Newly ordained bishop Most Rev. Ryan P. Jimenez said leaders and members of various Christian churches in the CNMI have been planning on how to help curb drug abuse, which is one of the many social problems that the Commonwealth had right now.
Jimenez—installed as the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa’s new pastor in a three-hour long ceremony where Chamorro, English, Filipino, and Korean hymns where sang by the choir—said they had their first meeting last year where close to 100 attended.
“We basically wanted to work together on how to address social issues specifically the problem on drugs like the one we have about ‘ice,’” Jimenez told Saipan Tribune.
“Recently, now that we have a drug court, we heard news that the government will soon open a facility—a rehabilitation center for drug dependents—they are planning now in the budget, I supposed, to have this rehab center facility,” he added.
And this is where pastors like him and other church leaders would do their share. “That’s why us pastors, we started planning, like where are we in this whole structure, in this whole organizational chart,” said Jimenez.
He said that they won’t be running the facility but would rather help the persons recover from their drug problem “We’re all excited to do our share in solving this social problem. And we will collaborate, we’re not going to run the facility in all, but we will simply would come in and do what can we do to help the persons in the center to help them recover.”
He added that they could provide counseling and spiritual guidance to persons in the rehab center. “We wanted to come in and minister. Pray with and for the person. And maybe we could also provide pastoral counseling.”
“In the spiritual sense, maybe just to go there, to the planned rehab facility, and provide services. Help the persons in that center. Help them in their rehabilitation and change their ways. So these are the things that we can work together.”
One challenge at a time
Jimenez, who was appointed by Pope Francis as the Diocese’s second bishop last June after being the Apostolic Administrator for more than six years, said the Catholic Church in the CNMI is also facing a lot of challenges.
“We’re going to take one challenge at a time. But again I think we are reminded that in all of this, we’re not in charge. God is in charge. In every challenge, we must allow God to enlighten us,” said Jimenez.
“And as a new leader of the Diocese, when you mentioned about challenges, we’re going to work with my brother priests and pastors from the other churches. Because we all come from one God and I can’t do it on my own,” said Jimenez.
“If we can start with that, bask in the goodness of each person; each one of us is created in the image and likeness of God. And I think we are off to a good start,” he added.
He was also pleased with last Saturday’s Bike The Faith event where other Christian churches took part and their respective pastors prayed for him. He said that he hopes the event would be the start of better things within all Christians.
“That was probably the first time an event like this was organized. In the Catholic Church we have this what we call efforts for ecumenism. We may have differences with the doctrinal component, of our faith but it doesn’t mean that we can’t be together,” said Jimenez.
“It gives a message that we are all the same; we are under one living God. We may have different ways of doing things and worship. But in the end we are all connected. I hope this outside of the ordinary be the start of better things in the church,” he added.
Jimenez said that he would still devote some time for sports like running and riding the bike to maintain a healthy lifestyle. He used to play tennis, moved to running, then to cycling, before taking on his first full triathlon—Tagaman—this year.
“I already love sports, I used to play tennis, and I love to do a lot of things. I come from an island where I grew up climbing trees. So it comes naturally that I love the outdoors,” said Jimenez.
“The realization hit me when I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes after my ordination as priest. After I was diagnosed, I really needed a full lifestyle change. Like here, from birth to death, and in between comes food.”
“I love food. I love to eat who doesn’t? The question back then was ‘what do I do to kind of balance that?’ And that is when I tried sports. Hopefully this goal and plan to have a healthy living is sustained,” added Jimenez.