Headed by the Diocese of Legazpi’s Spiritual Director of the Divine Mercy Apostolate, Fr. Leo Balaguer with Fr. Frederick Naga as Adviser, 44 devotees of the Divine Mercy from the Bicol Region attended the 4th Asian Apostolic Congress (AACOM 4) on September 26 to 28 at the SPICE Convention Centre in Penang, Malaysia.
With the theme, “Experiencing Mercy through the joy of the Gospel in Asia”, the activity is aimed at proclaiming the faith and calling for more devotees to become merciful witnesses and evangelizers in the continent.
Pope Francis who believe that the devotion to the Divine Mercy will be the fire of the new evangelization told everyone that the Divine Mercy Apostolate will be under the direct supervision of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization headed by Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella.
During the three-day event, an hour of Eucharistic Adoration and praying of the chaplet to the Divine Mercy was devoted every 3 o’clock in the afternoon giving a retreat-like atmosphere to the congress. The participants were nourished by the daily dose of Lectio Divina or praying through contemplation of the Word of God.
His Excellency, Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino, DD, Papal Nuncio to Malaysia, graced the occasion by presiding at the opening mass and delivering the homily on the first day of the congress.
On the second day, Most Rev. Sebastian Francis, DD, the Bishop of Penang and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei presided the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and delivered the homily.
On the third day, delegates participated in the “Walk of Mercy” along the streets of Penang going to the Church of the Divine Mercy where Mass was celebrated by Bishop Ruperto Santos, DD of the Diocese of Balanga, Philippines, the Episcopal Coordinator of WACOM-Asia.
Fr. Leo Balaguer said the most solemn activity of the congress was the receiving of the Plenary Indulgence from Pope Francis through an Apostolic Penitentiary. The whole afternoon of the third day was spent on a sacramental confession that everyone participated in.
This year’s congress was filled with discussions and testimonies revolving on the theme of ‘Mercy’. Rev. Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, the Vice Postulator for the Canonization cause of Sr. Faustina Kowalska, talked on the “Mercy in the Life and Writings of St. Faustina”; Msgr. Krysztof Marcjanowicz, Vatican representative from the Dicastery, on the “Mercy in the Life of St. John Paul II”; Most Rev. Ruperto Santos, Episcopal Coordinator of the World Apostolic Congress on Mercy (WACOM-Asia) on the “Mercy and the Sacrament of the Eucharist”; Sr. Teresa Dela Fuente, OLM, a Filipina based in Poland in the convent of St. Faustina talked on “Mercy in the life of Consecrated Persons”; Archbishop of Medan, Indonesia, Most Rev. Anicetus Bongsu Sinaga, DD talked on “Mercy and the Sacrament of Reconciliation”; Most Rev. Sebastian Francis, on “Mercy as a Joyful Mission”; Archbishop of Kuching Sarawak, Malaysia, Most Rev. Simon Poh Hoon Seng, DD, talked on “Mercy in the Youth Ministry”; Rev. Fr. Simon Pereira, CSsR, on “Mercy in the New Evangelization; and Most Rev. Michael Jude Byrnes, DD, Archbishop of Agana, Guam, U.S.A. on “Mercy in the light of Scriptural Considerations”.
Rev. Fr. Prospero Tenorio, Secretary General of WACOM-Asia, led the entrustment of the world to the Divine Mercy and the sending off of the participants which marked the end of the congress.
According to Fr. Leo Balaguer, the Bicol region has sent its biggest delegation ever to the AACOM this year.
Meanwhile, the 5th AACOM will be held in the Diocese of Hong Kong in 2021.
AACOM is a three-day gathering evert three years of the Divine Mercy movement representatives coming from various countries in Asia. It was first held in the Philippines in 2009, Thailand in 2012 and Indonesia in 2015.