Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
I Know the Plans I Have in Mind for You
Rejoice! God has definitely made clear his plans for us! This was the visible fruit for each one of us who attended the recently concluded Easter Encounter in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.
This year’s event was generously attended by 96 participants - mostly new members from our apostolate in Musuan, Bukidnon. There were also some new faces from our apostolate in a local university. We were honored with the presence of three couples,who for the first time together with their family, experienced what an Easter Encounter is really about. Unmindful of the Lenten heat, the participants and the facilitators were on top of their game, listening to the talks, sharing in every dynamic, and participating in the liturgy. And of course, everyone got to their feet with every animation and started dancing. Who said Holy Week isn’t fun in some moments?
Truly it was an amazing experience to be brought together as one missionary family in the holiest week of the year. At the end, we bade goodbye to each other but the memories, the friendships and the encounter of Christ of these days past will always be with us.
The community in Cagayan de Oro City, would like to thank Fr Iwao Ikegami, Sisters/Misoneras Gabriel Rocha and Rana Nina Elisino for their generous support since day one. Surely, this would not have been such a success if not for these beaming individuals.
Until next year!
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Rey Bagares and the WordNews team
Each year, the Verbum Dei disciples are called to have a longer retreat, or “spiritual exercises.” Number 111 of the “Identity and Mission of the Verbum Dei Missionary Family” states “Our spiritual growth making at least one silent retreat or spiritual exercises a year, as a privileged moment of encounter with the Lord, through the Word and the living out of our project of life.” During April 15-21, a group of missionary disciples from Cebu and Cagayan de Oro gathered in St Francis Seraph retreat house, Talisay, Cebu for their spiritual exercise entitled “As Heirs of a Charism, Guard the Good Treasure entrusted to you” (cf. 2Tim1: 14).
Here is the sharing of Flor, one of the participants …
Jesus, My Confidant
How beautiful it is to have someone to whom we can truly bare ourselves, being vulnerable, and receive full acceptance with love, guidance, and friendship. That sums up my profound experience during the Disciples Spiritual Exercises in St Francis Seraph retreat house in Talisay Cebu this Lenten season. Indeed, the yearly spiritual exercise always brings newness in my intimate relationship with Jesus, which constantly supports my journey as a disciple.
I am grateful to have received abundant nourishment through the prayer guidelines that filled the hunger of my spirit for the wisdom to understand things beyond the limited capacity of my intellect. I enjoyed the longer times of prayer in silence as a pleasant moment to be in casual conversation with Jesus. It was also a time to pay close attention to how he addressed all my issues with a loving concern of a father, brother, and a friend. It was wonderful to recognize that his words gave clarity to my confusion and guidance in many difficult decisions I have to make in life. How amazing that all my questions were answered!
As soon as I sat to receive the first guideline, Jesus was direct in reminding me of my prophetic task, as the title said “From the encounter of the Word, prophets are born.” Jesus expressed his need for conscious baptized Christians like us, to be active messengers of His love, mercy and hope to a world clouded with much noise and restlessness. As heirs of the charism of the word, Jesus trusts our lives to be rich channels by which his love can reach many people. I pray for all of us who receive his message to have the courage to obey it and of course, to share it!
With thanks to Flor Dacudao and the WordNews team
Last April 18-21,2019, 105 participants from all walks of life participated in the 2019 “I Love You and I Give My Life To You" (cf. Galatians 2:20) Easter Encounter (Semi-Silent Retreat) 2019 at Tagaytay City Philippines. This year, the annual event also welcomed participants from Misamis Occidental and Guiwan, Samar.
The annual event is one with the Holy Catholic Church in commemoration of the Easter Tridium. There was the Holy Thursday Mass where the participants commemorate the Washing of the Feet, Veneration of the Cross, Way of Light and the Easter Vigil. There were also talks, dynamics and testimonies given to help deepen the understanding of the participants about the passion and death of Jesus on the Cross. There were moments that both the youth and adult were together in a session and there were moments separated to focus on the needs of each reality.
It's nice to see people with different background gathered to journey with Jesus in this this most important moment of our journey of faith as Catholics. The participants were given a chance to be involved in different committees to help them have a more meaningful experience.
One of the participants, Lola Tamar felt that attending the Easter Encounter helped her to deepen her faith more. She appreciated the catechesis given before important liturgical celebrations. She also liked the part of the Way of Light where we gave importance to the role of Mama Mary in the life of Jesus.
After the Easter Vigil, everyone eagerly participated in the Fiesta where the participants got the chance to represent the Resurrection of Jesus creatively through different group presentations.
Lent is over and Christ already conquered death through Resurrection. May this amazing gift of our faith fuel us with hope and love each day.
Watch a video summary of the event:
Some photos of the event:
With thanks to the WordNews team
I was fortunate enough to attend Sr. Cecilia Teo’s workshop entitled “Working with Dreams” at the Verbum Dei Apostolate in Pasig on March 31, 2019. As a mixed media collage artist, I have always been interested in dreams, especially as they relate to the subconscious mind.
The whole morning was spent learning interesting facts and insights about dreams. Sr. Cecilia was such an engaging, funny and animated speaker. Through her workshop, I learned that dreams are essential to our physical and emotional health. They carry important wisdom that can unlock hidden parts of ourselves. Also, they are useful tools that can help guide us through the twists and turns of life’s journey.
Though it can be quite helpful to talk to other people about our dreams, its subjective nature means that only we can really interpret it for ourselves. In the end, only the dreamer can give meaning to the symbols that occur in their dream and connect them to specific events that transpire in their waking life.
Dreams are gentle and subtle ways by which God may communicate and try to get through to us. Have you heard the whispers of God in your dreams lately?
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Toots Magsino and the WordNews team
The celebration of this coming Holy Week marks the first 3-month anniversary of the arrival of the Verbum Dei community in Vietnam!
The first major event in which our two missionaries assigned there were able to participate in was the celebration of the New Lunar year, also known as TET. For the Vietnamese people that celebration is very important: many of them return back their country to celebrate with the family the arrival of a New Year; the streets are adorned with numerous flowers and the women bring out their best traditional costumes. In addition, each one of the days of the celebration is dedicated to honoring the memory of important people: ancestors, parents, teachers and friends. They are days of being able to celebrate and give thank for the gift of life together with our new friends.
Later the main focus of attention for the 2 missionaries was the search for a house to live in - since the first month the missionaries were living in the facilities of a parish. After touring numerous places in the city, they were finally able to move to a rented house located in one of the popular neighborhoods of Saigon. From there, they travel every morning to the University to study Vietnamese, the main priority for these first months there. Our dedication to the Word of God means that being able to communicate in the local language is essential for the future development of our mission there.
Thank God we have numerous good Vietnamese friends who help the community in this complex process of adaptation. In them we can see the hand of God that does not abandon us or leave us alone. We also appreciate the prayer of the Verbum Dei Missionary Family here in the Philippines, as well as the sponsors who are making it possible for us to take these first steps. God's dream that all his children know him is the main motivation that helps us move forward despite the difficulties.
It is a sobering thought for us all here in the Philippines that two thirds of the world’s population lives in Asia, but so few know Christ. That is why we as Verbum Dei, as a missionary community, have to continually reflect and be challenged to bring the faith beyond our own shores, “to push the boat out further.” Let us continue to pray for the growth of our Verbum Dei community in Asia! We pray in a special way for our mission in Vietnam! (Note from James, WordNews team)
Here are a few more pictures:
With thanks to our missionary contributor and the WordNews team
A semi-silent retreat was conducted by The Verbum Dei Missionary Family over the weekend of March 23 and 24, 2019 at the Verbum Dei Center of Evangelization in Tagaytay City. Open to people from all walks of life, participants were invited to a weekend of prayer and silent reflection for a more meaningful celebration of the Lenten season.
The retreat started with a simple dynamic where participants shared their expectations for the retreat followed by a talk given by Sister Amy. She welcomed participants and invited them to a deeper prayer and encounter with God. She also introduced participants to the attitudes of prayer to be adopted during the retreat after which they were then given time to pray and reflect in silence.
The participants were then gathered again to delve deeper into the theme of the retreat with the second talk of the morning. Given by Sister Amy, she dove into the heart of the invitation to come home, exploring what it means to have a home and also what being ‘beloved’ by God entails. This was followed by lunch and then a short time of sharing where the participants were divided into small groups to share among themselves the fruit of their morning in prayer. Sister Marla then gave the first talk of the afternoon. With Jesus as an example, she explored with the participants how they can live being at home with God.
Later in the afternoon, Sister Amy had the participants reflect more inwardly with her talk. She invited participants to look at where they could have turned away from the home of God in their lives. This was to prepare for the moment of confession made available to the participants in the evening. During this time, Shiela Marie Ramos, a lay disciple of the Verbum Dei Family, also shared about her own experiences with God’s mercy and His constant invitation for her to come home in her life. The day was completed with the participants gathering together to pray the rosary and meditate on how Mary can help and accompany them in staying at home with God.
Sunday was started off with participants joining the Verbum Dei Tagaytay community in their celebration of the Eucharist at the chapel. Mass was then quickly followed by the last guidelines of the retreat. In it, Sister Marla challenged participants to the missionary nature of the Lenten invitation of coming home. Participants were led to reflect on sharing the joy they received in being at home with God as they had experienced during the weekend. To round off the whole retreat, participants broke up into their small groups again for another round of sharing, after which a few participants gave testimonies of their entire retreat experience to the whole group. It was truly a blessed weekend of coming back to and being at home with God.
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Abel Paune and the WordNews team
Last April 7, 2019, a youth recollection entitled “I Choose You” was held at the Verbum Dei Apostolate Center in Brgy. Palatiw, Pasig. The event, organized and facilitated by VD missionaries and disciples, aimed to nourish the youth with the Lord’s love and mercy amidst the different realities and difficulties they face daily. A total of 39 participants attended the activity, most of which were first timers.
The program started with an ice breaker and animation song, followed by a short skit and welcome talk by Pamela Matienzo, a Verbum Dei disciple. Pam encouraged the participants to have the right attitudes as they enter into the retreat and to make the most out of this opportunity to bond with Jesus and with one another. This was followed by another skit entitled The Man in the Garbage which illustrated how we tend to collect different types of ‘trash’ in our search for genuine happiness. This skit was further deepened on by Carmela Badajos, another Verbum Dei disciple, who related the events in the skit with her own personal struggles and victories. According to Mela, “there is a hole in the heart of each one that only its Creator can fill”.
The second part of the program kicked off with a game and a dance headed by misioneras, disciples and some youth volunteers from Pasig. Afterwards another skit entitled The Divided Teenager was performed by the Pasig youth. The skit was about the different voices heard by the teenager which also reflects the dilemmas the youth face today. The second talk given by Sister Pearl Rebusit further elaborated on the difficult realities faced by the youth and how to choose Jesus despite all these.
The jam-packed day was culminated by a mass celebrated by Fr. Bong, who in his homily challenged the participants to appreciate God’s love through the people around them, and, in turn, reflect that genuine love to others as well, using the metaphor of the moon reflecting the light of the sun.
How wonderful to be chosen by the Lord and to choose to respond to Him!
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Christel Mendoza and the WordNews team
For Jaime Bonet, the Verbum Dei founder, the so-called “School of Apostles” (SOAp) is an essential element of the Verbum Dei spirituality. What is a SOAp?
Stephen Drum, a Verbum Dei member said “In simple terms, an apostle is someone who has not just been evangelized but also becomes an evangelizer. In terms of Christians, it means that the apostle not only believes in Jesus, has a personal relationship with Him, and follows His teaching, but also has accepted the task of helping others to come to a similar relationship with Jesus. For Verbum Dei, the Apostle is someone who does this according to the specific charism of prayer and preaching with the Word of God.”
This is in line with the exhortation of Pope Francis, “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. So what are we waiting for?” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 120)
In other words, a SOAp is a school, where you learn, to be an apostle! Not to just to receive, but to learn HOW TO GIVE!
The Quezon city community has the SOAp twice a month, on the first and last Saturdays, from 8am-11am, and we start and end on time. This year we have covered the talks of Welcome, Life and Love, and now we are working on God the Father. Each apostle is expected to pray with the talk, type it up, have it checked and then give it. And as Jaime reminded us, “The School of Apostles, for me, never had as an objective that they learn to preach, but that they live what they have to say.”
For Francis, one of the Verbum Dei Disciples of Pansol, Quezon City, said “School of Apostles is very helpful in the Verbum Dei mission because it makes the person be more prepared in preaching. The last lesson that we had was about God the Father. It reminded me that no matter who we are, we are all connected to one source who is God our Father. He knew us even before we were born. He is always there for us whatever season of life we are in.” For Francis the School of Apostles prepares the disciples to be ready for evangelization which is very vital in our mission as Verbum Family. It helps us to deepen our faith and to be able to be better ambassadors of Christ in our world today.
Resti Bautista, a pediatrician from PGH, has volunteered to give the talk of God the Father on 26 April. Good luck Resti! Enjoy your prayer with God the Father!
See some photos of the event:
With thanks to Francis Santos and the WordNews team
The Verbum Dei-Tagaytay community visited a home for the abandoned and abused children and youth, the “Bukid Kabataan” at Gen. Trias, Cavite
Below is a little prayer / poem inspired by our experience being with the kids and teens of “Bukid Kabataan”…
We pray for them to be whole again by God’s grace and love and through people who will care and give them love…
Last weekend, we went on a mission trip.
To a place less frequented by people.
What a joy to see happy faces,
genuine smiles, all doubts and fears cast away
because they felt loved and remembered.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could spare some time
to give joy and delight by our mere presence
to those abandoned and mistreated children and teens,
that they may feel the love
they have been deprived of and not shown?
It was a day of prayer, playing and games,
of singing and dancing, listening and learning
about the Word of God and Life, as well.
Some shed tears as they listened to the talk.
Others laughed and shouted as they played games
and joined in the fun and merriment.
Others were simply delighted
upon seeing their beautiful creation
when they decorated and planted their “tree of life!”
They were artistic, creative,
and showed their lively innocence by their creation.
Before we left the place, they sang us a song –
A poem written by one of the young “residents.”
The music touched our hearts, our souls.
It expressed their sentiments,
as they tried to forget what they’ve been through
and thanking everyone who cared for them
and God who gave them another chance
to see life in a different light.
If only… we could go there again…
If only… people would care and visit them there…
If only… we could see the tears behind their smiles and laughter…
If only… we could serve out of sheer love and gratitude to God…
Then, maybe… their world will be a little better;
The abandoned and abused could feel the love
and compassion due to them.
Maybe, just maybe…
With thanks to the WordNews team
Life is a constant journey. As the old saying goes, “Difficult roads to beautiful destinations.” Every journey in life begins with a leap of faith.
Just this Sunday, I together with the Verbum Dei Teens and Youth were invited to unfold a journey. It was to have a moment of truth and silence with Jesus through a long walk that will help us realize our individual mission and to reflect on this question, “In this season of lent- where am I invited to walk?”
It was a warm Sunday morning when a total of 14 Teens and Youth accepted the invitation to have a long walk with Jesus. The hike started with the reminder of do’s and don'ts that must be considered since most of the participants were first-timers. Then we were invited to have a meaningful and purposeful walk with Christ.
Everyone was excited to embark on this trip. After we did our stretching, we began. We started walking and following the trail. After a few step, jump and leap, we arrived into a “mini-stop” close to the waterfalls. There we get to be acquainted with a local who sells coconut. We stopped for a while to drink water and to buy some coconut juice. Minutes passed by and everybody was ready for the next miles. As we carry on the next long walks, it was the time in which we need to deal with the steep and stony parts of the hike. Our trail guide, Kuya Andy, had to stretch a helping hand since the rocky part of the trek was astounding. Nevertheless, with everyone’s courage and determination we made it to the next part on the trail.
Under the scorching heat of the sun, we looked for a place where we had our next activity. The activity focused on building camaraderie and recollecting on the purpose that we have for this Lenten season. The game went well and everyone was able to build friendship through actively participating in the games that were provided. After the game, Ate Adree shared beautiful phrases on how essential and important this season of Lent is. We were challenge to think about the invitation that God wants us to discover and to put in action.
As we continued, going up and following the footsteps of our trail guide, the path was stonier and impressive. The higher we go, the more scenic the area gets. So many places were picture-perfect. Along the way we meet new friends who will either lead or block your way. They are the local dogs and cows. They were very friendly. It was already noon when we arrived at the basketball court; we stopped for a bit and had our stomachs ready for lunch. We need to regain our energy back by nourishing our body with food.
Afterward, we had to keep going so that we can cover the next few kilometers that will lead us to the peak. Everyone seemed exhausted and tired but not willing to give up. We were determined to finish the walk and excited to discover our individual realizations. Taking every stride, little did we know that for just a few more cow encounters, uphill road, grassy pavements and cogon tunnels, we were close to the goal.
When we arrived at the peak, everyone appreciated the view. Together, we gathered ourselves and had a group sharing. We didn’t just conquer the peak, but we courageously found peace and acquired the invitation that we were called to, as well.
Indeed, the picturesque view from the peak will never disappoint you. Through the experience, we found beauty in tranquility, as we grasp the invitation for this journey. It was for me to realize that I am not alone; God’s will is there and He will lead the way, accompanied by faith, courage, strength, and hope. With heaven sent companions the journey became lighter and brighter. It was a journey that helped us to look deep within and realize the message that God want us to know. One of the most rewarding things everyone experienced. Truly, I can say, I didn’t just become courageous, I also knew where I am invited to go and found growth with my relationship with the Almighty. What a beautiful and meaningful journey it was.
Here is a short vlog of the event:
Here are some photos from the event:
With thanks to Ena Clavel and the WordNews team
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