Fr. Cielo, minister provincial of the province of San Pedro Bautista, and our parish priest of Sta. Clara Parish, Fr. Cesar Malasa, and Fr. Willy Benito, parochial vicar, our OFM brothers present here today, to the parishioners of Sta. Clara Parish, Health in the Lord and blessings of the Holy Spirit!

I am deeply grateful for this opportunity given to me by Fr. Cesar to share my experience here in Sta. Clara Parish, although it was a very short experience, two months to be exact but it was an experience filled with so much blessings, in terms of learning, in terms of realizations, and a rich reflection on what it truly means to be a church, a church of the poor.

I am Br. Ritche Salgado, OCarm, a simple professed friar of the Order of Carmelites in the Philippines and a non-canonical member of the provincial council of the Province of Bld. Titus Brandsma. I am also a third year theology student at the Inter-Congregational Theological Center, and it was because of ICTC that I was able to come here and be part of the community even for a little while. We were here to do an ethnographic study with the hope of understanding at least part of the constituents of the parish in terms of their socio-economic status, their level of education, their involvement in the parish, their concerns and their hope and dreams, so to speak.

At ICTC, we now call this study as Participative Social Investigation, and there is a reason for that. At ICTC, we are trained, formed, to be guides, to be servants, and not to be one who simply tells people what to do, in the sense that when, should it be our path, when given the gift of becoming leaders we should not be such leaders who love to tell people what to do, rather we should be able to face and embrace the challenge to bring people to the realization of what they want and what they need and how they want these needs to be addressed. Participation, collaboration, inclusion, empowerment.

And that is what I saw here in Sta. Clara. I was blessed to experience here that to be church is not to have a sturdy, magnificent, intricate, and extraordinary physical structure, but it means having a sturdy, magnificent, extraordinary people who has the tenacity to tell their pastors where and how they want their church to look like. That could be a headache for an ordinary minister, but for one who has truly embraced the call, it can be a humbling life changing experience. One that would really help us in recognizing the face of our living God.

My experience here in Sta. Clara was very enriching, especially since it was here that I was truly able to experience what the BEC or the basic Christian Community really means and how it can truly help in building the church of the poor. Sta. Clara, after all was a church of people before a structure was built. It is no surprise that it did not take long for this church to be declared a parish. I am truly grateful for the support that Fr. Cesar, Fr. Willy and the OFM community in the parish has given us while we were here, for the openness of the parishioners, who shared their lives with us and their experience of the BEC, for showing us what it means to have an empowered lay faithful and how this would enrich the church.

In our journey as religious, these experiences are truly helpful in forming us, in building us and in making us into genuine servants of our Lord and of the Church, for this, I am truly grateful.

(Photo by my foster nanay, ate Neng. Thank you, te...)


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