33 years of shepherding and evangelizing-A A +A
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
IT is certainly an earth-moving and faith-driven work for Bishop Vicente Navarra, especially so in the Negros context where class and social relations are sharply polarized and majority of our Christian communities’ cry for justice, peace and prosperity continue to reverberate in churches and religious convents.
I know it has not been easy for Bishop Navarra to play the role of a leader, a father, a shepherd, an evangelist, a pastor, a healer to a Diocese whose leading followers have gone through controversies, scandals, divisions, political polarization, and drift to other ideologies.
Instead of being drawn to the complex dynamics between his predecessor and his clerics and the lay communities, the Bishop has shown them Jesus’ ways of healing, reconciliation and restoration of relationships, and renewal to a life of faith.
In my few associations with the Bishop in some meetings and consultations with different people’s organizations and non-government groups and other churches on a number of social issues, the Bishop has always stressed on getting a broader picture of every issue, understanding issues and concerns of everyone, ensuring that solutions address the root causes, and everyone gets a fair share in the process.
Although he is not as confrontational as the late Bishop Antonio Y Fortich in addressing social issues like the “sakada” problems for which he was quite known, Bishop Navarra has not evaded the concerns of the poor and oppressed, including the sugar workers. He however stressed the role of being a shepherd and evangelizer, helping solve their problems but at same time teaching them the ways of Jesus, and healing both parties in conflicts.
In my years in mission work in various parts of the country as a former Carmelite brother, I had served a number of bishops. Their faithfulness in their role as evangelizer and shepherd have inspired me so much and transformed me into a mature person.
A few have edged others in exercising their roles as empowering leaders. They don’t control; they avoid micromanaging. Instead they release the energies of their people through good motivation, encouragement, inspiration and support.
In Bishop Navarra, I have seen a good character and all these noble and great qualities in other bishops.
With his character I am confident that Bishop Navarra can bring the Diocese and all the Christian communities towards fulfilling the Church mission of living and working like Jesus in building God’s Kingdom.
The Lord is my Shepherd, nothing shall I fear.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 27, 2012.