Tribute to the “Architect of Philippine Catechesis in Our Time”
Tribute to the “Architect of Philippine Catechesis in Our Time” Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi, O.P., D.D.
“Surge, grandis tibi restat via!” Arise! A long journey lies ahead of you! (1 Kgs 19:7-8). These words were used by Archbishop Legaspi during the liturgical celebration at the opening of the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines in January 1991. They may also be the words that we could use to describe his passion for Catechesis that characterized his role as Servant Leader/Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education in the periods 1977-88 and 1994-2003.
Arise! This is has been the clarion call of Archbishop Legaspi to the Church in the Philippines in the areas of Catechesis and Catholic Education. A man of vision and action, he was able to articulate his vision in clear terms that captured the imagination and goodwill of capable collaborators with the help of whom he gradually transformed the vision into reality.
The impressive achievements in the catechetical domain during his periods of service speak for themselves and have made the Philippines a subject of admiration and imitation even in other parts of the Catholic world. The planning and completion of the National Catechetical Directory for the Philippines (NCDP); the Manual for Family Catechesis (The Filipino Growing in Faith); the Catechism for Filipino Catholics (CFC), together with their translation into Filipino; the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC); the founding and constant improving of the catechetical review Docete, are definitely among the most outstanding and enduring achievements of Archbishop Legaspi’s leadership service at ECCCE. They all show his desire not only to keep abreast of the development of the catechetical work not in the Philippines, but also to be in constant contact with the much wider Catholic world in the fields of catechesis or religious education.
Nor should we forget the establishment of the yearly celebration of the National Catechetical Week (NCW); the holding of several national surveys to ascertain the factual situation of the catechetical ministry in the country, as well as the forging of ever-closer ties and collaboration with the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP). It is such collaboration which led to the holding of the Joint Jubilee Congress on Catechesis and Catholic Education in the year 2000, the establishment of the PhilCARE Foundation, and the drafting of the three-year Strategic Planning that binds together the ECCCE, CEAP and MAPSA (Manila Archdiocesan and Parochial Schools Association), in the common effort to work in synergy in tackling the priorities dictated by the contemporary situation of the Church in the Philippines.
The transformative leadership of Archbishop Legaspi has opened the way to the development of catechesis and Catholic education in our country. Precious catechetical tools have been created; structures have been established and strengthened. A direction has been set. Now a long road lies ahead of us. As we continue walking this road, the ministry and life of Archbishop Legaspi, with his commitment to work tirelessly- for the “integral faith formation” of our people, will still inspire and guide us.
by Msgr. Gerardo O. Santos
Former Executive Secretary, ECCCE