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Message of the Third Bikol Priests’ Congress to the People of God in Bikol

In the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, we, your Bishops, Priests, and Deacons have come together for the Third Bikol Priests’ Congress at the Our Lady of Peňafrancia Seminary, Sorsogon City, from July 30 to August 2, 2018. After four days of reflection and prayer, we, the 534 participants coming from the seven dioceses of Bikol, are deeply grateful that God has rekindled His gift within us (cf. 2 Tim 1:6), reminding us that, as Catholic priests we were chosen and ordained to be holy and righteous in His sight all the days of our life (cf. Luke 1:75). In gratitude and fidelity to God, we shall strive to be true to His gift with which He has blessed us tremendously and recommit ourselves in giving our priesthood the honor and dignity it deserves. We shall center our life and ministry in Jesus Christ so that we can truly become shepherds after His own heart (cf. Jer. 3:15). We shall maintain this center as our pastoral priority because it is where Christ “continues to put into our hearts this marvelous love for his people” (cf. Psalm 16), empowering us to live with charity our pastoral office (cf. PDV, 52-53) as a total and unconditional gift of self. In the spirit of pastoral charity, “the virtue by which we imitate Christ in his self-giving and service” (PDV, 51), we commit ourselves to the following tasks: 1. In the context of new challenges, we affirm the need for a more intense and collaborative ongoing formation that we may assure the faithful of greater maturity in living our vocation and ministry. 2. To renew our seminary formation, we shall implement a clear and integrated formation program and ensure the continuous training of seminary formators so that they can provide the right accompaniment to the seminarians. 3. To respond to the Universal Church’s call for new evangelization, we shall take seriously the challenge to form Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) in our parishes. 4. To provide a continuum of care for clergy health and well-being and complement existing welfare programs in particular dioceses, we shall fully support the institution of the Bikol Priests Security System (BPSS). 5. To promote regional cooperation in accomplishing the common mission of the local Church, we shall effect ways to make the Bikol Regional Pastoral Conference (BRPC) functional. 6. To address the plight of the poor brethren, we shall intensify our current efforts to alleviate the depressing condition of the least, the lost and the last in our society. In all these, we hope and pray that we be given the grace to live out the commitment we have expressed in the congress. We ask you to pray for us, your Bishops, Priests and Deacons, so that we may all the more be configured to Christ; that we may embrace His cross and not abandon it. May Ina, Our Lady of Peñafrancia, continue to keep us close to her son Jesus. THE BISHOPS, PRIESTS, DEACONS OF BIKOL

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