Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
Pushing our boat further in Olango!
Last November 9 and 10, members of the Verbum Dei Family of Cebu facilitated a silent retreat with the students of Nemesio-Epifania Taneo Memorial High School in Tingo, Olango Island, Cebu. This was the first retreat in the island, in partnership with their Campus Ministry, which we have been working with since February of this year.
Tweny-seven young retreatants from Olango, and three from Cebu City joined us for the two days, where we had four guidelines, longer times of silent prayer with the Word of God, creative/working prayer, shared meals and snacks, and afternoon icebreakers. It was beautiful seeing these young people discover Jesus so alive in the Word of God, and writing their prayers. At the end of the two days, where we deepened on Luke 5:1-11, we gave the retreatants a necklace with the cross, as a symbol of their newfound friendship with Jesus who is our greatest friend.
One of the young retreatants, Rgeane, shares her experience of the retreat:
"Sometimes in life, we feel an emptiness within us. We feel that we are alone in the four corners of the room engulfed by total darkness, but the truth is we're not. Our boat is full that is why God can't enter. Our life is more focused on earthly things that is why we can't entertain Him. ‘He allows us to feel our downs so that we can have a space for Him.’ He allows every obstacle for us to learn that he is just on our side, even if we don't notice his existence, and even if we are not willing to be his minister.
Have you gone in front of the mirror and asked yourself, "Who am I?" No one can tell us who we are. Our circle of friends, teachers, family, social media accounts, and even ourselves can't. There is only one person who knows us beyond what we know of ourselves. It is God, only God. We can talk to him without any hesitation. We can talk to him without any doubt that he might judge us. Talking to him is just like having a long, heart-to-heart conversation with an old yet unforgettable friend. ‘The more you know God, the more you know yourself.’ With him we are more than real and more capable to do things.
We think that every day is a normal day. We wake up, go to school or work, eat and sleep. ‘We don't recognize that the small things are miracles or a blessings in disguise. Being able to see the beauty of the world, to breathe, to talk and listen is a miracle.’ It's a chance that is given to us. We should appreciate the value of small things because not all of us have the opportunity to always recognize that value.
I am not an expert singer but I will sing about his greatness. I am not a good dancer but I will dance just to show to the world that he is flexible enough to cater to a lot of people, good or bad. I am not a talented person but I can shine because I have my light - God! I made and will make mistakes but now I am with God. I'm not so fully equipped with wisdom, knowledge, and experience to defend him, but I can be a living testament that he is not dead; he is surely alive and he is writing my story. I am a stone in the shore, not that important and precious, but God offers his hand to lift me. I am a solitary bird on a flight to nowhere but now I am home because I am with him. I was once lost but now I am found."
Here are some photos of the event:
A Visit to Remember
Last November 17, 2019 some of the TGIS (“Thank God It’s Saturday” SOW of the Pansol Community) attendees headed by Fr. Iwao Ikegami had a visit to the “Tahanan ng Pagmamahal” (Home of Love), an orphanage at Pasig City. It is a non-government organization which originated in the year 2007.
We were welcomed by Ms. Faye, the person in charge of the institution. She explained the institution’s history and it’spurpose: “What we do is not a job but a ministry.” At the moment the institution is catering to 36 kids. A combination of babies and kids up to 9 years old. The group were able to meet some of the children and experienced a lot of fun. The TGIS group gave some groceries for the children.
Going there was a great experience for the group. They were able to exercise the mission to love which is our universal mission. 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now abide faith, hope, these three but the greatest of these is love.”
With thanks to Francis Santos and the WordNews team
In His Word
Silence can be action-packed! This was what we, members of the Christ the King Parish SOW, discovered when we attended a silent retreat from November 6 to 10 in Tagaytay. The retreat focused on only 11 lines from Luke 5. But the superb missionary team gave these few lines a full-on attack, giving us an experience of high adventure “in His Word.”
The first day focused on the themes of search and encounter. Fr James helped us pray about how Jesus searches untiringly for us all our lives. Fr. David, fresh from mission in Vietnam, helped us pray on Jesus getting into Peter’s boat, how it changed his life and the life of the church beyond imagining, and how Jesus wants to do this too in our daily lives. Fr. Ismael zeroed in on prayer as the way to put together faith and daily life, and called silence an “affective vacuum” that makes conversation with the Trinity possible.
On the second day, the big theme was prayer and trust. Fr James spoke about how important it is to develop a familiar dialogue with Jesus that will help us develop trust in Him. He also helped us see how much Jesus also trusts US. Sr. Grace told us her vocation story, inviting us to ask Jesus: “What do You want from me?” and to leave behind the shore of our security to discover the ocean of His dreams for us. Fr. David preached a passionate homily about Jesus trusting in us, and how the experience of His trust changes sinners into saints and weak people into people who change history. He also shared stories of mission: hardship posts where he had to learn to trust completely in the providence of God. Fr. Ismael gave the day a “perfect ending” by teaching us how to close each day well by making an exam or summary of the day in prayer with the Trinity.
The third day was all about “catching fish.” Fr. David spoke about how faith and mission go together, and how mission must be done in love. Fr James then spoke about how mission cannot be done by “lone rangers” but rather in humility and in partnership with others. He invited us to ask in prayer: “Where is the Lord calling you to cast your net?” Fr. Ismael capped the day by preaching a very helpful homily on how to evangelize in daily life.
The fourth day was devoted to gathering the fruits and the fish!
With great-hearted preaching that brought together passion and pedagogy, with daily mass, adoration and the rosary, with a community of SoWers eager to pray and to learn, the retreat made us encounter Jesus, larger than life: searching for us, getting into our boat and calling us all to “put out into the deep,” and seeing in all of us “fishers of people.”
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Stella and Mario Deriquito and the WordNews team
On the third day of November 2019, the Pansol Youth Verbum Dei conducted their second mission trip at San Agustin Church, Intramuros Manila with the collaboration of the Missionaries of Charity. The 13 youth facilitators, headed by Kuya Bong, facilitated 125 participants, aged 12-23 years old, from Antipolo City and different areas of Tondo, Manila.
Both the facilitators and the participants gained a fruitful experience from the talks of Ate Elaine about love for life, and Kuya Bong about conversion. The Sacrament of Reconciliation was explained thoroughly by Kuya Bong at his homily, he stated that “if you reconcile your sins to God. He will forget and forgive you, you just need to accept that we are sinners and forgive ourselves for being weak”.
Little by little we the Pansol youth are really getting a taste for mission to other youth!
Here are some photos of the event:
September 22nd of 2019, and the venue for the formation of conscience was jam-packed. This formation made me more curious as to what or how really the conscience works. It made me ask more questions like if I am really hearing the voice of God?
This formation taught us the importance of having a well-formed conscience. In our journey of life, we have heard so many voices, and we might not be able to identify which is the voice of God. Fr. James said it is like playing “Pukpok Palayok”. We are blind folded and hearing too many voices. There are voices that leads us to the wrong way, so that we will not be able to hit our goal which is the clay pot full of candies (palayok) but there are voices that will lead us to our true goal.
A well-formed conscience is able to process all the voices that we hear and identify which is the voice that comes from God. Yes, “process” is the word. We were told that it takes the combined work of our heart and mind to process the voices we hear, because conscience is not only about feelings. It is like seeing a car at a huge discount price, and we feel that we will be very happy if we are able to get the car at a huge discount, but we should also ask questions about that car - we have to do engine checks, check the mileage, durability and other specifications essential on buying a car. The same goes with every decision we will do in our lives - we don’t just rely on the feelings. We also need to think about the pros and cons of our decision. From every voice that we will be hearing, we process it with both our hearts and minds.
Forming our conscience is a life-long process because new issues arise and the world keeps changing. We need to be aware of these changes, the technical aspects also, and the impact of these changes so that we are able to make the right decision, especially today when we don’t know if the news we are reading is fake or not. When we have a well-formed conscience then we will be able to respond righteously.
It was a fruitful formation indeed, a vital formation in our everyday life that will help us in making the right decisions.
With thanks to Jason Delgado and the WordNews team
Visit of the General Responsible of the Married Couples Branch in CDO (October 18, 2019)
Cagayan de Oro family got a surprise visit yet again from the General Responsible of the Married Couples Branch, Alfonso Luna Martinez (without Adriana) last October 18, 2019. It was for him a short break from his jam-packed schedule - an opportunity he would not miss for it would be his last visit for a long time to the city he considers his second home.
However, a man on fire could not keep himself hidden. His missionary heart and spirit led him to the ‘deserts’ of the those who heard him give a formation on Mary, Mother of evangelization, which was timely as most of us were to go on a mission that weekend.
As the visit days ended, we bade Poncho goodbye and wished him all the best as he continues his journey into the deep waters looking for people better than him, forming them so that in turn they too can form others to be disciples of this charism and of Christ above all!
Safe travels dear friend, from your Verbum Dei family in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines. Many thanks or as we say “Daghang Salamat”
With thanks to Rey Bagares and the WordNews team
Last October 13, 2019 at Sacred Heart church, Cebu City; four couples from Cebu professed their first temporal bonds as Missionary Married Couple of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity with the theme “I chose you…to bear fruit that will last” cf. John 15:16. The Fraternity is composed of 3 branches; consecrated men, women and couples. This is the 2nd batch of the Missionary Married Couples here in Philippines, after the 1st batch professed their bonds five years ago.
The church was filled with the family and friends of the four couples, members of the Verbum Dei family in Cebu, Cagayan De Oro and Quezon City, members of the Verbum Dei Fraternity, and some consecrated persons from other communities. People started arriving in the church at 1pm and were welcomed warmly. Lots of chatting, hugging, picture taking; it is like a mini reunion of the members of the Verbum Dei community in the Philippines.
Josefina and Ponciano Catacutan (one of the four couples) gave their warm welcome address and introduction to the mass. The Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr. James McTavish, FMVD (Principal Celebrant) and co-celebrated by four other priests. The readings and psalms were read by the selected children of the four couples. They were seated among the people and were called one by one by Sr. Maricor Radan, FMVD. Each couple (Kristofferson Ty & Elena Mae Ty, Ponciano Catacutan & Josefina Catacutan, Eryle Payos & Mary Ann Payos, Leo Marquez & Maria Ginabeth Marquez) standing together, answered the calling: “We are here, Lord, You have called us” and walked together towards the altar.
After the homily, the four couples were called by the General Responsible of the Married Couples Branch (Poncho and Adriana Martinez) in front of the altar. They were interrogated as to their intention to make the bonds. In this way they express before the people of God that they are aware of the meaning of the commitment they profess and that they do it freely and voluntarily. They knelt down and read the formula of consecration of the missionary married couples. After, each received the Crucifix and the Constitutions of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity, symbols that they are a missionary married couple of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity.
The celebration was gracefully ended through the testimony of Eryle and Mary Ann Payos, with the final blessing from the principal celebrant and co-celebrants of the mass. Picture taking at the altar followed, then snacks were served outside the church - another moment of chatting and picture taking with the family, friends and members of the Verbum Dei community.
The common fruit of the new missionary married couples is:Gratefulness to God for His unfathomable faithfulness and love for each one of us, He made everything possible for us, possible for a married person to live a consecrated life and like our mother Mary we only said Yes and allowed His grace to fulfill His plans through our lives. And each one receives authentic Joy and Peace, a happiness and great consolation in our hearts that God alone can give. But this is just the beginning of our mission in living out the evangelical counsels of poverty, conjugal chastity and obedience, according to the norms of the Catholic Church for matrimonial holiness and the family, following the Constitutions and other norms of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity. In everything we trust in God, with the accompaniment of our Mother Mary. So be it.
Here are some photos of the event:
The “Apo ni Jaime” (Verbum Dei Youth) accepted the challenge of Pope Francis to take part in the mission. Acting on his words, “Each of us is a mission to the world” (Pope Francis, World Mission Day message 2019), the youth of Pansol took part in giving a recollection to other young people.
Last October 20, 2019, which was World Mission Sunday, the Pansol youth along with one adult from our apostolate in Christ the King School of the Word, handled an activity for around 130 participants, all young people of the Missionaries of Charity, from different communities such as Antipolo, Navotas, and Tayuman. They were aged 10 yrs old to 22 years old. It was held at Alagad de Maria, Antipolo, Rizal. It was an extra special moment of mission as it was the very first mission handled by the youth of Pansol, helped by the misionero Bong, with the presence of Ismael the General Responsible of the misioneros.
It was a great experience for both the participants and the organizers.It began with “Song/Animation,” then “Opening remarks” from Gabs to break the ice. This was followed by a talk entitled “Your Life is for Loving” that provoked a lot of fruit in the young listeners, especially encouraging them to love others. Thereafter was “Share ko lang” where the youth shared their personal experience/understanding of loving. When they were expressing their different experiences about the talk the facilitators were overwhelmed, because they never thought that the participants will be so open and trusting in their sharing.
Workshops were also held on “Time Management and Decision Making” by Tito Johnny of CTK School of the Word. This was followed by the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and Rosary of the Word, with a testimony from Thea. The day closed with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, presided by Fr. Bong, concelebrated with Fr. Ismael, with a heart-warming message of “never to lose the fire of mission in your heart.”
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Gabriel Lanada, Mikaela Badilla and the WordNews team
In the Philippines and other countries worldwide, the celebration of All Souls day (2 Nov) is marked by a visit to the cemetery to remember loved ones and pray for them. In order to deepen on the reality of death, the Verbum Dei missionaries conducted a retreat for this purpose: to reflect on the brevity of this life, and to prepare our hearts and souls for death, which one day will come, and we hope not too soon.
It was held on 30 October 2019 in the Christ the King parish, with 65 participants. In the introduction, the letter of St Ignatius of Antioch was shared to us. Before being fed to the lions, he wrote “The time for my birth is close at hand” which seems at first unusual because he was about to die. However, he is actually reminding us that in death, life is changed, not ended. The first talk centered on a spirituality of death and dying. We were asked “What would you do if you only had 5 days left to live?” and more importantly “what is stopping you doing it?” “Choose now what you would wish to have chosen at life’s end” as St Anthony Mary Claret advised.
A formation was also given on Catholic church teaching on suffering, dying and eternal life. Points shared include why is there sickness and suffering as well as how to manage the care of dying loved ones. We were informed that “discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2278). Such teaching is eminently practical and useful as one tendency is to overtreat out of guilty feelings.
The afternoon dynamic was “fun” and interesting - to design your own tombstone! A rosary was prayed together with concurrent confessions nearby. In this sacrament we really touch our “dust-iness” but we also experience God’s eternal mercy. The day closed with a Eucharist, celebrated by Fr Bong Guinoo, and Fr Ismael Barros, the General responsible of the male missionaries, along with Fr James. In the homily we were reminded that love is eternal, and that we have passed from death to life when we love others (see 1 John 3:14).
By considering our end in this way, we can hope to arrive there without too may regrets because we already lived. As we heard in the movie Braveheart “All men die, but not all men truly live.”
Here are some photos of the event:
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