Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
“Live with Passion”, the theme for the annual Verbum Dei Easter Encounter for Luzon was held on April 6-9, 2023 in the Reparatrix Sisters retreat house in Tagaytay. Eleven missionaries from the three missionary branches facilitated the event while a total of 105 participants, 38 adults and 67 of the youth attended. The successful turn-out was evidence that things are back to so-called pre-pandemic times. The participants could not contain their enthusiasm and passion in this Triduum Easter encounter. The collaborative efforts by both male and female missionaries from Manila, couples missionaries from Cebu and some lay members of the community made the encounter so fruitful. Each group was tasked to give a talk or guideline or lead a prayer dynamic.
The encounter started on Holy Thursday when attendees were asked to reflect on the driving force of their lives and how to live that life with passion. On Good Friday, the participants were awakened by this experience of love by Christ which led him to the cross - a love with passion. After pondering on how the quality of the life and the love of Jesus is a life and love filled with passion. As a response of the passionate love of Jesus, the participants, reflected and prayed the Via Crucis or the Way of the Cross on this day.
On Holy Saturday, the group was then made aware of the obstacles that prevent from living life fully. It is only living a life with Jesus can one conquer with passion this darkness in life. To motivate each participant to continue the journey towards the goal with Mama Mary who always accompany us especially in the most difficult moments, the Via Crucis or the Way of the Light was done with dynamics and testimonies. To deepen in the experience of Encounter, Easter Triduum was also commemorated starting from Maundy Thursday’s washing of the feet, Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday to the Easter Vigil on the night of Holy Thursday. Catechism was also given to help the attendees have a better understanding of the Paschal Triduum celebrations.
Immediately after the Easter Vigil, a fiesta was celebrated with joy in everyone’s heart. Having this new life with Jesus was meant to be shared to others and to share it with passion. The participants were then encouraged to persevere and continue serving the Lord. Sharing of fruits per community followed. The encounter culminated with the glorious celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Easter Sunday. It was a Resurrection moment for many as they felt that the encounter was truly life-changing.
Experiencing the love of God through Christ’s Resurrection inspired the participants to live, love, conquer, and share with Passion the mission of Christ.*
Verbum Dei Missionary Family of Tagaytay organized two Lenten Recollections: one for mixed group of youth and adults (ages 16 and up) and a hiking Lenten Recollection for the Teens group.
Last March 12, 2023 was the Lenten recollection for adults in VD Center of Evangelization and started with the 8am Holy Mass. The theme of the recollection was 'Naghihintay, nagmamahal… sa iyo. It was participated by young and adults coming from CYC Choir group of young people from a parish in Cavite and other new participants from Tagaytay. It was also a comeback recollection also for some old neighbours from Tagaytay who joined again after many years. The experience of being welcomed back by a loving Father waiting to be reconnected again with them has marked their experience. Afterwards, they had a meaningful Journey of the Heart, leading them to go inward to examine their hearts and discover what blocked them to be connected with God. In the afternoon, it was a journey of following the Way of Love and being one with Jesus in his Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) as a Path of Love. We culminated the recollection with an explosion of sharing from young to old with the fruit of their experiences of the day. It was full of grateful and heartfelt sharing of having experienced anew God’s love and embrace which gave them a new heart to start a new journey. As one exclaimed: “It’s my best Lenten Recollection ever!” There were many first-timers, those that just came back and the facilitators but they all experienced the same joy.
Last March 19, 2023, the Verbum Dei Tagaytay Teens group had a Lenten hiking recollection at Calaruega, Batangas with the theme, ‘Walk with Jesus’. They were 17 in the group including youth and single facilitators of the recollection. It was a day of meeting new friends, journeying with Jesus in the way of love and learning about Lent through games and in a fun way.
The hiking recollection started with “getting to know you” games and then was proceeded with the welcome talk. They then shared with the group who Jesus is for them through photos. The next part was crossing the hanging bridge as they carried their fears, conquering them with Jesus. Then they had a short way of the cross translated to a way of love. In the afternoon they had a moment to learn more about Lent through a game with prizes. Then had other team games that express their energy and enthusiasm with one another. The day culminated with a sharing of memorable experiences during the day and learnings in the hiking recollection. As many shared ‘it was fun' and they enjoyed, a few commented they had learned about Jesus and also appreciated the words of affirmation they had received from one another. At the end of the day, they went back home carrying the simple experience of joy and friendship with one another and walking with Jesus through Lent.
Twenty four (24) Verbum Dei Missionary Disciples from the Manila-Pasig and Tagaytay communities journeyed together in the Annual Disciples Retreat last April 5 to 9, 2023 at the Verbum Dei Retreat House in Tagaytay. Accompanying them was a team of missionaries from various communities – Fr. Filipe Pardal (QC), Sr. Amy Hernandez (Manila-Pasig), Sr. Cha Sulbise (Cebu) and Missionary Married Couple Cookie Abrio (CDO). It was indeed “a privileged time to be alone with the Lord” (VDMD Regulations #88) as the disciples were nourished by the retreat’s theme: “I have eagerly desired to be with you. (Lk 22:15)”
This theme resonated even more deeply, as the retreat coincided with Holy Week and the commemoration of the Paschal Triduum. Over five days, the disciples encountered the Lord and Savior who eagerly desired to be with them:
The observance of the Paschal Triduum underscored liturgically how Jesus desired to be with the disciples as they followed His life, death and resurrection – in the Washing of the Feet, in the Veneration of the Cross, in the Easter Vigil. As Verbum Dei Missionary Disciples, the Annual Disciples Retreat was a strong reminder of how the exercise of prayer and a life of prayer is central to discipleship; it is only in these that disciples can be faithful to the end.
There was also a time for fellowship and faith sharing–in the individual sharing with missionaries (including those from other communities!), in the group sharing among disciples that punctuated the retreat, and in the much-awaited Fiesta!
One article will never capture the richness each disciple’s personal encounter with Jesus. A common thread, however, was the heart-level conviction that in the Risen Lord, each one is really never alone in all the places of one’s journey and that everything has a purpose in the Father’s plan.
As the retreat ended, it was time to live out one's prayer. As one disciple shared: “Like Jesus who has brought light to darkness through His Resurrection, we too might be able to bring light to our own and others’ darkness.”
With gratitude, let us pray that we may all continue to walk with the Risen Lord – allow Him – to intimately walk with us in our concrete realities. In our lives, may we be sensitive to see signs of the resurrection in each of our crosses. In our discipleship, may we bring these signs to others. In our days, may we desire to be the Risen Lord as much as He desires to be with us.
The Fraternidad Misionera Verbum Dei continues to grow in the Philippines, with the formal launching of the 4th Formation Course for Married Missionary Couples last February 18 and 19, 2023 at the Apostolate Center in Banawa, Cebu City. Despite the hurdles and challenges the pandemic has posed, two married couples and their formators have persevered for the past three years to bring this project of life to the next stage.
Imelda and Manuel Manceli are well-known and beloved disciples who have been serving with the VD Family in Cebu. Cecilia and Resti Bautista are the first couple from Luzon to participate in the Formation Course. They are currently part of the Pasig-Manila VD Family. Formators for this batch of the Formation Course are Cookie and Bimbo Abrio from Cagayan de Oro City, assisted by Anne and Eryle Payos from Cebu City. Accompanying the group is Sr. Grace Gonzales. Advisors for the course are Marisol Diaz and Antonio Miralles, Formators for the Married Couples Branch, who are based in Madrid, Spain.
Taking on the theme “I love you with my everlasting love.” (cf. Jeremiah 31:3), the 4th Formation Course begins with much joy and expectation for these couples, their families and their formators. As one community, we ask the Trinity to bless their simple and humble ‘Yes’ — that from their lives will spring forth the fountain of living water, which will well up for the eternal life of many.
Contributor: Resti Ma. Bautista
Last February 12, a select number of Verbum Dei members from Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon attended an in-depth talk entitled “TRANSMISSION ON PREVENTION AND PROTOCOL OF SEXUAL ABUSE AND AUTHORITY ABUSE” by Father Renato "Atong" Dela Cruz of the archdiocese of Ilagan, Isabela. He is a license counsellor and therapist of the ongoing renewal program of clergy, religious sisters, and the lay faithful. He was quite candid and elaborate in sharing some abusive practices that occur in the church in the Philippines.
He opened our eyes to the horrible facts of church abuse, which is predominantly perpetrated by those we referred to as shepherds, or vanguards of our faith - abuse that we typically ignore due to reverence for the religious.
“In 2019, Francis summoned presidents of all the world's bishops conferences - the leaderships of the national Churches - to Rome for a summit on sexual abuse. By the end of that year he enacted two major pieces of legislation.
The first instituted new reporting procedures and made bishops more accountable. It also broadened the definition of sexual crimes to include vulnerable adults and abuse of office in sexual molestation of seminarians and women religious.
The second was the removal of pontifical secrecy around abuse cases.
"We have to fight against every single case," he said. "As a priest, I have to help people grow and save them. If I abuse, I kill them. This is terrible. Zero tolerance," he said. (July 8, 2022, Reuters.com)
The Verbum Dei Handbook for the prevention of abuse in our community and apostolates was thoroughly discussed in the afternoon by our very own Sr. Cecilia Teo, a missionary from Singapore who is currently finishing her Masters degree in Counseling here in the Philippines.
The day's activities could be summed up in two words: accountability and responsibility. Children of God, members of the body of Christ, are accountable to one another and should care for one another. We are reminded that we are our brothers’ keepers.
Contributor: Rey Bagares
by Lucio A. Pulmones, FMVD
Verbum Dei Philippines successfully hosted the 5th Jaime Bonet Series entitled “The Pedagogy of Jaime” via the online platforms Zoom and Verbum Dei Facebook Live last November 19, 2022, 4:30 in the afternoon (Philippines Standard Time).
This was attended by Verbum Dei missionaries, disciples, friends and benefactors from the Philippines, Peru, Mexico, and USA.
Sr. Lucia Herrerias, from the Verbum Dei female branch and former president of the Verbum Dei Community was the resource speaker and gave a heartwarming talk about the “Pedagogy of Jaime”, in honor of the Verbum Dei founder Rev Fr. Jaime Bonet.
This event is in line of the series of activities celebrating the 60th founding anniversary of Fraternidad Misionera Verbum Dei as an evangelizing community in forming apostles of Christ bringing joyfully the Gospel of Jesus to the different countries spread throughout the world where Verbum Dei can be found.
Sr. Amy Hernandez, VD Philippines zone responsible and Fr. Antonio Velasco from the VD male branch were also present as panel of reactors giving their insights and thoughts about the sharing of Lucia that gave more deeper understanding and appreciation of the life, spirituality and profound love with prayer, and passion for the Word and mission of Fr. Jaime Bonet.
Contributor: LUCIO A. PULMONES, Coordinator VD-NATCOMMS PHILS.
Lucio with his wife Jean are consecrated Verbum Dei Missionary Married Couples in Temporal Bonds from Cebu, Philippines
by: Dolly Celeste An
Celebrating with great joy the gift of Consecration of two young missionaries, Angelyn Enriquez (Filipina) and Dolly Tan (Singaporean) on the Feast of Saint Matthias, last May 14, 2022 at Verbum Dei Pasig Apostolate Center.
Their YES in the midst of pandemic, war and other challenging realities in our country and around the world is a SIGN OF HOPE of God’s fidelity to continue calling generous hearts to give their lives for the sake of the Kingdom. This memorable occasion started with a Eucharistic Celebration presided by Fr. Michael, a Verbum Dei Missionary Priest, who shared both in English and Mandarin in order to bring across the Gospel message to online participants from Taiwan and Singapore. The Holy Eucharist was also concelebrated by other Verbum Dei priests, Fr. Felipe, Fr. Iwao, Fr. Vic and Fr. Jojo.
Part of the ceremony was an introduction given by Sr. Grace Gonzales as the delegate of the General Responsible who received Angelyn and Dolly to become part of the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity.
A profound theme inspired this momentous occasion was taken from the passage of Philippians 1:21, “For what is life? To me, it is Christ”. Both Angelyn and Dolly expressed their thanksgiving and gave their powerful witness of what it meant for them to have Christ as the answer to their existential question: “for what is life?”
It was a thought provoking question to many specially for some non-Christians friends who joined and witnessed the vows. The event was live-streamed through the Verbum Dei Philippines YouTube channel for the families, friends and other communities from Cebu, CDO, Mexico, Spain and other countries. A simple and joyful celebration followed the Mass with the presence of the VD family, friends and family members.
The whole community of Verbum Dei is praying for Angelyn and Dolly in this new stage of their journey as they continue the Apostolic year where each of them will receive their missionary assignments.
Angelyn will be sent to the Verbum Dei Cebu community, while Dolly continues to collaborate in the mission with the Verbum Dei Pasig community.
Towards the end of the mass, a challenge was posed to the young people, “Do not be afraid to ask questions ”For what is life? , for only when one seeks that one can find the answer like the newly professed missionaries Angelyn and Dolly each saying, MY LIFE IS CHRIST!
A Lenten Recollection 2022
Metro South Subdivision Residents
We had a weekend Recollection with a theme: Return to me, attended by residents of Metro South Subdivision at Gen. Trias, Cavite. The activity is a project of the MS Homeowner’s Association for the residents’ pastoral and spiritual growth in collaboration with VD Tagaytay Family, facilitated by Rachel Lumain, FMVD; Luisa Valenzuela, LCM and Mila R. Abigan, VDMD.
The Recollection started with a Welcome Talk, Lui who introduced the VD community via a short video clip on “Who is Verbum Dei?” It is also an invitation to the participants to return to God! The Season of Lent is an opportune time to listen to God’s word and His message in the silence of our hearts. It is a time of conversion and looking back in our life’s journey and to ask how was our relationship with God.
In the Talk of Sr. Rachel, participants were guided to recognize who God is and who they are in relation to God who created them. God’s guiding hand is always upon us, for the Lord who created us says, “Do not be afraid I will save you.” He has called us by name, we belong to Him -- an assurance that God will always be with us. “Who is God for you?” was a question that helped participants to acknowledge who God is and His presence in our lives.
The last segment of the Recollection was a Dynamics on Reconciliation and God’s Forgiveness as inspired by the Story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32. Three important questions guided the attendees to focus on God the Father’s loving mercy and forgiveness. What have we done to reciprocate the Father’s unconditional love and forgiveness to us? Why we do the things that we do and fail to listen to the voice within? Lastly, how have we become when we fail to listen to our conscience?
As culminating activity, an Examination of Conscience highlighted the kind of love that God the Father has and gives to His beloved children, and more. After some reflections, the participants wrote their sins on paper and burned them (Burning of sins). The ashes symbolize the complete forgiveness we received after we repent and reconcile with God. He transforms our sins into forgiveness and we experience new life.
The Recollection ended with some of the participants sharing how they were touched by their experience of reconciliation and God’s forgiveness. One participant cited his busyness as culprit for his lack of quality time with his family. After some reflections, he realizes the value of improving his relationship with his family.
As they left for home, the radiance on their faces was evident after they have experienced newness of life and God’s forgiveness!
The new Responsibles for the Married Couple branch, Antonio Miralles and Marisol Diaz bid a fond farewell to the city of Golden Friendship after their week visit here. Indeed their stay was fruitful, spirit-filled and memorable. One of the highlights of their visit was their meeting together with Sr. Amy Hernandez, Zone (PHL) Responsible, with Bishop Jose A. Cabantan, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro.
The Verbum Dei community in Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon will miss the many activities the couple shared with them. The memories both leave behind will continue to live in the hearts of the people.
As of this writing, Antonio & Marisol are on their way to Australia to see the community there, and will return to the Philippines to visit the community in Cebu City.
Antonio & Marisol have a missionary heart that is unrelenting and unwavering, and it is something to be admired and emulated.
“What’s your dream and to what corner of the missions world will it take you? – Eleanor Roat
(click on the photos to read the captions)
(Photos courtesy of missionary married couple Remegio and Lucy Rama, CdO Local Responsible)
by Gilbert Dungog
We learned early in life that true satisfaction comes from giving. Along the process, assisting others causes us to reflect on who we are. Being able to assist others is a privilege for us Verbum Dei disciples because it teaches us how to care for people who are in need, how to grasp the spirit of compassion and share what we have, and how to eliminate the selfishness that is hidden deep within us. Last January 1, 2021, we held a gift-giving activity as part of the Verbum Dei outreach program in Sitio Kadiabugan, Kulabogao, Impasug-ong, Bukidnon. The recipients were a local Higaonon tribe from Agusan del Sur, Philippines who had escaped the infamous Agusan massacre.
Mr. Froilan Fayre, the responsible Purok leader, and Barangay official arranged a simple program that began with a prayer, asking for God's guidance throughout the event and was immediately followed by a short talk by Yoyoy and Lucy Rama, a couple Missionary, and Gilbert, a fellow missionary who gave an inspirational message. The program was brought to a close at 1230pm, followed with a photo opportunity. This article includes some of the photographs.
The Verbum Dei youths were also with us, assisting us in the distribution of the gift. We delivered 50 eco bags full of groceries, gently worn clothing, a few toys, and a balloon from our kind Verbum Dei family donors. Despite the distance, they were appreciative and thankful, as they have stated, ‘naa diay nag huna huna sa ila’ (There are still some people who thinks of them.).
We thank everyone who helped, donated & collaborated to ensure the activity's success.
(Gilbert Dungog is the Coordinator for the Youth Reality in the Verbum Dei Family in Mindanao.)
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