Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
On April 1-4, we had our Easter recollection for the teens. The theme for this year was " There's no greater love than this," and our theme song, "No Greater Love," was sung by one of the teens, Angel Paguia. We played games, listened to songs, listened to talks, and learned about God and many of us enjoyed the time we had during the Recollection. We all enjoyed the recollection and felt really happy. The Holy Week Recollection was amazing and nice and I really liked it because I learned a lot of things and I enjoyed the games, trivias, and talks. I learn that God's love is not like human love because God's love is unconditional while human love may disappear from us. Holy Week is not only for external activities but it is also about the love that gives meaning to it all. One of our teens, Eunice Rama shares her testimony to us:
“Sometimes we are ashamed of who we are, but only a person who sacrifices you knows your true worth. God's love will never leave us and Jesus never stop find us even in the darkness. One passage that helped me during the recollection was: ‘The lord says, your thoughts are not like my thoughts your ways is not like my ways.’ (Isaiah 55:8) I understood that Jesus’ love is stronger than our challenges, and he gives us new life! Then it was said to us that, "Mission is the best way to pay it forward," so we have many chances to give God's love to other people, when other people help us, embrace us, loves us the only thing that God wants us to do is to pay it forward by being a missionary of life in our own little ways. Jesus made us a question during the recollection: "Do you understand how much I love you?” And my answer to this question was: “Yes Lord I understand your love for me because I can feel it the way you bless me, you give me happiness, and by giving me a family and love. And I know that God will never stop loving me until I die. That was the testimony of one of our teens, Eunice Rama.
To sum it up all, the Easter Recollection was a fun and peaceful experience to everyone even if it was only held online, it was still successful and it helped us to get closer to God.
Tim Cain from Verbum Dei England shares with us his experience in participating in Daily Shots Season 6, which has just ended.
When Margarida invited me to join a Daily Shot team, to make a reflection on the readings for the Day, I accepted happily but later, started to get a bit anxious. What if the readings said nothing to me? What if they didn’t relate to my life experiences? What if my life experiences were simply too boring to share with people? Fortunately, a solution soon came to me. When we were involved in the Married Couples group in England, I always gave talks with my wife, Ann. We prepared these talks together and, when I was not inspired at all, she helped me and vice-versa: when she was struggling, I helped her. So I asked the missionaries in charge of the Daily Shot, ‘could I do this with my wife?’ and of course, they agreed.
And as we began to prepare for our first Daily Shot together, we started, for the first time, to really pray together. In the past, we had prayed family prayers with our children – thanking God for the good things that had happened during the day – and later, when the children grew up and left home, we prayed the Office of the Day together, but now we prayed the gospel reading of the day, in order to give to other people. We asked the Holy Spirit to inspire us – we asked him what he wanted us to say to the listeners. We tried to listen to God and then we shared together what we had prayed. What was new about this was that I now knew what Ann was praying to God and vice-versa. And through praying together, we have become closer to one another.
We often hear people in the Verbum Dei community say that, when their prayer is something to be preached, it is more fruitful because God’s word is not only for us. And this is something we have found to be true, through our contribution to the Daily Shots.
We invite you to listen to the new season of Daily Shots through our website. The Shots are also available in Spotify, Apple Podcast, or Google Podcast. You can also join the WhatsApp or Viber groups to receive the reflections daily.
The Verbum Dei Tagaytay disciples had the possibility to facilitate a one-day face to face Lent Recollection to the 12 staff of one Center for abused girls in Cavite.
The recollection was held at the Verbum Dei Retreat House last March 14, 2021. With the theme: “God’s love renews us.” This was drawn from the Lenten message of Pope Francis to a call for renewal.
It started with a mass together with our neighbors, after the mass Ofel one of the disciples welcomed the participants preparing them to dispose themselves with attitudes that can help them have a fruitful and grace-filled experience of the power of God’s love that can bring renewal.
Lucille another disciple preached the second talk on God the Father. Sharing with strong conviction on the love of the Father that has sustained her difficult and challenging journey in life. God’s love has not only sustained her but has also changed her relationship with her family and also a powerful experience of reconciliation and forgiveness with her biological father. “Mountains and hills may crumble but God’s promise of faithfulness remains.” (Cf Isaiah 54:10)
The third talk was given by Rachel a Verbum Dei Missionary in Tagaytay, the sharing was focused on the question: Who is my neighbor? Our neighbor are the concrete people that God has placed on our way each day. Our love for God can be shown in a practical way to our neighbor, to the person close to us and those far from us. Our love for God is not separated with our love for our neighbor. We were challenged to let Jesus renew us on our way of loving the persons around us and to learn from the way how he loved us. It was indeed a renewal of our concept of what perfect love is, it entails a compassionate heart that stoop down where our neighbor is and not running away from them especially when they need most the help.
Renewed by the power of God’s love, we can make a difference in our world. Alice also a disciple shared on her talk that we are sent to tell the world of the love we received and experience from God.
The whole day was indeed a gift of renewal, some participants shared the experience of coming back to God, being reconciled and forgiven and also renewed on their faith and hope in the midst of the difficult situations due to the pandemic. God’s love renews us with a new perspective of hope, faith and love in facing this challenging time. His love brings newness to the way we see the people and situations that surrounds us!
Last March 27, 2021, the VD Youth of Tagaytay together with Sister Rachel, had a Lenten outreach to abused girls in one Center located at Gen. Trias, Cavite.
On this outreach we had a one whole day recollection with our theme "HOPE NEVER FAILS." A total of 37 teenage girls participated this event accompanied by two social workers of the Center. We started at 8 am until 4 in the afternoon.
As a team we worked together putting our part to make the whole day recollection a worthwhile experience for all the teens.
My part was to welcome the participants and with an enthusiastic spirit, I introduced them to our theme sharing to them that HOPE has a face! And we need this HOPE in all the different situations we encounter in life. This HOPE we are going to experience is already in us, it has been poured out to us since ever before. “Romans 5:5.
The whole day was packed with different surprises like creative dynamics and moment of silence to pray and a fun-filled games. All the teens were very participative and expectant in every moment waiting what will come next.
We listened to a video recorded testimony of one teen from Cebu about what is our hope and why we need hope, and Sr. Rachel gave a catechesis on "Jesus is our Hope, we need to connect with Him!”
What was very helpful on this day was the penitential rite we had. It was a moment to go deeper on ourselves recognizing our sinfulness and entering to an experience of God’ mercy and loving embrace. This moment had a strong impact to all of us, some of the teens shared it helped them to be reconciled with God and they recognized his unconditional love and unfailing hope is always ready to welcome them back.
We end the recollection with a very visual symbol of hope that gives new life and this hope needs to be nurtured and taken care. The teens with their respective groups planted a plant in a pot and were very happy to realize from this symbol that Hope is ever present in them and they need to give time to nurture and let it grow and flourish. Our Hope is Jesus and he promise to remain with us until the end of time and he never fails on his promise!
As the global pandemic continues, key aspects of prevention include focusing on how to keep people safe and healthy and ensuring the understanding of accurate health-related information. To help meet these needs among our Verbum Dei missionaries and the VDMFamily, two virtual formation sessions were conducted with guest resource speaker Dr. Resti Bautista, a Verbum Dei Disciple who is part of the community at Pansol, Quezon City. The formation centered on the main theme: Take care of yourself to take care of others. Philippians 2:4 says, Do nothing from selfishness… Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
The first session was organized on February 6 by Sr. Adriana Haro and Jay-Anne Désabelle for the Verbum Dei Teens, who gather every Saturday for their online “Praise Jam.” The Zoom meeting was packed with 100 teenagers from Manila, Cebu and Cagayan de Oro City. Angel Paguia from Cebu shared, “When Sister Adri informed us about this formation in our group chat, we were very happy because it could help us know COVID-19 more and learn how to prevent the spread of this disease.” Angel also added afterwards, “I was very amazed because in this formation there were bible verses so that we would remember that we must not be afraid because God is with us always. I was happy because we were not only talking about the disease, but we were also talking about God.”
The second session was done especially for the missionary sisters at the Pasig Apostolate Center on March 25, the Feast of Verbum Dei. Aside from the formation, the sisters actively participated in formulating and refining a Plan of Action for COVID-19 Prevention specifically for their household. “It’s a personal responsibility to take care of our health, our body as God’s temple and in the same way each one of us is responsible to take care of the bigger community,” said Sr. Jovita Tenorio. “This pandemic reminds us that we are interconnected with each other, so I may contribute to the spread of the virus. If I do my part properly, I can also contribute to the stop of its spread and help save lives.”
We continue to pray that we learn to take care in this time of COVID-19. We look to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, two disciples who took care of themselves, who took care of their minds, hearts and bodies, and who also took care of Jesus.
For three Saturdays, from March 13 to 27, we had a series of youth online encounters entitled “You are loved.” A total of fifty (50) young people from age 16 to 24 joined the event and for the majority of them it was the first-time to meet the Verbum Dei community.
The first session was given by Gelo Balsita with the theme “You are loved.” Through his prayer and personal experience, he shared how God the Father loves us. Some of the participants expressed their gratitude to God that amidst the pandemic, He has been so generous and caring. One of the fruits also was to experience the unconditional and merciful love of the Father as we prayed the passage of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).
The guidelines on the second session were from James McTavish with a theme “You are love.” He shared to the youth that our truest and most profound identity is “love”. We were invited to “update” not only the application of our mobile phones but our faith! The idea of “investing” our time in important things such as to discover our real identity struck some of the youth. The youth also enjoyed the moment of prayer in silence which is yearned for during these challenging times.
The third session was an encounter with the Word themed “You are for love” guided by Jojo David. He shared with us that true happiness can be found in God. We were reminded that God is with us especially amidst loads of studies and being just quarantined in the house. Despite sometimes feeling lonely, God wants us to be happy. This reminds us of the prayer of young Jaime Bonet, “if you exist, make me happy”. One female participant powerfully shared that her joy comes not from material and external things but from her deep interior relationship with God.
Despite the range of ages, including both teenagers and youth, the environment of the encounter was light, joyful, meaningful, and the insights from both groups were enlightening. After finishing the series, some of them expressed their desires to continue having these kinds of encounters once or twice a month.
The Lord has been gracious to the youth during this time of Lent. We pray that these young men and women continue this path that they have begun, of knowing and creating a relationship with God through His Word. To join more youth online encounters, you may contact Gelo Balsita at email@example.com or 09615353162.
Every year, we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation in a special way since this is the feast day of Verbum Dei. This year, the different communities from Australia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam gathered in an online rosary to pray together with our Mother Mary. It was a beautiful moment of praying as an ecclesial community where the three branches were present. We started with an introduction by Melaine Sallador who renewed her vows that day. She gave thanks for the gift of our Mother who accompanies her in her journey as a missionary. Each mystery was then led by the different countries.
It was also a moment to catch up and see each other even just in front of the screen. We give thanks to our Mother who always unites us as one fraternity and encourages us always to be ready to say YES to God. We give thanks for the participation of everyone and for celebrating this feast together with Mary.
By Verbum Dei Tagaytay
Lent is a time of reflection, a time when people seek answers about faith like is there really a God? Why do we experience sufferings? These questions paved the way for the Ephphata Singles Group of Verbum Dei Quezon City to have an online formation entitled Awaken the Faith in you last March 21, 2021 via Zoom headed by Fr. Iwao Ikegami FMVD.
With 19 people attending online, including participants from Malaysia and Cagayan De Oro, Fr. Iwao discussed aspects about the Catholic Faith like the importance of Sign of the Cross, Why Do We Need To Confess to a Priest, and Why There is Suffering among others.
The formation also had a panel discussion where the participants had the chance to ask questions and share thoughts about the things that were discussed. It was an enriching session, questions were raised and thoughts were expressed. Indeed there is a desire of the Singles Group to enrich their faith.
This Lent, may we have time to connect to God, talk to him, ask him questions, and express to him our joys and sufferings. After all Jesus is always with us, waiting for us to come to him - “Come to me all you are burdened and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Gathering with family, friends, and community for prayer meetings, Bible study, and worship used to be commonplace. But in one swoop of the pandemic, being locked down in our homes and isolated from our community somehow crippled our ability to exercise such with fellow lovers of God.
Nonetheless, the Lord wouldn’t want us to lose enthusiasm in our practice of faith. In fact, he has graciously rejuvenated our desire and thirst for keeping the lines with Him intact. Through God’s sufficient grace, technology, and amazing people behind it, the School of the Word has carried on ─ online, via Zoom.
The first ever “Zoom SOW” for Manila-Pasig was launched on January 27, 2021 and has since been running every Wednesday at 8:00 in the evening. I remember the Scripture passage that night was Joshua 1:9 and just as Joshua reminds us to “not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” we also recognize that the Presence of God and online presence of fellow believers defy boundaries and platforms.
By meeting regularly in such a sacred time and space to listen to the Word of God, to see how it manifests in the life of others through testimonies, and to bask in His presence through a time of prayer and reflection, the Zoom SOW has helped me have a growing and deepening connection with God. Truly, the Word of God is living and active, loving and transforming.
By Imee Sioco
Disciples gathered virtually in the two-part school of preaching conducted by the Verbum Dei Missionaries last February 20 and 27, 2021. The event aimed to prepare and enhance Verbum Dei disciples to share the Word of God.
Sr. Cecilia Teo started with a brief discussion about prayer. Participants were reminded about the importance of dialogue with God to have a meaningful and fruitful preaching. The first part mainly focused on the preparation steps and ended with some exercises. A follow up session was done where participants discussed the outline of preaching. Each part was carefully discussed, and every attendee was given a chance to have their own outline. The second session allowed the participants to digest the learnings with more than three exercises.
My sister and I was able to attend the second session. Although I was given a lot of chance to preach, I know that the school of preaching will help me understand more the essence of preaching the Word. As I attended this session, I now know how to properly organize the thoughts and fruits from my prayer. From this, I also realized that the Word of God speaks differently to all of us. God’s message is indeed personal.
As the two sessions concluded, everyone was encouraged to prepare in preaching the Word of God to reach the people around the world.
By Justine Clare Bajados
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