Envisioned to promote, recruit, train, send and support lay missionaries to help build and strengthen small Christian communities within and outside the country, the Philippine Catholic Lay Mission has gone a long way since its formal creation in 1977 by the Philippine Region of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers.
Formerly called the Philippine Lay Mission Program (PLMP), the institute has already sent 193 lay missionaries to 136 mission areas within and outside the Philippines including Hawaii in the USA, Venezuela, Tanzania, Kenya and until now in Japan. Moreover, PCLM has evolved a “mission sponsor system” which has not only raised the mission consciousness and propagated the role of the laity in the mission of the Church. It has also generated local funds for its missionary activities.
Perhaps it can be said that PCLM has established itself today as a leading lay mission group in the Philippines. In fact, the Philippine bishops have recognized it (along with the Mission Society of the Philippines) in the documents of the 1991 Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II).
PCLM traces its beginnings to the Maryknoll’s missionary charism and the growth of small Christian communities in the then Prelature of Tagum in Davao in the 1960s. The Maryknoll evolved a program for small Christian communities in the Tagum prelature, and as the communities matured, it became a natural consequence for them to become missionary by helping neighboring villages, parishes and dioceses form small Christian communities.
In response to the growing missionary spirit and upon seeing the talents, acquired skills and willingness of many lay people to preach God’s Kingdom, the Maryknoll developed the concept of Filipino lay missionaries. After years of discussion and two experimental mission teams (one in Hawaii and the other in Agusan del Sur), the Philippine Regional Meeting of Maryknoll formally established on March 1, 1977 the then called Philippine Lay Mission Program.
The early years of PCLM were groping years of concretizing and refining the general guidelines set by Maryknoll for the program with a Maryknoll priest serving as Director. In 1982, the institute was registered to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a non-stock, non-profit organization with Maryknoll as sponsor and the majority members of the Board of Trustees. Initially, funds largely came from Maryknoll subsidy although its “mission sponsor system” steadily grew through the years. By 1987, PCLM was able to survive without Maryknoll subsidy.
Through the 80’s and 90’s, although the goal of building small Christian communities remained, the institute became more open to answer the various needs of the mission areas. Thus, overseas mission had a different focus, e.g., ministry to overseas workers and prisoners by the lay missionaries sent to Japan.
Starting 1994, the PCLM prepared for turnover to fully Filipino and lay administration, and the dream of Maryknoll for PCLM to stand on its feet was finally fulfilled in January, 1999 when a lay missionary became the first Filipino and first lay director.
As PCLM now faces the challenges of the new millennium, its missionary ideals continue to soar high. Since the forming of Basic Ecclesial Communities has been declared as a pastoral priority in the country, more and more parishes and dioceses have requested for lay missionaries. Today, lay missionaries serve in the Archdioceses/Dioceses/ Apostolic Vicariate of Calapan, Cubao, Cebu, Iba, Jaro, Legazpi, La Union, Masbate and Alaminos in the Philippines as well as in Kumamoto and Hokaido in Japan and Changmai and Bangkok in Thailand, Phnom Penh in Cambodia and Mitkyina in Myan Mar (Burma). There are many mission requests that cannot be responded to because there are not enough missioners to send.
The dream of lay missionaries to spread God’s Kingdom throughout the world is thus very much alive today. But a new dream is again burning: to recruit and form more lay missionaries not only for the Philippines but also for the Asia-Pacific Region. This is inspired by Pope John Paul II’s words: “I wish to tell you of my special desire: that the Filipino will become the foremost missionaries in the Church of Asia.”
PCLM is taking the Holy Father’s words to heart. It is also PCLM’s contribution to world mission toward the building of a renewed Church and a transformed world where God’s love and peace reign.
HELP SUPPORT OUR LAY MISSIONARIES AND ALL OUR MISSIONARY ENDEAVORS BY SENDING YOUR DONATIONS TO OUR BANK ACCOUNT
Bank of the Philippine Island (BPI)
Peso Current Account # 0211-0307-71
Dollar (USA) Savings Account # 0214-0106-07