Advent is here! And what better way to prepare for the season than to be in prayer with the community and the Church. Last December 2, Verbum Dei Manila-Pasig held a one-day retreat at the Pandacan Caritas Hall in Manila. Entitled “The Miracle of Waiting,” participants were immersed in prayer and reflection about the season of Advent.
In the morning, Sister Amy invited the participants to ponder on the kind of waiting and preparations we do during Advent. With Mary as the model, she challenged participants to a more meaningful form of waiting - to ready their hearts to be a womb for God’s love.
In the afternoon, Sister Pearl invited participants in her talk to reflect on their focus and priority especially during this season of preparation. Taking St John the Baptist as an example, she explored the best values one can have in preparing during Advent. She continued the challenge of the morning talk, inviting participants to reflect on making room in their hearts for the coming of Jesus at Christmas.
An atmosphere of silence was maintained throughout the retreat to encourage the participants to ponder more deeply the Word of God they had received through the talks presented.
The retreat was concluded with a Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Bong, further reminding the participants of the spirit of thanksgiving that they are invited to carry throughout their preparations during Advent. Truly a recharging and inspiring way to start the season of active and expectant waiting!
With thanks to Abel and the WordNews team
The Verbum Dei Missionary Family in Manila-Pasig held its Local Assembly over the weekend of November 24 and 25, 2018 at the Pasig Apostolate Center. Disciples gathered to have a time of prayer in thanksgiving for the past year as well in preparation for the year to come.
The weekend started with guidelines given by Sister Cecilia Teo on Saturday morning. She invited the gathered disciples to reflect on the past year of activities with a thankful heart. In the afternoon, the Disciples grouped up in their respective ministries and committees to review the activities of the previous year as well as to concretely plan for the year ahead.
After the activities of the day were done, the Family had time to let their hair down. In Verbum Dei Fiesta fashion, the Disciples took to celebration in the spirit of thanksgiving for the year. The evening was filled with fun games, music and dance, and of course good food and fellowship.
The Local Assembly resumed the following morning with guidelines from Sister Marla. She invited the Disciples to reflect on the heart of the mission, to continue to offer our five loaves and two fish as Verbum Dei Family. The Disciples then had a chance for a more in-depth look at the activities in store for the Verbum Dei Family in 2019 in their respective realities.
After all the excitement of the weekend, the assembly was capped off perfectly with the apostolic commitment ceremony during the Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Iwao. We give thanks to God for the life of one who committed for the first time, of those who renewed their commitment, as well as of those who has stable commitment. We pray for the perseverance of each one to continue to be the light and salt of the world!
With thanks to Abel and the WordNews team
“Give me Life by your Word” (Psalm 119:25)
Last November 22-25, a group of 17 regular attendees of SOW participated in a 4 day
silent retreat at Verbum Dei Tagaytay. As regular Sow attendees gathered for this
retreat, there was a spirit of being “home” together with other SOWmates. One would
think four days of silence would seem difficult but truly everyone felt so at peace in such
a serene environment. It was a sanctuary to commune with the Lord as the Temario
(Theme set) was tackled extensively by Fr. Filipe, Fr. David, Sr. Gabriela and Fr James.
Some themes may be quite familiar but notably, it was at a more intense level. As one
SOWer stated… “It felt that we were at the “heart” of Verbum Dei spirituality.”
Temario: Life and Love, Your Life comes from love, Your life is for loving, To be Christ,
Conversion, Mercy, Incarnation and Go and Make Disciples
Every talk and every activity, whether it was the sacrament of reconciliation, rosary
prayer, adoration and simple lighting ceremony were so meaningful that it was a
challenge to choose one or two fruits from this retreat. This retreat was definitely not
silent for the Lord spoke to us with each and every activity. To summarize, perhaps you
can say we came back home with our hearts, our minds, our souls full…. with life and
love!!! One fruit that echoed in us is the invitation to persevere. “How do you keep the
fire burning or how do you keep the music playing?”
It was interesting to note that the theme started with all of us asking the Lord to give us
life by His Word…. but after deepening ourselves in His Word throughout the retreat…
we are called by the Lord to give Him life by our word to others.
Here are a few more photos of the event:
With thanks to Emy Abaya and the WordNews team
Hello family and friends!
Read the 2nd issue of our Word News, our National Newsletter here in the Philippines.
Read the embedded PDF below or download the PDF file and read it offline. Enjoy
Shout from the rooftops” (Luke 12:3)
Camp on National communications
On the weekend of Nov 2-3, 2018, a group of 21 intrepid correspondents gathered in Dahilayan, Mindanao for the 2nd Verbum Dei National Communications Camp.
Representatives from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao participated, with ages ranging from 16 to 52+ years old. The purpose was to deepen in our knowledge of social media and platforms, with the view to evangelize the so-called “6th continent” (where the vast millions, especially the youth, are connected and ‘live’ in this global village).
We had guidelines, the Holy Eucharist, sharing of prayer, formations on Church teaching on mass media & how to respond as Verbum Dei, teambuilding, recreation and moments of bonding.
Church teaching on communications
The Church teaches that the means of communication “when they are put at the service of the Gospel, they are capable of increasing almost indefinitely the area in which the Word of God is heard; they enable the Good News to reach millions of people. The Church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not utilize these powerful means that human skill is daily rendering more perfect. It is through them that she proclaims "from the housetops" (Cf. Mt 10:27; Lk 12:3) the message of which she is the depositary. In them she finds a modern and effective version of the pulpit.” (Evangelii nuntiandi, no. 45).
Pope Francis said “The digital world – the social networks that are so pervasive and readily available – dissolves borders, eliminates distances and reduces differences. Everything appears within reach, so close and immediate. And yet lacking the sincere gift of our lives, we could well have countless contacts but never share in a true communion of life. To share in the mission to the ends of the earth demands the gift of oneself in the vocation that God, who has placed us on this earth, chooses to give us (cf. Lk 9:23-25).” (Pope Francis, Message for World Mission Sunday message, 2018)
From the participants:
Yesha (from youth), said “ I am happy to be part of of the event, It was an opportunity for me to meet other brothers and sisters in the community. The camp helped me to know how to be a good communicator especially in the sharing of Kuya Darwin. Through the message that I will disseminate to them which is the Word of God, I want them to truly realize that he will be always be with them and will guide them."
Percy (misionera) said “It was a total package that achieved its objective. The camp created real human connections among us and gave us the strong desire to transmit the message in the digital world”
A day of fun, friendship and prayer took place at Philip’s Sanctuary when over 50 participants from
Luzon participated in the Youth Outdoor Recollection entitled “Explore to the Other Side” last October 27, 2018.
The youth participated in different team building activities that test not only their physical activities but also their sportsmanship as well. They were also given a moment of reflection on what the impact of the activities were on them. The event aimed to unleash the potential of the young people and to encourage them that they have a big role to play in the world. It also reminded them that in every journey that they take there is someone who’s always with them as a true friend, Jesus. The Holy Eucharist was celebrated to end the day’s activity.
With thanks to Francis Jerome Santos and the WordNews team
The October 21 “Missionary Festival” was the first fund raising activity of its kind organized by
Verbum Dei in the country. It kicked off with the Holy Mass in which Fr. Filipe Vaz Pardal, FMVD,
invited the assembly to pray not only for the success of the event, but for missionaries around the
world, who face all sorts of hardships in trying to announce Christ.
The Mass was followed by a fun-filled program conducted by members of the VD Family, including
the performance of the “Catalyst” teenage-band, an international fashion show by the Verbum
Dei Kids, as well as a Mexican dance and Zumba, where everyone was invited to participate.
All throughout the event several booths offered local and international food; videoke, games and
services such as reflexology, massage, face painting and many more were offered, creating a
festive and enjoyable atmosphere for all the families who attended.
The fund raising activity was first and foremost a gathering of all members, families and friends
that are happy collaborating and supporting the mission of Verbum Dei. The money gathered from
the event will be used to support Verbum Dei’s missionary work of evangelization and the
different needs of the missionaries in Cebu.
Sr. Mico reminded us all the relevance of supporting missionary work, “The work of evangelization
is very important in our time. Our people nowadays need to have a fresh encounter with the Word
of Life. Only the Word of Life can give us the hope, meaning, and courage to face the different
challenges of our present situation,” she said.
This weekend, 8 married couples in the formation course and 2 couple formators, from the Philippines and Australia, gathered with the Adriana Martinez, the new General Responsible of the Married couple branch, and Mico Maricor their formator, to have a 3-day School of talks based on the temario.
The “temario” or theme-set is a great gift we have inherited from our Verbum Dei founder, Jaime Bonet. It is a series of talks like God the Father, Eternal life and Mission, which explain the Christian faith in an existential way to the world of today. Fr Jaime taught us that “The Word is written with fire, but it is the fire of the speech of the preacher that will enflame in the hearer, the speech of the person who is tremendously affected by Christ.” It is beautiful to spend time dedicating to the preparation and preaching of the Word of God, and to see lay people dedicating to the ministry of the Word.
Why to evangelize? Most Christians say that example is enough because actions speak louder than words. But the Church teaches us that “even the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified - what Peter called always having <<your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have>>” (Pope Paul VI). Actually, many lay people would love to learn how to share their faith and that is precisely what Verbum Dei offers. It is vital for the Church to evangelize and to form the lay people to do so. Jaime Bonet writes “Why do I want to evangelize? … Because I desire to change hatred into love, sadness into joy, anguish and desperation into optimism and hope, sickness and death into life and resurrection.”
We also remember what Pope Benedict XVI has told us “Sometimes we tend, in fact, to reduce the term “charity” to solidarity or simply humanitarian aid. It is important, however, to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelization, which is the “ministry of the word”. There is no action more beneficial – and therefore more charitable – towards one’s neighbor than to break the bread of the word of God, to share with him the Good News of the Gospel, to introduce him to a relationship with God: evangelization is the highest and the most integral promotion of the human person” (Lenten message, 2013).
At this address for a limited time you can download a new short article of James McTavish on gender confusion.
James said “I wrote this article because of the tremendous confusion we are seeing around us. Now 10% of males aged 15-14 in Manila are confused abut their gender. This is a massively high rate, seeing as in the USA only 0.4% of people identify as transgender. One major factor is probably the media here spreading a message of confusion. We cannot sit idly by and do nothing. The grave concern in not calling out the danger of gender ideology is that many young people, who often are exploring their sexual identity, may become swept along by it. The gender ideology tends to promote the idea that one can choose their gender, and thereafter the sexual orientation and then behavior. We need to ensure that amidst all the celebrations of gender diversity we don’t get swept along only by the hype. Like the little boy, who did not just go along with the celebratory flow, but was able to point out the truth of the matter: the Emperor did not have new clothes on - he was actually naked. In uncovering the reality of gender ideology, and its concomitant confusion, we may guide youth and also reassure parents. I feel sorry for those parents who are now told that if their boy feels like he is a girl, then they must support that feeling. Just because the child feels like superman, he shouldn’t be allowed to put on a cape and jump out the window.”
The article was published in the November 2018 issue of Ethics and Medics, the monthly publication of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in the USA.
The last leg of the Art of Marriage formation was in Pasig last weekend, October 14 2018. The day started with a mass celebrated by Iwao as the main celebrant, and James who gave a remarkable homily of how we should entrust our families to the Lord who is the best person to take care of our family (better than us). After the mass, those who were attending the Art of Marriage formation were treated to an early snack after which they were asked to join the formation team in the conference room for the start of the morning formation.
There were sixteen people (7 couples and two came without their husband) who attended the formation, and were right away amused by the unique spouse to spouse introduction. They then spent the rest of the morning listening to the formation on the Art of Marriage (Six Reasons Why God Designed Marriage) by the Missionary Married Couple, Jess and Mau. After a delectable lunch of Filipino Chicken Tinola and Filipino spring rolls, they then went back to the conference room for the second part of the formation that was the talk on the Joy of Loving deepening on the First letter of St Paul to the Corinthians 13, 4-7, the characteristics of love. The day ended with all 18 of them sharing their fruits of the day in the form of an artwork. We didn’t call this the Art of Marriage for nothing!
In behalf of the team, we thank you for this opportunity to be given such a huge task in bringing the Word of God “to all nations” through the Art of Marriage formation. Kudos to the Misoneros and Misioneras who helped us from the preparation to the invitation and for taking care of us with the delicious meals and relaxing accommodation. We felt we never left home. Your presence and work made it easier for us. It is great to be Verbum Dei!
With thanks to Rey Bagares and the WordNews team