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Pre-Cana facilitators gather for regional assembly

By Myrna Bermudo



Lipa Archbishop Gilbert Garcera gives a lecture on the Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life during the Regional Assembly for Pre-Cana Instructors held at the Legazpi City Convention Center on 16 November 2023. (Photo courtesy of Rolly Serrano, Radyo Veritas Legazpi)


One hundred eighty (180) Pre-Cana facilitators or talk-givers on preparatory seminar for wedding from the seven dioceses of Bicol received upskilling from the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) for Bicol Region headed by Fr. William Santiago of the Archdiocese of Caceres and the diocesan priest family and life coordinators from November 16-17 at the Legazpi City Convention Center.


The two-day Bicol Regional Pre-Cana Facilitators Assembly on Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life (CPML) Seminar was hosted by the Diocese of Legazpi led by Family and Life Priest in-Charge Fr. Dave Ramoso, together with its officers and members.


In his message, Fr. Ramoso shared that the aim of the assembly is to prepare the married couples (through Pre- Cana) and on how they can value the sanctity of marriage.


“It is a region-wide assembly; thus, representatives came from Dioceses of Daet, Libmanan, Albay, Virac, Masbate, Sorsogon and the Archdiocese of Caceres. More than 70 lay talk-givers represented the Diocese of Legazpi as the seminar’s host. [In total], we expect 180 delegates to attend. Pre- Cana facilitators were trained on new approaches in giving seminars for young couples,” explained Fr. Ramoso.


In his session, Lipa Archbishop Gilbert A. Garcera, DD, head of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference (FABC) on Family and Life, Women, Laity, Youth and BEC, also a Bicolano and presently the Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) discussed the Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life (CPML) based on the book which he authored.


Fr. Ramoso emphasized, “Archbishop Garcera believes that a good formative preparation for marriage will help those who are preparing to commit themselves in the sacrament of matrimony.”


Fr. William Santiago, ECFL Regional Priest Coordinator of the Archdiocese of Caceres, seconded that the assembly is essential because the Pre- Cana speakers are being prepared to assist those who marry.


“Thank you, my fellow workers in the Family Life Ministry for coming. This is definitely something that the Pope would like to emphasize with the Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life: that we accompany those who are preparing for marriage and journey with them in their actual married life. The priest formation is long, yet the preparation for the bride and groom for the sacrament of marriage is very short. This reality inspires me to be more diligent in the Family-Life Ministry. May this assembly open new pathways for our ministry,” Fr. Santiago said in his opening statement.


Sorsogon Bishop Jose Allan Dialogo, Bishop Coordinator for Southern Luzon Bicol presided over the Welcome Eucharistic Celebration, together with Archbishop Gilbert Garcera and nine priests from the Bicol dioceses.


In his mass, he emphasized the pivotal role of Pre- Cana facilitators saying, “This wisdom rooted in love and understanding is the cornerstone of the Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life. It calls us to navigate the intricate tapestry of marital relationships with the discernment and grace bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit.”


Episcopal Commission on Family and Life (ECFL) aids the CBCP commission to promote the transformation of Christian families into true “domestic Churches” or churches of the home as God intends them to become and upon which the future of Evangelization will depend in great part, periodically making the necessary recommendations to the Philippine Bishops for the achievement of this fundamental objective. (CBCP By-Laws # 17)


On the first day, the regional assembly delegates were treated to a welcome dinner courtesy of the Diocese of Legazpi. The second day was spent on the actual general assembly, Eucharistic Adoration or Holy Hour led by Fr. Salvador Rojas, Priest Family Life Coordinator of the Diocese of Virac followed, “Family Matters” film viewing was held and an evening fellowship.


A closing mass was presided over by Archbishop Garcera.


In his homily, the ECFL Chairman thanked the Diocese of Legazpi for hosting the seminar, the Diocesan Directors of Family and Life and all those who came and supported the endeavor. He reflected on Synodality, Catechumenal Pathways for Married Life and the Word of God.


Garcera shared three points or realisation from what transpired during the assembly: “First realization in view of Synodality is walking together. It is walking together as one coming from many parishes. We realized that we need other offices and movements like catechesis, social action, CFC, El Shaddai since we walked together as a pastoral team. We also realized, as a region that we need to exchange stories and resources. We also acknowledge that we are weak and we need Ina, Our Lady of Peñafrancia and guidance of the Holy Spirit.”


“Where are we going? What is our direction? The answer must be clear and in view of the direction of the diocese, of the region, of the Philippine Church and of Holy Father’s view of Synodality. Wala nang kami-kami lang, lahat tayo ay sama- samang naglalakbay,” the ECFL chair expressed.


“Our third reflection speaks on discernment of the Word of God. Listening. In Bicol we use the word “himate”. We, Bicolanos, use ear of the heart. A compassionate heart has the ability to listen. After listening it discerns because it is attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit,” Garcera concluded.


A regional meeting of the Catholic Grandparents Association for Diocesan Couple Coordinators was held after the closing mass.

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