Cardinal-elect Advincula: Mission stations bring sacraments to the peripheries

THOMASIAN Cardinal-elect Jose Advincula of Capiz stressed the importance of mission stations in bringing the sacraments to the faithful in far-flung areas, in his first wide-ranging interview since his elevation to the College of Cardinals.
Advincula talked about his experience as a pastor in San Carlos diocese in Negros Occidental and in the Archdiocese of Capiz, in a virtual interaction with students of the UST Central Seminary on Nov. 18.
A mission station, the Capiz archbishop explained, is an area within an archdiocese that is being prepared to become a parish. Priests in a mission station are given the power to administer sacraments such as baptism and marriage.
Sacraments, according to Catholic teaching, are outward signs intituted by Christ himself to give grace.

Advincula said he realized the need for mission stations after a visit to a community in the mountains of San Carlos, where he found that the faithful spent roughly P3,000 to bring a priest once a year to celebrate Mass during the town fiesta, and P300 for transportation to receive the sacraments in the town center.

“P150 ‘yong minimum wage doon noon so I told the woman [caretaker of the chapel] to just pray na dadami ang ating vocation and magkakaroon ng priest dito sa bundok, and about five to six years later, nagkaroon nga ng pari,” Advincula said during the “Usapang Tomasino” online talk of the UST Central Seminary.

(The minimum wage was 150 pesos then, so I told the woman [caretaker of the chapel] to just pray that our vocations will increase and so we can have a priest here in the mountain, and about five to six years later, a priest was assigned to them.)

Advincula established 10 mission stations before leaving San Carlos diocese in 2011. He opened 23 mission stations in his first year in Capiz.

The cardinal-elect also said he hoped to continue social action projects and livelihood programs.

“I think my strength as a bishop is that I was fortunate to have active social action directors. [W]e have three mission schools in San Carlos in areas where there are no public schools, and a vocational school in Capiz,” said Advincula.

Advincula, who studied theology and canon law in UST, also emphasized fidelity to God and the need to seek truth and justice.

A call to serve God’s people

The ninth cardinal from the Philippines, one of 13 new princes of the Church nominated by Pope Francis on Oct. 25, called on the clergy to use their “talents in the service of God and his people.

“Listen to the needs of the people because listening to the needs of the people is also listening to the will of God,” Advincula said.

Quoting his appointment letter signed by Pope Francis, Advincula said he hoped that “this vocation to which the Lord calls you will make you grow in humility and in the spirit of service.”

Advincula also cited Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si, and urged UST seminarians to address pressing problems such as climate change. 

“Typhoons and effects of climate change… I think ito ‘yong mga bagay na dapat pagtuunan natin ng pansin, [and] we really have to alleviate poverty [lalo na] maraming naging unemployed ngayong pandemic,” he said.

(I think typhoons and the effects of climate change are the things we should address, and we really have to alleviate poverty especially since many people became unemployed during this pandemic.)

Advincula chose to skip the Vatican consistory, a formal meeting of cardinals called by the Pope on Nov. 28, amid the pandemic.

The prelate will receive the red hat in a ceremony in Capiz instead.


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