Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
The Fraternidad Misionera Verbum Dei continues to grow in the Philippines, with the formal launching of the 4th Formation Course for Married Missionary Couples last February 18 and 19, 2023 at the Apostolate Center in Banawa, Cebu City. Despite the hurdles and challenges the pandemic has posed, two married couples and their formators have persevered for the past three years to bring this project of life to the next stage.
Imelda and Manuel Manceli are well-known and beloved disciples who have been serving with the VD Family in Cebu. Cecilia and Resti Bautista are the first couple from Luzon to participate in the Formation Course. They are currently part of the Pasig-Manila VD Family. Formators for this batch of the Formation Course are Cookie and Bimbo Abrio from Cagayan de Oro City, assisted by Anne and Eryle Payos from Cebu City. Accompanying the group is Sr. Grace Gonzales. Advisors for the course are Marisol Diaz and Antonio Miralles, Formators for the Married Couples Branch, who are based in Madrid, Spain.
Taking on the theme “I love you with my everlasting love.” (cf. Jeremiah 31:3), the 4th Formation Course begins with much joy and expectation for these couples, their families and their formators. As one community, we ask the Trinity to bless their simple and humble ‘Yes’ — that from their lives will spring forth the fountain of living water, which will well up for the eternal life of many.
Contributor: Resti Ma. Bautista
The Wounded Body
Last February 12, a select number of Verbum Dei members from Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon attended an in-depth talk entitled “TRANSMISSION ON PREVENTION AND PROTOCOL OF SEXUAL ABUSE AND AUTHORITY ABUSE” by Father Renato "Atong" Dela Cruz of the archdiocese of Ilagan, Isabela. He is a license counsellor and therapist of the ongoing renewal program of clergy, religious sisters, and the lay faithful. He was quite candid and elaborate in sharing some abusive practices that occur in the church in the Philippines.
He opened our eyes to the horrible facts of church abuse, which is predominantly perpetrated by those we referred to as shepherds, or vanguards of our faith - abuse that we typically ignore due to reverence for the religious.
“In 2019, Francis summoned presidents of all the world's bishops conferences - the leaderships of the national Churches - to Rome for a summit on sexual abuse. By the end of that year he enacted two major pieces of legislation.
The first instituted new reporting procedures and made bishops more accountable. It also broadened the definition of sexual crimes to include vulnerable adults and abuse of office in sexual molestation of seminarians and women religious.
The second was the removal of pontifical secrecy around abuse cases.
"We have to fight against every single case," he said. "As a priest, I have to help people grow and save them. If I abuse, I kill them. This is terrible. Zero tolerance," he said. (July 8, 2022, Reuters.com)
The Verbum Dei Handbook for the prevention of abuse in our community and apostolates was thoroughly discussed in the afternoon by our very own Sr. Cecilia Teo, a missionary from Singapore who is currently finishing her Masters degree in Counseling here in the Philippines.
The day's activities could be summed up in two words: accountability and responsibility. Children of God, members of the body of Christ, are accountable to one another and should care for one another. We are reminded that we are our brothers’ keepers.
Contributor: Rey Bagares
Sr. Lucia Herrerias, Shared the “Pedagogy of Jaime” in the 5th Jaime Bonet Series
by Lucio A. Pulmones, FMVD
Verbum Dei Philippines successfully hosted the 5th Jaime Bonet Series entitled “The Pedagogy of Jaime” via the online platforms Zoom and Verbum Dei Facebook Live last November 19, 2022, 4:30 in the afternoon (Philippines Standard Time).
This was attended by Verbum Dei missionaries, disciples, friends and benefactors from the Philippines, Peru, Mexico, and USA.
Sr. Lucia Herrerias, from the Verbum Dei female branch and former president of the Verbum Dei Community was the resource speaker and gave a heartwarming talk about the “Pedagogy of Jaime”, in honor of the Verbum Dei founder Rev Fr. Jaime Bonet.
This event is in line of the series of activities celebrating the 60th founding anniversary of Fraternidad Misionera Verbum Dei as an evangelizing community in forming apostles of Christ bringing joyfully the Gospel of Jesus to the different countries spread throughout the world where Verbum Dei can be found.
Sr. Amy Hernandez, VD Philippines zone responsible and Fr. Antonio Velasco from the VD male branch were also present as panel of reactors giving their insights and thoughts about the sharing of Lucia that gave more deeper understanding and appreciation of the life, spirituality and profound love with prayer, and passion for the Word and mission of Fr. Jaime Bonet.
Contributor: LUCIO A. PULMONES, Coordinator VD-NATCOMMS PHILS.
Lucio with his wife Jean are consecrated Verbum Dei Missionary Married Couples in Temporal Bonds from Cebu, Philippines
by: Dolly Celeste An
Celebrating with great joy the gift of Consecration of two young missionaries, Angelyn Enriquez (Filipina) and Dolly Tan (Singaporean) on the Feast of Saint Matthias, last May 14, 2022 at Verbum Dei Pasig Apostolate Center.
Their YES in the midst of pandemic, war and other challenging realities in our country and around the world is a SIGN OF HOPE of God’s fidelity to continue calling generous hearts to give their lives for the sake of the Kingdom. This memorable occasion started with a Eucharistic Celebration presided by Fr. Michael, a Verbum Dei Missionary Priest, who shared both in English and Mandarin in order to bring across the Gospel message to online participants from Taiwan and Singapore. The Holy Eucharist was also concelebrated by other Verbum Dei priests, Fr. Felipe, Fr. Iwao, Fr. Vic and Fr. Jojo.
Part of the ceremony was an introduction given by Sr. Grace Gonzales as the delegate of the General Responsible who received Angelyn and Dolly to become part of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity.
A profound theme inspired this momentous occasion was taken from the passage of Philippians 1:21, “For what is life? To me, it is Christ”. Both Angelyn and Dolly expressed their thanksgiving and gave their powerful witness of what it meant for them to have Christ as the answer to their existential question: “for what is life?”
It was a thought provoking question to many specially for some non-Christians friends who joined and witnessed the vows. The event was live-streamed through the Verbum Dei Philippines YouTube channel for the families, friends and other communities from Cebu, CDO, Mexico, Spain and other countries. A simple and joyful celebration followed the Mass with the presence of the VD family, friends and family members.
The whole community of Verbum Dei is praying for Angelyn and Dolly in this new stage of their journey as they continue the Apostolic year where each of them will receive their missionary assignments.
Angelyn will be sent to the Verbum Dei Cebu community, while Dolly continues to collaborate in the mission with the Verbum Dei Pasig community.
Towards the end of the mass, a challenge was posed to the young people, “Do not be afraid to ask questions ”For what is life? , for only when one seeks that one can find the answer like the newly professed missionaries Angelyn and Dolly each saying, MY LIFE IS CHRIST!
Return to Me
A Lenten Recollection 2022
Metro South Subdivision Residents
We had a weekend Recollection with a theme: Return to me, attended by residents of Metro South Subdivision at Gen. Trias, Cavite. The activity is a project of the MS Homeowner’s Association for the residents’ pastoral and spiritual growth in collaboration with VD Tagaytay Family, facilitated by Rachel Lumain, FMVD; Luisa Valenzuela, LCM and Mila R. Abigan, VDMD.
The Recollection started with a Welcome Talk, Lui who introduced the VD community via a short video clip on “Who is Verbum Dei?” It is also an invitation to the participants to return to God! The Season of Lent is an opportune time to listen to God’s word and His message in the silence of our hearts. It is a time of conversion and looking back in our life’s journey and to ask how was our relationship with God.
In the Talk of Sr. Rachel, participants were guided to recognize who God is and who they are in relation to God who created them. God’s guiding hand is always upon us, for the Lord who created us says, “Do not be afraid I will save you.” He has called us by name, we belong to Him -- an assurance that God will always be with us. “Who is God for you?” was a question that helped participants to acknowledge who God is and His presence in our lives.
The last segment of the Recollection was a Dynamics on Reconciliation and God’s Forgiveness as inspired by the Story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. Three important questions guided the attendees to focus on God the Father’s loving mercy and forgiveness. What have we done to reciprocate the Father’s unconditional love and forgiveness to us? Why we do the things that we do and fail to listen to the voice within? Lastly, how have we become when we fail to listen to our conscience?
As culminating activity, an Examination of Conscience highlighted the kind of love that God the Father has and gives to His beloved children, and more. After some reflections, the participants wrote their sins on paper and burned them (Burning of sins). The ashes symbolize the complete forgiveness we received after we repent and reconcile with God. He transforms our sins into forgiveness and we experience new life.
The Recollection ended with some of the participants sharing how they were touched by their experience of reconciliation and God’s forgiveness. One participant cited his busyness as culprit for his lack of quality time with his family. After some reflections, he realizes the value of improving his relationship with his family.
As they left for home, the radiance on their faces was evident after they have experienced newness of life and God’s forgiveness!
The Mission Continues
The new Responsibles for the Married Couple branch, Antonio Miralles and Marisol Diaz bid a fond farewell to the city of Golden Friendship after their week visit here. Indeed their stay was fruitful, spirit-filled and memorable. One of the highlights of their visit was their meeting together with Sr. Amy Hernandez, Zone (PHL) Responsible, with Bishop Jose A. Cabantan, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.
The Verbum Dei community in Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon will miss the many activities the couple shared with them. The memories both leave behind will continue to live in the hearts of the people.
As of this writing, Antonio & Marisol are on their way to Australia to see the community there, and will return to the Philippines to visit the community in Cebu City.
Antonio & Marisol have a missionary heart that is unrelenting and unwavering, and it is something to be admired and emulated.
“What’s your dream and to what corner of the missions world will it take you? – Eleanor Roat
(click on the photos to read the captions)
(Photos courtesy of missionary married couple Remegio and Lucy Rama, CdO Local Responsible)
We Live by Giving
by Gilbert Dungog
We learned early in life that true satisfaction comes from giving. Along the process, assisting others causes us to reflect on who we are. Being able to assist others is a privilege for us Verbum Dei disciples because it teaches us how to care for people who are in need, how to grasp the spirit of compassion and share what we have, and how to eliminate the selfishness that is hidden deep within us. Last January 1, 2021, we held a gift-giving activity as part of the Verbum Dei outreach program in Sitio Kadiabugan, Kulabogao, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon. The recipients were a local Higaonon tribe from Agusan del Sur, Philippines who had escaped the infamous Agusan massacre.
Mr. Froilan Fayre, the responsible Purok leader, and Barangay official arranged a simple program that began with a prayer, asking for God's guidance throughout the event and was immediately followed by a short talk by Yoyoy and Lucy Rama, a couple Missionary, and Gilbert, a fellow missionary who gave an inspirational message. The program was brought to a close at 1230pm, followed with a photo opportunity. This article includes some of the photographs.
The Verbum Dei youths were also with us, assisting us in the distribution of the gift. We delivered 50 eco bags full of groceries, gently worn clothing, a few toys, and a balloon from our kind Verbum Dei family donors. Despite the distance, they were appreciative and thankful, as they have stated, ‘naa diay nag huna huna sa ila’ (There are still some people who thinks of them.).
We thank everyone who helped, donated & collaborated to ensure the activity's success.
(Gilbert Dungog is the Coordinator for the Youth Reality in the Verbum Dei Family in Mindanao.)
Goodbyes and Hellos
Last Tuesday, March 22, 2022, a wide range of emotions were felt. Everyone was ecstatic to see each other again after almost three years of not seeing each other physically due to COVID. Adding to the excitement was the surprise visit of Fr. James McTavish, whose last visit was in December of 2019. That night, he officiated probably his last mass for the community in Cagayan de Oro City prior to his permanent assignment in Rome.
Together with Fr. James were Antonio Miralles and Marisol Diaz, missionary married couple from Spain, who arrived in the Philippines as the new Responsible for the Married Couples Branch. Cagayan de Oro was their second stop since their arrival a few days earlier.
After the celebration of the mass, a casual get-together was held. Dinner comprised of pizza, cakes and home baked desserts. It was simple yet fun-filled especially when Fr. James showcased his Scottish roots with his repertoire of songs on bagpipes.
The night ended with the traditional send-off and welcome words as it was both a despedida and bienvenida, after all!
You will be missed, Fr. James! God bless your efforts in Rome and your future endeavors, wherever the Holy Spirit leads you.
Antonio and Marisol, welcome to the Philippines and to the city of Golden Friendship! We hope you have a fruitful, spirit-filled and memorable stay here.
“For every goodbye, God also provides a hello.” - Donna Gable Hatch
Jaime Bonet Series 3 with David Rolo, FMVD
By Emy Abaya
The Jaime Bonet Series Going to the Roots offers fascinating and inspiring glimpses into the life and spirit of our founder. The third talk of the series was another “deep dive” into the heart of Jaime. Entitled, “The Missionary Profile of Jaime Bonet,” the talk was given on February 26, 2022 by David Rolo, FMVD, our Spanish misionero based in Vietnam.
David successfully brought to light the elements of Jaime’s missionary personality, drawing not only from Verbum Dei’s documented history but from his many personal experiences as one who lived with Jaime during the last few years of our founder’s life in Loeches, Spain. The anecdotes and personal stories were a treasure trove, giving us a clearer picture of Jaime’s missionary character.
Sources and Influences
The missionary seed was planted in Jaime by his parents, who were models of faith in catechism and apostolic work. This seed of missionary love was later nurtured by his vocation and apostolic experiences.
It was interesting to learn that there were many other sources that influenced his unique style of carrying out the mission. Influenced by Ignatian spirituality, he sought spiritual exercises, mindful that people needed the best version of himself to accompany them. In the spirit of the Ignatian motto “ad majorem Dei gloriam,” Jaime believed in looking for the glory of God in everything we do, saying that we preach to bring others close to God and we pray to discern only the will of God. Another Ignatian motto which Jaime adopted was “En tanto en cuanto” (“as long as”), which means that one has the freedom to do anything in mission—as long as it is good, and as long as it is good for the mission.
Jaime also drew inspiration for mission from John the Baptist--who always pointed to Jesus, and not to himself—and from St. Paul, who strove to create Christian communities and form apostles.
Jaime was known to have a strong character. Thus, it was remarkable to learn that mission was not always easy for him in the beginning. Mission and preaching was always a personal “fight.” As an apostle, he struggled with his own frailties on the one hand, and on the other, the call to preach the Word of God. The struggle would get so bad that Jaime would turn very ill moments before preaching. “I am a sinner, and yet I must speak about You, Jesus.” This, David said, was how Jaime felt.
For Jaime, everything revolved around mission. The Verbum Dei motto of “hacer hacer” (to enable others to make) stemmed from the desire to look for people committed to pursue and promote the mission and to form them as apostles. The term “motorcycle spirituality” grew out of Jaime’s habit of travelling from town to town on his motorcycle to preach the word of God, constantly working on more effective ways to transmit the truths of faith.
Jaime’s missionary spirit was based on a strong spiritual experience. He always insisted on prayer. “If you have to preach for one hour, you have to pray for two.” His boldness, courage and zeal for the mission are akin to his fidelity to do the will of God. For him, nothing was more important than to do God’s will and he strived to form people in the same way. He urged everyone to do mission because in mission, one consecrates one’s self to God. “Mission is consecration and consecration is mission,” David echoed Jaime as saying.
Full of passion, Jaime’s preaching was charismatic and always testimonial. He saw preaching as a dialogue between God and the people, in which the preacher was a witness and intermediary. He had a special ability to “read” the people who listened to him and adjust his preaching accordingly. His passion was such that he wanted as many people as possible to hear the preaching on the Word of God, and receive, as well, personalized “accompaniment” (follow -up, guidance, and spiritual direction) in their journey of conversion.
Perhaps there are many more elements of Jaime Bonet’s missionary personality we have yet to discover from his writings and meditations. For now, which missionary trait would you choose to emulate?
Gaining a Friend in Jesus
New Year’s Recollection 2022 At Verbum Dei –Tagaytay
“Let us remember the past with gratitude, live the present with enthusiasm and look forward to the future with confidence!” (Pope John Paul II) This quote was the theme of the Recollection attended by a group of employees from Muntinlupa led by Verbum Dei couple Allan and Lyn Geron. The Recollection was facilitated by Sr. Melaine Fuentes, FMVD and assisted by VD disciple,
Mila R. Abigan.
The group came to the VD Retreat House last February 11-12, 2022. Tagaytay’s cool weather brought joyful smiles to the participants and contributed to make their activity smooth and its intended objectives achieved.
There were three parts of the Recollection based on the main theme: remembering the past with gratitude, living the present with enthusiasm and seeing the future with much confidence and hope. The first part highlighted on how we need to look at our past experiences through the eyes of faith and with a wider perspective. (1 Chronicles 16:11-12) A realization that God is faithful and is always with us in every circumstance. (Lamentations 3:22-24) Our belief that God will continue to reign in our hearts is what will bring us the peace which comes from God alone. (Colosians 3:15)
In the second talk, participants were guided to live out life with much enthusiasm and passion. Whatever each of us may be going through due to the pandemic and other personal situations, we need to believe that God truly loves us and wants us to be free and genuinely happy. (Ezekiel 36:26) This can be achieved if we can truly trust God whole-heartedly.
The last part focused on how participants can look at their future with so much hope and trust in God. The story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector guided the attendees in seeing themselves as he was and making the necessary changes in their lives. (Luke 19:1-10) His story highlighted how Jesus does not look at our sinfulness but on His mission to save the lost and the sinners. His gaze to Zacchaeus gave him freedom and the needed transformation in his heart.
The sharings made by the participants touched everyone’s heart as they opened up some painful experiences and situations they have gone through due to the pandemic and other heart-rending circumstances in their lives now. Some even shed tears as they recalled painful events like, losing a loved one or a spouse, or a relative and going-through other difficult moments.
The weekend Recollection ended with the song “Trust His Heart” which served to remind the participants to trust God in all circumstances and to emulate the qualities of Jesus in their journey through the year 2022 and onwards. They went home with joy in their hearts knowing that they have gained a friend in Jesus! Amen.
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