Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
Bringing couples to the sacrament of matrimony
In the month of July we celebrated a meaningful, significant and joyful moment in the lives of nineteen couples whose long dream to receive the sacrament of matrimony came true. The theme of the celebration was “Love never ends” (1 Cor. 13:8), and it was a fulfilling moment to see couples wedded in holy matrimony at last.
This is part of the Pasig Urban Poor Program that started three years ago, to respond to the concrete reality of many couples living together for many years outside marriage. We congratulate the happy couples for their option to receive the sacrament in the midst of the challenges of processing their documents, receiving the formation online and sourcing out of the funds for the expenses in this time of pandemic. They are part of the 38 couples whom the community and our couples core group have accompanied in their preparation and formation collaborating in the dream of God to build their lives and relationship with each other and their families in His faithful love. Indeed, God’s love is stronger than the Covid 19 bearing fruit of a life changing experiences to these couples and their families, a spring board to an integral change in the society.
We are grateful as well to all our mission partners who have been generous in their self-giving supporting and making this cause possible.
Here are some more photos of the event:
Youth of the Verbum Dei Missionary Family spent a meaningful day last December 18, 2019 to celebrate the spirit of Christmas at the Pasig Apostolic Center. The day started with formation entitled “Konsensiya mo, Konsensiya ko” given by Fr James McTavish. He talked about the importance of the conscience and how a well formed conscience can positively impact their daily living. This was followed by a small workshop where the youth divided into groups and applied and creatively presented what they learned in challenging case studies.
After recharging with lunch, the youth travelled to a nearby urban poor neighbourhood to spend some time with the children there. The youth sang and danced to Christmas carols, played games together, and shared a simple afternoon snack with the children. There was even a simple sharing by Shahani, a youth from the Pansol community, where she talked about her life and how she experienced blessings even amidst hardships. It was truly a beautiful afternoon of living out the spirit of giving.
With thanks to Abel Paune and the WordNews team
September 22nd of 2019, and the venue for the formation of conscience was jam-packed. This formation made me more curious as to what or how really the conscience works. It made me ask more questions like if I am really hearing the voice of God?
This formation taught us the importance of having a well-formed conscience. In our journey of life, we have heard so many voices, and we might not be able to identify which is the voice of God. Fr. James said it is like playing “Pukpok Palayok”. We are blind folded and hearing too many voices. There are voices that leads us to the wrong way, so that we will not be able to hit our goal which is the clay pot full of candies (palayok) but there are voices that will lead us to our true goal.
A well-formed conscience is able to process all the voices that we hear and identify which is the voice that comes from God. Yes, “process” is the word. We were told that it takes the combined work of our heart and mind to process the voices we hear, because conscience is not only about feelings. It is like seeing a car at a huge discount price, and we feel that we will be very happy if we are able to get the car at a huge discount, but we should also ask questions about that car - we have to do engine checks, check the mileage, durability and other specifications essential on buying a car. The same goes with every decision we will do in our lives - we don’t just rely on the feelings. We also need to think about the pros and cons of our decision. From every voice that we will be hearing, we process it with both our hearts and minds.
Forming our conscience is a life-long process because new issues arise and the world keeps changing. We need to be aware of these changes, the technical aspects also, and the impact of these changes so that we are able to make the right decision, especially today when we don’t know if the news we are reading is fake or not. When we have a well-formed conscience then we will be able to respond righteously.
It was a fruitful formation indeed, a vital formation in our everyday life that will help us in making the right decisions.
With thanks to Jason Delgado and the WordNews team
How do we approach a person who rejects any and every claim that God or the Divine exists? Since according to Gaudium et Spes, no. 20, "Atheism is not present in people's minds from the beginning", what are the causes of this change of mind and heart? What are its consequences? How do we respond to it? These are some of the thought provoking questions that we were challenged to answer, and situations that we tried to immerse and understand more deeply during the formation on, "Atheism and Belief In God", given by Sister Grace Gonzales, FMVD on October 6, 2019 at the Verbum Dei Apostolate Center Pasig.
The participants actively engaged in the group discussions and sharing. The formation culminated by watching an equally moving and thought-provoking movie entitled, " God Is Not Dead". We could not ask for more; it was truly fun, lively, enlightening and helpful. What a good way to spend a Sunday with the company of kind-hearted missionaries and disciples, constantly learning and enriching our faith.
As Verbum Dei missionaries and disciples, this formation is very relevant and helpful as we take on the challenges of today's modern world; confronted with distorted principles and values, consumed with materialism, modernization, rapid advancement in technology that makes possible human achievement without limits; thereby making God irrelevant, neglected... even forgotten. Looking forward to Part 2 of the Formation.
With thanks to Luisa Frio and the WordNews team
Follow your Conscience – but form it well first
As the book of Sirach announces ““A man's conscience can tell him his situation better than seven watchmen in a lofty tower. Most important of all, pray to God to set your feet in the path of truth” (Sirach 37:14-15). “The care for the formation of the conscience clearly emerges as the fundamental ethical responsibility of every person.” So wrote Fr Sabatino Majorano, CSsR, a Redemptorist moral theologian and expert on Conscience.
Last Sunday, 22 September 2019, saw our very own Verbum Dei missionary priest, James McTavish, give us a wholesome session on the formation of conscience and its challenges. He reminded us of the definition of conscience found in Gaudium et spes, which describes the conscience as “the most secret core and sanctuary of a person. There he/she is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his/her depths.” The formation was part of the ACRH (Apostolate Center Retreat House) series of talks. The participants were reminded of the urgency to form the conscience well as “we are living in an information-driven society which bombards us indiscriminately with data – all treated as being of equal importance – and which leads to remarkable superficiality in the area of moral discernment” (Pope Francis).
Some practical cases of conscience were given including the latest Catholic Church teaching on the death penalty, which was promulgated recently. The Catechism of the Catholic Church now states, “Therefore the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is attentive to the inviolability and dignity of the person, and is committed with determination to its abolition throughout the world” (CCC, no. 2267). If more Catholics were aware of this perhaps there would be less support for all the killings around us.
The final part of the session included a reflection on the means for forming a well-formed conscience - prayer and interiority, exam of conscience, confession, dialog and contrast, Church teaching and our preaching to help enlighten the conscience. The Catechism also underlines that “it is important for every person to be sufficiently present to himself in order to hear and follow the voice of his conscience. This requirement of interiority is all the more necessary as life often distracts us from any reflection, self-examination or introspection” (CCC 1779).
As followers of Christ, we went home conscious that as Fr Jaime Bonet, the Verbum Dei founder taught, “it would be impossible to live, feel, think and love like Jesus without a keen sensitivity and right formation of conscience.”
One participant said “I loved my morning! It was exactly what I needed which I considered such a surprise gift on a Sunday. Formation talks like this are very helpful and may I say necessary because in order to be more effective in our sharing the word, we need to be properly informed.”
With thanks to the WordNews team
“We came, we saw, we share to you with JOY” (cf. 1 John 1:1-4)
- Pasig, Manila. Testimony from a Valencia Verbum Dei’s member (Isabel Benlloch)
First of all, we would like to thank all the missionaries and people related to the Verbum Dei’s community in Pasig for absolutely everything; their help, their welcoming, their dedication, their time...this experience wouldn’t have been possible without them.
It’s been a great and an amazing experience, and I talk on behalf of all the youth in the Spanish Verbum Dei group from Valencia. While I’m writing this article, it’s not necessary to look at my travel diary; I have my first impression of the Philippines stored in my mind. I remember how we got into the missionary’s van and we started looking out through the window all the different images as if we were spectators in a movie. In the beginning, all the skyscrapers and lights in the night. After a few minutes, all the poverty and darkness. I was shocked. There were a lot of people in the streets, even though it was late (3 am). There were kids, a lot of animals, people working in the market and even selling things on the sidewalks. You could appreciate how people was staring at you, with a lot of intensity; that touched me. The contrast between these two contrasting situations of poverty and wealth was very notable and, during the mission, we’ve experienced both of them. This was the first time I had a direct contact with poverty on a large scale (and i think I can speak for almost everyone in the group), and, as I said before, it felt as if it was not real.
During the mission trip in Pasig, we’ve done many different activities. On one hand, we’ve visited important sites in the city that are clear testimonies of the Filipino culture, like the city market or José Rizal’s museum, but the best lesson for all of us has been living as like the Filipino people. Walking through the streets trying to do it on the sidewalk, breathing in the pollution, trying not to be killed by a jeepney and doing the stop sign with the hand, feeling the hot air in your skin, bumping into a funeral and watching how it is natural to have the dead body exposed to all the people, worrying about dengue, trying to count how many cables were from electricity post to electricity post and so on.
On the other hand, we were in touched by the children and Filipino families that showed us the toughest realities of living in this country, and the lack of equality between the rich and the poor. Despite all this, and that’s one of the things that most impacted me, they don’t lose hope, they don’t stop believing, and they are little treasures which are blind for the society; and not only to the high status society in the Philippines, but to the rest of the world. They maybe have lacks in first need things, like food, education or hygiene but I admire them so much, because they don’t have lacks in faith; you clearly can see with your own eyes how, despite living in these situations, there’s no excuse for them for being sad: they feel happiness in every smile that you give them. Even if it’s just a hug, a visit to a family, or swinging the child in the air; you can see how grateful and happy they are.
As a group, we had everything but a routine. Lots of different situations and experiences, including going to the hospital (not exactly in order to visit sick people). Thanks to God, the check up from the Doctors there, and a lot of prayers it was nothing at all. The only kind of routine that we had was the guidelines in the morning and a prayer time to close the day with the Lord. The prayer time really helped us to deal with all the situations that we were living, and to share the experiences as well. We come back to Spain full of love and with many stories to tell; we can be a strong testimony for many people about the reality of the Philippines but, I think that the main thing that we take from this beautiful country is the way of living; I’ve realized how many things we have to learn about you. Maybe Spain is not as developed as we think: we really have to take example of what we’ve seen and share it as far as we can.
In conclusion, it’s been an amazing and great experience. I wish I could tell the pilot of the plane to turn around 180º. We are so grateful for everything and believe us when we say that we’ve learnt much more than you could ever imagine. We come back with our suitcases full of love, experiences and, the most important thing, faith. Hope to come back soon friends. With much love and peace.
Isabel Benlloch, Valencia Verbum Dei’s community member
Been There, Done That... What More?
Last August 25, 2019, a recollection for working adults was held at the Verbum Dei Apostolate Center in Brgy. Palatiw, Pasig. The event was spearheaded by VD missionaries and attendees of the Ortigas School of the Word. The recollection aimed to awaken new perspectives as a working person. The 22 participants of the activity hailed from newly-hired graduates to veterans in their field of work.
The program commenced with a fun ice breaker by Sister Gabriela Rocha, followed by an invigorating introduction by Carmela Badajos. Next was an enjoyable dynamic by Katreen Eslava wherein the participants created a collage of clippings symbolizing their accomplishments in various aspects of life. Ed Jose then gave a talk on our continuous search for something more, something beyond the daily routine. After his talk and a sumptous lunch, Sister Gabby again led the group to an animation song to kickstart the afternoon session. Another dynamic by Katreen was done focusing on future plans. The last talk by Sister Pearl Rebusit deepened on Jesus being the ‘more’ that we are searching for, who has a great plan in store for each one of us. The program ended with a mass by Fr. Iwao Ikegami who reminded us that in order to achieve God’s plan we sometimes need to ‘enter the narrow gate’. Overall, the recollection stirred me to continually seek Him who yearns what is best for us. May we find Him in our daily work so that we will bear much fruit in accordance with His Master Plan.
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Christel Mendoza and the WordNews team
On 9th of June, 2019 Sunday, the Verbum Dei Missionary Family held a Pentecost celebration themed "Renew the face of the earth" in Verbum Dei Apostolate Center in Pasig, which was attended by around 80 persons, from Metro Manila and Laguna.
The morning started with dancing in the tune of animation song, “Live by the Spirit” which was the theme song of the said celebration.
Attendees were enlightened about the Holy Spirit through a faith-enriching dynamic and talks given by Verbum Dei disciples Maribeth dela Cruz, Regina Flor Peña and Lichel Layoso.
In the dynamic, Maribeth introduced to the attendees the Holy Spirit. She elaborated the images used to give form to the Holy Spirit namely Dove, Water, Fire and Wind.
Then followed a talk full of emotions given by Regina which situated the attendees in the same upper room where the apostles encountered the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. She also elaborated the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, and related it to her fruitful life as a Verbum Dei disciple. Her talk was followed by the rite of calling the Holy Spirit and accepting its gifts and fruits.
In the afternoon, Lichel Layoso woke up the attendees in giving a talk about living in the Holy Spirit, and the realities of humans living in flesh. She explained in her talk the spiritual disabilities a person experiences in living in the flesh and the remedy they could have in living in the Spirit through its fruits and gifts.
The attendees were then able to join in workshops aimed to give them more knowledge on how they could encounter the Holy Spirit in their daily lives. Lastly, the day ended with a celebration of Holy Mass presided by Rev. Fr. Iwao Ikegami, FMVD where “Jesus breathed on them and said ‘Peace be with you. Receive the Holy Spirit. As the Father sent me, so I am also senidng you.’” (See John 20:21-22).
With thanks to the WordNews team
"Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." - Colossians 3:14
On a clear sunny day last May 26, 2019, Verbum Dei Pasig and Verbum Dei Manila joined together for a day of fun filled bonding: playing, singing, dancing, swimming, chatting, and what was clearly the most enjoyable... eating. There was a splendid array of appetizing food and snacks on the table as each brought something for sharing. I took notice of that sinfully delicious large chicharons, so delectable it could not be dismissed.
We took pleasure in the privacy of Greenwich Clubhouse at Corinthian Gardens exclusively for our use on that Family Day event. The lush greenery and blooming flowers covering the landscape offered a relaxing and invigorating sight to behold. It was truly a great weekend getaway to reconnect, nurture relationships and foster camaraderie with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and partners in the mission of evangelization. The activity being so essential to keep us in love and in unity. As Jesus teaches us, "If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand." - Mark 3:25
Here are a few more photos of the event:
With thanks from the WordNews team
I was fortunate enough to attend Sr. Cecilia Teo’s workshop entitled “Working with Dreams” at the Verbum Dei Apostolate in Pasig on March 31, 2019. As a mixed media collage artist, I have always been interested in dreams, especially as they relate to the subconscious mind.
The whole morning was spent learning interesting facts and insights about dreams. Sr. Cecilia was such an engaging, funny and animated speaker. Through her workshop, I learned that dreams are essential to our physical and emotional health. They carry important wisdom that can unlock hidden parts of ourselves. Also, they are useful tools that can help guide us through the twists and turns of life’s journey.
Though it can be quite helpful to talk to other people about our dreams, its subjective nature means that only we can really interpret it for ourselves. In the end, only the dreamer can give meaning to the symbols that occur in their dream and connect them to specific events that transpire in their waking life.
Dreams are gentle and subtle ways by which God may communicate and try to get through to us. Have you heard the whispers of God in your dreams lately?
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Toots Magsino and the WordNews team
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