Caritas opens Philippines' first 'social action academy'

New center aims to provide technical expertise to improve church capabilities in development work
Caritas opens Philippines' first 'social action academy'

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila (right), president of Caritas Internationalis, leads the blessing and opening of the Center for Resiliency and Empowerment and Integral Development in Tagaytay. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

The social action secretariat of the Philippines' Catholic bishops' conference has inaugurated the country's first "social action academy" for development and humanitarian workers.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila and Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, outgoing papal nuncio to the Philippines, officially opened the new center of learning on Dec. 13.

"I hope this center will not only contribute to the Philippines and to Asia but also to the growth of wisdom and professionalism in the Church," Cardinal Tagle said.

The prelate, who heads Caritas Internationalis, said the Church is working "toward professional training so that our services to the poor will really be of quality."

He warned not only against having "professionals without a heart" but also of "pure heart without training and formation" that will only make services to the poor wanting.
What "Caritas does is not just extracurricular activities that we can dispense with," he said, adding that the Word of God, the sacraments, and the service of charity should really come together.

He said Caritas is not a non-government organization but "the face of the Church."

The Center for Resiliency and Empowerment and Integral Development aims to provide technical expertise to improve the capability of dioceses in development work.

"Our work ... demands a high level of competency, requiring highly specialized skills and an equally exceptional level of knowledge," said Father Edwin Gariguez of Caritas Philippines.

The priest said there is a need for church workers to master the many different areas of engagement and intervention. "We need to harness required qualifications to render maximum possible service to the people we serve," he said.

The center is located within the Basic Ecclesial Community Center compound in the city of Tagaytay, south of the capital Manila.

Father Gariguez said the center is not only a building but a whole capacity-strengthening tool for dioceses.

Caritas Philippines earlier launched a 14-month transformational leadership program that currently offers a master’s degree in social services and development. 

"We intend to offer more courses to meet the needs of diocesan workers, civil society and faith-based organizations in increasing our capacity in service and pastoral ministry," said the priest.

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