Heirs… and Apostleship
Local Assembly Cebu, 10 Feb 2019
The Verbum Dei family in Cebu was happy to hold its … (guess what number…) tenth Local assembly! This was a moment for the local community to share, review, plan and celebrate its commitment to the mission entrusted to them.
The day kicked off with the Eucharist where we all had the chance to reflect on the Gospel (Luke 5:1-11) and the call of Jesus to “push out into deep waters.” Where are those deeper waters? To take more risks in our missionary outreach? To bring our charism more to the world of today? In the call we understand it also presupposes going deeper into the love of Christ.
It was very encouraging to see the participation of all the missionary family in their reports – from the enthusiasm of the kids, through the energy of the youth and teens, the singles, the mamas, up to including the faithful apostles at 83 years old (no names mentioned).
Teambuilding followed where the differing realities were represented by a creative symbol. The various committees gave updates and there followed a job fair where you could sign up, knowing that “the harvest is big and the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2).
A Local Assembly is fully in line with the call of the Church. Pope Francis wrote “In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 120).
As Verbum Dei we are heirs of a very rich charism, received from the Holy Spirit through the life of Jaime Bonet. This charism is to be shared to the Church and the world of today. If we believe, we will speak (see 2 Cor 4:13), and pray and also invite new people. We are called to form apostles. As Jaime Bonet reminded us “People are formed by doing and above all by enabling others to also do; making others to act, forming School of Apostles – practicing -- where everyone really can do something… The disciples to be apostles have to act. If they do not act, they do not advance” (See “Form Apostles” by J. McTavish, pages 39 & 43). As Verbum Dei, we are called not just to be listeners or mere hearers but we are called to be doers who act according to what we hear in God’s Word (see James 1:22). It was very encouraging to see our disciples active in various ways including signing up to help lead various forthcoming Lenten recollections.
What are you doing to build up the Kingdom? Don’t just sit there, do something!
May the Holy Spirit always move us as Verbum Dei to be faithful. Mother Mary, Queen of Apostles, thank you for the gift of our Local Assemblies. May we be faithful to all we have discussed and decided there. Amen.
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to the WordNews team
Last February 16, 2019, the Verbum Dei Youth and Teens from Cebu facilitated a song forum in front of a crowd of around fifty teenagers and kids on a beachside that night. The activity was called "Just Love."
On the occasion of Valentine’s Day celebration, the song forum was prepared with the intention to convey the message that Jesus will always love us no matter what and He is always there and we are called to love others back as form of thanksgiving to him.
The mini concert was held at the Baybayon Beach compound in Tingo, Olango Island and was comprised of more than ten songs both secular and Christian ones. The guitarist were Jay-anne Desabelle and Angeleo Marquez, KD Artajo for the box drum, and vocals by Antonette Jañala, Kim Travero, Angeleo, and Jay-anne. It was a smooth transition of songs together with reflections and a powerful testimony by Ena Clavel, who shared with us what it means to be a young follower of Jesus. There were also games like "The Boat is Sinking," facilitated by Thea Payos and action songs like “Young Man, Get Up.”
The forum ended with the song and giving off of souvenirs for the young attendees.
Here are some photos of the event:
Thanks to Fritz Payos (VD Teens Cebu) and the WordNews team
“Why do we have the vows?”
Formation to novices on biblical foundation of religious life
Part of our Verbum Dei mission is to share the richness of our charism with the Church.
Fr James gave a two day formation (Feb 7-8, 2019) to the women novices of AWFP (Association of Women Formators of the Philippines). The topic he was asked to share was “The Biblical Foundation of the Religious Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.”
Fr James said “It was a lovely experience. It is my third year to give this workshop. I tried to focus on the reason of our vows which is to follow Jesus, and because we have a mission. It is great to be Verbum Dei to be able to share and great to be Church to receive from the young ones too. Lunch was delicious too – fresh Vietnamese spring rolls!”
The format was interactive with a series of talks, centered in the Word of God and encouraging the participants to use their bibles, as well group work, sharing and dynamics.
Here are some photos of the event:
Thanks to James McTavish and the WordNews team
‘Heirs of a Charism’ was the theme for the overnight disciples’ retreat we had last January 26-27, in Banawa.
This retreat made me know more about the beginnings of Verbum Dei. I felt encouraged by the intimate relationship of Fr. Jaime Bonet with God, which is worth emulating. It's amazing to know how a simple encounter with God can lead to something big such as the creation of the Verbum Dei Catholic Missionary Family!
The invitation I received from the retreat was to: Go out and share the inheritance you received from Verbum Dei,the inheritance which is praying with the Word of God and help others to do the same. But in order to effectively transmit this inheritance to other people, I need to undergo a process of formation, which is not always easy. Like getting a tattoo, I need to pass through the process of letting myselfbeing sealed, through the challenge of persevering in my discipleship and in sharing the VD charism, so the inheritance I received will not be put to waste but will continue to be practiced even for the next generations to come.’
Thanks to Jo-Ann Gustilo and the WordNews team!
Fun and adventure: these two words are very popular with most people. Who does not want to be happy? Everyone wants excitement - that’s our nature as human beings. That’s exactly what happened to me when my Verbum Dei Community organized a hiking recollection in Mount Batulao last January 26, 2019.
Hiking is not a new word to me, and neither is recollection but what made me more excited was the fact that this is I can say my first serious hiking experience. I had a taste of it when I was a boy scout and some of my community’s activity but it is not as rigorous as this.
When the day of the hiking came I was very excited. I am a nature lover (same as St. Francis) Ha! Ha! Ha! By thinking that I will be seeing beautiful scenery really made me excited. Now the hiking proper - at first it was easy but as the time passed by little by little I got tired and added to that I am not an athletic person ( I just feel like one) Ha! Ha! Ha! The journey to the peak was not easy but you know what is one of the things that inspired me? It was the kindness of the people around me (including the guides), they pushed me to continue and not to give up.
It was also a great opportunity for me to give an input at the second to the last station of the mountain (it has four) iven that it’s nice to share about God as well. Having a chance to speak with the beautiful nature as your background, made me feel like Jesus in the Gospel. Indeed we can see God in Nature.
After my input, there was one last journey up to the peak but this time with more energy - thankfully we made it. Yehey! When we reached the top, I can’t help but pray. Indeed God exists - if not, who will be able to create such beauty that we call nature.
One of the things that we did in the activity was to help in cleaning the area which was a good experience for me because nature is God’s gift that all of us must enjoy and take care of. We must take our part in making it clean because all of us benefit from it.
I will never forget the experience that I had in the hiking recollection because I believe we can associate our life to be like climbing the mountain - there are moments that we will get tired, disappointed, frustrated, and sad but as we strive to not give up and continue the journey in the end we will win. You will realize that God is with you in different moments you just did not notice. He is there with the people who helped you along the way.
I am still a work in progress, there are a lot of things that I need to work on in my spiritual life, family life and myself but like what happened in the hiking recollection, I want to strive not to give up because I want to believe that there’s something beautiful that awaits me in the finish line. I wish you the same as well. Happy journeying!
With thanks to Francis Jerome Santos and the WordNews team
A one day formation to novices on human trafficking and prostitution
Do you know the universal prayer intention of Pope Francis for February 2019?
“For a generous welcome to the victims of human trafficking, enforced prostitution, and violence.”
He is concerned because around 40 million people are trafficked globally each year. Slavery was abolished once, but now it is back, more widespread than ever and it needs to be re-abolished.
Human trafficking is a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry, ranking only behind the illegal arms trade and the drug trade. This reality is “hidden in plain sight” and all around we see signs of prostitution. You only have to drive through the city center of Cebu and pass along Mango avenue to see many fruits of the flesh on sale. It is a very sad world when we sit idly by and watch mainly men buy the bodies of women (and children). As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said “not to speak is to speak.” Our silence speaks sometimes of our indifference.
Pope Francis challenges us “Let us not look the other way. There is greater complicity than we think. The issue involves everyone! This infamous network of crime is now well established in our cities, and many people have blood on their hands as a result of their comfortable and silent complicity” (Pope Francis, Evangelii gaudium, 2013, no. 211). The Catholic church teaching is so clear “Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure. The one who pays sins gravely against himself: he violates the chastity to which his Baptism pledged him and defiles his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic church, no. 2355). Some experts in this area feel that the demand for prostitution is growing. Why? Because of the increasing use of internet pornography. They say “pornography is the theory and prostitution is the practice.” That is why Pope Francis also teaches that the “true solution is the conversion of hearts, cutting off demand in order to dry out the market” (Pope Francis, Address to the Participants in the World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action against Human Trafficking, 12 February 2018). If there is no demand from the customers, then there would be no supply.
In this light of trying to do something, Fr James gave a whole day formation in Manila to 75 novices from various communities and countries. He shared Catholic church teaching on Human trafficking and prostitution, citing sources from the bible, tradition, and magisterium. Each community was asked “How can we respond in the light of our charism?”
As Verbum Dei, tasked also with the evangelization of society, we can pray for this reality, for the victims, for the customers, for the conversion of heart of bar owners. In our talks, our preaching, we can ask that we no longer consider the body of the other as something that can be bought. We should aim “that the Word may have an impact on the unjust structures of the world in order to transform them according to the Kingdom of God” (Verbum Dei spirituality).
So on your way home at night, spare a prayer for all the prostituted women beginning work in the bars, and for the many men, both Filipino and foreigners, who are losing their soul because we (society) “allow them” to buy the body of another.
St Josephine Bakhita, patron Saint of victims of human trafficking, pray for us!
For a thought-provoking advert on the dangers of human trafficking see:
With thanks to James McTavish and the WordNews teams
Last January 05, 2019, the youth reality in the Verbum Dei community in Cebu welcomed the year with a refreshing activity through their annual youth assembly. This year’s theme was entitled, “Verbum Dei Youth: I am Beloved. Gifted. Empowered.” The theme is inspired from this year’s theme for the Year of the Youth: “Filipino Youth in Mission: Beloved. Gifted. Empowered.” The activity was for teens and youth (ages 15-25) from different schools and universities at the Verbum Dei Apostolate Center in General Maxilom, Cebu City with the assistance of Sisters Charisma and Adriana.
The activity started off with an amusing dance exercise to heighten the energy of the participants followed by an educational game facilitated by Sister Adriana. Mylene Capuras, a Verbum Dei disciple, then, gave a inspiring guidelines reminding us that our lives are the best GIFT that God has given us, that we should never have any regrets and just live in the moment! We were invited to offer concrete options for God and for the mission. After a short time of reflection, Kim Travero, youth reality coordinator, presented a report about the activities that were successfully done from the previous year, some challenges that were encountered by the members, aspects that need to be improved in the group and the activities that are expected to be done for this year. Sister Charisma also gave a creative dynamic where we expressed our differences as a beloved, gifted and empowered youth. We ended the activity with an open forum where we shared among us the lights that we’ve learned from this activity along with our concrete actions in living the mission as young disciples of God.
We believe that it is essential to make young people of today aware that they are loved, gifted, and empowered in their own special ways. God has been very generous in giving us so much love, gifts and talents, and the power to take part in propagating the Kingdom of God. We continually ask to pray for the young people of this generation who do not know God yet, that they, too, may taste the mercy and tender love of God which would enable them to spread the goodness of the Lord to others.
Through the intercession of Mother Mary, may God continue to plant courage, humility and passion in our hearts to drive us to be the instruments of love to other young people wherever we are.
“Go then, and make disciples of all the nations, giving them baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to keep all the rules which I have given you: and see, I am ever with you, even to the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
From the WordNews team
Last January 26, 2019, a total of 30 single participants gathered for # FC (Fun & Care) Mount Batulao Hiking Recollection of Verbum Dei Missionaries. The group conquered the beautiful mountain not just for fun but also to encounter God in nature and in cleaning up the beautiful area.
It was inspiring to witness the participants having plastic bags and collecting trash. This is fully in line with the call of Pope Francis to take care of creation. “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish” (Pope Francis, Laudato si’, no. 21).
There were also inputs were given that helped the participants to deepen in the reason for the activity. To reach the peak of the mountain was not easy but with the help of each other most of them made it up to the top of the mountain.
At the end of the activity, awards were given to all the participants and special awards as well. It was a fun and enriching day. All were happy and enriched spiritually as welland we went home tired, fulfilled, and having done our little bit to make the earth, our common home, a bit more beautiful. How about each one of us readers – what can you do today to care for creation? How about picking up some trash, or reflecting on how to clean up your neighborhood
With thanks to Francis Santos and the WordNews team
“Enlarge and open your life to the work of the Spirit”
Verbum Dei Family Assembly, Tagaytay
On Sunday January 27, the Verbum Dei Tagaytay community held its 1st Local assembly. Following the mass celebrated by Fr Tony Pegon, SVD and concelebrated by Fr James McTavish, FMVD, the participants began the assembly with some opening remarks by Sr Grace, the local responsible of the Tagaytay community.
Thereafter followed guidelines and a time of prayer. Separate guidelines were given for the kids & teens group. The theme of the guidelines was to grow in the desire to be led by the Spirit, to make this Verbum Dei Family mine, my own. We were reminded of our mission as Verbum Dei “to be at the service of the Word of God.” And to allow our hearts to be enlarged – “enlarge the space of your tent” (see Isaiah 54:2-3) and as a missionary family to be able to “build itself up in love” (Eph 4:16).
An input was given by Sr Rana sharing the results of a survey of the VDMFam in Tagaytay and it shed light on the activities they found helpful. Sr Gaby and Sr Lupita challenged us to dream for our community and to strive to reach out to the whole of Tagaytay and beyond!
After lunch, various groups such as Teens, Youth, Adults and Couples met together to project together the year ahead. They then presented a symbol of their group’s wishes and needs for 2019. Time was spent explaining various ministries and committees and the participants had a chance to indicate which area they would like to serve in. A presentation was given by James on the Verbum Dei National communications project. He emphasized that the Church sees social media as the new pulpit. He also reminded us of the words of Pope Francis in his message for World Communications Day 2019 when he wrote “love always communicates.” Where there is fire and conviction, one will look for ways to share Christ, especially in social media, the so-called digital continent, where so many, especially the youth are gathered. As Verbum Dei we are also called to announce the Good news on Facebook, Twitter and in the digital world. After this he also gave a short introduction to our NGO called Friends of Verbum Dei.
The overall fruit for the Verbum Dei Tagaytay community was the challenge for each one to be pro-active in building up the Verbum Dei Family.
From the WordNews team
Saturday January 12, after our monthly FaMVD mass, we surprised Darwin with a Despedida Party, in thanksgiving for his missionary life in Cebu for the past 5 years. He is now preparing himself to embark in a new mission, to be part of the misioneros team starting Verbum Dei in Vietnam.
Darwin, originally from Cebu, met Verbum Dei in 1997 and joined the missionary life in 1999, all this in Cebu. Afterwards, he went to CDO, where he studied Theology at the St John Vianney Seminary. Darwin’s missionary apostolic life was in Manila, Mexico (where he did his final vows) and mostly in Cebu.
We are all very grateful for Darwin’s self-giving as the ecclesial coordinator of the AC, promoting the participation of our lay disciples in the Verbum Dei mission and their spiritual growth, his work with teens, his contribution in the running of our Verbum Dei Apostolic Center and his work part of the vocational promotion team.
These were the words the members of the AC (Apostolic Council) told about Darwin:
D – Dedicated
A – Amigo
R – Reference point
W – Wise spender
I – Industrious
N - Noble
“The despidida party was filled with warm goodbyes. I was not expecting it to be fun but I guess the Verbum Dei family has already matured enough to know that though Darwin was leaving, we are one with him in prayer.” (words from one disciple)
“Thank you, Darwin for being a brother to us, very easy to relate with, in our ecclesial relationships and apostolic work.” (words from the misioneras)
Here is a short interview to Darwin:
1. What does the option of being a brother mean for you?
2. What are your highlights of these years in Cebu?
3. What are your learnings from your time in Cebu?
Openness to dialogue in our relationships in Ecclesiality; Discernment in key moments in the Verbum Dei Family and Accompaniment the disciples in their spiritual and missionary growth.
Here are some photos of the event:
From the WordNews team