Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
On Saturday evening, Feb 16, our Verbum Dei Family in Cebu had two post Valentine’s events: one for Married couples and the other for Singles, young adults group.
The post-Valentine’s Special for married couples was organised by Victor & Ellen, Dondon & Syme, Jess & Mau and El El & Ann. ‘It was a happy evening, and a great avenue to meet new couples. There were 28 married couples present, the youngest being 7 years married and the older more than 28 years married. We all felt inspired starting the evening with mass, and in the homily the priest reminded us of how important it is to build the foundation of the family rooted in Christ’s love. The incorporation of prayer made this Valentine’s meal and celebration very special; a beautiful and touching balance between the food, singing, dancing, gifts, games, prayer and some shared experiences on how Jesus, present in the midst of a married couple, really enhances marriage life.’ (DonDon)
‘A day to celebrate the Love that I tasted from my Father God. A love that was handed down by my Father God when we had our ‘I do’ 8yrs ago. We had our renewal of vows and it was like it is still our wedding day, as I said ‘yes’ and ‘I do’ again to my dear husband Don. A day of love shall I say, which we celebrated with other Verbum Dei couples and invited couple guests on Feb 16, 2018, 7pm at Northstar condominium, NRA, Cebu City. It was AWESOME! I enjoyed so much with my husband and all the couples in that simple yet memorable event. It was a day to remember. It seemed like our first dance during our wedding day to entertain our guest as we danced the opening salvo to welcome all guest. Thanks for our event coordinator Ellen Siarza. God really works as He bridges the gap and He fills in the blank. As one of the organizers I don't know how it turned out so well… nothing is impossible with God.’ (Syme)
‘I have attended many Valentine’s celebrations in the past, where I have spent lots of money, yet this one was the cheapest and one of the most special ones. For me, the highlight was the renewal of the marriage vows, and the way the priest awoke my thirst and hunger to renew my vows. This evening brought me lots of hope, to see how married couples still believe in God’s calling to marriage, despite some of the challenges and difficulties I know some couples are passing through. This was also shown to me in the moment when we were asked to remember and share some questions, such as: when and where was your first date, your first kiss and gift? And when was the date which you said ‘yes’ to each other? Amazing to see how even the older couple present there could remember those key moments of their relationship. All this and the final invitation to dance together by couples, made this event not just a celebration but a remarkable evening in our call to grow in love as a couple.’ (Jess and Mau)
Here are some photos of the event:
From the WordNews team
The singles/ young adults Verbum Dei group also organised a Verbum Dei Special event, held in another venue, in AA restaurant, Banilad on February 16, 2019. Starting with dinner and music, there followed a formation talk on “Building Healthy and Mature Relationships”. This was an opportunity not only to invite friends but also to reflect and share on how healthy and mature relationships, which we all long for, need to be worked on; it is a life journey starting from now: ‘May your inner self be planted and built on love…’ (Ephesians 3:16-20) and heading towards Christ, ‘Let’s grow towards Christ, mature in love.’ (Eph 4: 14-16).
The formation input explored the journey of building our relationships in love, looking at Christ, the One mature in love. It also deepened in the elements that the following authors stated: ‘Maturity is collaboration and commitment, whilst immaturity is escape, evasion, accommodation and competition’ (Thomas Kelman); and in the characteristics of mature and healthy relationships according to the psychologist Abraham Maslow: ‘capacity to relate with reality; self-acceptance; spontaneity; to be centred in external problems rather than in oneself; the need of intimacy and loneliness; enjoyment for life; mystical experiences; desire for community; tolerance; strong interpersonal relationships; ethical; humour; creativity; integrity; and the capacity to integrate opposite qualities.’
In short, to build ourselves and our relationships in love is a journey which implies a constant learning and growth in: self-awareness, managing our emotions, learning effective communication, becoming free from past hurting experiences that may colour our present, learning from each other, assertivity, self-control, boundaries, chastity, and off course, in all, looking at Christ as our model.
Here is some feedback from the attendees:
‘I can now understand better the difficulties I have in some relationships… and felt encouraged to grow in self-knowledge, acceptance, reconciliation and love…’ (Jun)
‘Our Singles Valentine’s Special was an intimate and fruitful evening, well spent in our dialogues between us during the meal and enriched by a formation talk given by Sr Margarida; it gave us some insights on how to build better relationships in love, and the participation of many of us in the Q&A.’ (Joanna)
‘I particularly found the interaction activities within the talk very helpful… they allowed us not only to interact with one another but also to examine our own relationships bringing into awareness what is happening also in the way we relate with and deal with other people around us.’ (SueAnn)
From the WordNews team
Every February, people celebrate the "month of love" whether you are married, in a relationship or single. Valentine’s Day excites a lot of people most especially the lovers and the young lovers. But what if you don't have a partner to celebrate it with? How will you celebrate VDay? Well, some feel bitter which makes them have many "hugot" (deep feelings come out) and some simply just prefer to stay happy and celebrate it with family and friends.
Last Saturday, February 16, 2019 a Post-Valentine's Celebration for the Verbum Dei Youth was held at Dela Strada Parish. There were 27 participants who responded to the invitation. First, they had an Introduction about the program, then followed by the "human bingo" game. It let them interact with new people by asking who is the person required in the game. Then a dinner with some serenading. Finally, the talk entitled "All about Dating, Love, and Sex" by Mrs. Aira Caparas-Tabayoyong which was really an interesting topic applicable for the youth. It is also one way of preparing them for the future circumstances they might encounter. The speaker made a great impact by getting the attention of the audience. After that, they had a follow-up explanation regarding what was discussed by the speaker. Before the participants went home, there was picture taking and the photos revealed the fun on their faces that night.
How nice the words of St Paul. There is so much talk of love, but his inspired words in his first letter to the Corinthians really guide us:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV)
Let us all be reminded that by loving others we are already sharing God's love. This is a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine’s day each and every day!
With thanks to Kharis and the WordNews team
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
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