Laity: A gift to the Church, Cardinal says

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Humility, attitude and learning from the poor are but a few of the many things one can take home from Cotobato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo’s keynote address at the first Bicol Congress of the Laity held in Legazpi City last November 28-29. For Caceres lay reactor Atty. Eusebio Albina, these are the three things that he learned from the funny, witty and highly energetic Cardinal: to be humble, to possess the right attitude (more than the structure) and to learn from the poor instead of making them the “object of [one’s] focus”.

Filipinos are a people of culture and in the Filipino culture, there exists a social distinction between the clergy and the laity. According to Quevedo, the former is “on a pedestal” while the latter is often “underestimated and [usually] ignored”. He said, “Money is not the only contribution a lay can give” for if empowered and educated, the lay can change the world, even the Church for the better.

In his address entitled “Laity: Called and Sent to be Saints and Missionaries”, Quevedo enumerated some of the chasms today. First, the kind of faith that people have: uninformed yet deep and solid. Second, the huge gulf between one’s faith and one’s life. “How do you get people to live their lives in faith?” the Cardinal asked, especially now that the attendance in Sunday masses has been reported to be dwindling.

Over numerous jokes and stories, Quevedo exhorted and stressed deeply the importance of lay participation in the Church. Witnessing, alongside education, is the core component of evangelization. While observing the sacraments is essential, being holy through one’s life is what will bring one to fulfillment. The fundamental calling of a lay person is to “proclaim the Lord and transform the world to a better reflection of the Kingdom of God”. Quevedo said, “We cannot change the Doctrine but we can change our practices and procedures.”

The Cardinal from Mindanao applauded the first Regional Congress of the Laity in the country and even suggested that a repeat be made every three or four years with “dialogue between [the] local Churches”. (Natalie Hazel Quimlat)