On the 29th Anniversary of the disappearance of Fr. Rudy Romano C.SS.R.,
and his Golden Jubilee of Priestly Ordination
DEAR PEOPLE OF GOD IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF CEBU:
As the Archdiocese of Cebu prepares to host the International Eucharistic Congress in January 2016, we continue to respond to the challenge of the New Evangelization. Integral to this pastoral thrust is our engagement in accompanying the people as they build a society where the Gospel values of truth, justice, peace and love reign.
His Holiness, Pope Francis in his Apostolic Exhortation, EVANGELII GAUDIUM (EG), reminds us to be steadfast in our efforts to preach the Gospel of justice and love if we want peace to reign in our society.
“The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode. When a society – whether local, national or global – is willing to leave a part of itself on the fringes, no political programs or resources spent on law enforcement or surveillance system can indefinitely guarantee tranquility. (EG, 59) ”
These words take a greater significance as we commemorate the 29th year of the disappearance of Fr. Rudy Romano, CSsR, a Redemptorist Missionary Priest, who disappeared and was abducted by suspected military men on July 11, 1985. Moreover, if Fr. Romano were still alive today, he would be celebrating this year (2014) the Golden Anniversary of his Ordination to the Priesthood.
Fr. Rudy Romano took to heart the challenge posed by many of the Church’s social encyclicals, namely, to take the side of the poor while denouncing injustice and social inequality. Following in the footsteps of our Lord, Fr. Rudy also bore his own cross until the end when he offered his life to follow Jesus. His life witness, his living out his vocation as a pastor and his legacy of deep commitment to Gospel values are gifts he offers to us until today even if he is no longer with us.
In our country today, we are continuously confronted with all kinds of social and ecological problems. Corruption has contributed to the persistence of poverty affecting many of our people. Despite having a relatively high Gross National Product (GNP) growth, this has not been inclusive. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, expressed his own deep concern about the relation between poverty and “the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, business and institutions. (EG, 60) ”
In Cebu, we see glaring indicators of poverty. We see thousands begging in the streets. There are vendors everywhere due to high unemployment. Even as they eke out a living, they are being pushed even further away from the sidewalks. Countless informal settlers are being ejected from their abode even as relocation sites are not yet well prepared. Workers continue to demand higher wages but their cries are not heard. Meanwhile, our farmers and fisherfolk continue to live in abject poverty, made worse by landlessness and the consequences of environmental abuse.
As a Church of the Poor, on this 29th anniversary of the disappearance of Fr. Rudy and his Golden Jubilee of Priestly Ordination, let us honor the Holy Father’s exhortation that we “share our lives with others and generously give of ourselves. (EG, 274) ”
May the Almighty God, through His Son, Jesus our Redeemer, bless us always. May Mary, the “star of the new evangelization” inspire us to look up to her as our model in living a life that interplays “justice and tenderness, contemplation and concern for others. (EG, 288)”
+JOSE S. PALMA, D.D.
Archbishop of Cebu
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