While there are many things that should be looked at in order to strengthen the Church and prepare her for the ongoing struggles of this third millennium, we should focus on the most important fundamentals. These are the following:
(1) Re-evangelization. Living transformed lives in Christ.
(2) Family renewal. Strengthening the nuclear family.
(3) Defending the culture of life. Engaging in pro-life advocacy.
(4) Building the Church of the Poor. Working at social justice.
Re-evangelization is crucial. Nothing much else can be done unless our people are renewed in Christ and living in the power of the Holy Spirit. This is for both laity and clergy alike. To be God’s light in and to the world, we must grow in the very holiness of God.
Family renewal is crucial. The family is the basic unit of society, and as Pope John Paul II has said, the future of humanity passes by way of the family. The enemy, knowing this, seeks to destroy the family. The family is the most basic ecclesial community and is the mission base for doing evangelistic work outside the home.
Defending the culture of life is crucial. This is the fight of the third millennium. The evil forces are concentrated on promoting the culture of death, and are committed to spread its errors throughout the whole world. The US government is leading the charge, with a strong commitment to having abortion as a universal human right.
Working against poverty and social injustice is crucial. The very mission of Jesus is to bring good news to the poor—spiritual, material, emotional, societal. Building the Church of the Poor is the only way true peace and even prosperity in the land can be achieved.
There should be a program that is effective in bringing people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The program should be replicable throughout the parishes, to be conducted by laypeople under the guidance and oversight of the clergy. The program should provide for an ongoing support environment, so that the initial transformation in Christ will deepen.
It should be a program that has proven effective in bringing people to Christ in every situation and with people of different backgrounds. Such a program is the Christian Life Seminar (CLS). This consists of 9 different sessions. With simple training, mature parish leaders can handle this program. The CLS effectively leads people to accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord, and to look to living their lives in the power of the Holy Spirit. It promotes a charismatic spirituality, which is the spirituality of the early Church.
After the CLS, the graduates find their ongoing support group in the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) of the parish, as well as in the many different groups or associations within the parish. These groups or associations have many different formation programs, which can serve to deepen the faith of their members.
While the program starts with individual renewal, since each individual needs to personally meet Christ and begin to experience transformation in Christ, it must move on to renewing marriage and family life. Family is crucial to the well-being of individuals and of the whole nation. Family is also the most basic educational institution for raising God-fearing men and women.
Crucial to the evangelization of the family is the role of the men. Traditionally many of those who are active in the Church are the women. But family renewal cannot happen unless the men assume their proper role as head of the home according to the plan of God.
Here there should be marriage enrichment seminars and retreats, as well as youth and family formation courses. Further, there should be smaller cell groups to which couples and other individuals can belong to, where they relate to their peers and support each other in the Christian life.
The culture of life
There should be intensive pro-life formation. The different pro-life groups already have all the material. What is needed is to have a deliberate and sustained pro-life teaching and training, conducted by laypeople but supported and even pushed by the parish priests.
Pro-life groups should also form an effective coalition (not necessarily formal) where there is united effort whenever needed, where there is a sharing of resources, and where functions would not have to unnecessarily overlap.
Work with the poor
This should be a program that effectively works at poverty eradication, while providing the poor with spiritual inputs. It should be concerted and replicable, and able to be done by parishioners on an ongoing basis.
One such program is the building of a Restoration Village, a holistic work of poverty alleviation that involves values formation, building homes, and providing soft programs for education, health, livelihood and environment. It builds physical communities among the poor, which communities would be perfect as Basic Ecclesial Communities.
Under the leadership of the parish priest, this work would involve all parishioners and all parish organizations. Funding will come not only from parishioners but also from the national and international organizations of the parish groups, from Filipino associations abroad (connecting provincial and regional associations with their own provinces and towns), and even from sister parishes in the First World.
This program, if supported by all the parishes, can rapidly work at poverty reduction, without necessarily straining the resources of particular individuals or groups. At the same time it strengthens the faith, the family and the culture of life.
How are these programs different from existing ones?
There are already many pastoral programs and activities in the Church. Do we need another one? It is precisely that there are many programs and activities, but still there is that downward direction, that we need another fresh approach, one that hopefully would truly be Spirit-inspired.
What distinguishes this approach from others? There would be a number of distinct elements:
* It would be a concerted effort of the whole Church, through the parishes, mandated by the hierarchy and pushed by the bishops, and strongly supported by parish priests.
* It would focus not on the “choir” but on the 82% that are not regular churchgoers.
* It would target the critical basic areas that are needed for revival, and those are re-evangelization, family renewal, defense of life, and work with the poor.
* It would mobilize the laity through means that enable massive implementation from the top down, all the way to each and every Catholic throughout the whole nation. This includes the culture of person-to-person evangelization.
What is needed is a concerted, deliberate, insistent, persistent, committed program of action, supported at the very top and by all the clergy.
 For the lapsed or nominal Catholics, they have to be brought back to the Church first.
 For deeper insight into the utmost importance of the family, read “Families in the Holy Spirit” by Frank Padilla.
 The culture of life is of course much wider than what we understand to be pro-life issues, such as abortion, contraception, divorce, same-sex unions, etc. It is about fullness of life as God intends. For a fuller treatment of this, read “Forty Days of Life” by Frank Padilla.
 An important aspect of formation is the Biblical apostolate, with a program such as the Liturgical Bible Study (LBS) that builds capability to proclaim/share the Good News to neighborhood groupings such as the BEC model of being Church.
 These can be the BECs, or other forms of small groups.