Fr. Joe dreamt of a ‘Church of the Poor’
I was very happy that on his 40th anniversary of priestly ordination last Oct. 15, Fr. Joe Dizon adopted the words of Pope Francis as his theme: “How I would like a Church of the poor, for the poor.”
I said then that the anniversary was an opportune occasion to articulate our dream of a renewed church and called to mind the strong message of the First National Congress of the Philippine Clergy in 2004—that the renewal of the country can be possible “through a renewed Church by a renewed clergy.”
These renewed clergy are what the Lord meant when He said, “I will give you shepherds after my own heart” (Jer. 3:15).
Our Holy Father Pope Francis exhorted priests to “be shepherds with the smell of sheep;” to serve “the poor, prisoners, the sick, for those who are sorrowing and alone.” Pope Francis further reminded us that good shepherds must be “ready to walk amidst the flock: capable of hearing the silent story of those who suffer and of sustaining the steps of those who are afraid of not making it; careful to lift up, to reassure and to inspire hope.”
In the Philippines, these are articulated in the Updated Philippine Program of Priestly Formation (UPPPF): “The priest should take the initiative in a prophetic reaching out to the poor and victims of Philippine society and in dialogue with peoples of other churches or faiths…. The priest serves and leads the community by inspiring its members to lend their gifts for the service of the community and society” (UPPPF, 14).
Indeed, we can say that in his 40 years as priest, Father Joe (who passed away last Nov. 4) showed us how to live as a priest of the poor.
We joined Father Joe in celebrating 40 years of service as a priest of God and the people. May the fire in his belly, the burning flames of the tongues of fire in Pentecost be kept alive. May he and all of us pastors be a light of hope for the Church of the Poor.
—MOST REV. GERARDO A. ALMINAZA, DD,
bishop-elect, Diocese of San Carlos,
chair, Church-People Workers Solidarity,
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