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The living and evolving vision statement of the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan is ICTHUS an acrostic referring to:

INTEGRATION OF FAITH AND LIFE

CATECHESIS, EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION

THANKSGIVING

UNITY

SERVICE, JUSTICE AND CHARITY

What does ICTHUS mean?

ICTHUS in early Christian tradition was an acrostic referring to Jesus Christ, God Son, Savior. ΙΧΘΥΣ is Greek word for fish. The apostles were called by the Lord to become fishers of men several times in the Gospels. In order to show His compassion for the multitude, the Lord multiplied the loaves and fish. The miraculous catching of one hundred fifty three fish after a night of fruitless fishing made the fish a truly significant symbol of the early Christians.

What was the significance of ICTHUS for the early Christians?

The acrostic ICTHUS was never a nice and harmless way to summarize the faith of Christians. Quite the contrary, it spelled danger for those who took it seriously. The letters THU (theou uios, i.e., Son of God) implied that, for the person invoking it, Jesus Christ is the only true son of God and the emperors who claimed the title were mere impostors. His alone is the power to save; the power they vaunted before the world was bogus. To say ICTHUS therefore, was dangerous to one’s health.

What is the significance of ICTHUS for us in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan?

Fish has been a long time symbol of Dagupan, the seat of the archdiocese, and for many town in Central Pangasinan. Fish is the prime product of our people and the fish industry is our main source of livelihood. If Christianity was first symbolized by the fish, we in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan can readily claim this symbolism as our own. In declaring we cannot live without ICTHUS, we proclaim two realities: "We cannot live without fish, our livelihood. We cannot live without Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior."

How did we come up with a vision statement ICTHUS for our archdiocese?

It is a summary of two-fold listening—listening to God and listening to one another. Consultations were done with the various church sectors in the archdiocese. The pastoral concerns surfaced from these consultations. Putting these expressed pastoral concerns in the light of the paschal mystery, ICTHUS was born. It was first presented to the people of God on Easter Sunday of 2010. It is the Easter mystery which will enable us to tie together, theologically and pastorally, the various perspectives, initiatives and objectives derived from the acrostic ICTHUS, our vision.

Is this is the first time that a vision for the Church in Pangasinan is laid out?

No. The first synod in the Province of Pangasinan was held in the church of Calasiao during the octave of Pentecost in 1773 by then Bishop Miguel Garcia OP, Bishop of Nueva Segovia to which Pangasinan Province belonged ecclesiastically.

The first and only synod held in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan was convoked by then Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan Federico G. Limon, SVD from July to December 1985. The synodal topics revolved around the people of God, the teaching office of the Church, the sanctifying office of the Church, the temporal goods of the Church and the sanctions and processes in the Church. It suffered from lack of implementation on account of the creation of the new dioceses of Alaminos and Urdaneta.

Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz convoked an Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly (APA) in 1996 resulting in the promulgation of pastoral and administrative decrees for the clergy, laity, community apostolate, BEC, temporalities, assignment policies, pastoral stations, clergy retirement and lay ministries.

These ecclesial events were taken into consideration in the drafting of ICTHUS. We are standing on the heroic legacy of our forefathers in the faith.

Why is another vision statement necessary?

The decrees of both the synod and the pastoral assembly were understandably canonical in tone and clerical in disposition, which were the prevailing approaches to pastoral planning in those years.

The last time that this particular Church came together to set the directions for the future was fourteen years ago. There is an obvious need to review, to listen again to the "signs of the times" and to set fresh dreams and visions for the future.

We wish to set a vision for the people of God in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan that is sensitive to the prevailing pastoral sentiments of both of the flock and shepherd, animating, impassioned, refreshing and easy to understand and recall.

Is it ICTHUS?

ICTHUS as a proposed vision statement of the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan links us primarily to the beginnings of the Church; secondly, sets our roots on the socio-cultural-pastoral reality of the archdiocese and; lastly, sets our vision about the Church community that we want to become

What are the three major manifestations of life of the early Christians?

The three manifestations of life among the early Christians were koinonia (unity), diakonia (service) and marturia (witnessing).

Can you find these three manifestations of the life of the early Christians in our vision statement ICTHUS?

Yes. INTEGRATION of faith and life has direct reference to authentic gospel witness seen in the lives of Christians of integrity.

CATECHESIS, evangelization and mission may be understood in relation either to witness again (in the sense of sincere and conviction-driven proclamation of the gospel) or to service of the truth as revealed in the person, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

THANKSGIVING, especially in its Eucharistic underpinnings, is both the enabling source and unique expression of Christian unity.

A UNITY which, as this next letter goes on to say makes possible a loving communion of life between people of diverse personal, social and cultural conditions.

Finally, SERVICE, justice and charity characterize the life of the community of faith actively dedicated to the promotion of the common good and showing a pastoral preference for the poor.

Our archdiocesan vision, therefore, and the goals and activities it represents, is in apt continuity with the koinonia, diakonia and marturia of the early Church.

What do we mean when we say we want to pursue integration of faith and life?

It is important that we live what we profess. The world does not listen to speakers anymore but to witnesses. Pope Paul VI reminds us of this in his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, n. 41: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses”. Integrity of life is the opposite of split-level Christianity. Integrity is wholeness. Integrity is the new name of holiness.

Why must Catholic Christians get involved in social change?

The values of the Gospel must be allowed to transform society. We must evangelize politics, culture, economics and all aspects of human life. The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) affirms the need for an integrated spirituality, “ a spirituality that seeks for change not only in interior attitudes but in ecclesial and societal structures, a spirituality that witnesses through action to the faith he/she professes, a spirituality, finally, that dynamically inter-relates communion and mission in the Church’s life” (n. 188).

Does the mission for social transformation need my personal integrity?

It hardly needs saying that if we seek integrity from our public officials we must first live integrity as Church people. John Paul II writes in his encyclical Redemptoris Missio (n. 26): “Even before activity, mission means witness and a way of life that shines out to others”. The same letter continues (n. 42): “The first form of witness is the very life of the missionary, of the Christian family, and of the ecclesial community, which reveal a new way of living. The missionary who despite all his or her human limitations and defects, lives a simple life, taking Christ as the model, is a sign of God and of transcendent realities.”

What do we mean when we make catechesis a pastoral priority?

“The community of disciples does not exist only for itself or its members. It exists for the world. It is sent on mission to proclaim the good news of Christ and to be the instrument of his grace. It exists in order to evangelize, i.e., to proclaim the Good News, to build up the Church, and to serve the Kingdom by permeating the world with Gospel values so that finally all creation may be united in Christ as head” (PCP II, n. 104).

What does it mean to be a missionary Church?

We must be a missionary Church surely ad intra, and hopefully, ad extra. The call of Christianity is to plunge into the deep and become fishers of men. The harvest is rich but the laborers are so few. We need to wake up a sleeping giant in the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan – the laity. Every Christian must be a catechist.

How do we start our mission as Catholics?

“At the beginning of all renewed evangelization is conversion. Unless a person turns away from sin and turns to God, undergoes a change of mind and heart, and decides to follow Christ, no evangelization will bear fruit. But for persons who have been converted and now believe, catechesis follows. A renewed catechesis is thus the first element of a renewed evangelization” (PCP II n. 156); hence, the need to intensify catechesis and Catholic education in our archdiocese.

What do we mean when we say Thanksgiving is part of our vision as Church?

This is the middle letter in ICTHUS, the focal point, the source and summit of our vision – the Eucharist. The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares (nn. 1067, 1068): “…The Church celebrates in the liturgy above all the Paschal mystery by which Christ accomplished the work of our salvation. It is this mystery of Christ that the Church proclaims and celebrates in her liturgy so that the faithful may live from it and bear witness to it in the world”. In envisioning to become a Eucharistic people, we do not only mean being “liturgy-centered”; we are called to live what the Eucharist celebrates which is to live and die for one another.

Is it enough to attend the Eucharist?

Vatican II in its Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy states that “the sacred liturgy does not exhaust the entire activity of the Church (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 9), and the Catechism adds: “it (the liturgy) must be preceded by evangelization, faith and conversion. It can then produce its fruits in the lives of the faithful: new life in the Spirit, involvement in the mission of the Church, and service to her unity” (n. 1072).

What does it mean to become a Eucharistic Church?

The Church makes the Eucharist. The Eucharist makes the Church. “In the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist…the work of our redemption is accomplished, and it is through the liturgy especially that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 2; Catechism, n. 1068). Thus we can see that a liturgical renewal is essential if we are to achieve the goals of ICTHUS in the archdiocese.

Why is unity in diversity important?

“Unity is of the essence of the Church” (Catechism, n. 813). In this brief but meaningful statement the magisterium makes a clear declaration to the effect that where there is no unity there is no Church, and where there is Church there, too, is unity.

Why should the Church be united?

Three basic reasons are indicated which ground the unity of the Church. The Church is one because of her source, the one and triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Church is one because of her founder, the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. The Church is one because of her “soul”, the Holy Spirit dwelling in the hearts of believers and bringing about that wonderful communion of the faithful.

How do we face our differences in culture, talents and language?

“In the Church there are different charisms and ministries but there is only one body. The diversity does not destroy the unity. But it brings out the complementarity and necessary contribution of the different charisms and ministries. Sharing and mutual interaction of the different members also characterize the Church” (PCP II, n. 92). In Pangasinan we have diverse linguistic and ethnic groups. We come from varied economic levels. Our Christian heritage is our source of communion. We all come from an ancestry of heroes and martyrs. Our faith and our heritage of heroes in Pangasinan must make us one in spite of our differences. In Lingayen Dagupan we pledge to promote a genuine appreciation and development of Pangasinan culture and history.

How important is unity for evangelization?

Paul VI considered unity to be an indispensable requirement of evangelization: “The power of evangelization will find itself considerably diminished if those who proclaim the Gospel are divided among themselves in all sorts of ways…The Lord’s spiritual testament tells us that unity among his followers is not only the proof that we are his but also the proof that he is sent by the Father. It is the test of the credibility of Christians and of Christ himself. As evangelizers, we must offer Christ’s faithful not the image of people divided and separated by unedifying quarrels, but the image of people who are mature in faith and capable of finding a meeting point beyond the real tensions, thanks to a shared, sincere, and disinterested search for the truth. Yes, the destiny of evangelization is certainly bound up with the witness of unity given by the Church” (EN, n. 76).

What do we mean when we say we want to make service, justice and charity a pastoral priority?

As we have noted, diakonia (in tandem with koinonia and marturia) was from the beginning a life-sign of the early Church. “As minister of salvation, the Church is not in the abstract nor in a merely spiritual dimension, but in the context of the history and of the world in which man lives” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 40). The society in which we live spawns many inequalities of resources and opportunity; too often, are our brothers and sisters made captives of poverty, loneliness and oppression. For their sake the community of faith is challenged and, yes, obligated to seek justice and liberation. The Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan makes a firm resolve to promote social service and development.

What is the relationship between human development and the Church’s mission?

John Paul II in his encyclical letter on mission points out that “the evangelical witness which the world finds most appealing is that of concern for people, and of charity towards the poor, the weak and those who suffer. The complete generosity underlying this attitude and these actions stands in marked contrast to human selfishness. It raises precise questions which lead to God and to the Gospel. A commitment to peace, justice, human rights and human promotion is also a witness to the Gospel when it is a sign of concern for persons and is directed towards integral human development” (Redemptoris Missio, n. 42).

What is the relationship between Church and society?

“With her social teaching the Church seeks to proclaim the Gospel and make it present in the complex network of social relations. It is not simply a matter of reaching out to man in society – man as the recipient of the proclamation of the Gospel – but of enriching and permeating society itself with the Gospel… The Church is not indifferent to what is decided, brought about or experienced in society; she is attentive to the moral quality – that, is, the authentically human and humanizing aspects – of social life. Society – and with it, politics, the economy, labor, law, culture – is not simply a secular and worldly reality, and therefore outside or foreign to the message and economy of salvation” (Gaudium et Spes, n. 40; Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 62).

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