AMRSP Post-Convention Statement
AMRSP Joint Biennial Convention 2021
28-30 April 2021
Saint Paul VI
We, the 275 major superiors and representatives of institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life, 12 delegates of secular institutes and institutes of contemplative consecrated life, and 10 representatives of the 7 Mission Partners (MPs), of the 2021 Online Joint Biennial Convention of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP), now the Conference of Major Superiors in the Philippines (CMSP), gathered to reflect on the theme “SINGKWENTA SA LIMANG SIGLO: 50 Years of AMRSP on the 500th Year of Christianity in the Philippines, Celebrating the Gift of Consecrated Life in Mission at the Service of God and of Humanity.”
As an inter-personal community, together with our MPs, we were welcomed by the Chairpersons, Sr. Marilyn Java, RC of the AMRSWP and Fr. Cielito Almazan, OFM of the AMRSMP. They said that “this Convention is a space to pause and reflect on our experiences and God’s graciousness, to be emboldened to live our mission” towards transformation.
Against the background of the celebration of the 500 years of Christianization of the Philippines, we focused our energies in revisiting our congregational and our collective journeys spanning fifty years and to begin to chart our common future as a Conference.
A Listening Heart – Celebrating our Brotherhood and Sisterhood
Going by sheer numbers, the AMRSP is a formidable organization: 361 institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life out of the 453 congregations in the Philippines are members of the AMRSP, representing 80 percent of the total number of institutes present in the Philippines. As Archbishop Romulo G. Valles, DD, CBCP President, said, “We cannot capture the picture of the tapestry of those 500 years of Christianity without the thread of the consecrated men and women who first came to this country.”
Despite the dark side of the Filipinos’ experience of Spanish colonization, collectively as communities and as a Conference is the certainty that the Christian faith we received has been embraced and contextualized. We are a people blessed and committed not only to our Christian faith, but also to transmitting this Faith to the next generations.
His Eminence João Braz Cardinal de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, affirmed the fidelity of consecrated life in the Philippines to its concern for and commitment to the poorest, a solidarity with the poor and vulnerable that is filled with joy “that has grown over the past 500 years as it has encountered the joy of the Gospel”.
Cardinal de Aviz further affirmed the AMRSP’s journey so far is in full harmony with Pope Francis’ invitation to live synodality which is a constitutive and fundamental dimension of consecrated life, as well as the whole Church. He emphasized that “during this pandemic, synodality has helped us to appreciate more the value of walking side by side (with all of humanity). We cannot save ourselves alone.”
It is only with a listening heart can we be a synodal Church. A synodal Church feels and is in solidarity with the pains, hopes, joys and anxieties of the people.
Sr. Mary Regina Kuizon, RGS, former Co-Chairperson of the AMRSWP, reaffirmed these synodal practices of AMRSP when she traced the story of how as a fraternal body, the AMRSP responded to the challenges of the times. Juxtaposing the annals of the AMRSP and her own congregation’s annals during the Martial Law years, she highlighted the collective responses of AMRSP to the extremely challenging journey of AMRSP from 1972 to the present. These resulted from deep personal and common discernment, and prayer of a listening heart.
Go into the Deep – Challenges to Faith and Mission
Going into the deep as we re-commit ourselves to the calling of our mission, let us remember these guideposts to our journey into another 500 years:
What can we learn from our history?
Where are we being called to go?
What are we being called to do?
What would our founders do?
As a Conference, what can we do?
There are many complicated challenges to commit to Christ’s mission: a crisis of vocations and a dwindling lay faithful – especially among the youth, who no longer find meaning and identity in the Church and its ministries. Other challenges include the stark contrast between our faith values and the values of a dominant economy, finding the balance between prayer, silence (meditation) and active ministry. We are called to engage with the formidable list of social concerns – including the total disregard for ecological integrity and human dignity, persistent human rights violations, and the 2022 elections, a critical event to safeguard our country’s democratic structures.
We find our directions in the sharing of Bishop Midyphil B. Billones, DD, Auxiliary Bishop of Cebu, who said that for the next 500 years, CMSP, formerly named as AMRSP, must re-establish our identity of communion, moving away from isolationism, individualism and racism towards an openness to a love without borders, with solidarity which enables us to see the other half of our soul in our brothers and sisters.
Emboldened to Transform and Be Transformed
Cardinal de Aviz said the task before us “is not an easy one, but a demanding and challenging one. It is a task that “asks for everything, but at the same time offers us everything” (EG 12).
As a collective fraternal body, exploring ways of giving and collaborating essentially means dreaming together what the next 500 years will be like. It means looking to the future with hope, because only “Hope is bold; it can look beyond personal convenience, the petty securities and compensations which limit our horizon, and it can open us up to grand ideals that make life more beautiful and worthwhile” (FT 55).
We have embarked on our collective journey into the future by working on the process of the internal renewal of the Association. As a body we approved renaming ourselves Conference of Major Superiors in the Philippines (CSMP) and undertaking the canonical and civil procedures to complete this process. Beyond the change of name, we hope that this renewal will inaugurate a season of deeper collaboration among the different forms of consecration.
At this point in our institutional history, we recommit ourselves to Pope Francis’ nine-year Total Sustainability Plan and the 15-Month Plan of the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission and the Mission Partners, in addressing key social issues, pending the suggestions of the Joint Executive Board.
Only with a listening heart in dreaming and walking together as a synodal body of collaborators, can we as the Conference of Major Superiors of the Philippines “go out into the deep” to transform and be transformed, together with the entire body of Christ in animating humanity. We trust in the Lord’s word: “Do not fear. I am here, your Lord.” (cf. Isaiah 41, 10).
We acknowledge and thank the Holy Father, Pope Francis for his paternal concern for our Conference and for all consecrated persons in the Philippines; as well as to our Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles J. Brown, DD, who presented Pope Francis’ message; our conference speakers, Sr. Mary Regina T. Kuizon, RGS and Bishop Midyphil Billones DD; our panel moderators, Fr. Roel L. dela Cruz, SSS and Sr. Carmelita Z. Victoria, SSpS; the Listening Heart panelists, Sr. Sonia Aldeguer, RSCJ, Fr. Juvenal Moraleda, CSsR, Fr. Roberto Rivera, SJ, and Mother Marrietta Vega, OSC; the prayer leaders for the three days: the De La Salle Brothers and the Discalced Carmelite Nuns for the first day; the Franciscan Sisters pro Infante et Familia for the second day, and the Claretian Missionaries for the third day.
We also recognize with gratitude the contributions of our Chairpersons, the members of the Joint Executive Board, our Executive Secretaries, and the entire AMRSP Secretariat in making this Convention possible.
May the Good God, the Good Shepherd who is ready to lay his life down for his sheep, urge us with his charity and love to commit once more to serve him and all of humanity.
For the Members of the Joint Convention:
Sr. Marilyn A. Java, RC
Fr. Cielito R. Almazan, OFM
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