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Priests urged to make sermons more relevant

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu Archdiocese Episcopal vicar Esteban Binghay said as some priests in Cebu are losing focus in their sermons, they are doing something in his jurisdiction in Metro Cebu-South to avoid this current concern among priests.

“We have a vicarial meeting once a month wherein maghisgot mi og maayo sa ebanghelyo for the next Sunday ug unsaon kini pagsulti sa mga parishioners,” he said, asking other parishes to emulate their example.

Binghay said this pattern has been done among priests in the seven district levels of the Cebu archdiocese some 15 years ago as ordered by former Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.

“But sa first week, there were 20 priests (who attended the meeting), 15 priests on the second week, 10 on the third week, then five on the fourth week. Karon isa na lang ka-pari,” Binghay said, laughing.

Under his jurisdiction, Binghay said he makes it a point that the meeting, which was then held every week, is done at least once a month until today.

At least 20 priests from the different parishes in Metro Cebu-South attend the monthly vicarial meeting and at the same time group discussion of the gospel, Binghay said.

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“Para updated sad mi sa among sermon,” Binghay said. He said they base their sermons not just on the Bible but on current issues affecting the public, particularly the Catholics.

Binghay said a good homily contains tone and relevant content. However, priests nowadays tend to sway away from their point, he said.

“Makasugod na unta sila sa ilang punto, mulayo na hinuon sa focus. Mosulti g’yud bahin sa usa or duha ka things na related sa issues, dili na musaliring pa sa lain,” Binghay said.

After focusing on one idea, Binghay said a priest should develop his homily with anecdotes or other examples for the people to easily understand the gospel. He added that Sunday sermons should just last for 12 to 15 minutes and five to ten minutes on weekdays.

As much as possible, Binghay said the priest should joke related to the subject.

“Dili joke na naa’y double meaning. Dapat ang joke ma-facilitate sa leksyon and joke not given just for the sake of laughing,” he said.

More importantly, Binghay said a priest should study the gospel and the current issues to deliver it well to the people.

“Kung bahin na sa Ginoo, dili lalim magpausab og kinabuhi, so paninduton g’yud nimo,” Binghay said.

Binghay, who was parish priest of Sto. Rosario Parish, Cebu City for 20 years, is now parish priest of Theotokos Archdiocesan Shrine in Perrelos Hill, Carcar City.

In Manila, Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodor Bacani recently urged Catholic priests to pump up their sermons and make them more exciting. — (FREEMAN)

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