Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
Ask any child what Christmas is about and undeniably, for each child, it is all about the gifts they are so eager to receive. People often say that Christmas is just for children. Do you agree? Well, I tend to agree on that point, in fact. Christmas is definitely a time for the children of God to await for that wonderful gift of our Lord. But as God’s children, we don’t just wait like everyone else, we prepare ourselves for the Savior’s coming in advent and with hopeful expectation! What better way then to start this season of Advent than seek the help of St Joseph?
Fr. James McTavish took us on a Christmas Journey with St Joseph which proved to be such a wonderful ADVENTure… haha. For many, it was quite an eye opener on the pivotal role of St Joseph in salvation history. For others who already had a true devotion and even did their consecration to him, they found this recollection an opportunity to deepen further on this spirituality. The brand-new song “Go To Joseph” with lyrics written by Fr James and music composed by Jay-ann Desabelle set the scene of the journey. The tune was not only catchy but the words themselves caught everyone’s attention as the song embodied the very nature of Joseph. The invite of famous saints, St John of the Cross and St Teresa de Avila, also left the participants the desire to personally know St. Joseph more. Learning the significance of how Joseph was a “just” man in following the will of God and the intimate connection of this silence was with inner peace was a “eureka” moment for some.
Bimbo Abrio, a Verbum Dei missionary couple with wife Cookie from Cagayan de Oro, continued the journey for us. He gave us quite an insightful talk which was touching yet with some elements of humor. He effectively highlighted three key virtues of St Joseph - Prayerfulness, Selflessness and Responsiveness. He was able to impart these attributes and related how these have shaped his role as a spouse and father to his four children. Joseph’s quick and positive response to action was definitely something for all of us to emulate. There was no account of any spoken word by our dear St Joseph but his actions definitely spoke for themselves.
As we bring 2020 to a close, let us “Go to Joseph” and ask him to teach us to respond to God’s call, so we too, from our slumber can “get up” each day given to us from whatever reality we are in and bring Jesus and His mother Mary everywhere we go in this journey of life.
With thanks to Emy Abaya and the WordNews team
On-line Advent recollection
The Verbum Dei missionaries of Manila-Pasig recently held a half-day Advent recollection. Here is the sharing of Regina, one of the participants.
I was able to enjoy the time of reflection especially which emphasized that the Promise is a Person. Jesus has been reminding me of my wellness and insisting to ‘waste’ time with Him. He knows very well how many concerns I have been handling the past months. He confronted me of the many “excuse letters” I sent to Him begging off to what used to be our exclusive bonding time of prayer just to attend to the youth in need of guidance, the tons of messages to answer, co-teachers in need of a listener, and the very demanding on-line platform I now use in teaching.
Praying with Jesus, it helped me to deepen on the points shared on “health” because it is already a constant topic in my conversations with Him. He said, “would you like to prepare for another phase, a version 2.0 of our adventure? Then, take care of My life in you ... take care of your well being too. How is your sleep? What do you eat? Do you still take relaxation walks and pause to watch the branches sway and the flowers blossom? Be well, so that you can prepare well and give Me well to others in a version 2.0 way.”
And what sealed this day is the LOVE shared by Jesus to me, and to Judith whom I invited for the recollection. I am moved by the ways He connected both of us in a shared virtual sacred space.
This day of recollection, I met the promise and He asks me to prepare well and be well, to be able to give Him well.
Regina Flor O. Peña
Zechariah, Elizabeth and Mary are three characters we are so familiar with; all three commonly exemplify the message of the first Sunday of Advent – HOPE. The three who were all present in the Gospel reading of St Luke in Chapter 1, translating fear to hope.
“Rejoice in HOPE’ (Rom. 12,12) was the theme of this year’s Advent Retreat, held last Sunday, November 29, initiated by the Verbum Dei Missionary Family in Mindanao. It was modified to observe existing health protocols, and done online via Zoom.
The retreat was a one-day event with three Guidelines, a pair of poignant testimonies and with more time of prayer; the event spotlighted HOPE, notably to entice the participants to make a decision to persevere in prayer. To be patient in tribulation, that regardless of the present-day challenges and affliction, we remain hopeful, rejoicing even in sickness, even we are weary or tired from the demands of work and school, we keep in mind that we are not alone, we are never alone - God is with us! Emmanuel! The afternoon prayer guideline ended with the invitation, a challenge to give hope to through the sharing of the Word of God; to create ripples of hope to break free from the dangers of despondency & spiritual death.
This year’s Advent retreat was a great occasion of conceding that what truly gives us the courage to be joyful always is the HOPE of THE LIFE to come, Jesus Christ.
The retreat ended with a Mass officiated by Fr. Bong Guinoo, FMVD.
Let us keep our spirits high this Advent by rejoicing in Hope!
In the last 6 weeks, I have been sharing my prayer and my own experience with the gospel as well as listening to the experience of others in the audio reflections called “Daily Shots”. I heard about the struggles, the funny movements and most importantly, how the gospel and the words of Jesus through our life experience have impacted others in their lives.
I found it incredible how relevant and relatable our day-to-day lives can be with the words in the bible and how amazing the Word of God is for my own life.
The experience of “Daily Shots” preachers as well as those who listened, I believe has really expressed the reality that when we take time to listen and pray with the Word of God, we can learn so much for our own personal thought and growth. By so doing, we allow God to be real in our daily lives and make us grow closer to him.
Deeply rooted in who we are and how we live, we find that it is how we can hear and speak to God. God can really speak to us through our daily realities. Nothing in our lives is too far from the reach of God’s word.
The amazing thing is that this experience of “Daily Shots” in our lives has even conquered our seemingly biggest enemy – time! The time we never have, the time that we are always running after. Even “Daily Shots” preachers expressed this gratitude and grace to realize and see that when we do make time for God and His word, no matter how little, there’s a lot more we can gain from it. Even in the midst the busyness of life, that time as little as it is, when spent with the Word of God, is worth more to us in our lives than we can ever imagine. It can even be the answer to what we are always chasing after.
All in all, this experience with “Daily Shots” has been exactly that - a daily shot, a shot of life and reflection that I needed to make a difference in my current realities. The impact of listening to God through the experience of the Word and these “Daily Shots” have changed the way I relate to reading the bible. These have really proven to be one of the most effective ‘shots’ I’ve ever received. ‘Shots’ of real wisdom and grace for my life that in all honesty, I have not found anywhere else.
I really praise and thank God for giving us this experience of this daily dose of the Word of God in my life.
Amanda Silva, Daily Shots contributor
The Fraternidad Misionera Verbum Dei in the Philippines marked a milestone on November 15, 2020, with the launch of the 3rd Discernment Course for Missionary Married Couples. On this historic day, each region of the Philippines- Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao was represented by a married couple who previously began a year-long program of formation given by formators from Madrid, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.
Prayer Guidelines for the start of this journey were given by Formator Mae Paguia who drew inspiration from Deuteronomy 7:6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth.”
It was followed by an informative talk on “Elements of Discernment” by Formator Antonio Diaz based on Romans 12:2 “ Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The road to this launch was not easy, and it seemed that a thousand obstacles stood in the way. However, neither the pandemic, recent natural disasters nor the continents between these intrepid ‘travellers’ were deterrent to the wondrous plans of the Lord. Indeed, God moves far beyond what we can see with the naked eye. The expectant joy of all those committed to this voyage of discovery was palpable over the signals of Zoom.
Imelda Manceli from Cebu City exclaimed “We are excited and looking forward for Jesus to be conceived and born in our marriage. We seek to please God who examines our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4).” Cristian Alvarado, a citizen of Costa Rica, who is currently based in Cagayan de Oro City with his wife Tomasita and family, expressed his happiness, “I have moved from doubt to faith, experiencing an increase in gratefulness and an increase in faith. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love upon you and chose you… but it is because the Lord loves you. (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)”
Regner Paguia, one of the formators, shared these encouraging words: “Truly we are on our way to ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ (Exodus 3:8). Stick to prayer in the ups and downs on the road. Ask for openness to the prayer of the other, listen to your spouse, engage in a healthy tug-of-war, keeping in mind that the Spirit may also move you to take a stand.”
“Saying Yes or No is secondary,” exhorted Fr. James McTavish, adviser to the Married Couples Branch. “This adventure is about knowing yourself more. Commit to being closer to God, to love more as a couple, as a family. To learn more about the Verbum Dei charism and mission, to have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)”
Like the good and faithful servants in the Parable of the Talents, we are ready to be brave, take a risk, and make an investment of a lifetime, that we too may enter into the joy of the Master.
An evening of vocation discovery
The missionaries of Pasig organized an evening of vocation discovery of the various states of life consisting of: consecrated missionary of the female and male branches, missionary married couple and Lay Consecrated missionary in Verbum Dei Fraternity. The event began with a short introduction of how Love is calling each one, as we are to be united and to dream. The dream of God is beyond our imagination, and we are invited to begin the journey to dream big with Him.
Jesus knocks on our doors (as in Revelation 3:20) and invites us to listen to Him. He desires to enter deeper into our hearts and our lives, to share a meal of intimate relationship with us. His call for each one is unique and special, no matter where we are on our journey of life - Love is calling us to follow Him.
Various missionaries gave their testimony on how they experience and understood their call, as well as how they are living out their mission in their specific reality.
Last but not least, we spent the final moments of the evening in silence with Jesus in the Eucharist, to stay with Him, to listen to Him calling out and knocking on our doors and sharing the moment with Him.
The following is a short experience of a youth from Pasig community from the session:
"Tonight I learned that everything takes risks and sacrifices. Risks that if you're not willing to take, nothing will come into fruition. Sacrifices in terms that you can't have everything. Everybody has to make a choice. I am deeply impressed and honored to have met such people like Gelo, Kuya LL and Ate Anne, as well as Ate Aida who took it upon themselves to grab that opportunity and take that risk. I am humbled by the fact that I can't even muster the courage to do so and yet they made it look so easy to make a decision that big seems so trivial. The thought of leaving something behind bothers me the most but then again, it's for God so I understand what they gave up. I guess my lesson for tonight to reflect on is to question what God really has planned for me. To find answers and look into myself for the solutions to my dilemma." From Michael (Youth of Pasig)
On November 14, 2020, Antioch School Manila hosted its sophomore instalment of Parenting As One, a monthly webinar series on formation and practical parenting. Two physicians who are experts in their fields of profession were showcased.
The first speaker was Fr. James McTavish, FMVD who ably delivered a discussion on Understanding Conscience. He focused on the importance of guarding our hearts and loving God with our minds, and how crucial it is to develop and maintain a well-formed conscience. Fr. James gave the audience many concrete examples where a healthy conscience is very much needed. One is awareness of the influence of social media. Don’t eat everything thrown at you! Another is the culture of corruption in society, which could very well begin in cheating in the classroom. The session ended with practical points on how to form our conscience.
Pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist Dr. Jimmy Dumlao shared his insights on Understanding Your Teen. He expounded on normal psychosocial development of teens, stress management during online schooling and the pandemic, and physical and cyber-bullying. A few take home points: Understanding your teen begins with understanding adolescent development which differs very much from earlier childhood development. Bullying exists, but with the right tools can be prevented and stopped. Stress can be negative but many times are also positive. The goal is not to eliminate or to reduce stress, but to give your teen the means to manage stress. Lastly, open communication with your teen is key.
We thank God for these all these opportunities to build up one another: as children of God, as parents and teachers, as one community, taking care of each other in this new and better normal.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
The pandemic caught us all by surprise. In one instant, our schedules, routines and everything we were used to stopped without warning. And suddenly, we are all under one roof 24/7. How do you maximize this season with your spouse, with each child, as a family? In response to this new and daunting reality, Antioch School Manila launched its monthly Parenting Webinar Series entitled Parenting As One last October 2020. Each webinar includes talks on formation and practical parenting from very special guest speakers.
The first of this series featured our very own Fr. Iwao Ikegami, FMVD who shared about The Importance of Prayer. Fr. Iwao emphasized that prayer is the best long-term investment. He explained that, “We have saved someone when we have taught him or her to pray. Christ will have a new disciple when he or she, through prayer, ‘comes to know him’ personally, not by hearsay but by personal experience (John 4:42).”
Mompreneur Lady Makalintal delivered a talk about Family During Pandemic. Here are some of the light bulb moments for families to keep in mind: Take time to know your child, as well as the time and place that they are growing up in. Parents should realize that these days are very different from when we were growing up. Think about your goals and carry them through. Build routine: nighttime chats, Sunday lunch, workout dates, and whatever else that would fit your family's personality. Finally, have some room for some spontaneity! Drive thru for some ice cream just because.
These formations are really a way to become more rooted in Christ, more solid in the application of our faith, and more grateful as St Paul advises us: “rooted and built up in Christ, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col 2:7)
The “new normal” is a world of new possibilities.
Last weekend thirteen students from grades 7 and 8 of Antioch School Manila challenged themselves to “Dream Big” in the online recollection facilitated all the way from Cebu by Sister Adriana Haro and Jay-anne Désabelle. The activity was held via Google Meet, and consisted of talks, prayer time, games, song forum, an origami workshop facilitated by Fr. Iwao Ikegami, and even a baking workshop facilitated by Lordie Capuras, who is a disciple from Verbum Dei Cebu.
At the end of the recollection the students were able to connect with their dreams in life and renew their commitment to pursue them with the grace of God. Here are some of their realizations:
A Eucharist was celebrated at the end of the recollection for the students, their families and teachers. We pray that each one of them may continue to be the young and courageous dreamers that the world needs today.
‘I will make you light for the nations…’ (Is 49:6) is the theme that has accompanied the first batch of the Missionary Married Couples in the Philippines for the last nine (9) years of their formation as Missionary Couples. Indeed, they have carried this out in their missionary vocation being married couples, parents both biological and spiritual, in all their frailties and weaknesses trying to be faithful to the call of the Lord to love with their all.
Last Saturday November 7, 2020 (11/7) was like Seven-Eleven (7/11) that is open to serve everyone, as three (3) couples from the Missionary Married Couples Branch in the Philippines renewed their temporal bonds for another two years of service to God and the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity. The couples who renewed their bonds were Regner & Mae Paguia, Yoyoy & Lucy Rama and Bimbo & Cookie Abrio. It was a very simple and heartfelt celebration officiated by Fr. Jeff Singzon, a Calabrian priest, attended by the couples’ children and family, and together through Zoom with the ever supportive Misionero, Misionera and Married Couple missionaries and other members of the Verbum Dei family.
The bonds of the couples was received virtually by the General Responsible of the Missionary Married Couples branch, Poncho and Adriana Martinez, who gave a tearful and hopeful message to the couples. The ceremony was formally closed by a message of gratitude delivered by Yoyoy and Lucy Rama recognizing how God has been working and forming each couple to be faithful and grateful, also recognized were the concrete supports received from their respective families, communities and friends. Praying for more fruitful years ahead as the couples continue collaborating and partaking in the work that God has entrusted to them.
All Advent Articles Bohol CDO Cebu Christmas Couples Ctk Disciples Retreat Easter Encounter Family Bonding Fmvd FMVD President Formation Friends Of Verbum Dei Fundraising General Congress 2018 Gift Giving Hiking Holy Week International Kids Leadership Camp Lenten Local Assembly Luzon Manila Marrried Couple Missionaries Mission Trip Music Festival Musuan National Family Encounter 2015 National Family Encounter 2017 Newsletter NFE2020 Olango Online Retreat Outreach Pansol Pasig Pentecost Philippines Pilgrimage Prayer Camp Quezon City Recollection Retreat School Of Apostles School Of The Word Semi-silent Retreat Senior High School Siete Aguas Silent Retreat Singapore Singles Song Forum Spiritual Exercises Tagaytay Teens Testimony TGIS Toledo Valentines Valentines Celebration Vietnam Visit To The Archbishop Working Group Workshop Youth Youth Days