Friday, October 19, 2007

Table-Fellowship among Muslim Imams, Catholic Priests and Protestant Pastors

Last night I had dinner with Muslim Imams, Protestant Pastors and fellow Catholic priests. It was held at the St. Mary's parish here in Davao City and hosted by Fr. Pete Lamata, the parish priest. Before dinner there were prayers recited by a Catholic priest, a Muslim Imam and a Protestant pastor. This is one of the activities of the Imams, Pastors and Priests Forum (IPPF) - an interfaith-ecumenical movement that seeks to carryout an ongoing dialogue of life and faith.

I was delighted to see my old friend - Ustadz Mahmod Adilao. He is a convenor of the Bishops-Ulama Forum (BUF). We first met seven years ago when we organized the Caravan for Peace during the height of the armed hostilities between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Since then we have worked together on various peace initiatives in the city.

I am convinced that an interfaith-ecumenical dialogue can progress not only in the level of discussion and prayer but also on the level of praxis - in working together for peace and development.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Seminar-Workshop for BEC Formation Teams

This weekend, I conducted a Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) seminar workshop in Ormoc City which was attended by 240 participants coming from 20 parishes of the Ormoc and Palompon vicariates of the Archdiocese of Palo. Most of the participants are members of the parish formation teams responsible for forming BECs in their respective parishes.
The workshop-seminar was meant to deepen their understanding of BECs and find new ways of forming and strengtheningBECs.
Almost two years ago, I conducted a BEC seminar for the priests of the archdiocese. I am glad to know that they are enthusiastically implementing the BEC program of the archdiocese with the encouragement of Archbishop Jose Palma. They have already formed the BEC formation teams in every parish most of whom are composed of lay volunteers coming from LOMAS (lay organizations, movements an associations). Sr. Betty, DC is the energetic archdiocesan BEC promoter.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Expressing Solidarity with the People and Monks of Burma

At around noontime, I and some of my students joined a "prayer service" in front of the Buddhist temple here in Davao to express our solidarity with the people and monks of Burma. Before saying the opening prayer, I read this poem which I composed earlier:

The Empty Streets and Monasteries of Burma
Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR

There is silence in the empty streets
and monasteries in Burma.
The saffron robes of the monks have turned to red
as they languish in prison or float in the river
while the Generals in their luxurious palaces order their troops
to continue maintaining “peace and order.”

Meanwhile, the grumbling in the stomachs and the hearts
of the people of Burma continues to grow.
Their anger and courage will overwhelm their fear
that have kept them enslaved and impoverished for so long.
It is only a matter of time when the hated regime
will share the same fate of the other dictatorial regimes all over the world.

They will not reign forever and ever.
Someday, the streets and monasteries of Burma will be full
of monks and citizens celebrating their freedom.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Healing a Little Boy

This evening, our secretary Gingging and her husband came to the monastery with their little boy Revlon who had a very high fever (40.5 degrees centigrade). They just came from the hospital and they were told to go back tomorrow for tests. No medicine was prescribed since they did not know what his ailment was. We let them stay in our guest room for the night since it was getting late and their home was 7 kilometers away. Gingging asked me if I could heal her little boy. So I prayed over Revlon and held his wrists. After 30 minutes, the fever went down to 39.3 C and he was feeling much better. He asked for food as he was famished. Several hours later, his body temperature was 37.9 centigrade.

There was a time when I did not believe in this type of healing. I believed that only doctors and their medicines can cure people. The only thing I could do was administer the sacrament of the anointing of the sick and pray that the sick get well without any expectation of physical healing. I remember feeling helpless in the presence of the sick little girl in a remote barrio and I wondered if it was possible to heal the sick as Jesus did. I wished God would give me the gift of healing. Down through the years, I have been surprised to discover that the sick could experience healing by praying over them. Of course, I don't want to spend most of my time doing this. But in cases of emergency, I cannot say no. But I don't want people to line up in the monastery or the church to ask for healing. I won't be able to do the other things that I am supposed to do - like teaching, writing, advocacy work, giving seminars, biking, etc.

My confrere, Fr. Senen jokingly refers to me as the priest with a double doctorate - a doctor of sacred theology (STD) and a quack doctor (QD).