Forty young people from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao gathered together for “Vocation Animation” held in Dahilayan, Bukidnon, Mindanao last May 26-27, 2018 to discover our purpose and vocation in life.
Our theme was "Be brave, be bold, be you!", where we discussed the process of disintegration that leads us away from our real identity and learned that vocation, is in fact, the secret of unity and integration of our whole life, seeing Christ as our maximum fulfillment.
We also tackled the big questions of the young people of today regarding chastity, simplicity and obedience, which is, we believe, the path that all of us are called to walk and live out. Talks and activities were given both by missionaries and young lay disciples of Verbum Dei Cebu and CDO.
We finished the camp feeling braver and more courageous about our vocation!
With thanks to Gelo Balsita and the WordNews team
On May 6, we held TGIM - "Thank God It's Monday," at the Verbum Dei Apostolate Center in Pasig. Thirty-four participants of varying backgrounds learned and reflected on how spirituality and work can be integrated.
Sr Malou Tibayan gave the formation, inviting the participants to look at work from the perspective of God and to find Him present even in the seeming mundane-ness of everyday work. She also inspired the participants to view the workplace as a mission field where it is possible to serve God through the diligent and honest carrying out of responsibilities and through serving others. The participants also had the chance to share their experiences with one another.
In the afternoon there was a panel discussion where six Verbum Dei disciples with diverse work backgrounds served as panelists. Facilitated by Gerry Dumancas and Sr Adriana Haro, the participants engaged the panelists in Q&A to understand better how the teachings could be put into practice in real world settings. Many questions were asked and answered on handling difficult work situations, being Christian in a secular world, standing your ground on moral matters, and other things.
The Holy Eucharist concluded the activity as the congregation gave thanks to the Lord for the fruitful encounter.
The Verbum Dei Missionary Family in Manila-Pasig had a day recollection last May 20, 2018 at the Verbum Dei Apostolate Center, Pasig in celebration of Pentecost. With the theme “With Power from on High,” the participants were invited to live by the Spirit through a lively and spirit-filled day of activities.
The morning had Sister Adriana Haro start the day with guidelines on the Holy Spirit. She invited us to look at the state of the door of our hearts and to open it up to the Spirit, and to connect to God - the ultimate power bank of our spiritual needs.
This was followed by a workshop on the different Gifts of the Holy Spirit. Participants were divided into groups of about 10 members and each group was assigned to receive a formation on a specific gift. The groups were then tasked to prepare a collage of the fruit of their workshop. These were then shared later in the day so that the whole body of participants could have a glimpse of the fruits of each of the separate workshop as a whole.
The afternoon guidelines were given by Christel Mendoza, a lay disciple of Verbum Dei Manila-Pasig. She shared to us how to be faithful to the Spirit and so transform our realities.
In between each activity, participants were engaged by several dynamics and animation prepared to truly bring out the festive experience of Pentecost.
After a reflective sharing among the participants, the day’s activities were brought to a close with the celebration of the Eucharist presided by Fr. Bong Guinoo. And what a way to end the day, as in his homily, Fr. Bong continued to challenge the participants, to take that first courageous step to allow the Spirit to thus take action in our lives. Truly the call of the celebration was to live by the Spirit, not only for this day but for every day!
With thanks to the WordNews team
The Lay Consecrated Missionaries (LCM) had their annual Spiritual Exercises
last May 12-18 at the Verbum Dei Center of Evangelization in Tagaytay attended by 4 LCMs with promises (2 from CDO, 1 from Cebu & 1 from Luzon) and 3 (from CDO) in their formation or the “Triennium Stage”.
The theme of the Spiritual of the Exercises was “Heirs of a Charism open to the dynamism of the Spirit”. It was a fruitful 7-day encounter with God, of
discovering, deepening and enjoying the beautiful gift of our Charism through the life and self-giving of our founder, Jaime Bonet and also to see the beauty and potentials of the LCMs reality in the VD family and in the different realities.
And as Heirs, we are called to “Fan into flame the gift that we received from God” (2 Tim 1:6) by living and sharing it to all peoples so the world may see the beauty of Christ through us.
GO and SEE!!! (see Mark 6:38) the treasure that is in our hands.
Go and see!!! the Charism of praying, preaching, testimony of life and forming apostles is the food that we can offer to the world.
“Give them something to eat yourselves!!!”
With thanks to Gams L. Gallega (Verbum Dei LCM) and the WordNews team
We are holding an Art Workshop at the DSWD, Home for Girls (4 to 21 years old) who have been abused.
Every Sunday afternoon during May, Cha Cha and some Verbum Dei disciples, have been leading this art workshop, using some of the truths of faith of our theme set.
Our desire is to integrate faith and arts, by sharing with the children the goodness and love of God through art and creativity; helping them gain self-awareness, confidence and appreciation of the preciousness of their life as a valuable gift of God; and letting the children experience, enjoy, learn and discover a sense of connection between life and art.
Here are some observations from the girls attending it, after one of these workshops:
‘This is my life… I don’t want it to be wasted.’
‘I will let light be stronger than the darkness I find in life.’
With thanks to the WordNews team
The singles reality had an outing last weekend, with two main purposes: team building and giving school supplies to the children in Olango.
We had lots of fun and enjoyed very much the island hopping on Saturday. It was a great way to get to know each other better, and enjoy the beautiful sea. At the end of the day, we had team building dynamics, which many of us found it helpful. We were asked to write something positive about each person... some surprises were found!...
On Sunday morning, after a short time of prayer, we set off to the local church in Tingo, Olango, where around 170 children met us. Arman was a great animator, leading the music and some animation songs. As it was Pentecost day, we performed a skit about the dead bones of Ezekiel 37. Margarida explained it being like our lives before and after welcoming God’s Spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit given to us at Pentecost enables us to be friends of God and gathers us as a Christian family. The Holy Spirit is also the One who inspired people to be generous and sponsor the school supplies and snacks. So we prayed for them before the group sharing and the distribution of the school supplies.
‘It was a great joy to see the children’s happiness’ said Mark at the end of this activity.
See some of the photos of the event:
With thanks to the WordNews team
The Gift and Task of Sexuality for Catholics
A talk given by Fr. James McTavish, FMVD
A commentary by Therese Gonzalez
May 8, 2018, Discovery Camp, Montebello Hotel Cebu City
It was such a relief to have Fr James McTavish give this Talk on a topic that came out in some of the discussions in our School of the Word group. Here below are some of the points explored in this formation talk.
We needed to hear what he had to say about a video clip showing a Canadian News team reporting on children being taught in their public school that they could choose their own gender by the way they felt!
In other words, if a 5 yr old boy felt like he was a girl, then it was fine to consider himself a girl, could dress like a girl and change his private parts. The same views with the girls!
Fr James started with a quote from James 1:17 (coincidence 😊)
“Every good and perfect gift comes from heaven. It comes down from God, our Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change or cause darkness by turning.”
What are the Catholic teachings on gender?
A. You are offending God as the Creator if you change your sex.
B. Gender is either male or female.
C. Gender has roles.
D. ‘Feelings’ do not determine nor do feelings define Gender ~ neither is gender dictated by society.
E. Sex change operations are considered an act of mutilation to the body.
So, our body’s sex determines whether we are male or female and not our sensuality. Are we living our sexuality to the fullest? How did we invest in this gift?
The issue of intersex was also discussed. Intersex has nothing to do with transgender issues.
Teaching children gender ideology will confuse the children. This is against the natural law of creation and will result in a disconnecion with the identity of being a man and a woman.
So how do we speak out against this dysphoria without being discriminatory?
How do we guide our children in today’s world, with Gender Identity Confusion issues of LGBT, two spirit, Gender-free or non-binary where babies are born and not registered in their birth certificate as either male or female?
An interesting comparison was on the one hand, a survey of Gender Identity Disorder in the US and the United Kingdom which showed that people in this category are in the 2% of the population. On the other hand, a survey done by Courage, a Catholic organization based in Manila: in the Philippines of 137 males and 220 females, 21% suffer from Gender confusion. Perhaps this high rate is partly due to our local television shows that have gender confused actors and actresses as main role characters and models.
One possible consequence of a lack of clear morality in the area of sexuality is that the numbers of HIV cases are increasing. The Department of Health in the Philippines came up with a comparative survey of HIV data in 2008 as having 1 case a day while in 2014, the cases increased to 17 cases a day. In 2017, the HIV cases have increased greatly to 35 cases a day with the vast majority (85%) due to males having sex with males.
More than leaving us with solutions to this problem, we were also left with many questions; especially what can we, Catholics, do to help others not only become more aware of this reality but also help our fellow Catholics live the gift of their sexuality as God’s gift.
We were also reminded of the call to chastity to all the baptised, stated in the Catechism of the Catholic church (CCC, no. 2348).
Also in CCC no. 2520, “A chaste person is not self centered nor is he/she involved in selfish relationships with people. Rather, he/she is called to govern one’s passions and live in peace. With God’s Grace he will prevail by the virtue of the gift of Chastity, by purity of intention, by purity of vision and by prayer. Be pure in your thoughts and keep disciplined in your feelings.”
Written by: Therese Gonzalez
With thanks to the WordNews team
At the launch of Fr. James McTavish’s book Form Apostles are SOW classmates (first row, from left) Judy Tan, Cynthia Rodriguez, Fr. James McTavish, Yvonne Romualdez, Emy Abaya and the author; (standing, from left) Tippi Reyes, Corito de Claro, Chari Veloso, Maribel Dionisio, Chickie Locsin, Joji Songalia, Raffy Rodriguez, Jay Sison, Fr. Vincent Guinoo and Marabel Viernes.
I go to “school” once a week and I enjoy it tremendously! Every Wednesday, I wake up extra early, really excited, I get all dressed up, then drive to class or carpool with my sisters. I abhor being late and am proud to say I have never been since we started our studies in School of the Word (SOW). Our bright and cheerful SOW classroom is located at Christ the King Parish Center in Green Meadows, Pasig City. My classmates are the nicest, warmest bunch of people and our team of teachers are the best!
Our head teacher is Fr. James McTavish, FMVD. He is a Scottish Catholic missionary priest and a member of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity. Our very amiable Father James has bright blue eyes, a mischievous smile, was born in Scotland to a close-knit family of five, loves to play soccer and left a twin brother back home. He is a qualified medical doctor who graduated from Cambridge University in England and a surgeon specializing in pediatric plastic and reconstructive surgery. As a missionary, he did further studies in moral theology and bioethics in Rome.
So is he a doctor or a teacher? Well, he is also a prolific book writer. To date, he has authored nine books. His most recent book Form Apostles is about the late beloved founder of Verbum Dei, Fr. Jaime Bonet, who felt the call to make Jesus known to all people at the tender age of 14. In preparation for their mission, Father Jaime taught his missionaries to always keep themselves nourished with the word of God. Verbum Dei means “Word of God.”
Father Jaime passed on his baton to the Verbum Dei missionaries in five continents worldwide.
In his initial dialogue with God at age 14, Jaime recalled that though his studies and sports were going very well, he wanted to be happier! So, he said to God, “If you exist, make me happier! I waited for the answer. He gave me such joy! A joy to me unknown, so exhilarating that I could not endure so much beauty, and it was increasing.” At 14, he entered the seminary, and in a personal experience of dialogue with the crucified Christ, he felt the call to make our Lord known to all people, which became the heart of his vocation and the seed of the future foundation of Verbum Dei.
Last month, 10 of us SOW classmates had the privilege of accompanying our teacher, Father James, to PICC. It felt like a school field trip for us and we were excited to listen to his talk and sell the thousand booklets, which he wrote for pediatricians. When we arrived at the convention venue and saw the audience, Father James nervously said, “I wonder if Jesus was this nervous when he had to feed the crowd of 5,000.” He prayed and proceeded to address 6,000 doctors who all listened intently as he shared his stories through a talk called “Wounded Healers Offering Their Lives for a Cause.” His booklets were sold out.
One of the stories Father James shared was his own personal experience as a doctor.
“I studied medicine and qualified as a doctor at 24. At one moment in my life, I was doing my specialty training in Sydney, Australia. I got called to see a young man who was badly wounded. He was 26. He cut his wrist because he wanted to take his own life. I remember seeing this young man and I wondered. He had money, lived in a beautiful city, in a land of milk and honey where everything was provided yet he had no desire to live.
“We operated on him from midnight till 8 a.m. It was a difficult operation. I went to see him after and still he looked so sad. I told him, ‘The worst is over! You will still be able to use your hand.’ He looked so unhappy. He said, ‘You fixed my hand but you didn’t fix my life’.”
Baffled, Father James brought this incident to prayer in adoration. “I really spoke to Jesus, man to man, about this boy who was still so unhappy.”
“The gospel that day was about the fullness of life…And during that moment of adoration, I felt Jesus looking straight at me. It’s not enough just to treat the external wounds. As a plastic surgeon, I had enjoyed my career so much, trying to reconstruct various wounds but Jesus, the Good Doctor, asked me to reconstruct his people. Now, I would like to ask you a question. How is Jesus asking you to give your own life in the world of today?”
Our Blessed Mother was a big influence in the life of the young doctor. While studying, he prayed for her intercession. He even promised that if she were to grant his specific request, he would commit to serve as a volunteer in Lourdes. He did pass with flying colors. But he forgot all about his promise to her. One day, he saw a sign that said doctors were needed in Lourdes. This time, he remembered and promptly obeyed her.
A month later, he received an invitation to attend School of the Word run by Verbum Dei, Australia. Five months later after attending a retreat, he experienced a deep yearning to become a missionary priest. So, he joined the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity. Here in the Philippines, where he has been assigned for the past 15 years, he continues to inspire many people to become good disciples of Jesus.
The fruit of our studies in School of the Word is a life-changing joy like no other. In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came so that you may have life and have it more abundantly.” Thanks to Father James and his team of Verbum Dei missionary priests, Fr. Felipe Vas Pardal, Fr. Vic Caritos, Fr. Iwao Ikegami and Fr. Vincent Guinoo who are good shepherds to our flock of sheep. We always leave the classroom feeling energized. They taught us that when we pray, we talk to God. And whenever we read His word, that is when God speaks to us. We are happily learning to pray with the word of God, to listen to Him and go into deep loving dialogs with Him.
School of the Word classes are ongoing from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. If you wish to enroll, tuition is free. Let’s SOW together every Wednesday.
(Would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to purchase a copy of Form Apostles, call Shayne at 890-6303 or 0922-8986749. All proceeds will go to the funding of Verbum Dei missionaries worldwide.)
This article was originally posted in The Philippine Star - May 13, 2018 by Michelle Dayrit-Soliven
The Verbum Dei community first came to Musuan in Mindanao in 2006 when some misioneros visited and later in 2008 (19th of January) a group of Verbum Dei disciples from Cagayan de Oro conducted the first School of the Word (SOW) at San Isidro Labrador Parish, Musuan, Maramag, Bukidnon.
Since that time, a group of VD-CDO disciples has been faithfully and regularly coming over to Musuan once a month to facilitate the SOW. From the 23rd of April 2017, SOW has been regularly done every Sunday (except the fifth). Verbum Dei local members are giving the guidelines for the three Sundays, while VD-CDO are giving once a month still.
Sharing some experience of SOWers:
“The fruit that I have received from the SOW is faithfulness. This community encourages and teaches me how to pray, to give heart every time I pray.”
- Teddy Refugio, a student and a member of VD-Musuan
“After I met the Verbum Dei community, the Lord has really molded me to be a better person. The SOW showed me how important it is to always persevere in prayer. It also taught me how to be patient and humble, and I learned to go beyond my comfort zone. I am very thankful that God introduced me to this community. I give thanks also to the people God uses as his instruments to guide me and encourage me to continue attending the community.
- Ann Refugio, a student and a member of VD-Musuan
”Does discernment happen only once a lifetime?” I once asked. When I heard an answer “No, it is a lifetime” I was slightly confused. I asked that question years before knowing the Verbum Dei community. A Verbum Dei priest once added to our invitation for SOW-Musuan the question “Have you heard God talking to you?” That sounded more interesting to me. As I journey with the Verbum Dei community through the regular SOW each week, I’ve learned to pray with the word of God. I’ve heard God speaking to me and I’ve learned to discern. And this listening to God is needed every day of our life – it is lifelong! The Verbum Dei community is a gift, a great gift!”
- Gina B. Barbosa, a working mother and a member of VD-Musuan
With thanks to the WordNews team
By: Reycelle Anthony B. Bagares
The Verbum Dei Missionary Family in Cagayan de Oro had a day of prayer last Sunday, May 6, 2018 at Calabrian Retreat House in Barangay Lumbia, Cagayan de Oro City. The theme was, “The Community - a means of perseverance”. This month’s day of prayer was particularly special because it was graced by Alfonso “Poncho” Martinez, Formator of the Married Couple Branch, who gave the guidelines and the formations, and the mass was celebrated by James McTavish, FMVD (Ecclesial Zone Responsible, Philippines).
Poncho during his morning guidelines, his words crisp and in his distinctly Mexican-English accent said, “Community is a gift. The community is where we can see and experience Christ’s life-love in the people that we meet. We can guarantee the existence of God through how God is working in other people’s lives.”
Citing the Gospel reading in Luke 24, 28-35, the Road to Emmaus, he continued, “The community will allow you to see Christ – it draws itself near and walks with you, wanting to know how you are. Through the community God is telling us that I am here. I want to know how I can help.”
The activity ended with a mass presided by James who traveled back from Musuan in Bukidnon with Jess Baja, where they had a School of the Word with some of the disciples there. Of course, the day ended with everyone in attendance standing in place for the picture taking. Adios y muchas gracias Poncho y James!
With thanks to the WordNews team