August 31, 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the MMP,
I apologize for coming late with this message. The past weeks have been tight with various MMP activities, but all the hard work was worth it. During these recent days, I found many surprising developments for the Movement. Our Lady is simply amazing for having done these for us.
I was in Camp Crame last July 24 to attend the Diocesan Cenacle for the Military Ordinariate. It was their 25th Canonical Foundation Anniversary as well as the 20th Sacerdotal Anniversary of Msgr. Ruben D. Espeno, the Vicar General for the Philippine National Police (PNP) and an ardent priest of the Movement. I thank him for making the cenacle as one of their activities for the anniversary celebration. This was held in the St. Joseph Chapel and was attended by our men and women in uniform as well as civilians. The PNP Chaplain Service’s support for the Movement is laudable. It has adopted MMP Spirituality for their Personal Tranformation Program for all PNP personnel throughout the Philippines and they also gave us a slot in their weekly radio program. For these tasks, I commend our MMP lay volunteers there – Reeza, Ampy, Lilibeth and Angie – who are simply enthused with Our Lady’s work. The Military chaplains, too, deserve our praise for their faithful gathering in cenacle every 4th Monday, 7:00 PM at the Fort Bonifacio Chaplaincy Office. It is worth mentioning that this cenacle in Fort Bonifacio has borne fruit. Fr. Daniel Tansip, the former camp’s Base Chaplain, has brought the MMP to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, his new assignment, having been promoted to Vicar Foraine of the Chaplains in the AFP Western Command. He was our guest in the priests’ cenacle held here in Manila last month. The movement of the MMP in the Military Diocese is truly stupendous!
One big surprise for us this August was a newly discovered cenacle group in Calamba, Laguna. Bro. Gus informed us about this couple, Boy and Nini, who do regular cenacles at their residence. I visited them last August 7. Thinking that I would meet only about 10 people in the house, I was surprised to see that there were more than 100 of them in attendance! They came from the different cenacle groups in Calamba, Nagcarlan and Sto. Tomas. They gather monthly in the couple’s residence, in addition to their respective group’s weekly cenacles. How Boy and Nini attend to them all simply awed me. The couple’s involvement with the MMP began way back during their years in New Jersey, USA. Their decision to retire here in the Philippines was a clear indication of Our Lady's plan for them. In hiddenness and simplicity, in confidence and prayer – that’s how I describe them in the manner by which they carry out their mission. I could see Our Lady pleased and smiling at them. Amazing!
The Calamba experience was an answered prayer for me personally as I have long been praying that MMP would move farther north and south of Metro Manila. We already have groups in the Archdiocese of Manila and in the Dioceses of Cubao, Novaliches, Pasig, Paranaque and Antipolo. These cenacles in Laguna are a welcome addition to them. With this development, I am confident that MMP will find its way to the Diocese of San Pablo and the Archdiocese of Lipa. Let us pray for the group, especially for Boy and Nini. Pray also for their priests. I have set a meeting with some priests in Laguna for later this month. Hopefully, we too will be able to initiate a cenacle for priests in this area.
We have just had the 3rd Quarter MMP Ongoing Formation for the laity last August 14 at the Lay Formation Center in the San Carlos Seminary Complex, Makati City. The Formation adopted the theme “One with Our Priests”. This was done in response to the Holy Father’s invitation during the conclusion of the Year for Priests last June: (1) to close the Jubilee with prayer, and (2) to forge spiritual unity with priests in order to sustain the graces received. Done in the form of a continuous cenacle, the Formation became a day of prayer for priests and a moment of reflection on the relevance of the Marian Movement of Priests to the Year for Priests. Fr.Gobbi’s letter last January 2010 provided us with an important thought to ponder upon. “It is our year,” he wrote, ”the year in which the Marian Movement of Priests will have a new and significant importance in the life of the Church, for the interior renewal of priests."
In the presentation of the talks, we discovered how the Year for Priests and the Marian Movement of Priests share a common perspective and vision: a crisis in the priesthood as background and interior renewal as goal. In this crisis, we recognized the insurmountable force of the ‘enemy’ preying on the weakness of priests. The Holy Father cited this concern in his closing homily. “It was to be expected,” he said, “that this new radiance of the priesthood would not be pleasing to the ‘enemy;’ he would have rather preferred to see it disappear, so that God would ultimately be driven out of the world." Yet, we are convinced that the crisis can be overcome. Our Lord manifested this in Calvary. He entrusted his beloved disciple to the care of his Mother. In his eternal wisdom, he knew very well the struggle, and he was aware of the crisis to come. By addressing his Mother as ‘woman’ to whom he entrusted his disciple, he recognized Mary’s role in God’s redemptive plan, not only as a Mother, but as the‘woman’ who will lead the battle (Gen. 3:16) and the ‘woman’ who will be the sign of the triumph (Rev. 12:1). Here, our Lord indicated the importance of entrusting ourselves to the care of our Blessed Mother – the ‘woman’ in battle, the woman as mother and the woman in triumph. Consecration is indeed essential both in overcoming the crisis and in making the renewal effective.
From this same perspective originated the Marian Movement of Priests. In a pilgrimage in Fatima in 1972, Fr. Gobbi was praying in the Chapel of the Apparition for some priests who, besides having abandoned the priesthood, were plotting in rebellion against the Church authority. An interior force urged him to have confidence in Our Lady. Through her Movement, she would invite priests to consecrate themselves to her Immaculate Heart and would form them to be strongly united with their respective bishops, with the Pope and with the Church. Through them, and together with the lay faithful, she would form an invincible cohort.
The relevance of the Marian Movement of Priests is clear. Its significance to the current crisis and challenge of priests is even viewed with urgency. We commit ourselves to live by our theme One with Our Priests, to work vehemently for their consecration and to accompany them in prayer especially in our cenacles.
We entrust everything to Our Lady. It is such a fitting time to celebrate two of her great feasts this month, the Assumption and her Queenship, for more than ever we are confident that we will discover many more surprises and that we will continue to marvel at her amazing works.
God bless you all!
Yours in the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
REV.FR. ROMERICO A. PRIETO
Marian Movement of Priests - Philippines