Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
"I will show you the way"
cf. Isaiah 48:17
(Part 3 of 3)
When we started to process our documents, the pandemic came. We really thought that this project to Spain is canceled or postponed to next year. But God is greater than this pandemic and faithful to His plans. He continues to unveil to us His grace and gave us signs of hope through our prayers and concrete people He sent who helped us morally, financially and in processing some of our documents. Some of this people were completely strangers to us. Our Matrimonios branch here in the Philippines, Australia, and Spain supported us to make this project possible. We encountered many difficulties in our processing due to the pandemic but it was a moment of grace for us. It gives us reason to continue and put everything in the hands of the Lord.
We were also very aware of the big health risk for us and for our children but the voice of God was stronger than our fears and doubts. We had lots of fears, we even said at first that if the consulate will really require us to bring our children for the appearance in Manila, we will not continue the process. But in our prayers, and dialogue as a couple and to our formators, we understood that God is with us - He is more concerned of our health than us and we should firmly trust His promise. On September 8, the birthday of our beloved Mother Mary, was also our appointment date in the Spanish consulate. Mary was with us also from the very beginning, guiding us in every step we take and always telling us in our prayers “Do whatever He tells you” cf. John 2:5. All the fears that were in our minds did not happen - like contracting the virus, might be quarantined, delays in the airport, and our visa application will be disapproved.
It was a great joy for us when we got our visa! Since our class and the classes of our kids have started already, we need to fly to Spain as soon as possible. We only had 2 weeks preparation and despidida to our family, friends and community. We flew to Spain on October 13, the feast of the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima and this day was also the first-year anniversary of our Temporal bonds. It was very heavy for each of us to leave our family and home.
It is hard sometimes to go out from our comfort zones when we follow the Lord, but God will give us the strength and courage to let go. We arrived safely in Madrid. Antonio and Marisol, a missionary couple in Spain welcomed us full of love and joy at the airport. Our hearts jumped with joy and gratefulness when we arrived in our new home in Loeches because everything was prepared. And we were very surprised by the virtual welcome of the missionaries because they cannot come physically to our house due to precautionary measures implemented in the center.
Now, we are enjoying this gift of new life that our Lord has prepared for us while adjusting to this new environment, and learning the language and culture. Jesus has really shown us the way from Cebu, Philippines to Loeches, Spain. Let us continue trusting the Lord because only Him can show us the way. Very united in prayer and mission!
“I will show you the way.”
cf. Isaiah 48:17
(Part 2 of 3)
We prayed, discerned, and dialogued as a couple, because this was totally new for us to go to a place unknown to us with our children. When we had our branch retreat, we both received clearly the answer of God in Deuteronomy 7:6-7 “Do this because you belong to the LORD your God. From all the peoples on earth, he chose you to be his own special people. The LORD did not love you and choose you because you outnumbered other peoples; you were the smallest nation on earth.”
We understood in our prayer that it is God who chose us to be sent to Spain. He chose us not because we are the best and brightest missionary couple, he chose us because we are the poorest who can really leave everything for the Lord. But as a parent who always thinks about welfare of our children, we were very concerned about the needs and future of our children since we will be leaving also our jobs. The Lord answered our concerns through the prayer of Elena. “Elena: In the retreat, in my prayer, Jesus told me, do not be afraid. He promised to me “Everything I have is yours“ cf. Luke 15:31. The Father’s voice is very clear, Elena, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.”
With this very concrete promise from the Lord, we were very convinced that the God who promised to Abraham, Moses, Mary, and Joseph will take care of everything we need, will guide and protect us in this journey. So, we are very united with our Yes to the Lord. And our daughters too were happy and excited when they knew that we are going to Spain. Every night when we pray the Holy Rosary, each of us gives our communitarian prayer, and the prayers of our two daughters every night are that our visa processing will be successful, to keep us safe when we travel to Manila and Spain, and asking God to help them to learn fast in speaking Spanish. God confirms His calling through our children also and we are very happy that they are helping us and involved in the mission in their own little ways.
Stay tuned for part 3 …
“I will show you the way.”
cf. Isaiah 48:17
(Part 1 of 3)
Before this World mission month ends, allow me to share our experience of how God sent us for a mission to the other side of the world and showed us the way in the midst of a pandemic.
I am Kris married to Elena and we have 3 daughters (13, 8, and 3 yrs. old). My wife and I are a missionary married couple of Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity. We took our First temporal bonds together with other 3 married couples last October 13, 2019, at Sacred Heart Parish Cebu, Philippines.
Last February this year we received a proposal from the General Responsible of the Missionary Married Couples or “Matrimonios” branch, Adriana and Poncho, if it would be possible for us to study Philosophy and Theology in our “Instituto Teológico Verbum Dei” Loeches, Spain. Of course, our children are part of the package, they should come with us in the mission field that God will send us to go and as married couple missionary, they are our first mission. Since this is a big movement of our family like leaving our home, work, family, etc., we needed to pray and discern well if this really wasthe will of God for us.
We did not expect this invitation and never came out in our mind to be sent to a very far place from home. When we took our temporal bonds, we are aware of our “Yes” to the Lord to be obedient to His will and to be ready for any changes, but the places that came to our mind are places within the country, within Asia and Australia only. Really God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His plans are greater than our plans (Isaiah 55:8).
Stay tuned for part II of the adventure …
The 5th National Family Encounter themed “Gifted To Give” held on the 24th and 25th of October was a huge success with over 300 registered zoom participants with the number likely reaching up to 500 including other family members of each household.
The Verbum Dei Family in Cagayan de Oro showed their giftedness in organizing such an event during these challenging times. There was no stopping the Holy Spirit in stirring up the flame of evangelization in each and everyone’s hearts. 2020 would no longer be remembered only as the year of the infamous pandemic but rather, a year when the different Verbum Dei communities gathered together as one big family online proving that we can truly conquer the digital world. The richness of the talks, testimonies and workshops left us wanting for more after the two-day event. We discovered that our very life is a gift that we need to give to others especially in the world of today.
As we approach the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, let us make this NFE another turning point in our charism to discover more creative ways in dedicating this gift of our lives to prayer and ministry of the Word. Let us rekindle this passion so many others can discover their identity of truly being Verbum Dei.
Today, October 25, 2020 marked the last day of the very meaningful 5th Verbum Dei National Family Encounter. With the talks, workshops testimonies, fiesta that were given Verbum Dei Family is now full of fire for mission. Now, it is the time to turn the gift into action. It’s nice to end the event with the Holy Eucharist presided by Fr. Iwao Ikegami, concelebrated by Fr. James McTavish.
In his homily, Fr. James reiterated the importance of the members of the Verbum Dei Family to discover the part they can play in the community. He mentioned some of the highlights of the encounter and emphasized the importance of giving gifts from all our hearts. He said that the greatest work of charity is evangelization. Like in this year’s theme “Gifted to Give,” the Verbum Dei Missionary Family have received a lot - he invited them to use that gift in sharing the Word of God to others which the world needs today.
Sister Amy Hernandez, the Zone Ecclesial Responsible of the Philippines thanked all the participants and indeed for her the community is really “Gifted To Give”. She thanked all the people who are part of making the event possible. She informed the people of the possibility of having a face to face event for the Symposium for the Disciples in Siete Aguas, Valencia, Spain in 2021. She also announced that the next Family encounter will be on 2022.
The Verbum Dei 5th Verbum Dei National Family Encounter has ended but the mission continues and the Verbum Dei Family is ready to “Hacer Hacer” or to be sent for mission. With the gifts that the Verbum Dei Family received they are now on fire to turn the gift into action.
This workshop was led by
Adriana Haro, Ronan Capuras, Charisma Sulbise and Jay-anne Désabelle.
What comes to mind when you hear the expression “the signs of the times”? The signs of the times help us understand how God is acting in human history. He communicates with us through the burning bushes in our life (see Moses in Exodus 3:8) or in a gentle breeze (see Elijah in 1 Kings 19:12), where he reveals himself and expresses his will. It is not always easy to recognize the signs. Jesus invites believers to be “the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:1-3) and attentive to the Kingdom of God – but whoever is closed to conversion/change, will be blind to the signs of the times.
Signs of the times
The believer needs to scrutinize the signs of the times in order to influence what is happening with the provocative force of the Gospel. Signs to be considered can include global warming, a growing awareness of mental health, the global protest against racism and discrimination, and political and social polarization. Pope Francis wrote “As I was writing this letter, the Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly erupted, exposing our false securities. Aside from the different ways that various countries responded to the crisis, their inability to work together became quite evident. For all our hyper-connectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all” (Fratelli tutti, no. 7, 2020). What is God’s will here in all these issues?
One such way in which God has already been preparing us for the pandemic by inspiring our National Communications ministry over the last 2-3 years. It helped us prepare in advance for the pandemic, and allows us to share with many through our dedication to prayer and ministry of the Word, and forming apostles. We can ask what newness is the Spirit working in this time? As Isaiah reminds us, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? … I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (see Isaiah 43:19-20).
We are to be a cunning as a snake and gentle as a dove – and not to be naïve. One problem today is social media addiction. To lessen social media distraction - you can leave phone outside your room at night to sleep well, delete unnecessary social media accounts, mind the time spent on media, and enhance real-time connections. How about countering fake news? We can develop a critical mindsight, check the source, see who else is reporting the story and don’t take images at face value. Individualism and consumerism can also be an issue – so take care in our spending, with less screen time and more face time. It is important to discern and to pray like our founder Jaime Bonet.
God meets us where we are. God has never abandoned us; instead he continues to reveal himself dynamically to us, and hopes in our response. “You yourselves give them something to eat” said Jesus. How many loaves do you have? How can we respond as Verbum Dei? Prayer makes us gifted to give - without prayer we give up easily. This connection with the living Word makes us creative to reach out, and helps us see our mission is not quarantined. So what is our pastoral response as Verbum Dei?
Let us bear in mind:
Our union with God will give us the answers of how we can respond as a Verbum Dei Missionary Family.
As I write, I am humming the song, “Just The Way You Are,” by Billy Joel. This line somehow sums up the Testimonies we have heard this wonderful Sunday NFE morning.
Following the Talk of Kim Travero of Verbum Dei-Cebu, on Gifted to Give, we heard from four (4) of our young, talented Missionaries in Formation, namely: Gelo Balsita, Rudy Esmeralda, Mylene Capuras and Angelyn Enriquez who shared their personal experiences and ideas on giftedness. They likewise facilitated the Testimonies of Verbum Dei members from the different realities.
Mylene intimated that to follow the Lord, is also to “just be who you are” for He accepts us, as we are. We can become bearers of light to others, too. Gelo for his part said, we can find ourselves when we give ourselves to others, just as Jesus did. While Angelyn mentioned faith as the greatest gift one could receive to get even closer to the Lord. Rudy cited simplicity in offering oneself to God despite weaknesses and struggles in life.
Kharis Barbosa, a Verbum Dei Kid from Musuan, Bukidnon shared her “journey” with Jesus despite her young age. Although she loves receiving material gifts, she now gives thanks for becoming an active Verbum Dei Kid in her community and making Mt. 6:33 as her guiding verse - to seek first the Kingdom of God.
Young professional, Carmela Badajos, was invited to the Verbum Dei community at a time she was having some crisis in life. With the concrete support and friendship of Verbum Dei -Pasig members, she now enjoys her life and is an active member of the community, giving testimonies and bringing even her family members to Verbum Dei.
Alma Acuna, a working professional from Verbum Dei -Tagaytay enjoys the gifts she has received from God: a family with 3 kids, her profession as a mentor who has a graduate degree and her current affiliation as a growing follower of Jesus with the Verbum Dei community.
Gabs Lanada, a Verbum Dei Youth from Pasig, gave a very honest and realistic testimony of himself admitting his imperfections and struggles with his young life. But, despite his doubts and insecurities, he continues to serve as a youth leader. He gave us some nuggets of wisdom by saying, “it’s ok not to be ok,” for God allows us to be who we are and still accepts us.
Angel Paguia a VERBUM DEI-Cebu Teen, wowed listeners by her powerful testimony, that prayer can also transform young people; that we can also “jam with the Lord” and sing songs to inspire ourselves and others. “With a Smile” by The Eraserheads is her favorite song which she sung to the delight of her listeners.
Wow, this morning’s testimonies really made everyone’s day complete already. As the moderators said, don’t be scared to become a VERBUM DEI missionary in whatever circumstances you may be in because we are all gifts and gifted to give to others. Verbum Dei is a place for us all. “Come and see the goodness of the Lord.” (Psalm 34:8).
Kim Travero, a young missionary disciple from Cebu invited us to deepen on concrete ways on how as Verbum Dei, we are truly gifted to give and contribute to the church and to the world through our charism.
We have been entrusted with this gift and therefore we are called to share what we have received and use these gifts. She reminded our mission to not only have a prayer life that benefits us but to have a life of prayer to enrich others as well. No one is too young nor too old to evangelize.
The challenge posed to us was to respond to the call of evangelization just like how Jaime Bonet did, to live and breathe the ministry of the Word. In moments when we experience dryness, and lack of perseverance, let us go back to the source, Jesus, who will give us that strength for our mission. Let us not rely on ourselves but rather, what we should do is decide and offer ourselves with the purest intention in our hearts for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). To persevere in living out our mission, let us ask Jesus like Jaime did where he wants to go and we will take him there. Let us say “Here I am, Lord… ready to give this gift of Verbum Dei.”
She left us with 3 points for reflection:
It’s been a fruitful day of praying, reflecting and sharing in the first day of this year’s Verbum Dei National Family Encounter and what a great way to end the day through a celebration, more popularly known in the community as fiesta!
The fun night was hosted by Ms. Flor Dacudao and Mr. Rey Bagares of Cagayan De Oro Community.
Each community was given a chance to showcase their talents, Tagaytay (Cheerdance), Manila Pasig (Newscasting), Verbum Dei CDO (Folk Dance), Verbum Dei Cebu (Vlog) and Verbum Dei Pansol, Quezon City (Song). There were also games throughout the program that enabled some members of the Verbum Dei Missionary Family to win prizes. The Obsioma and the Bagares family served as the facilitators of the two games.
God wants us to have a balanced life. After a day’s work he wants us to relax. He is a happy God. Like in Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 “I have concluded that the only worthwhile thing for them is to take pleasure in doing good in life; moreover, every person should eat, drink, and enjoy the benefits of everything that he undertakes, since it is a gift from God.”
The fiesta was really a success. Indeed it’s more fun in Verbum Dei!
An online Eucharistic Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Bong Guinoo together with Fr. Michael Cheong, Fr. James McTavish and Fr. Iwao Ikegami all Verbum Dei priests from the male branch of the Verbum Dei community at Pansol, Q.C.
Fr. Bong’s homily centered around this year’s 5th NFE theme that all of us are Gifted to Give. He also shared how he was “struck” by Gam Gallego’s Talk this morning, saying that “you and I” are truly the gift to one another.
Speaking about our mission as members of the VD Family, he quoted Fr. Jaime Bonet (Verbum Dei founder) who said, “The mission is not something, but someone.”
Briefly, he cited three gifts which all of us have been gifted with, namely: “You and I” are the gifts to one another; next is the gift of maturing with the help of the Holy Spirit and lastly; the gift of raising the status of women and all the baptized which relates to the Gospel read today on the Samaritan Woman, and how Jesus gave her the true gift of freedom from her slavery to sin.
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