2014 STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS
January 20, 2013
Arnoldus Hall, Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay City
Reverend Father Antonio Pernia, the 10th Superior General of the Society of the Divine Word, Dear Rectors and District Superiors of our local communities, and Confreres:
First, allow me to extend some words of gratitude to certain individuals who were called to compose the Task Forces for this Provincial Gathering. You know that not all of you were consulted, but, because we trust in your ability, so you were appointed. My thanks goes likewise to Frs. Ernie, Gil and Joks, and their staff, for making sure that all the logistical requirements for this gathering are attended to and provided for. I am confident we have prepared enough for this gathering. With all these efforts put together, may this provincial gathering truly become a celebration for all of us as companions of the Divine Word.
In all of our provincial gatherings a report about the state of the province is always delivered. I delivered one in January 2013. And so many things that you will hear in this report may not actually be new, but they will nonetheless be presented here to keep us informed of certain developments as far as these items are concerned.
- The “ROAD MAP” of SVD Philippine Central Province 2013-2018
Let me start this report by saying that we have A ROAD MAP! At about the same time last year, we gathered in this hall armed with one important objective in mind, namely, to implement the mandate given by the SVD 17th General Chapter (2012) to all provinces, regions and missions in the Society to come up with provincial congregational priorities and use them as a basis for setting the directions in the life and mission of the province for the next 6 years. And so in that assembly we:
- Ratified the newly drafted vision and mission statement of PHC; and
- Discussed the strategic goals presented by the two strategic planning workshops held earlier in December – goals for each of the nine Congregational Priorities that we appropriated for PHC; and, finally,
- Sat down in different groups to start working on the strategic objectives for each of the goals, which were subsequently presented to the plenum for discussion and approval.
We closed the assembly satisfied with what we had so far accomplished, but agreeing that as we went back to our local communities we would spend time together to complete the last phase of the strategic process by writing our own community action plans. Therefore, beginning in March action planning workshops were in earnest in your respective local communities. Writing an action plan was quite a difficult task, but you have accomplished your homework 100%. We collected and edited all the action plans and put them together. And now I am glad to declare that we have a road map - a Strategic Plan for 2013-2018. This will guide and give the direction to the province in the next 5 or so years.
As a matter of fact, we have already begun implementing some of the Road Map in 2013. In September and October, the team of the CD Secretariat went to Palawan to facilitate their first district orientation workshop on the Characteristic Dimensions; they also conducted a bible seminar in Rio Tuba for the parishes in the Southern area of Palawan. We shall spend a portion of our time tomorrow morning to look at this strategic plan again. But for now it is apt to say, congratulations to all of us!
- The DIVINE WORD INSTITUTE OF MISSION STUDIES
Another important development that we consider a blessing to the Province, and in which the Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay played a very important role, is the establishment of the Divine Word Institute of Mission Studies (DWIMS). The dream of establishing a missiological institute took a long period to its concretization – it entailed a lot of hard work for the team tasked to carry out this project. But, finally, on July 3, 2013, the Divine Word Institute of Mission Studies was formally incorporated by the Royal and Pontifical University of Santo Tomas. DWIMS is now a Pontifical Institute!
However, as early as 2000, the SVD Generalate had already been endorsing the idea of SVD world institutions that would engage in serious theological research and reflection. Like the 3 wise men who finally found the newborn king, the SVD Generalate was also “stargazing” - carefully watching and analyzing the significant global trends in the new millennium. Then they stumbled on a particular “star” – the “global demographic shift” - and considered what it indicates. Global demographic shift pertains to the phenomenon of the gradually decreasing population of countries in the northern hemisphere, while at the same time witnessing the increasing populations of countries in the southern hemisphere. What comes along with it is the shrinking of the Catholic population, vocation, etc. in the global north, and the growth of the Catholic population, vocation, etc. in the global south, along with its many challenges.
The SVD Generalate understood that this shift has great consequences for the Church’s worldwide mission – in terms of its direction and orientation - and the SVD mission as well. Fr. Tony Pernia observed with keenness that “the phenomenal shift in numbers from the global north to the global south needs to be accompanied by a corresponding commitment to serious theological research and reflection. For what good is it if we have more Catholics in the South, but the Christian faith is not lived more meaningfully and more consequentially?”
This is the most compelling motive why there is a need to set up reliable institutes for research and reflection. In the Asia Pacific Zone, Tagaytay is the foremost choice for its inherent practical and favorable advantages in comparison to the other options in the region. We are