Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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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