28 June 2009. The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan Social Action Apostolate held a series of formation sessions with the different lay Social Action ministers of the parishes of the archdiocese as part of its continuing formation program. The two-day formation program was dubbed as “ANTABAY: BECOMING NEIGHBOR”. The parish social action core team ministers attended the formation program.
The core team is composed of : Bro. Tony Supremido, the chairperson; Sis. Elizabeth Terte, secretary; Sis. Shirley Tersol, treasurer; Sis. Rowena Nicer, Caritas Ministry coordinator; Bro. Martin Estayo, Advocacy Ministry Coordinator, Sis. Leonora Datuin, Justice and Peace Coordinator; Bro. Felipe Dagarag, BEC Coordinator; Bro. Marvin Borja, Parish Youth Coordinator
The Formation Program: Antabay: Becoming Neighbor
“And who is my neighbor? (Luke 10, 29) This was the question of the lawyer to Jesus who wanted to justify himself, for failing to show love to his “neighbor”. “How can I love my neighbor when I do not know who my neighbor is?” The Lawyer does not show humility by saying something like, “How can I do this, since I am an imperfect and sinful man?” Instead, he seeks to justify himself. This is often the case with experts in laws; they think they have their own lives covered pretty well because they look at their actions, not their hearts. The expected reply would be something like, “Your relative and your friend.” Then the lawyer would be able to say that he has done this and thereby enjoy honor among the people there listening. But Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan.
Being a neighbor to someone is not limited to family relations or proximity. It is showing the love of God to all who are in need, whoever they may be, where ever they may be. This story will not be complete without the parable of sheep and goats, and the question: ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ (Mt. 25, 38-39).
Antabay is a Pilipino word deriving its roots from the words, ANTAY and ABAY. Antay is an act of actively and consciously anticipating the need of the other. To wait for the other is to make oneself available to the other, giving up our time and whole self for the other. Abay is a colloquial word used for someone who is a very close companion, someone who sticks to a friend, someone who follows his friend all the way, even if it means giving one’s life for that friend.
To “antabay” in Pangasinan means to “guide” and by doing so “nurtures and supports” the other. And one cannot guide unless one walks with the other, feels for the others. Jesus is our Antabay. He became one with us, emptied himself for us, died for us. He not only guides us, he nurtures us. Antabay is our calling: to become a neighbor to the other.
Becoming a neighbor is to take an active role. Being a neighbor is to be the recipient of the Good Samaritan. One recognizes who his neighbor; but Jesus, our Antabay, urges us to become a neighbor. Why? “This is how all will know you for my disciples, your love for your neighbor” (Jn. 13,35).
Formation by Vicariates
The core team members of the parishes received the two-day formation program. The parishes of Vicariates II and IV held their “Antabay” formation on 21-22 June 2009 at the Mary Help of Christians High School Seminary, Binmaley, Pangasinan. The parishes of Vicariates I and III held theirs on 27-28 June 2009, at the Mary Help of Christians College Seminary, Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan City. All in all, there were about two hundred twenty participants.
The talks were given by Most Rev. Oscar V. Cruz, DD, the Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, (The DEcalogue: Our Call to Love), Msgr. Renato P. Mayugba, DD, the Auxiliary of Lingayen-Dagupan (The Catholic Social Doctrine) and Rev. Fr. Oliver E. Mendoza, the Social Action Director (The ALD Social Action Apostolate Rationale and Foundation). TheVicariate Directors were also on hand during the seminar: Rev. Fr. Allen Romero (Vic. I), Rev. Fr. Rolando Salogsagcol (Vic. II) and Rev. Fr. Jovino Batecan (Vic. IV).
The Archdiocesan Secretariat led by Ms. Janice R. Hebron facilitated the different workshops and sharings during the seminar. At the end of the seminar, all the participants were formally commissioned by Msgr. Renato P. Mayugba, DD.
ASAP, the Archdiocesan Social Action Apostolate
The Archdiocesan Social Action Apostolate (ASAP) was formalized and institutionalized in a circular letter (CL 24, S. 2007) written by Msgr. Oscar V. Cruz, DD addressed to the clergy and the religious of the Archdiocese. In that letter, the Archbishop mentioned that although the church has involved herself in “many and continuous sacramental and other cultic ministries”… it is about time (that) we also devote ourselves in the pursuit of justice and truth …”
ASAP then is a response not only to the directive of the Archbishop as a pastoral response but being faithful to the mission and calling of the Church in her proclamation of the Gospel, and in obedience to the command of Jesus, viz., to love God and to love our neighbor. The ASAP of Lingayen-Dagupan is the actualization of this mission, calling, life and ministry of the Church.
Without the ASAP, how can we be faithful to the mission of the Church? Without ASAP, how can the Archdiocese remain one with the universal Church in her mission and life? Without ASAP, how can we sincerely ask the questions without being ashamed of our answer: ‘When, Lord, did we ever see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? When did we ever see you a stranger and welcome you in our homes, or naked and clothe you? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?’ (Mt. 25, 38-39).
ASAP is our ecclesial response to our being sent by Jesus, through the Church, to fulfill the mission of loving our neighbor and loving our God, for one cannot be separated from the other. It is our service as a Church, specifically, the local church of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. It is our service as Christians to the poor and the marginalized in our society, for this kind of service is also directed to the cause of God for His people.