Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
Each year, since 2012, the Verbum Dei community has been asked to give a one-day formation on Prostitution and Human trafficking to Exodus, an inter-congregational group of around 75 novices, from various congregations and different countries.
The module was facilitated by James McTavish. He gave an overview of the current problem with around 36-40 million victims of trafficking each year, with the majority of victims forced into prostitution and sex trafficking.
Here is the sharing of Priscilla Su, a Verbum Dei misionera:
“Human trafficking and prostitution are not new issues. Actually, they have been around for some time, it is just that they are “hidden in plain sight.” The formation created an awareness in me of modern slavery that needs to be addressed in this day and age.
It is very easy to say that we know of these issues and that they are out there on the streets, in the lives of people that we see each day. However, how often have we simply walk pass them as if it was just another person living their lives, making a livelihood.
What amazed me was to see the number of “girly” bars that are present in Malate, which is just one of many such areas in Manila. The danger is that we get so used to how things are, desensitized, and we just turn a blind eye to the issue at hand. During the formation, James also shared with us the teachings of the Church, and the prayer intention of Pope Francis in the month of Feb for 2019 and 2020. The need of prayer on this issue is real as we see the alarming number of people including children being trafficked and sold for prostitution each year.
No doubt, there are many organizations and groups that are creatively and tirelessly creating awareness to speak for the voiceless. However, we need to address the root of it all - wherever there is demand, a supply will always be provided regardless of it means. Human trafficking and prostitution business will only continue to grow as a multi-billion-dollar industry.
This is where the gift of the charism is revealed, a charism that God has called us to and placed into our hands to convert the hearts of the people, that through the grace of God, hearts may be transformed to restore the dignity of all involved – namely the 3 “B’s” (Business, Buyer and Bought). As any one of the 3 B’s could be sitting there in one of the pew in Church, either generously donating to the church funds and piously praying yet there is a lot of incoherence in the way that they live their lives, or on the other hand praying and waiting for someone to rescue them out of their situation.
There is an urgent need to address and/or readdress the issue of modern slavery, perhaps one might not feel equipped to speak up in various ways, yet a prayer offered for the victims, for the traffickers and the buyers is already an active step for asking for the grace of God for the conversion of hearts. We can also pray for the religious, and laity who are actively working with the victims to have a compassionate and persevering heart to accompany them in hope of regaining their dignity as precious children of God. To also pray for those who are creating awareness on the issue of human trafficking and prostitution, to have creativity that captures the hearts of the traffickers and buyers to put an end to the demand. We can all do something, if only we would try.”
Here are some photos of the event:
See Pope Francis, Prayer intention for February 2020 see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=URe5524MijY
For a Verbum Dei spiritual reflection Spiritual reflection for day against human trafficking see:
For a challenging anti-trafficking advert see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLuqUpu6cY0
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:
On 18 October 2019, the Feast of St Luke the evangelist, an ecclesial group from Verbum Dei went to visit His Excellency, the Most Rev. Jose S. Palma, DD, Archbishop of Cebu. The purpose of the cordial visit was to update him on the progress of the Verbum Dei in Cebu – to present to him the Married Couples missionary branch, and the couples who recently took their first bonds, as well as to meet the General Responsibles of the misioneras branch (Antonieta Vargas) and married couples branch (Poncho (Martinez).
During the visit, the Archbishop thanked us for the contribution of the charism, as well as discussing with us the preparation of the Church in the Philippines for 2021, which will be the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the Philippines. We departed in good spirits having received his apostolic blessing.
We continue to pray for Abp. Palma and his ministry of shepherding.
With thanks to the WordNews team
“Write down all that you see”
Recently an essay of James McTavish won 1st place for best essay in the Scholarly magazines category of the 2019 Catholic Press Association (CPA) awards of the United States and Canada. The essay, entitled “Jesus the Divine Physician,” was published in the Linacre Quarterly, the journal of the Catholic Medical Association of the USA.
The essay discussed the ministry of healing of Jesus and how the Church and her members have the ongoing task of continuing this healing work in the world of today. Various questions were dealt with including what did the healing work of Jesus consist of? What is the role of faith in healing? Is it wrong to desire good health? How to live with sickness? Is there a connection between sin and sickness? What reasons can maintain our hope?
On being asked about the award James said “I was happy to receive the award this year. Last year, an essay of mine won second place so now it is nice in 2019 to get a 1st place although I always remember that all glory and honor is yours Almighty Father! I believe that as Verbum Dei we have a great richness to contribute which is the written Word coming from our prayer and our theological reflections.”
James is still writing his reflections and his latest article is called “Priesthood and Same Sex Attraction.” He is a member of the Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC) and is supportive of their efforts to enhance connections and networking between theological ethicists.
We are encouraged in our Verbum Dei spirituality that the Word have an impact on the society around us (see Verbum Dei constitutions, no 55).
May we all be faithful to the Holy Spirit in transmitting our written reflections to the world of today - from our posts on Facebooks, to the news items we share on the Verbum Dei webpage, and even our theological reflections – knowing that as 1 John 1:4 tells us “We are writing this to you to make our own joy complete.”
The essay “Jesus the Divine Physician” can be viewed on the link below.
Or download the PDF file below.
Midlife is Real!
We were 6 consecrated women, 1 religious brother, 1 religious priest and 27 diocesan priests from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao who signed up for the 14 day Midlife Integration Process (MIP), a program offered by Tagbadbad foundation. Held in a retreat house in Tagaytay city, we all were accompanied by a team of priests, consecrated persons including the help of three of our very own Verbum Dei Missionaries. We began each day with mass with the priest participants taking turns in presiding.
The mornings were spent listening to talks which gave us a lot of light what midlife transition and crisis is all about. They gave us many tools how we can navigate what could be a challenging, dark, lonely moment in our life so as to realize how this stage actually provides a great opportunity to live the paschal mystery and let God bring us to our fullness!
The afternoons gave us space for deeper reflection, processing and ample rest ending with holy hour. They provided us individual counselling and Spiritual Direction sessions. The last 3 days of the process culminated in a retreat led by our Verbum Dei Missionaries, Grace and Margarida, helping us pray and discover that this isn’t just about a process or program but in reality it is about a person... MIP - “meet in person” Christ, participating in His Paschal Mystery, in the deepest darkest corner of our inner life.
The feedback of many participant priests and sisters to the Verbum Dei retreat given here was very positive. We felt so happy to see our Verbum Dei charism at the service of the life of the Church, enriching and nurturing the connection with God of Christ’s ministers, recharging their inner batteries and filling their inner dryness with the life giving of God’s Word.
One of the participants said ‘This was a real retreat, the first real retreat I’ve ever done… the Word was alive, not just theory that filled our heads but touching our lives, helping us to be renewed in our vocations as priests. Thank you so much sisters’,
Midlife Integration Process: June 1-14,2019
Verbum Dei Missionaries who joined as participants: Percy Sy, Marla Galvez
Verbum Dei Missionaries helping out Tagbadbad Foundation:
Grace Gonzalez - Preacher, facilitator of retreat
Margarida Londral as speaker for 2 mornings on the topic of Shadows, served as spiritual director, preacher and facilitator of the retreat
Rachel Lumain - served as spiritual director
Tagbadbad foundation - A non-profit organization offering psycho-spiritual programs for the clergy, consecrated and lay faithful.
With thanks to Percy Sy and the WordNews team
Protect our Children!
A course on protection and safeguarding of minors and vulnerable persons
Jesus held the children in high esteem. In his public life he announced “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). He also warned, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea...” (Matthew 18:6). Our Lord himself loved the children and condemned any maltreatment.
It is with profound regret that Pope Francis had to call our attention as Church to the issue of abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. He announced that “The protection of minors and vulnerable persons is an integral part of the Gospel message that the Church and all its members are called to proclaim throughout the world.” (Apostolic letter On the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable persons, 26 March 2019). The Pope repeated his teaching again in his most recent apostolic letter entitled “Vos estis lux mundi” (You are the light of the world) which came into force on 1 June 2019. “The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful. In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church.”
The “Child Safeguarding Institute” of the Emmaus Center, Ateneo de Manila, seeking to respond to this urgent call of the Church, has been running a “Basic Orientation Workshop on Safeguarding of Minors.” This is a 5-day course which overviews basic aspects of child safeguarding, and emphasizes safe self, safe community and safe ministry.
One of the Verbum Dei missionaries, James McTavish, participated in the course and the subsequent 3 day “Write shop” for policy writing for his community. He said “this was an excellent course. I was impressed by the overall content and the new emphasis on care of victims first. The inputs by Dr Gabby Dy-Liacco, (a current member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors), Msgr “Nonoy” Maculino and Dra “Titay” La Vina were both helpful and thought provoking. I realized we all need to work together to make a new culture of safeguarding towards minors and vulnerable adults.”
Further information about this theme can be found below.
New Apostolic letter “Vos estis lux mundi” of Pope Francis:
Website for the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors:
Two Verbum Dei Missionaries received an invitation to join the event organized by the Philippine Bible Society last May 17, 2019 launching the New English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible, Catholic Edition.
The ESV bible is a formal translation (essentially literal) meaning it tried to translate the bible from its original text word for word as compared to translating it thought for thought (dynamic translation).
It is a revision of the Revised Standard Version or RSV. The original ESV was published in 2001 by Crossway and in 2018, in partnership with an Indian company, Asian Trading Corporation (ATC) launched this Catholic Edition. A group of 20 bible scholars in India worked on checking the translation. We give thanks to people who dedicate their lives spreading the Word of God!
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.
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