Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
On 18 October 2019, the Feast of St Luke the evangelist, an ecclesial group from Verbum Dei went to visit His Excellency, the Most Rev. Jose S. Palma, DD, Archbishop of Cebu. The purpose of the cordial visit was to update him on the progress of the Verbum Dei in Cebu – to present to him the Married Couples missionary branch, and the couples who recently took their first bonds, as well as to meet the General Responsibles of the misioneras branch (Antonieta Vargas) and married couples branch (Poncho (Martinez).
During the visit, the Archbishop thanked us for the contribution of the charism, as well as discussing with us the preparation of the Church in the Philippines for 2021, which will be the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines. We departed in good spirits having received his apostolic blessing.
We continue to pray for Abp. Palma and his ministry of shepherding.
With thanks to the WordNews team
How do we approach a person who rejects any and every claim that God or the Divine exists? Since according to Gaudium et Spes, no. 20, "Atheism is not present in people's minds from the beginning", what are the causes of this change of mind and heart? What are its consequences? How do we respond to it? These are some of the thought provoking questions that we were challenged to answer, and situations that we tried to immerse and understand more deeply during the formation on, "Atheism and Belief In God", given by Sister Grace Gonzales, FMVD on October 6, 2019 at the Verbum Dei Apostolate Center Pasig.
The participants actively engaged in the group discussions and sharing. The formation culminated by watching an equally moving and thought-provoking movie entitled, " God Is Not Dead". We could not ask for more; it was truly fun, lively, enlightening and helpful. What a good way to spend a Sunday with the company of kind-hearted missionaries and disciples, constantly learning and enriching our faith.
As Verbum Dei missionaries and disciples, this formation is very relevant and helpful as we take on the challenges of today's modern world; confronted with distorted principles and values, consumed with materialism, modernization, rapid advancement in technology that makes possible human achievement without limits; thereby making God irrelevant, neglected... even forgotten. Looking forward to Part 2 of the Formation.
With thanks to Luisa Frio and the WordNews team
Verbum Dei Cebu Singles Reality organized an overnight recotreat (recollection/retreat) last September 28~29 in St. Francis Seraph Retreat House in Talisay City, Cebu with the theme "Born for Love".
The recotreat aimed to make the participants realize and experience that Christ's love is the only Love that can fully satisfy the human search for true love and happiness.
Although the recotreat was meant for single people, the whole VD Family collaborated in giving the talks/guidelines, testimonies and dynamics. Adriana from the misioneras, Ate Mau and Kuya Jess from the couples and Jay Anne and Jane from the singles reality inspired and make the participants question what they are searching for in life through the talks and testimonies they have given.
Through the activities which consisted of talks, guidelines, testimonies, dynamics and a film showing, the participants were able to discover that it is only God who can truly satisfy the longings and void one feels inside. Material wealth, fame and success, human relationships can bring happiness in one's life but nothing compares to the happiness and fulfillment one can have when they have Christ in his/her life.
"My first recotreat experience. It was a wonderful and an unforgettable experience. The VD members were kind and approachable. The talks were inspiring and it helped me examine myself and life." - said one of the participants afterwards.
“I had an amazing encounter with Jesus during our Recotreat last week and this is my remarkable experience this 2019. I had peace of mind and was able to receive the grace of Jesus and I am so grateful about it. I realized in the recotreat that I have to put Jesus in everything that I do every day and be a living well to others.” - from Anna, another participant.
See some photos of the event:
Follow your Conscience – but form it well first
As the book of Sirach announces ““A man's conscience can tell him his situation better than seven watchmen in a lofty tower. Most important of all, pray to God to set your feet in the path of truth” (Sirach 37:14-15). “The care for the formation of the conscience clearly emerges as the fundamental ethical responsibility of every person.” So wrote Fr Sabatino Majorano, CSsR, a Redemptorist moral theologian and expert on Conscience.
Last Sunday, 22 September 2019, saw our very own Verbum Dei missionary priest, James McTavish, give us a wholesome session on the formation of conscience and its challenges. He reminded us of the definition of conscience found in Gaudium et spes, which describes the conscience as “the most secret core and sanctuary of a person. There he/she is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his/her depths.” The formation was part of the ACRH (Apostolate Center Retreat House) series of talks. The participants were reminded of the urgency to form the conscience well as “we are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment” (Pope Francis).
Some practical cases of conscience were given including the latest Catholic Church teaching on the death penalty, which was promulgated recently. The Catechism of the Catholic Church now states, “Therefore the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is attentive to the inviolability and dignity of the person, and is committed with determination to its abolition throughout the world” (CCC, no. 2267). If more Catholics were aware of this perhaps there would be less support for all the killings around us.
The final part of the session included a reflection on the means for forming a well-formed conscience - prayer and interiority, exam of conscience, confession, dialog and contrast, Church teaching and our preaching to help enlighten the conscience. The Catechism also underlines that “it is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience. This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection” (CCC 1779).
As followers of Christ, we went home conscious that as Fr Jaime Bonet, the Verbum Dei founder taught, “it would be impossible to live, feel, think and love like Jesus without a keen sensitivity and right formation of conscience.”
One participant said “I loved my morning! It was exactly what I needed which I considered such a surprise gift on a Sunday. Formation talks like this are very helpful and may I say necessary because in order to be more effective in our sharing the word, we need to be properly informed.”
With thanks to the WordNews team
MUSIC FESTIVAL: “Ikaw, Ako, Mag-awitan Tayo"
Verbum Dei-Tagaytay Teens/Youth Project
The Sunday was a joyful and heart-warming September morning despite the cold and rainy weather! The rains did not dampen the spirit and excitement of the Verbum Dei-Tagaytay Teens and Youth group with the collaboration of the Adult Single and Married couples, as well as the VD-Tagaytay Missionaries. Everyone played a role in bringing delightful music, dancing, skit/role-playing and even a touching couple’s life experience and testimony to the audience.
The talents exhibited by the Teens and Youth group did not only show their heartfelt cooperation and unity, but also inspired the community to draw closer to God, to one another and to bring joy to everyone. Their opening song said it all, as they sang, “Young Man, Get Up.” It displayed their resolve to get up, amidst life’s challenges. It also expressed their hopes and dreams for a brighter future, with God as their inspiration and guide.
Some revealed their hidden skills and talents in surprising ways – a young boy, Russel who has not reached his teen years yet, showed his talent in singing and dancing to the delight of the crowd. In addition, there was also Jacob, an 11-year-old child with special needs who became a channel of peace to his family’s reconciliation and harmony; he also displayed his talent by “singing in tune” a praise song to the Lord!
For their part, the Adult Single and Married couples gathered together to sing a song of praise and thanksgiving to God who has always been present in their life’s journey through thick or thin.
Finally, the VD-Tagaytay Missionaries delighted the audience with a Spanish song that spoke about how an awesome God can make a difference in our lives. By being with Him and in Him, man’s journey becomes less difficult and contributes to his own growth.
The day was truly delightful and beautiful! To cap it, all participants, including the audience were treated to free snacks and lunch courtesy of Ms. Kathy who opted to celebrate her birthday during the Music Festival.
Yes, Lord, we will continue to sing praises and thanksgiving to You, for as St. Augustine said, “singing is twice praying.” Amen.
The Verbum Dei Missionary Family in Cagayan de Oro has recently launched “Couples Talk” last September 13, 2019 at Centrio Ayala Mall Conference Room with the theme “I DO”(see John 2,5 – “Do whatever he tells you”). This initiative, a collective effort of the members of the Couples reality, is a yearlong program with talks centered on the Theme Set. The talk titles were modified to make it leitmotifs striking e.g. Life & Love was given the title, “I’ve found a love…” , Your life is for loving was retitled, “I love you more today than yesterday…”, Unawareness and Sin is renamed “I didn’t see, I didn’t listen, I didn’t do…”(Catchy isn’t it!). All talks which offer everyone an exclusive encounter of the uniqueness of the charism, are designed to nurture marriages by progressing and developing their spiritual life at the onset.
The venue for this event will be at the Conference Room of Centrio Ayala Mall every 2nd Friday of each month, 7-8pm to start and end on time. Everyone is encouraged to invite married couple friends or relatives who are living in Cagayan de Oro and nearby cities or municipalities to join in this series of encounter with the one who instituted the marriage vocation. Daghang salamat and see you all.
“We came, we saw, we share to you with JOY” (cf. 1 John 1:1-4)
- Pasig, Manila. Testimony from a Valencia Verbum Dei’s member (Isabel Benlloch)
First of all, we would like to thank all the missionaries and people related to the Verbum Dei’s community in Pasig for absolutely everything; their help, their welcoming, their dedication, their time...this experience wouldn’t have been possible without them.
It’s been a great and an amazing experience, and I talk on behalf of all the youth in the Spanish Verbum Dei group from Valencia. While I’m writing this article, it’s not necessary to look at my travel diary; I have my first impression of the Philippines stored in my mind. I remember how we got into the missionary’s van and we started looking out through the window all the different images as if we were spectators in a movie. In the beginning, all the skyscrapers and lights in the night. After a few minutes, all the poverty and darkness. I was shocked. There were a lot of people in the streets, even though it was late (3 am). There were kids, a lot of animals, people working in the market and even selling things on the sidewalks. You could appreciate how people was staring at you, with a lot of intensity; that touched me. The contrast between these two contrasting situations of poverty and wealth was very notable and, during the mission, we’ve experienced both of them. This was the first time I had a direct contact with poverty on a large scale (and i think I can speak for almost everyone in the group), and, as I said before, it felt as if it was not real.
During the mission trip in Pasig, we’ve done many different activities. On one hand, we’ve visited important sites in the city that are clear testimonies of the Filipino culture, like the city market or José Rizal’s museum, but the best lesson for all of us has been living as like the Filipino people. Walking through the streets trying to do it on the sidewalk, breathing in the pollution, trying not to be killed by a jeepney and doing the stop sign with the hand, feeling the hot air in your skin, bumping into a funeral and watching how it is natural to have the dead body exposed to all the people, worrying about dengue, trying to count how many cables were from electricity post to electricity post and so on.
On the other hand, we were in touched by the children and Filipino families that showed us the toughest realities of living in this country, and the lack of equality between the rich and the poor. Despite all this, and that’s one of the things that most impacted me, they don’t lose hope, they don’t stop believing, and they are little treasures which are blind for the society; and not only to the high status society in the Philippines, but to the rest of the world. They maybe have lacks in first need things, like food, education or hygiene but I admire them so much, because they don’t have lacks in faith; you clearly can see with your own eyes how, despite living in these situations, there’s no excuse for them for being sad: they feel happiness in every smile that you give them. Even if it’s just a hug, a visit to a family, or swinging the child in the air; you can see how grateful and happy they are.
As a group, we had everything but a routine. Lots of different situations and experiences, including going to the hospital (not exactly in order to visit sick people). Thanks to God, the check up from the Doctors there, and a lot of prayers it was nothing at all. The only kind of routine that we had was the guidelines in the morning and a prayer time to close the day with the Lord. The prayer time really helped us to deal with all the situations that we were living, and to share the experiences as well. We come back to Spain full of love and with many stories to tell; we can be a strong testimony for many people about the reality of the Philippines but, I think that the main thing that we take from this beautiful country is the way of living; I’ve realized how many things we have to learn about you. Maybe Spain is not as developed as we think: we really have to take example of what we’ve seen and share it as far as we can.
In conclusion, it’s been an amazing and great experience. I wish I could tell the pilot of the plane to turn around 180º. We are so grateful for everything and believe us when we say that we’ve learnt much more than you could ever imagine. We come back with our suitcases full of love, experiences and, the most important thing, faith. Hope to come back soon friends. With much love and peace.
Isabel Benlloch, Valencia Verbum Dei’s community member
The Spanish Mission Group joined the Tagaytay Adult Friday SOWers in their regular Friday Prayer Meeting, last August 23, 2019.
Present to give the Prayer Guidelines was Sr. Melaine Fuentes, FMVD who was also celebrating her birthday on the same day. The group was also joined by the other Tagaytay missionaries and adult Friday SOWers. Two of the Spanish missionary visitors shared the fruits of their prayers, as well as two of the Tagaytay adult SOW members.
The Spanish prayer sharers highlighted their joy and admiration of the Filipino people despite the economic poverty they have seen. What amazed them were the Filipinos’ resiliency in the face of adversities and difficulties brought about by various causes and concerns. They also noted the deep faith and belief in the providence of God by most Filipinos the reason why they can still smile and be hospitable to people.
After the prayer meeting, a simple dinner get-together followed to celebrate the birthday of Sr. Melaine. The activity also served as the farewell or despedida gathering for the Spanish missionaries and disciples. They are scheduled to leave in two batches, on Saturday and Monday mornings.
It was an “all is well that ends well” evening to cap the mission visit of the Spanish missionaries and disciples. Hasta la vista amigas y amigos!
Welcoming the Verbum Dei Spanish Mission Group
The Verbum Dei-Tagaytay community welcomed the visit of the VD Spanish Mission trip group
beginning August 20 until August 26, 2019.
One of the first highlights of their trip was their visit at the Tagaytay Teachers’ Housing Project or Pabahay community nearby.
The Pabahay area houses a diverse groups of people, composed of professional workers, housewives, skilled and small business owners with their respective families and relatives.
During their visit, the Spanish mission group went around the area and gathered the children living there, from ages five to ten.They were delighted to see and meet the Spanish missionaries and disciples. The children’s active participation and big smiles during the games they played and other activities amused and inspired the group to continue bringing Jesus in their midst, so to speak.
At first, some of the little kids were hesitant to join in the fun games, but when they saw that all the other kids were enjoying and having fun imitating the actions, dancing and cheering of the Spanish group, the other children eventually joined in the fun. They were then given light snacks
at the end of the activities.
All in all, the Spanish mission group together with the VD Tagaytay Missionaries and some Adult disciples, made the children very happy and elated as they experienced the joy of being one with the community. On this first day of the Spanish mission trip, the children felt how to have fun with people they have met for the first time, and sharing the simple joys of just being with others.
With other activities of the Spanish mission group lined up we are looking forward to more joyful experiences with them.
Been There, Done That... What More?
Last August 25, 2019, a recollection for working adults was held at the Verbum Dei Apostolate Center in Brgy. Palatiw, Pasig. The event was spearheaded by VD missionaries and attendees of the Ortigas School of the Word. The recollection aimed to awaken new perspectives as a working person. The 22 participants of the activity hailed from newly-hired graduates to veterans in their field of work.
The program commenced with a fun ice breaker by Sister Gabriela Rocha, followed by an invigorating introduction by Carmela Badajos. Next was an enjoyable dynamic by Katreen Eslava wherein the participants created a collage of clippings symbolizing their accomplishments in various aspects of life. Ed Jose then gave a talk on our continuous search for something more, something beyond the daily routine. After his talk and a sumptous lunch, Sister Gabby again led the group to an animation song to kickstart the afternoon session. Another dynamic by Katreen was done focusing on future plans. The last talk by Sister Pearl Rebusit deepened on Jesus being the ‘more’ that we are searching for, who has a great plan in store for each one of us. The program ended with a mass by Fr. Iwao Ikegami who reminded us that in order to achieve God’s plan we sometimes need to ‘enter the narrow gate’. Overall, the recollection stirred me to continually seek Him who yearns what is best for us. May we find Him in our daily work so that we will bear much fruit in accordance with His Master Plan.
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Christel Mendoza and the WordNews team
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