Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
The 5th National Family Encounter themed “Gifted To Give” held on the 24th and 25th of October was a huge success with over 300 registered zoom participants with the number likely reaching up to 500 including other family members of each household.
The Verbum Dei Family in Cagayan de Oro showed their giftedness in organizing such an event during these challenging times. There was no stopping the Holy Spirit in stirring up the flame of evangelization in each and everyone’s hearts. 2020 would no longer be remembered only as the year of the infamous pandemic but rather, a year when the different Verbum Dei communities gathered together as one big family online proving that we can truly conquer the digital world. The richness of the talks, testimonies and workshops left us wanting for more after the two-day event. We discovered that our very life is a gift that we need to give to others especially in the world of today.
As we approach the celebration of 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines, let us make this NFE another turning point in our charism to discover more creative ways in dedicating this gift of our lives to prayer and ministry of the Word. Let us rekindle this passion so many others can discover their identity of truly being Verbum Dei.
Today, October 25, 2020 marked the last day of the very meaningful 5th Verbum Dei National Family Encounter. With the talks, workshops testimonies, fiesta that were given Verbum Dei Family is now full of fire for mission. Now, it is the time to turn the gift into action. It’s nice to end the event with the Holy Eucharist presided by Fr. Iwao Ikegami, concelebrated by Fr. James McTavish.
In his homily, Fr. James reiterated the importance of the members of the Verbum Dei Family to discover the part they can play in the community. He mentioned some of the highlights of the encounter and emphasized the importance of giving gifts from all our hearts. He said that the greatest work of charity is evangelization. Like in this year’s theme “Gifted to Give,” the Verbum Dei Missionary Family have received a lot - he invited them to use that gift in sharing the Word of God to others which the world needs today.
Sister Amy Hernandez, the Zone Ecclesial Responsible of the Philippines thanked all the participants and indeed for her the community is really “Gifted To Give”. She thanked all the people who are part of making the event possible. She informed the people of the possibility of having a face to face event for the Symposium for the Disciples in Siete Aguas, Valencia, Spain in 2021. She also announced that the next Family encounter will be on 2022.
The Verbum Dei 5th Verbum Dei National Family Encounter has ended but the mission continues and the Verbum Dei Family is ready to “Hacer Hacer” or to be sent for mission. With the gifts that the Verbum Dei Family received they are now on fire to turn the gift into action.
This workshop was led by
Adriana Haro, Ronan Capuras, Charisma Sulbise and Jay-anne Désabelle.
What comes to mind when you hear the expression “the signs of the times”? The signs of the times help us understand how God is acting in human history. He communicates with us through the burning bushes in our life (see Moses in Exodus 3:8) or in a gentle breeze (see Elijah in 1 Kings 19:12), where he reveals himself and expresses his will. It is not always easy to recognize the signs. Jesus invites believers to be “the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:1-3) and attentive to the Kingdom of God – but whoever is closed to conversion/change, will be blind to the signs of the times.
Signs of the times
The believer needs to scrutinize the signs of the times in order to influence what is happening with the provocative force of the Gospel. Signs to be considered can include global warming, a growing awareness of mental health, the global protest against racism and discrimination, and political and social polarization. Pope Francis wrote “As I was writing this letter, the Covid-19 pandemic unexpectedly erupted, exposing our false securities. Aside from the different ways that various countries responded to the crisis, their inability to work together became quite evident. For all our hyper-connectivity, we witnessed a fragmentation that made it more difficult to resolve problems that affect us all” (Fratelli tutti, no. 7, 2020). What is God’s will here in all these issues?
One such way in which God has already been preparing us for the pandemic by inspiring our National Communications ministry over the last 2-3 years. It helped us prepare in advance for the pandemic, and allows us to share with many through our dedication to prayer and ministry of the Word, and forming apostles. We can ask what newness is the Spirit working in this time? As Isaiah reminds us, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? … I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland” (see Isaiah 43:19-20).
We are to be a cunning as a snake and gentle as a dove – and not to be naïve. One problem today is social media addiction. To lessen social media distraction - you can leave phone outside your room at night to sleep well, delete unnecessary social media accounts, mind the time spent on media, and enhance real-time connections. How about countering fake news? We can develop a critical mindsight, check the source, see who else is reporting the story and don’t take images at face value. Individualism and consumerism can also be an issue – so take care in our spending, with less screen time and more face time. It is important to discern and to pray like our founder Jaime Bonet.
God meets us where we are. God has never abandoned us; instead he continues to reveal himself dynamically to us, and hopes in our response. “You yourselves give them something to eat” said Jesus. How many loaves do you have? How can we respond as Verbum Dei? Prayer makes us gifted to give - without prayer we give up easily. This connection with the living Word makes us creative to reach out, and helps us see our mission is not quarantined. So what is our pastoral response as Verbum Dei?
Let us bear in mind:
Our union with God will give us the answers of how we can respond as a Verbum Dei Missionary Family.
As I write, I am humming the song, “Just The Way You Are,” by Billy Joel. This line somehow sums up the Testimonies we have heard this wonderful Sunday NFE morning.
Following the Talk of Kim Travero of Verbum Dei-Cebu, on Gifted to Give, we heard from four (4) of our young, talented Missionaries in Formation, namely: Gelo Balsita, Rudy Esmeralda, Mylene Capuras and Angelyn Enriquez who shared their personal experiences and ideas on giftedness. They likewise facilitated the Testimonies of Verbum Dei members from the different realities.
Mylene intimated that to follow the Lord, is also to “just be who you are” for He accepts us, as we are. We can become bearers of light to others, too. Gelo for his part said, we can find ourselves when we give ourselves to others, just as Jesus did. While Angelyn mentioned faith as the greatest gift one could receive to get even closer to the Lord. Rudy cited simplicity in offering oneself to God despite weaknesses and struggles in life.
Kharis Barbosa, a Verbum Dei Kid from Musuan, Bukidnon shared her “journey” with Jesus despite her young age. Although she loves receiving material gifts, she now gives thanks for becoming an active Verbum Dei Kid in her community and making Mt. 6:33 as her guiding verse - to seek first the Kingdom of God.
Young professional, Carmela Badajos, was invited to the Verbum Dei community at a time she was having some crisis in life. With the concrete support and friendship of Verbum Dei -Pasig members, she now enjoys her life and is an active member of the community, giving testimonies and bringing even her family members to Verbum Dei.
Alma Acuna, a working professional from Verbum Dei -Tagaytay enjoys the gifts she has received from God: a family with 3 kids, her profession as a mentor who has a graduate degree and her current affiliation as a growing follower of Jesus with the Verbum Dei community.
Gabs Lanada, a Verbum Dei Youth from Pasig, gave a very honest and realistic testimony of himself admitting his imperfections and struggles with his young life. But, despite his doubts and insecurities, he continues to serve as a youth leader. He gave us some nuggets of wisdom by saying, “it’s ok not to be ok,” for God allows us to be who we are and still accepts us.
Angel Paguia a VERBUM DEI-Cebu Teen, wowed listeners by her powerful testimony, that prayer can also transform young people; that we can also “jam with the Lord” and sing songs to inspire ourselves and others. “With a Smile” by The Eraserheads is her favorite song which she sung to the delight of her listeners.
Wow, this morning’s testimonies really made everyone’s day complete already. As the moderators said, don’t be scared to become a VERBUM DEI missionary in whatever circumstances you may be in because we are all gifts and gifted to give to others. Verbum Dei is a place for us all. “Come and see the goodness of the Lord.” (Psalm 34:8).
Kim Travero, a young missionary disciple from Cebu invited us to deepen on concrete ways on how as Verbum Dei, we are truly gifted to give and contribute to the church and to the world through our charism.
We have been entrusted with this gift and therefore we are called to share what we have received and use these gifts. She reminded our mission to not only have a prayer life that benefits us but to have a life of prayer to enrich others as well. No one is too young nor too old to evangelize.
The challenge posed to us was to respond to the call of evangelization just like how Jaime Bonet did, to live and breathe the ministry of the Word. In moments when we experience dryness, and lack of perseverance, let us go back to the source, Jesus, who will give us that strength for our mission. Let us not rely on ourselves but rather, what we should do is decide and offer ourselves with the purest intention in our hearts for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). To persevere in living out our mission, let us ask Jesus like Jaime did where he wants to go and we will take him there. Let us say “Here I am, Lord… ready to give this gift of Verbum Dei.”
She left us with 3 points for reflection:
It’s been a fruitful day of praying, reflecting and sharing in the first day of this year’s Verbum Dei National Family Encounter and what a great way to end the day through a celebration, more popularly known in the community as fiesta!
The fun night was hosted by Ms. Flor Dacudao and Mr. Rey Bagares of Cagayan De Oro Community.
Each community was given a chance to showcase their talents, Tagaytay (Cheerdance), Manila Pasig (Newscasting), Verbum Dei CDO (Folk Dance), Verbum Dei Cebu (Vlog) and Verbum Dei Pansol, Quezon City (Song). There were also games throughout the program that enabled some members of the Verbum Dei Missionary Family to win prizes. The Obsioma and the Bagares family served as the facilitators of the two games.
God wants us to have a balanced life. After a day’s work he wants us to relax. He is a happy God. Like in Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 “I have concluded that the only worthwhile thing for them is to take pleasure in doing good in life; moreover, every person should eat, drink, and enjoy the benefits of everything that he undertakes, since it is a gift from God.”
The fiesta was really a success. Indeed it’s more fun in Verbum Dei!
An online Eucharistic Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Bong Guinoo together with Fr. Michael Cheong, Fr. James McTavish and Fr. Iwao Ikegami all Verbum Dei priests from the male branch of the Verbum Dei community at Pansol, Q.C.
Fr. Bong’s homily centered around this year’s 5th NFE theme that all of us are Gifted to Give. He also shared how he was “struck” by Gam Gallego’s Talk this morning, saying that “you and I” are truly the gift to one another.
Speaking about our mission as members of the VD Family, he quoted Fr. Jaime Bonet (Verbum Dei founder) who said, “The mission is not something, but someone.”
Briefly, he cited three gifts which all of us have been gifted with, namely: “You and I” are the gifts to one another; next is the gift of maturing with the help of the Holy Spirit and lastly; the gift of raising the status of women and all the baptized which relates to the Gospel read today on the Samaritan Woman, and how Jesus gave her the true gift of freedom from her slavery to sin.
The workshop was facilitated by Regina, one of the missionary disciples who reminded us of the unique gift to be Verbum Dei, to bring the Word of God to others. First, rekindling this gift of evangelization was through listening and watching a video of our very own founder, Jaime Bonet, during his missionary work and narration of his writings. The highlight of the workshop though was bringing to life the heart of Jaime through the three speakers who were firsthand witnesses who gave their testimonies about him.
Fr. Filipe Vaz Pardal related that what impressed him the most about Jaime is the way he prayed, which he felt connected to the style on how he preached. Preaching was not a formality but about transmitting the vital message and not simply transmitting pre-organized ideas.
Fr. Jun Marzan, on the other hand described our founder as not only a man of prayer but a dynamic and very creative preacher, whose holiness comes from transforming so many lives through this charism.
Sr Maribel related that as an evangelizer, Jaime was a true follower of the will of God. He believed that every baptized Christian is an apostle and was passionate to let everyone encounter the will of God so all can be saved.
All participants definitely felt the spirit of Jaime. Hearts were set ablaze after these very personal insights from the testimonials, rekindling that fire for evangelization.
Participants of the 5th National Encounter had an opportunity to share the fruit/s of their prayer and reflection per Verbum Dei family or group. The sharing focused on the Talk given by LCM Gams Gallego of CDO. It centered on the theme of being gifted, and how we are encouraged to give the gifts we have received to others as well.
In our Sharing group (a mixed group from Cebu in the Visayas, CDO in Mindanao, and Tagaytay in Luzon), the disciples expressed their gratitude to God for allowing the NFE activity via Zoom to happen. Even Verbum Dei disciples living abroad, like Dubai and the U.S. have become part of this online blessing. Amazing!
The 1st conference talk was given by “Gams” Gallego, a lay consecrated missionary based in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao. She shared about the gift we have received - “Recall concrete persons who transmitted the gift to you” - and how we have grown as Verbum Dei, in terms of numbers, apostolates and being able to reach out to many. We were challenged to have a heart consumed by the welfare of the people like the Verbum Dei founder, Jaime Bonet. Let us not close up in ourselves!
Like St Paul to become all things to all people, and to win them for Christ (see 1 Cor 9:19-20). As Verbum Dei, we have a fundamental equality from baptism and we share the same contemplative-missionary spirituality. The fruitfulness of the Verbum Dei Missionary Family depends on the sharing of each one. As “each is part of Christ’s body” (1 Cor 12:27), she challenged us to “live as gifted people, share the gift you have… and to be responsible for unfolding the gift we have.”
We were left with 3 reflection points:
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