Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
Each year, since 2012, the Verbum Dei community has been asked to give a one-day formation on Prostitution and Human trafficking to Exodus, an inter-congregational group of around 75 novices, from various congregations and different countries.
The module was facilitated by James McTavish. He gave an overview of the current problem with around 36-40 million victims of trafficking each year, with the majority of victims forced into prostitution and sex trafficking.
Here is the sharing of Priscilla Su, a Verbum Dei misionera:
“Human trafficking and prostitution are not new issues. Actually, they have been around for some time, it is just that they are “hidden in plain sight.” The formation created an awareness in me of modern slavery that needs to be addressed in this day and age.
It is very easy to say that we know of these issues and that they are out there on the streets, in the lives of people that we see each day. However, how often have we simply walk pass them as if it was just another person living their lives, making a livelihood.
What amazed me was to see the number of “girly” bars that are present in Malate, which is just one of many such areas in Manila. The danger is that we get so used to how things are, desensitized, and we just turn a blind eye to the issue at hand. During the formation, James also shared with us the teachings of the Church, and the prayer intention of Pope Francis in the month of Feb for 2019 and 2020. The need of prayer on this issue is real as we see the alarming number of people including children being trafficked and sold for prostitution each year.
No doubt, there are many organizations and groups that are creatively and tirelessly creating awareness to speak for the voiceless. However, we need to address the root of it all - wherever there is demand, a supply will always be provided regardless of it means. Human trafficking and prostitution business will only continue to grow as a multi-billion-dollar industry.
This is where the gift of the charism is revealed, a charism that God has called us to and placed into our hands to convert the hearts of the people, that through the grace of God, hearts may be transformed to restore the dignity of all involved – namely the 3 “B’s” (Business, Buyer and Bought). As any one of the 3 B’s could be sitting there in one of the pew in Church, either generously donating to the church funds and piously praying yet there is a lot of incoherence in the way that they live their lives, or on the other hand praying and waiting for someone to rescue them out of their situation.
There is an urgent need to address and/or readdress the issue of modern slavery, perhaps one might not feel equipped to speak up in various ways, yet a prayer offered for the victims, for the traffickers and the buyers is already an active step for asking for the grace of God for the conversion of hearts. We can also pray for the religious, and laity who are actively working with the victims to have a compassionate and persevering heart to accompany them in hope of regaining their dignity as precious children of God. To also pray for those who are creating awareness on the issue of human trafficking and prostitution, to have creativity that captures the hearts of the traffickers and buyers to put an end to the demand. We can all do something, if only we would try.”
Here are some photos of the event:
See Pope Francis, Prayer intention for February 2020 see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URe5524MijY
For a Verbum Dei spiritual reflection Spiritual reflection for day against human trafficking see:
For a challenging anti-trafficking advert see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLuqUpu6cY0
“Let the children come to me”
Our Verbum Dei mission also includes work with children. How vital to form the young ones in faith and not to ignore them. Sometimes we just see kids in the Church as good for singing a song, or doing a dance. In the gospels, Jesus even got angry with his disciples because they were hindering the children from coming to him. When the disciples tried to turn them away, Jesus said “Let the children come to me” (Matthew 19:14).
In Pansol, we have been working with the kids for around 2 years with a team of missionary disciples - Siony, Muriel, Jonalyn, Mylene, Helen, Cecilia, and Ericka headed by Fr Iwao. Each week we have a School of the Word for kids, teaching them how to pray and to know more Jesus. It can be a challenge to adapt and make relevant the Gospel message for young ones – our creativity is stretched, but it is so encouraging also to see how sensitive they are to God’s Word. As we hear in Matthew 21:16 "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "'From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise'?"
Recently we had a series called “Bible heroes.” In one activity, we looked at Joshua who, with the sound of the trumpet, brought down the walls of Jericho:“When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city” Joshua 6:20 In this activity, the children were asked to recreate the same bible scene, building a wall using lego blocks. Let us continue to pray for the children, and that we can continue to build up their faith.
With thanks to Iwao and the WordNews team
My kind of Valentine’s
Last February 22, 2020, Verbum Dei Pansol had a Post Valentine’s Day Celebration with the theme “Heart Speaks to Heart.” It was an evening of fun, good food, live music and learning attended by 19 participants.
The event was opened by the host, Ms. Gen Oxales of Verbum Dei Pansol. It was followed by a little introduction about the event by Fr. Iwao Ikegami, the group’s adviser. During the dinner, singer-song writer Ms. Girl Valencia and Mr. Francis Jerome Santos, Verbum Dei Disciple of Pansol, serenaded the participants with some of the most popular love songs like the classics “Maalaala Mo Kaya” and “When I Fall in Love” amongst others.
A further highlight of the event was the talk and formation about Love by Fr. James McTavish. He stressed that each of us must receive love, take care of the love and share it through mission. He also said that Valentine’s Day does not have to always be about romantic love only, because it can also be about love for God and others.
After the talk there was a question and answer portion where each group was asked to pose one question to the speaker for discussion. It helped the participants to have a deeper understanding of the topic. The night ended with the awarding of appreciation to the speaker and performers and of course picture taking.
1 Corinthians 13:13 “But these three remain, faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love. No matter what happens love is the language that all of us understand because like what the theme says “Heart Speaks to Heart.”
With thanks to Francis Santos and the WordNews team
This year, in celebration of Valentine's Day, Verbum Dei Cebu Singles reality organized a road trip/recollection/team building activity on Feb. 15-16, 2020 in a beach resort in Boljoon, about 100 kms south of Cebu City.
The aim of the road trip was for the participants to realize that they can find a lifetime companion in God, as his beloved children. It was participated in by 27 singles/ working people with different profession. Along the way the group made stop-overs in Theotokos Shrine, in Carcar Cebu, prayed the Rosary of the Word, then proceeded to Bishop Camomot's Shrine still in Carcar. The group was able to enter Domus Teofilos, containing a small museum showing the life of Bishop Camomot, who is now in the process of becoming a saint. After reaching the final destination in Boljoon, the group had animation, games, and listened to the first talk on the truth of faith "Your life is for Love".
After dinner, there was a formation given on the topic "The Hierarchy of Needs" and a group sharing was held in front of a bonfire. The next morning, the activity started with a morning exercise in front of the beach, watching the sunrise and listening to the sound of the waves. The next talk given was with the theme "Your Life is for Loving" followed by team building activities. The event ended by attending mass in Dalaguete Catholic Church. The participants enjoyed the different activities and had a wonderful weekend experience with Someone who wants to give them their "forever" and be with them forever.
Below is the experience of one of the participants.
Road to forever: A Valentines Special Getaway for single realities gave me an opportunity to open up and to become the best version of myself. I remember a few years ago what a timid and shy type of a person I was, but with God's grace I was able to step out of that world of my comfort zone. The said event encouraged me to step up further towards my goals in life and to know myself better as a person. It allowed me to give back and to share how to embrace and value life with God as the center of everything. Despite of all the “baggage” I and the other participants had prior to going to the said event, we were meant to meet each other in order to fill in the gap we had in our hearts for the missing puzzle in our life. Thus, I felt blessed and grateful for the activity because I was able to open up about my gloomy days and share how I was able to reach my "bloomy" days which I am living at the moment. Don't ever compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 10 version of success in life. Each one of us has his/her own time frame of success in our own pace in life. Just trust the process and spread random act of kindness and happiness to everybody. (From Loren Tesado, one of the participants)
Here are some photos of the event:
"Love them as I have loved you"
Teens' Valentine's song forum
As part of Verbum Dei’s monthly visitation in the Olango Island, particularly at Nemesio-Epifania Taneo Memorial High School, the whole campus ministry together with the 12 students who are in their process of discipleship and the youth of Barangay Tingo, came together for the song forum in celebration for Valentine's Day. It had a theme, “Love them as I have loved you,” and was held at Tingo’s seaside.
The forum started at 3pm in the afternoon, where the Verbum Dei Family, led by Sister Adree and Ate Jay Anne, welcomed the participants with timely songs about friendship; in this way it reminded us that our savior Jesus can be our friend, and even our best friend. The activity was great fun for it also had a treasure hunt game where the participants were grouped and given the chance to solve a riddle. The treasure had something inside--a message from Jesus encouraging us to talk to him as our best friend. We had a moment of silence as well so that everyone can talk to him in prayer.
And when the forum was about to end, the campus ministry members had surprise gifts for the Verbum Dei. It has been a year since they came to the school and encouraged everyone to listen and follow the Word of God, and this was a way of thanking them for bringing each member closer to Jesus. This Valentine's Day was made more special, for it made each one realize that Valentine's Day is not only for romantic relationships but it is all about our love for each other just like how Jesus loved each one of us.
Here are some photos of the event:
Do everything in Love
Verbum Dei Youth Reality Valentine’s Day Special
Love has different meanings. It can mean something more than that typical relationship of a man and a woman, and we often see this month of love as a celebration only for those who have partners in life. However, we believe in a love that is everlasting. A love that never ages or grows old.
This lead the group of young people from Verbum Dei Cebu to organize a special way of celebrating Valentine’s Day last February 15, 2020. Spearheaded by our youth adviser, Sr. Charisma Sulbise, we went to the houses of our dear grandmothers, and widowed and single mothers, to serenade them with love songs from their time, and even some modern love songs. We also made a short program wherein we gave them roses with the word of God attached, a heart shaped balloon, a small gift, sweet lovely cards and had a moment of prayer with them and for them. To spice up the serenade, we had a surprise game where they were asked to pick a rolled paper, and do or answer whatever is written on it. Some of them danced the Tala Challenge, shared their love story, sang with us, shared their first crush and many more.
It was indeed a special moment among us of sharing the love that Christ has given us first. Personally, I am in awe of how God has planned out everything. Sometimes, when we really are challenged, that is when God makes you see His works. Love is alive. Love will live. Love prevails among fear. Love is more than we thought it would be. It was a memorable and priceless experience for me. Everything was worth the time and effort spent in the preparations. This experience made this passage from 1 Corinthians 16:14 came alive for me: “Do everything in love.”
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to KP Artajo and the WordNews team
There was a post Valentine gathering for 55 couples in our Verbum Dei Apostolate Center, Cebu. Going the extra mile, the Matrimonios Missionaries spear headed the affair and it was well supported by the Verbum Dei couples reality. COVID-19 wasn’t able to prevent us from pursuing the event as an outbreak of contagious Love syndrome was also in the air.
We started with a formation about “The Joy of Marriage” which we freshly delivered to the lovers, who were very enthusiastic as they listened, contemplated and walked through their respective most romantic and worst conjugal experiences. John 2:5 “Do whatever He tells you” propelled us to keep on announcing how love matters even though it is not easy in our cruel world. Our missionary couple in charge in Cebu, Regner & Mae Paguia, launched the upcoming future series of formations for couples.
During the celebration of the Eucharist, we were joyful to have Fr. Ely Siuco, overall chairman of the Family Life Ministry of the Diocese who celebrated the mass and administered the renewal of marriage vows to those couples married in church, reaffirming our commitments to each other.
As married couples, let our goals in life be: to share, to inspire and to spread the love through the Word of God! May the struggles and challenges in marriage not quarantine us from truly sharing what Love can do to many more couples. May we also remain firm in faith and strong in values in upholding the indissolubility and sanctity of marriage, and the value of the gift of family.
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Ponie & Joan and the WordNews team
This has been a busy start of the year for the teens reality in Cebu. After a very successful fundraising activity during the Sinulog season, we ventured to the mountain side of Cebu in an all-boys morning hike… well, almost all boys because sister Adri and ate Jay-anne facilitated this activity for us!
During our uphill trail in Buhisan-Toog we had some dynamics together with much laughter. A sense of brotherhood and faces filled with smiles culminated our morning.
On February 1 we had the opportunity to share our gifts and time with 70 children of Abtanan sa Kaluoy, the Cebu Archdiocesan ministry for street Children, in partnership with Verbum Dei "Discovery" SoW. Focusing on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, we facilitated games, an arts and crafts activity, and a living Rosary. The morning finished with the celebration of the Eucharist with the kids, who showed their gratitude and friendship to us. What a wonderful and well spent morning for us all!
Continue to pray for us teens, and that we continue to have fruitful and inspiring Activi-teens in the year ahead …
Here are some photos:
With thanks from the WordNews team
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