While it’s easy for men to see priests as spiritual supermen, a bishop called on his fellow priests to find someone trustworthy they can confide in.
“It’s important that we are honest and open and we have someone nearby we can open up to and be vulnerable to. No one is exempted from experiencing [struggles],” said San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza yesterday, March 7, at the National Discernment of Priests on their Prophetic Role held at the Maryhill School of Theology in Quezon City.
According to the prelate, priests are not immune to emotional, spiritual, and psychological struggles and particularly need the friendship of other priests.
“We are not supermen. … Before any program, no matter how beautiful… [Even if] the resource speakers are so good… No matter how beautiful the venue is … if the priestly sacramental brotherhood is not addressed crab mentality, pushing [each other], envy, gossip is so strong. [There is] the code of silence, everyone is keeping quiet, ‘as long as you do not spill my beans I will not spill yours,’” he explained to some 120 priests gathered for the 2-day event organized by the National Clergy Discernment Group.
Alminaza, who also chairs the Episcopal Commission on Seminaries, said his journeying with the Church has impressed upon him the importance of presence and listening.
“More and more, I see the importance of listening with the heart. Learn the art of caring so you can cure. Our world [wants] to fix right away.. Sometimes what the person needs is to feel that someone cares for him,” he said in English and Filipino.
The bishop, who gave the last talk, on “Perspectives and Direction to the Ongoing Formation of the Clergy,” admitted how the accompaniment of priests has been overlooked, noting it is crucial if priests are to accompany others as well.
“It is so hard to accompany others when we are not experiencing what it’s like to be accompanied by someone else,” said Alminaza in Filipino.
Aside from seminary and priestly formation, the gathering also focused on EJKs, Charter Change, the CBCP’s declaration of 2018 as the Year of the Clergy and Consecrated Persons, the 6th year celebration of the Church in the Philippines’ 9-year “spiritual journey” towards 2021, the 500th year after the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz)