Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
“Holy Spirit, be with us!”
Spirit Filled VDMFa-Cebu Celebrates Pentecost 2019
Last June 9, 2019, the Verbum Dei Missionary Family Cebu celebrated the Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, or Pentecost, with the theme “Holy Spirit, be with us!” at Verbum Dei Apostolate Center in Banawa, Good Shepherd Road, Cebu City.
The event started with an animation dance, “Live by the Spirit” led by the vibrant VDei teens and youth. The people were warmly welcomed by Jean Pulmones in her Welcome Talk. Then, they learned more of who is the Holy Spirit in their lives with the talk on ‘Who the Holy Spirit is? The Fire from Above’ which was given by Ann Payos. After which they were led to pray with the Holy Spirit, the Faithful Companion of our soul. Then, to deepen on the ‘Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit’, the participants were assigned to seven booths of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit wherein each gift was explained, elaborated and there was a sharing of experiences of living out that particular gift of the Spirit. Thereafter, the group made a collage that expressed their understanding of that particular gift of the Holy Spirit.
The VDei Kids had their separate talks and activities handled by two Couple Missionaries in the Formation Course: Elena and Kristoffer Ty, Emily and Owen Rapirap.
In the afternoon, the group was on fire as they played some games. A talk on ‘Holy Spirit, the Fire of the VD Mission’ was then given by Lucio Pulmones. It was followed by a time of prayerful reflection of the call of the urgency of doing the VDei Mission. Right after that, the group joyfully shared about the concrete call of Mission that each one received in prayer. The Pentecost celebration culminated with the Holy Mass presided by Father Felix.
During the mass, the VDei Missionary Family warmly welcomed the new member of the VDMFa-Cebu, a missionary couple and family assigned in Cebu. They were Regner and Mae Paguia with their four children. Souvenirs of the Gifts the Holy Spirit were given to the participants. We were more than a hundred.
As a VD Missionary Family, we are challenged by our founder, Jaime Bonet, “Our flesh and blood, vivified by the Holy Spirit, become fruitful throughout the Church. Faithful to the Spirit, our life opens up like Jesus’ side so that many may be born to the Life of God. Marked by the rhythm of the Spirit of love, owner and spouse of our being, this tent of ours in this world will extend for generations without end, for the vitalization of the whole Body of Christ.” (see Verbum Dei Constitutions, no. 71). And our prayer is “Come, Holy Spirit, be with us!
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks from the WordNews team
Fill Me Up
A Prayer Camp for Teens and Youth
From May 31-June 2, thirty-six teenagers from different parts of Cebu came together to attend a Prayer Camp with the theme “Fill Me Up.” It was facilitated by the youth missionary disciples led by Sister Adriana Haro, and supported by other members of the Verbum Dei Family. After a change of venue from Toledo City to Mt. Manunggal in Balamban, we were treated to a real camping experience in a forest. Here is a sharing of Cherry Miñoza, a camper from Toledo City.
It was my first time to join a prayer camp. Just thinking about the camp, I was really excited and at the same time worried. I'm scared with the thought of being alone throughout the prayer camp, but I was totally wrong. As soon as I arrived at the camp, someone introduced herself to me and I also introduced myself. That was the time I've met a friend at the camp and found other new friends during the first day. We had a game and an opening speech from one of the campers. We've also set our tents and I really find it funny because all of us in the group didn't know how to set up a tent, but later on we were able to set it up, that was already an achievement. When it was time for sleeping, we all went to our assigned tents and I was excited because I'd be sleeping with my new friends.
The next day was such a wonderful day because we went to the falls to take a bath. Even though the path or road was quite tricky, I was more excited of seeing the falls. When we reached our destination, I was mesmerized with the beautiful scenery right in front of me. God is so amazing for letting me see his beautiful creation which is the nature. The atmosphere was really relaxing with the cold breeze. We also played different games and I love how my teammates were so energetic during the games. Then we were asked to have some sharing with my team, and I was happy because all of us were able to share. Their openness with me allowed me to open up with them as well. Also the talks by the facilitators were really inspiring, I just love how open they were about sharing their experiences with God.
On the last day of our prayer camp, I was really sad because it's time to say goodbye to all the people in the camp. The weather wasn't good but that didn't stop us from enjoying the moment. We had our breakfast, last talk by one of the facilitators, and a mass. After that, we cleaned and arranged our things then we had our lunch. A few minutes later it's already time to say our goodbyes to everyone. Then someone asked me, "Did you regret joining this prayer camp?" and I answered, “No, I didn't regret because it was such an awesome experience. I learned lots of lessons and it brought me closer to God.”
I was filled with so much happiness and the memories during the camp were all worth keeping.
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to the WordNews team
Reaching Out Beyond Comfort Zones
Verbum Dei Singles Outreach Program in Tingo, Olango – May 19, 2019
Every year, VD Singles Reality in Cebu goes to the nearby island of Olango to give school supplies to the poor children who attended the Flores de Mayo. It is a real community activity, possible with the collaboration of many members of our Singles Reality, some of whom help in the fundraising, others in the buying and packing and finally some others join the distribution of the school supplies to 120 children. Of course, as Verbum Dei disciples, we could not give only the material supplies, but we also gave some short faith input, reflection and dynamic to the kids. This year, 16 of us volunteered to go to Olango to distribute the school supplies and give some merienda snack.
Below is the experience of Elvie de Guzman who joined the VD Outreach program for the first time.
" Verbum Dei got out of their comfortable, safe Sunday and reached out to the Tingo Flores De Mayo kids. I am embarrassed to say I did not do much except to tag along, carry some bags of bread and join in with the team. To see the VD disciples carry such big and heavy boxes, witness Arman and Bethel reach out to and be responded in equal and sometimes more enthusiastic measure by the children, to see the rest of the VD disciples joining in, working hand in hand, then to be welcomed by our VD disciple originally from Tingo - Olango, be invited along with her to a fiesta lunch (yummy), all in 36 degrees centigrade, sweltering humid weather (heavens bless Ann for her umbrella!).
Although I am new to Verbum Dei, I felt privileged to have witnessed Jesus in action through this Outreach Program. It was Jesus in each one who painstakingly sorted out all those school supplies, donated, bought and distributed the food. It was Jesus who lifted and carried those big heavy boxes across the boat’s narrow gangplank; Jesus who made time to sing, dance, play and show the Father’s love... Jesus who patiently found a way to include a baby VD member (me!), who upon seeing all the plastic garbage floating in the sea between Mactan island and Olango asked herself, “is mankind even worth saving?” and found the answer in a smiling child’s eyes while singing the faith song and shaking this little boy’s hand – I witnessed and enjoyed seeing Jesus in action!”
Here are some more photos of the event:
With thanks to the WordNews team
“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
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
Life is a constant journey. As the old saying goes, “Difficult roads to beautiful destinations.” Every journey in life begins with a leap of faith.
Just this Sunday, I together with the Verbum Dei Teens and Youth were invited to unfold a journey. It was to have a moment of truth and silence with Jesus through a long walk that will help us realize our individual mission and to reflect on this question, “In this season of lent- where am I invited to walk?”
It was a warm Sunday morning when a total of 14 Teens and Youth accepted the invitation to have a long walk with Jesus. The hike started with the reminder of do’s and don'ts that must be considered since most of the participants were first-timers. Then we were invited to have a meaningful and purposeful walk with Christ.
Everyone was excited to embark on this trip. After we did our stretching, we began. We started walking and following the trail. After a few step, jump and leap, we arrived into a “mini-stop” close to the waterfalls. There we get to be acquainted with a local who sells coconut. We stopped for a while to drink water and to buy some coconut juice. Minutes passed by and everybody was ready for the next miles. As we carry on the next long walks, it was the time in which we need to deal with the steep and stony parts of the hike. Our trail guide, Kuya Andy, had to stretch a helping hand since the rocky part of the trek was astounding. Nevertheless, with everyone’s courage and determination we made it to the next part on the trail.
Under the scorching heat of the sun, we looked for a place where we had our next activity. The activity focused on building camaraderie and recollecting on the purpose that we have for this Lenten season. The game went well and everyone was able to build friendship through actively participating in the games that were provided. After the game, Ate Adree shared beautiful phrases on how essential and important this season of Lent is. We were challenge to think about the invitation that God wants us to discover and to put in action.
As we continued, going up and following the footsteps of our trail guide, the path was stonier and impressive. The higher we go, the more scenic the area gets. So many places were picture-perfect. Along the way we meet new friends who will either lead or block your way. They are the local dogs and cows. They were very friendly. It was already noon when we arrived at the basketball court; we stopped for a bit and had our stomachs ready for lunch. We need to regain our energy back by nourishing our body with food.
Afterward, we had to keep going so that we can cover the next few kilometers that will lead us to the peak. Everyone seemed exhausted and tired but not willing to give up. We were determined to finish the walk and excited to discover our individual realizations. Taking every stride, little did we know that for just a few more cow encounters, uphill road, grassy pavements and cogon tunnels, we were close to the goal.
When we arrived at the peak, everyone appreciated the view. Together, we gathered ourselves and had a group sharing. We didn’t just conquer the peak, but we courageously found peace and acquired the invitation that we were called to, as well.
Indeed, the picturesque view from the peak will never disappoint you. Through the experience, we found beauty in tranquility, as we grasp the invitation for this journey. It was for me to realize that I am not alone; God’s will is there and He will lead the way, accompanied by faith, courage, strength, and hope. With heaven sent companions the journey became lighter and brighter. It was a journey that helped us to look deep within and realize the message that God want us to know. One of the most rewarding things everyone experienced. Truly, I can say, I didn’t just become courageous, I also knew where I am invited to go and found growth with my relationship with the Almighty. What a beautiful and meaningful journey it was.
Here is a short vlog of the event:
Here are some photos from the event:
With thanks to Ena Clavel and the WordNews team
On Saturday evening, Feb 16, our Verbum Dei Family in Cebu had two post Valentine’s events: one for Married couples and the other for Singles, young adults group.
The post-Valentine’s Special for married couples was organised by Victor & Ellen, Dondon & Syme, Jess & Mau and El El & Ann. ‘It was a happy evening, and a great avenue to meet new couples. There were 28 married couples present, the youngest being 7 years married and the older more than 28 years married. We all felt inspired starting the evening with mass, and in the homily the priest reminded us of how important it is to build the foundation of the family rooted in Christ’s love. The incorporation of prayer made this Valentine’s meal and celebration very special; a beautiful and touching balance between the food, singing, dancing, gifts, games, prayer and some shared experiences on how Jesus, present in the midst of a married couple, really enhances marriage life.’ (DonDon)
‘A day to celebrate the Love that I tasted from my Father God. A love that was handed down by my Father God when we had our ‘I do’ 8yrs ago. We had our renewal of vows and it was like it is still our wedding day, as I said ‘yes’ and ‘I do’ again to my dear husband Don. A day of love shall I say, which we celebrated with other Verbum Dei couples and invited couple guests on Feb 16, 2018, 7pm at Northstar condominium, NRA, Cebu City. It was AWESOME! I enjoyed so much with my husband and all the couples in that simple yet memorable event. It was a day to remember. It seemed like our first dance during our wedding day to entertain our guest as we danced the opening salvo to welcome all guest. Thanks for our event coordinator Ellen Siarza. God really works as He bridges the gap and He fills in the blank. As one of the organizers I don't know how it turned out so well… nothing is impossible with God.’ (Syme)
‘I have attended many Valentine’s celebrations in the past, where I have spent lots of money, yet this one was the cheapest and one of the most special ones. For me, the highlight was the renewal of the marriage vows, and the way the priest awoke my thirst and hunger to renew my vows. This evening brought me lots of hope, to see how married couples still believe in God’s calling to marriage, despite some of the challenges and difficulties I know some couples are passing through. This was also shown to me in the moment when we were asked to remember and share some questions, such as: when and where was your first date, your first kiss and gift? And when was the date which you said ‘yes’ to each other? Amazing to see how even the older couple present there could remember those key moments of their relationship. All this and the final invitation to dance together by couples, made this event not just a celebration but a remarkable evening in our call to grow in love as a couple.’ (Jess and Mau)
Here are some photos of the event:
From the WordNews team
The singles/ young adults Verbum Dei group also organised a Verbum Dei Special event, held in another venue, in AA restaurant, Banilad on February 16, 2019. Starting with dinner and music, there followed a formation talk on “Building Healthy and Mature Relationships”. This was an opportunity not only to invite friends but also to reflect and share on how healthy and mature relationships, which we all long for, need to be worked on; it is a life journey starting from now: ‘May your inner self be planted and built on love…’ (Ephesians 3:16-20) and heading towards Christ, ‘Let’s grow towards Christ, mature in love.’ (Eph 4: 14-16).
The formation input explored the journey of building our relationships in love, looking at Christ, the One mature in love. It also deepened in the elements that the following authors stated: ‘Maturity is collaboration and commitment, whilst immaturity is escape, evasion, accommodation and competition’ (Thomas Kelman); and in the characteristics of mature and healthy relationships according to the psychologist Abraham Maslow: ‘capacity to relate with reality; self-acceptance; spontaneity; to be centred in external problems rather than in oneself; the need of intimacy and loneliness; enjoyment for life; mystical experiences; desire for community; tolerance; strong interpersonal relationships; ethical; humour; creativity; integrity; and the capacity to integrate opposite qualities.’
In short, to build ourselves and our relationships in love is a journey which implies a constant learning and growth in: self-awareness, managing our emotions, learning effective communication, becoming free from past hurting experiences that may colour our present, learning from each other, assertivity, self-control, boundaries, chastity, and off course, in all, looking at Christ as our model.
Here is some feedback from the attendees:
‘I can now understand better the difficulties I have in some relationships… and felt encouraged to grow in self-knowledge, acceptance, reconciliation and love…’ (Jun)
‘Our Singles Valentine’s Special was an intimate and fruitful evening, well spent in our dialogues between us during the meal and enriched by a formation talk given by Sr Margarida; it gave us some insights on how to build better relationships in love, and the participation of many of us in the Q&A.’ (Joanna)
‘I particularly found the interaction activities within the talk very helpful… they allowed us not only to interact with one another but also to examine our own relationships bringing into awareness what is happening also in the way we relate with and deal with other people around us.’ (SueAnn)
From the WordNews team
Heirs… and Apostleship
Local Assembly Cebu, 10 Feb 2019
The Verbum Dei family in Cebu was happy to hold its … (guess what number…) tenth Local assembly! This was a moment for the local community to share, review, plan and celebrate its commitment to the mission entrusted to them.
The day kicked off with the Eucharist where we all had the chance to reflect on the Gospel (Luke 5:1-11) and the call of Jesus to “push out into deep waters.” Where are those deeper waters? To take more risks in our missionary outreach? To bring our charism more to the world of today? In the call we understand it also presupposes going deeper into the love of Christ.
It was very encouraging to see the participation of all the missionary family in their reports – from the enthusiasm of the kids, through the energy of the youth and teens, the singles, the mamas, up to including the faithful apostles at 83 years old (no names mentioned).
Teambuilding followed where the differing realities were represented by a creative symbol. The various committees gave updates and there followed a job fair where you could sign up, knowing that “the harvest is big and the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2).
A Local Assembly is fully in line with the call of the Church. Pope Francis wrote “In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (cf. Mt 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization, and it would be insufficient to envisage a plan of evangelization to be carried out by professionals while the rest of the faithful would simply be passive recipients. The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized. Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love. Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are “disciples” and “missionaries”, but rather that we are always “missionary disciples” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 120).
As Verbum Dei we are heirs of a very rich charism, received from the Holy Spirit through the life of Jaime Bonet. This charism is to be shared to the Church and the world of today. If we believe, we will speak (see 2 Cor 4:13), and pray and also invite new people. We are called to form apostles. As Jaime Bonet reminded us “People are formed by doing and above all by enabling others to also do; making others to act, forming School of Apostles – practicing -- where everyone really can do something… The disciples to be apostles have to act. If they do not act, they do not advance” (See “Form Apostles” by J. McTavish, pages 39 & 43). As Verbum Dei, we are called not just to be listeners or mere hearers but we are called to be doers who act according to what we hear in God’s Word (see James 1:22). It was very encouraging to see our disciples active in various ways including signing up to help lead various forthcoming Lenten recollections.
What are you doing to build up the Kingdom? Don’t just sit there, do something!
May the Holy Spirit always move us as Verbum Dei to be faithful. Mother Mary, Queen of Apostles, thank you for the gift of our Local Assemblies. May we be faithful to all we have discussed and decided there. Amen.
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to the WordNews team
Last February 16, 2019, the Verbum Dei Youth and Teens from Cebu facilitated a song forum in front of a crowd of around fifty teenagers and kids on a beachside that night. The activity was called "Just Love."
On the occasion of Valentine’s Day celebration, the song forum was prepared with the intention to convey the message that Jesus will always love us no matter what and He is always there and we are called to love others back as form of thanksgiving to him.
The mini concert was held at the Baybayon Beach compound in Tingo, Olango Island and was comprised of more than ten songs both secular and Christian ones. The guitarist were Jay-anne Desabelle and Angeleo Marquez, KD Artajo for the box drum, and vocals by Antonette Jañala, Kim Travero, Angeleo, and Jay-anne. It was a smooth transition of songs together with reflections and a powerful testimony by Ena Clavel, who shared with us what it means to be a young follower of Jesus. There were also games like "The Boat is Sinking," facilitated by Thea Payos and action songs like “Young Man, Get Up.”
The forum ended with the song and giving off of souvenirs for the young attendees.
Here are some photos of the event:
Thanks to Fritz Payos (VD Teens Cebu) and the WordNews team
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