Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
It is not always that the new General Responsible of the Married Couples Branch can come and visit us! (see Mt 8,8). Alfonso Martinez, or commonly called as “Papa Poncho” or “Poncho” to us in the community in Cagayan de Oro where he and Adriana stayed for almost 4 years until they had to go back to Mexico.
Poncho spent a day with us apart his busy schedule last Saturday, May 11 at Lestonnac Youth Center, giving guidelines deepening on the Joy of the Father (Luke 15), formation on the Language of Apology, and finished the day sharing to us the letter of Rodri Carrizo, the Verbum Dei President.
Everybody then went to celebrate mass at the CU Chapel officiated by our dear friend from the Columban order, Fr Enrique Escobar; there was a salo-salo after the mass as part of a three-part celebration : Welcoming Papa Poncho (although for only a couple of days because he needs to return to Mexico soon), secondly, it was also a send-off party for the Paguia Family who will be relocating to Cebu as part of Regner and Mae’s apostolic mission to form apostles in couples and their families, and lastly, to celebrate Mothers’ day.
With the goodbyes the day was a little bittersweet but in faith we can be joyful as we are called to fulfill the mission mandate of Christ to GO TO ALL.
With thanks to Rey Bagares and the WordNews team
Dear Verbum Dei Family,
Yesterday, May 7, we bid farewell to Sister Ana Miguel who passed away in Siete Aguas, Spain at the age of 90 years and 56 years as a missionary. She was the first Verbum Dei missionary, pioneer of the female branch, who opened the way for many others to live and proclaim the Gospel.
As heirs of the same charism that Ana lived in a discrete and faithful way, we are grateful for her life and above all, for her testimony of fidelity and peace. We ask her and all those who have already preceded us, to continue to encourage us to live our mission with confidence and joy as they did.
We join all the Verbum Dei Family in Siete Aguas who will surely be celebrating this moment so significant for all.
“Everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31)
Discernment retreat for Verbum Dei missionary couples
Sometimes people are surprised to hear that we have married couple missionaries in Verbum Dei. When they think of missionaries, they might only think of priests and nuns. Actually, there is a call to holiness for all, and Pope Francis reminds us that we are all missionary disciples. For this reasons, Verbum Dei has 3 branches - the consecrated women (misioneras), the priests and brothers (misioneros) and the missionary married couples.
The married couples branch of Verbum Dei is headed by Poncho and Adriana, a missionary couple from Mexico. They were guiding a retreat to 9 Verbum Dei couples who are coming to the end of their 2-year formation course. The couples are currently based in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Sydney and Brisbane, Australia.
The discernment retreat was held in Cebu to pray about the next step for each couple. The retreat (or “Spiritual exercises”) was for one week, with the theme of “Everything I have is yours” (from Luke 15:31). The reflections were based on two talks from the Verbum Dei theme set (temario) called “Mercy” and “Call to Love.” The mercy of God can really change and transform us. “From a sinner he draws out a marvelous Saint and, maybe, more grateful than others, who loves more because he has been forgiven more. Seeing that he has been forgiven so much, he loves madly” Fr Jaime Bonet, Verbum Dei founder. In prayer we can experience this mercy. Pope Francis wrote “In order to be capable of mercy, therefore, we must first of all dispose ourselves to listen to the Word of God. This means rediscovering the value of silence in order to meditate on the Word that comes to us.” (Misericordiae vultus, no. 13)
Rey Bagares, one of the couples on retreat said, “If I was to summarize my prayer during the silent retreat in Cebu, attended by fellow couples in formation, it would be with Luke 24,32. They asked each other, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?" The charcoal fire that Jesus started in my heart can only carry on through my faithfulness in prayer with the Word of God, so that I too can heat up cold hearts - hearts that have stopped caring about God and others.”
We continue to pray for all the married couples. May they be faithful to their baptismal consecration and to their calling! So to all the married couples out there, perhaps the Lord is calling you to participate in the mission. What are you waiting for? Come and discover the joy of working together to build up the Kingdom.
With thanks to the WordNews team
I am the Way, the Truth and the Life
This year’s annual disciples’ retreat for the Verbum Dei disciples in Luzon was held last April 17-21, at St. Joseph Spirituality Center in Tagaytay. Its theme was taken from John 14:6 - “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” which was an interesting theme for a retreat during Holy Week, but which made total sense as the days progressed, through the wonderful guidelines given by Sister Amy and Sister Grace.
Aside from the guidelines, we were also nourished through the masses over the Easter Triduum, including the Veneration of the cross and the Easter vigil. Personally, I really enjoyed the longer time of prayer, and the guidance offered by the missionaries we shared our prayers to. This retreat was a great opportunity for us disciples to be the ones to receive, to be silent so that we may listen to God, to be able to go back to our source and be refreshed before continuing on the mission. Happy Easter to all of us!
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks from the WordNews team
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
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