Diocese of Lucena
Message of Abp. Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio


Most Rev. Antonio Franco, D.D.
Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines
Mother of Good Counsel Chapel

7 June 2004

Renewal is the topic of your assembly and you are concentrated in looking at how to make new local Church in Lucena. You are praying, are considering, you are carrying out these deliberations that will be the guidelines to your being a Church and for your pastoral commitment as Church.

Now, what does it mean to be a Church? To be a Church means to be a community gathered around the bishop in the visible aspect. First of all, to renew this expression of the reality of a community gathered under the leadership of the bishop means to renew the links among the bishop, the priests, the religious, and the laypeople in order to more fully become one family.

But this is just the visible aspect of the Church. We know that there is a reality that characterizes the Church which is deeper, and it is our communion with God—our communion with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Church is communion—communion in the deep aspect of spirituality, communion in the expression of our life and our commitment. So to renew ourselves—to renew the Church—in the words of the Holy father, is “to start anew from Jesus’—to rediscover in the depths of our hearts the presence of Jesus and the commitment of our baptism and to make it new everyday so that from the common renewal of our communion with Jesus, of our spiritual life, we can renew the visible communion of the community, which is the Church around the bishop.

It is important that we live by our true identity in the present times. We are challenged from all directions and we have to answer the challenges. All these challenges point to one single direction: “Be what you are.” We are challenged to be what we are—the bishops, priests, religious, laypeople. We are challenged to be in the Church what we are according to our own commitment to the consecration that we have received in Baptism, through Ordination, and the response as religious in consecrated life. Be what we are, without compromising, without distorting the face of Jesus in our personal identity.

I encourage you in this work. Of course, this is a journey together. The synod in its preparation, the synod in its celebration, the synod that is working together must continue in the application. This is a great occasion for each one in the local Church to go deep in our hearts and to try to rediscover the source of our commitment as Church. It needs prayer, it needs good will, it needs the work of the mind to understand and the work of putting into the heart what we understand in order to make new everything in your diocese, the local Church in Lucena.

I will accompany you. I will walk with you with my prayers, and I will ask the good Lord to bless you in your endeavour and in the resolutions that you are elaborating so that they can be the guidelines for the entire community of the local Church in Lucena and so that the energy needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century can be revitalized.

All the best wishes and may God bless you!

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