Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
During this time of extended lock down the Verbum Dei mission to form ourselves as apostles continues.
It is precisely in challenging moments when the world needs to hear good news, but as St Paul noted: ““Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10:13-15).
The Holy Spirit has gifted us with modern technology and we can use the apps like Zoom to contact friends, catch up with people, run our business and … have a school of apostles! Thousands of on line inputs are now available to listen to: masses, rosaries, inspirational talks – and all of them are great. But let’s not forget the thrust of our work, not to form more listeners alone, but to capacitate persons to become apostles!
In this way we, as Verbum Dei, remain faithful to what the Church asks of us: “to form apostles of Christ from among people of every state of life, race, culture and social condition for the propagation of the Kingdom of God.” Amen!
During the period of quarantine, many of the families of our feeding program were in need of extra food. With the help of generous sponsors, we were able to continue to nourish the families and children of our feeding program in Pansol, as well as extending help to persons in Kaingin 1 and 2 nearby.
Over the course of the last 2 months, we were able to help over 100 families on a regular basis. We distributed various goods: bread, vegetables, yoghurt, pumpkin, tuna, eggs, and more than 5000 kilos (5 tons) of rice! It is true that “the Lord hears the cry of the poor” (Psalm 34).
We are happy that the people can witness the integration of faith and charity, and find much needed support in our Verbum Dei community during these challenging times.
“Let the children come to me”
Our Verbum Dei mission also includes work with children. How vital to form the young ones in faith and not to ignore them. Sometimes we just see kids in the Church as good for singing a song, or doing a dance. In the gospels, Jesus even got angry with his disciples because they were hindering the children from coming to him. When the disciples tried to turn them away, Jesus said “Let the children come to me” (Matthew 19:14).
In Pansol, we have been working with the kids for around 2 years with a team of missionary disciples - Siony, Muriel, Jonalyn, Mylene, Helen, Cecilia, and Ericka headed by Fr Iwao. Each week we have a School of the Word for kids, teaching them how to pray and to know more Jesus. It can be a challenge to adapt and make relevant the Gospel message for young ones – our creativity is stretched, but it is so encouraging also to see how sensitive they are to God’s Word. As we hear in Matthew 21:16 "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "'From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise'?"
Recently we had a series called “Bible heroes.” In one activity, we looked at Joshua who, with the sound of the trumpet, brought down the walls of Jericho:“When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city” Joshua 6:20 In this activity, the children were asked to recreate the same bible scene, building a wall using lego blocks. Let us continue to pray for the children, and that we can continue to build up their faith.
With thanks to Iwao and the WordNews team
My kind of Valentine’s
Last February 22, 2020, Verbum Dei Pansol had a Post Valentine’s Day Celebration with the theme “Heart Speaks to Heart.” It was an evening of fun, good food, live music and learning attended by 19 participants.
The event was opened by the host, Ms. Gen Oxales of Verbum Dei Pansol. It was followed by a little introduction about the event by Fr. Iwao Ikegami, the group’s adviser. During the dinner, singer-song writer Ms. Girl Valencia and Mr. Francis Jerome Santos, Verbum Dei Disciple of Pansol, serenaded the participants with some of the most popular love songs like the classics “Maalaala Mo Kaya” and “When I Fall in Love” amongst others.
A further highlight of the event was the talk and formation about Love by Fr. James McTavish. He stressed that each of us must receive love, take care of the love and share it through mission. He also said that Valentine’s Day does not have to always be about romantic love only, because it can also be about love for God and others.
After the talk there was a question and answer portion where each group was asked to pose one question to the speaker for discussion. It helped the participants to have a deeper understanding of the topic. The night ended with the awarding of appreciation to the speaker and performers and of course picture taking.
1 Corinthians 13:13 “But these three remain, faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love. No matter what happens love is the language that all of us understand because like what the theme says “Heart Speaks to Heart.”
With thanks to Francis Santos and the WordNews team
Hiking with a Twist
Last January 25, 2020, at 11 p.m. was the start of the great adventure of the 43 participants of the TGIS (Thank God its Saturday) Hiking and Tree Planting Activity in Mt. Alapaap, Tanay, Rizal. The group travelled from Quezon City all the way to the hiking site.
The activity kicked off through the Holy Eucharist at 2am which was celebrated by Fr. Iwao Ikegami. His homily was about the calling of the first disciples which he associated to the event. He shared that everyone has their own call, that God planted it in everyone. It is the task of the person to make it grow, not just for himself but also for others, and to bear much fruit.
The hiking started at around 4:30 a.m, the participants, each one carrying a plant to be planted later on that day, started their journey to the top. Each of them has their own stories to tell. Even though different from one another everyone has the same goal which is to reach the top and appreciate God’s creation. God’s love was represented by the picturesque site of the place.
Mylen Samson from Verbum Dei Pansol shared a testimony on the fifth station of the mountain. She shared about how her faith grew throughout the years, despite the challenges that she encountered. She shared that being connected to God is a big help in continuing her dream to share him to others.
The hiking and tree planting activity concluded with the Awarding of the Certificates of the Participants headed by Jonnalyn Estrada from Verbum Dei Pansol and Fr. Iwao Ikegami who were the main organizers of the event.
Like the message of Philippians 1:6 which says “He who began a good work in you will carry it to the completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The hiking and tree planting activity served us a reminder to never stop planting good seeds because in due time we will reap the harvest.
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks from the WordNews team
Youth from different communities were gathered last January 5 for a new year bonding activity conducted by Verbum Dei Missionary Family at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife in Quezon City with the theme #Woke2020. The whole day was filled with events that made everyone connected to one another and God.
The day started with a game that allowed everybody to get to know other youth. After this, Christel Mendoza shared powerful guidelines about being alive with the guidance of God. She emphasized that each one of us should not only exist in this world, but also live, for ourselves and for other people. To inspire, the youth were formed into five groups for the sharing of reflection.
Following this, the amazing race started with the same group in the sharing. The race was conducted in the whole area of the park. The main instruction was to look for the station indicated in each clue and do the task given. The group with the highest accumulated points was declared as winner. Every station released the groups’ skills and camaraderie.
As the race concluded, various awards were given such as best in Bible verses, leadership, best in hakot, and the overall winner. Before the day ends, Fr. Bong led the celebration of Mass and emphasized that each one of us can be a guiding star to one another.
The bonding activity ended with the hope that each participant will be a star and help other people, guiding them towards God.
With thanks to Justine Clare and the WordNews team
A Visit to Remember
Last November 17, 2019 some of the TGIS (“Thank God It’s Saturday” SOW of the Pansol Community) attendees headed by Fr. Iwao Ikegami had a visit to the “Tahanan ng Pagmamahal” (Home of Love), an orphanage at Pasig City. It is a non-government organization which originated in the year 2007.
We were welcomed by Ms. Faye, the person in charge of the institution. She explained the institution’s history and it’spurpose: “What we do is not a job but a ministry.” At the moment the institution is catering to 36 kids. A combination of babies and kids up to 9 years old. The group were able to meet some of the children and experienced a lot of fun. The TGIS group gave some groceries for the children.
Going there was a great experience for the group. They were able to exercise the mission to love which is our universal mission. 1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now abide faith, hope, these three but the greatest of these is love.”
With thanks to Francis Santos and the WordNews team
In His Word
Silence can be action-packed! This was what we, members of the Christ the King Parish SOW, discovered when we attended a silent retreat from November 6 to 10 in Tagaytay. The retreat focused on only 11 lines from Luke 5. But the superb missionary team gave these few lines a full-on attack, giving us an experience of high adventure “in His Word.”
The first day focused on the themes of search and encounter. Fr James helped us pray about how Jesus searches untiringly for us all our lives. Fr. David, fresh from mission in Vietnam, helped us pray on Jesus getting into Peter’s boat, how it changed his life and the life of the church beyond imagining, and how Jesus wants to do this too in our daily lives. Fr. Ismael zeroed in on prayer as the way to put together faith and daily life, and called silence an “affective vacuum” that makes conversation with the Trinity possible.
On the second day, the big theme was prayer and trust. Fr James spoke about how important it is to develop a familiar dialogue with Jesus that will help us develop trust in Him. He also helped us see how much Jesus also trusts US. Sr. Grace told us her vocation story, inviting us to ask Jesus: “What do You want from me?” and to leave behind the shore of our security to discover the ocean of His dreams for us. Fr. David preached a passionate homily about Jesus trusting in us, and how the experience of His trust changes sinners into saints and weak people into people who change history. He also shared stories of mission: hardship posts where he had to learn to trust completely in the providence of God. Fr. Ismael gave the day a “perfect ending” by teaching us how to close each day well by making an exam or summary of the day in prayer with the Trinity.
The third day was all about “catching fish.” Fr. David spoke about how faith and mission go together, and how mission must be done in love. Fr James then spoke about how mission cannot be done by “lone rangers” but rather in humility and in partnership with others. He invited us to ask in prayer: “Where is the Lord calling you to cast your net?” Fr. Ismael capped the day by preaching a very helpful homily on how to evangelize in daily life.
The fourth day was devoted to gathering the fruits and the fish!
With great-hearted preaching that brought together passion and pedagogy, with daily mass, adoration and the rosary, with a community of SoWers eager to pray and to learn, the retreat made us encounter Jesus, larger than life: searching for us, getting into our boat and calling us all to “put out into the deep,” and seeing in all of us “fishers of people.”
Here are some photos of the event:
With thanks to Stella and Mario Deriquito and the WordNews team
On the third day of November 2019, the Pansol Youth Verbum Dei conducted their second mission trip at San Agustin Church, Intramuros Manila with the collaboration of the Missionaries of Charity. The 13 youth facilitators, headed by Kuya Bong, facilitated 125 participants, aged 12-23 years old, from Antipolo City and different areas of Tondo, Manila.
Both the facilitators and the participants gained a fruitful experience from the talks of Ate Elaine about love for life, and Kuya Bong about conversion. The Sacrament of Reconciliation was explained thoroughly by Kuya Bong at his homily, he stated that “if you reconcile your sins to God. He will forget and forgive you, you just need to accept that we are sinners and forgive ourselves for being weak”.
Little by little we the Pansol youth are really getting a taste for mission to other youth!
Here are some photos of the event:
In the Philippines and other countries worldwide, the celebration of All Souls day (2 Nov) is marked by a visit to the cemetery to remember loved ones and pray for them. In order to deepen on the reality of death, the Verbum Dei missionaries conducted a retreat for this purpose: to reflect on the brevity of this life, and to prepare our hearts and souls for death, which one day will come, and we hope not too soon.
It was held on 30 October 2019 in the Christ the King parish, with 65 participants. In the introduction, the letter of St Ignatius of Antioch was shared to us. Before being fed to the lions, he wrote “The time for my birth is close at hand” which seems at first unusual because he was about to die. However, he is actually reminding us that in death, life is changed, not ended. The first talk centered on a spirituality of death and dying. We were asked “What would you do if you only had 5 days left to live?” and more importantly “what is stopping you doing it?” “Choose now what you would wish to have chosen at life’s end” as St Anthony Mary Claret advised.
A formation was also given on Catholic church teaching on suffering, dying and eternal life. Points shared include why is there sickness and suffering as well as how to manage the care of dying loved ones. We were informed that “discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2278). Such teaching is eminently practical and useful as one tendency is to overtreat out of guilty feelings.
The afternoon dynamic was “fun” and interesting - to design your own tombstone! A rosary was prayed together with concurrent confessions nearby. In this sacrament we really touch our “dust-iness” but we also experience God’s eternal mercy. The day closed with a Eucharist, celebrated by Fr Bong Guinoo, and Fr Ismael Barros, the General responsible of the male missionaries, along with Fr James. In the homily we were reminded that love is eternal, and that we have passed from death to life when we love others (see 1 John 3:14).
By considering our end in this way, we can hope to arrive there without too may regrets because we already lived. As we heard in the movie Braveheart “All men die, but not all men truly live.”
Here are some photos of the event:
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