A parish church in the Philippines is a center of activities. It is the place where people of the same faith congregate and worship together. It is also the place where you meet others not in your usual circle but people mostly residing in your community. Geographical boundaries for order outlines the scope of the parish.
So it is by accident that I became a parishioner of the Tarlac Cathedral parish. It is in this parish that I came to know the many problems confronting our church, the priests and the parishioners. And it is in this parish where I had been drawn to serve in the Parish Pastoral Council where I served as an officer.
The PPC has been designed as an organized aggregates of religious communities and barangays to help the parish priest ln the running of the parish church. It serves as a venue for the parish priest to discuss his plans for the parish and to ask for the help of the communities and individual parishioners. It is also here that the communities can interact with each other and with the parish.
I have been serving for many years in the parish and based on my experience I have come to some conclusions.
The parishioners want to help and contribute to the needs of the church. I have seen the parish church start construction of many structures with almost no money to begin with. And yet, when the people sees the construction going on, help starts to flow. The fence surrounding the church, the candle room and even the comfort room building started this way. The ongoing renovation of the church is another example of this peculiar way of doing things. The magnificent renovated altar is the latest to be completed.
There are other things that the church has to address and one of these is the nurturing of the faith of the parishioners. In the first plenum of the PPC in 2007, the Renew and Renovate target of the organization was hatched. Renew and revitalize our faith and renovate our church when needed.
The construction of the church is more visible and relatively easier to do. And it has been started and still going on.
The renewal is harder and not visible. This is reflected in the work of the catechists. Year after year, our professional catechists have to go around begging for help in their work. They are undermanned, two for the parish with thousands of students to take care of and sad to say also lacking in logistical help, underpaid in other words. How can our catechists do their work and the work of the church? Will we just keep building edifices with no people around to worship because we failed to support their education?
There may be other reasons but Europe came to our mind. There are many beautiful and large churches in Europe with no church goers except occasional tourists. Will we be like Europe in the future with large churches with no faithful? So it was that the senior parochial vicar was finally convinced of the need to take care of the non-visible aspect of the running of the church, the renewal of our faith.
And so, Patronato de San Sebastian de Tarlac, Inc. was born out of these concerns. The corporation was designed to help in the preservation of the faith. We will keep away from building structures in the church. We will be building and nurturing the faith in our people. We will need your help and the help of many others to accomplish this goal. We are asking for your help to make visible in the people in their faith the renewal aspect of our San Sebastian Cathedral Parish.