Our Exposure on Mission and Higher Theological Reflection was very timely, since the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines declared this year as the Year of the Parish, with the theme, “Communion of Communities.” Realizing its importance to our formation, we decided to design a program which will fit in the CBCP’s theme, and so we agreed to go to Taytay, Palawan to extend our assistance to the parish priest. At the back of our minds, we could hit two birds in one stone: we could fulfil the objectives of our pastoral exposure and we could experience the paradise of Palawan.

We were divided into two groups: Bobby, Andrei and Paulo were sent to Biton Island, while Jerone, Mervin and I were sent to a much farther island – Paly Island. We were delegated by the Parish Priest to be the Ministers of these two islands. We were tasked to Celebrate the Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion, to preach the Good News, to encourage the people to be renewed once again in their Catholic faith and, if possible, to form and organize Basic Ecclesial Communities in the island. The Parish Priest wanted us to do these things in his place, since he was alone serving the parish.

We had the Celebration of the Word with Communion every Wednesday and Friday at 5 o’clock in the afternoon and on Sundays at 5 o’clock in the morning. We also went to Paly National High School, a one hour walk from the barrio to celebrate the Word with them in view of the beginning of the School Year 2017-2018. In addition to the Celebration of the Word with Holy Communion, which we did three times a week, we drafted a 3-day program for those laity who wished to renew their dedication to serve the Church on June 9-11, 2017. This program, which we aptly entitled Life in Christ Renewal Experience, was done for three days from 5 o’clock in the evening until seven o’clock in the evening. It was arranged primarily to give way to their household works, and the other obligations in the barangay with due consideration in the capacity of the generator to be used since electricity provided by the government is still lacking in the island. The Life in Christ Renewal Experience became our jumping board to organize Basic Ecclesial Communities in Paly Island. Those who attended the seminar served as the leaders of the BECs. Aside from the seminar, we also carried out block rosary per purok. After praying the rosary, we had a procession while the brother-in-charge blessed their houses with Holy Water. We were not able to finish the blessing of houses until the last purok, since the island is composed of around 2,000 households. Another pastoral work that we did in Paly was a recollection for the Youth. It was held on June 17, 2017 Saturday from 9 o’clock in the morning until 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

After we completed our 20 days of ministry, the Pastoral Council of Paly Island surprised us with a DespedidaParty which was attended by the Catholic Faithful (students who attended the recollection and kids who played with us during our stay in their island). We went back to the mainland on the 21st of June and wrapped up our pastoral exposure on Mission and Higher Theological Reflection.  The culminating activity was sponsored by the Parish Priest and Pastoral Council.

By Br. Rocky Nino L. Maire, OP

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