Read the news from events, activities and other updates on the different communities here in the Philippines
An evening of vocation discovery
The missionaries of Pasig organized an evening of vocation discovery of the various states of life consisting of: consecrated missionary of the female and male branches, missionary married couple and Lay Consecrated missionary in Verbum Dei Fraternity. The event began with a short introduction of how Love is calling each one, as we are to be united and to dream. The dream of God is beyond our imagination, and we are invited to begin the journey to dream big with Him.
Jesus knocks on our doors (as in Revelation 3:20) and invites us to listen to Him. He desires to enter deeper into our hearts and our lives, to share a meal of intimate relationship with us. His call for each one is unique and special, no matter where we are on our journey of life - Love is calling us to follow Him.
Various missionaries gave their testimony on how they experience and understood their call, as well as how they are living out their mission in their specific reality.
Last but not least, we spent the final moments of the evening in silence with Jesus in the Eucharist, to stay with Him, to listen to Him calling out and knocking on our doors and sharing the moment with Him.
The following is a short experience of a youth from Pasig community from the session:
"Tonight I learned that everything takes risks and sacrifices. Risks that if you're not willing to take, nothing will come into fruition. Sacrifices in terms that you can't have everything. Everybody has to make a choice. I am deeply impressed and honored to have met such people like Gelo, Kuya LL and Ate Anne, as well as Ate Aida who took it upon themselves to grab that opportunity and take that risk. I am humbled by the fact that I can't even muster the courage to do so and yet they made it look so easy to make a decision that big seems so trivial. The thought of leaving something behind bothers me the most but then again, it's for God so I understand what they gave up. I guess my lesson for tonight to reflect on is to question what God really has planned for me. To find answers and look into myself for the solutions to my dilemma." From Michael (Youth of Pasig)
On November 14, 2020, Antioch School Manila hosted its sophomore instalment of Parenting As One, a monthly webinar series on formation and practical parenting. Two physicians who are experts in their fields of profession were showcased.
The first speaker was Fr. James McTavish, FMVD who ably delivered a discussion on Understanding Conscience. He focused on the importance of guarding our hearts and loving God with our minds, and how crucial it is to develop and maintain a well-formed conscience. Fr. James gave the audience many concrete examples where a healthy conscience is very much needed. One is awareness of the influence of social media. Don’t eat everything thrown at you! Another is the culture of corruption in society, which could very well begin in cheating in the classroom. The session ended with practical points on how to form our conscience.
Pediatrician and adolescent medicine specialist Dr. Jimmy Dumlao shared his insights on Understanding Your Teen. He expounded on normal psychosocial development of teens, stress management during online schooling and the pandemic, and physical and cyber-bullying. A few take home points: Understanding your teen begins with understanding adolescent development which differs very much from earlier childhood development. Bullying exists, but with the right tools can be prevented and stopped. Stress can be negative but many times are also positive. The goal is not to eliminate or to reduce stress, but to give your teen the means to manage stress. Lastly, open communication with your teen is key.
We thank God for these all these opportunities to build up one another: as children of God, as parents and teachers, as one community, taking care of each other in this new and better normal.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
The pandemic caught us all by surprise. In one instant, our schedules, routines and everything we were used to stopped without warning. And suddenly, we are all under one roof 24/7. How do you maximize this season with your spouse, with each child, as a family? In response to this new and daunting reality, Antioch School Manila launched its monthly Parenting Webinar Series entitled Parenting As One last October 2020. Each webinar includes talks on formation and practical parenting from very special guest speakers.
The first of this series featured our very own Fr. Iwao Ikegami, FMVD who shared about The Importance of Prayer. Fr. Iwao emphasized that prayer is the best long-term investment. He explained that, “We have saved someone when we have taught him or her to pray. Christ will have a new disciple when he or she, through prayer, ‘comes to know him’ personally, not by hearsay but by personal experience (John 4:42).”
Mompreneur Lady Makalintal delivered a talk about Family During Pandemic. Here are some of the light bulb moments for families to keep in mind: Take time to know your child, as well as the time and place that they are growing up in. Parents should realize that these days are very different from when we were growing up. Think about your goals and carry them through. Build routine: nighttime chats, Sunday lunch, workout dates, and whatever else that would fit your family's personality. Finally, have some room for some spontaneity! Drive thru for some ice cream just because.
These formations are really a way to become more rooted in Christ, more solid in the application of our faith, and more grateful as St Paul advises us: “rooted and built up in Christ, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Col 2:7)
The “new normal” is a world of new possibilities.
Last weekend thirteen students from grades 7 and 8 of Antioch School Manila challenged themselves to “Dream Big” in the online recollection facilitated all the way from Cebu by Sister Adriana Haro and Jay-anne Désabelle. The activity was held via Google Meet, and consisted of talks, prayer time, games, song forum, an origami workshop facilitated by Fr. Iwao Ikegami, and even a baking workshop facilitated by Lordie Capuras, who is a disciple from Verbum Dei Cebu.
At the end of the recollection the students were able to connect with their dreams in life and renew their commitment to pursue them with the grace of God. Here are some of their realizations:
A Eucharist was celebrated at the end of the recollection for the students, their families and teachers. We pray that each one of them may continue to be the young and courageous dreamers that the world needs today.
‘I will make you light for the nations…’ (Is 49:6) is the theme that has accompanied the first batch of the Missionary Married Couples in the Philippines for the last nine (9) years of their formation as Missionary Couples. Indeed, they have carried this out in their missionary vocation being married couples, parents both biological and spiritual, in all their frailties and weaknesses trying to be faithful to the call of the Lord to love with their all.
Last Saturday November 7, 2020 (11/7) was like Seven-Eleven (7/11) that is open to serve everyone, as three (3) couples from the Missionary Married Couples Branch in the Philippines renewed their temporal bonds for another two years of service to God and the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity. The couples who renewed their bonds were Regner & Mae Paguia, Yoyoy & Lucy Rama and Bimbo & Cookie Abrio. It was a very simple and heartfelt celebration officiated by Fr. Jeff Singzon, a Calabrian priest, attended by the couples’ children and family, and together through Zoom with the ever supportive Misionero, Misionera and Married Couple missionaries and other members of the Verbum Dei family.
The bonds of the couples was received virtually by the General Responsible of the Missionary Married Couples branch, Poncho and Adriana Martinez, who gave a tearful and hopeful message to the couples. The ceremony was formally closed by a message of gratitude delivered by Yoyoy and Lucy Rama recognizing how God has been working and forming each couple to be faithful and grateful, also recognized were the concrete supports received from their respective families, communities and friends. Praying for more fruitful years ahead as the couples continue collaborating and partaking in the work that God has entrusted to them.
"...if you wish to live well, spend the remaining days of life with death before your eyes."
St. Alphonsus di Liguori
It was a special 52nd birthday celebration for Fr. James McTavish as he gave a recollection on “Happy Ending” together with Fr Michael Cheong.
It was evident that this topic was quite unique and interesting judged by the number of registered participants on Zoom of around 350. This was part two of last year’s but nevertheless, this topic seems more relevant now during this time of pandemic. No one likes to face death whether it is ours or someone else’s but this recollection somehow really lifted a veil from our misconceptions on how we should view our mortality.
Setting our eyes on the goal and what we need to do to prepare for gives light to the words of St Anthony Mary Claret: “Choose now what you would wish to have chosen at life’s end.” If we choose well today, to opt living a life to the full, a life of love, then truly death is not something to fear. Our happy beginning today of choosing to change will make us look forward to a happy ending whenever that may be.
Fr Michael deepened on this topic by asking us to contemplate about how our life and our death can go beyond ourselves and ponder on the legacy we want to leave behind for future generations. What are the values we want to live now having in mind the perspective of the ones who will come after us? To make changes in our lives, the 3 main dimensions to tackle are spiritual, cultural and educational. In order to be more concrete and purposeful to change, he extended an invitation for each one to reflect on making a “Project of Life.”
Based on the feedback, many seemed up for this challenge and this sparked more interest to learn more on how to go about it. The fruit was definitely that desire to learn more on how to be a true disciple of Jesus, to follow how he lived so that one day, people too can talk about how we lived for Christ.
With thanks to Emy Abaya and the WordNews team
Verbum Dei Manila Pasig Holds Special Rosary for Departed Love Ones, with the Theme “Finish the Race with Grace”
With the closure of cemeteries from October 29 no November 4, 2020 due to the pandemic, Verbum Dei Manila Pasig held a special rosary to commemorate All Souls Day on November 2, 2020. The rosary was dedicated to the souls of the dearly departed relatives and friends. About 65 participants, from the community as well as friends from all over the Philippines, joined the rosary.
As we give thanks to our loved ones who have passed on the gift of faith, and in sharing memories of tears and laughter together, we were also invited to reflect on how we will want to finish our race - with grace, or regrets? Mary’s life is an example of someone who ran the race with grace. Every action she took was a response to God’s call, every step was a step entering eternal life, drawing closer in her relationship with God, so much so that she was chosen to make flesh the gift of eternal life, Jesus himself.
As St Catherine of Siena stated, “every step to heaven, is heaven.” May our every step and action always be in the direction to heaven here on earth, may it be a step in deepening our relationship with Jesus who gives us the gift of Eternal life, that is our joy and happiness! And ss Jesus tells us “Today, you will be with me in Paradise!” We don’t have to die first to experience this!
Bible verses and prayer intentions were incorporated in the rosary to provide participants time to reflect and pray for one another especially during these challenging times. Participants were requested to send in advance the names of the loved ones whom they requested prayers for and these were shown towards the end of the rosary.
Verbum Dei Manila Pasig holds regular rosary every Tuesdays and Thursdays.
"I will show you the way"
cf. Isaiah 48:17
(Part 3 of 3)
When we started to process our documents, the pandemic came. We really thought that this project to Spain is canceled or postponed to next year. But God is greater than this pandemic and faithful to His plans. He continues to unveil to us His grace and gave us signs of hope through our prayers and concrete people He sent who helped us morally, financially and in processing some of our documents. Some of this people were completely strangers to us. Our Matrimonios branch here in the Philippines, Australia, and Spain supported us to make this project possible. We encountered many difficulties in our processing due to the pandemic but it was a moment of grace for us. It gives us reason to continue and put everything in the hands of the Lord.
We were also very aware of the big health risk for us and for our children but the voice of God was stronger than our fears and doubts. We had lots of fears, we even said at first that if the consulate will really require us to bring our children for the appearance in Manila, we will not continue the process. But in our prayers, and dialogue as a couple and to our formators, we understood that God is with us - He is more concerned of our health than us and we should firmly trust His promise. On September 8, the birthday of our beloved Mother Mary, was also our appointment date in the Spanish consulate. Mary was with us also from the very beginning, guiding us in every step we take and always telling us in our prayers “Do whatever He tells you” cf. John 2:5. All the fears that were in our minds did not happen - like contracting the virus, might be quarantined, delays in the airport, and our visa application will be disapproved.
It was a great joy for us when we got our visa! Since our class and the classes of our kids have started already, we need to fly to Spain as soon as possible. We only had 2 weeks preparation and despidida to our family, friends and community. We flew to Spain on October 13, the feast of the last apparition of Our Lady of Fatima and this day was also the first-year anniversary of our Temporal bonds. It was very heavy for each of us to leave our family and home.
It is hard sometimes to go out from our comfort zones when we follow the Lord, but God will give us the strength and courage to let go. We arrived safely in Madrid. Antonio and Marisol, a missionary couple in Spain welcomed us full of love and joy at the airport. Our hearts jumped with joy and gratefulness when we arrived in our new home in Loeches because everything was prepared. And we were very surprised by the virtual welcome of the missionaries because they cannot come physically to our house due to precautionary measures implemented in the center.
Now, we are enjoying this gift of new life that our Lord has prepared for us while adjusting to this new environment, and learning the language and culture. Jesus has really shown us the way from Cebu, Philippines to Loeches, Spain. Let us continue trusting the Lord because only Him can show us the way. Very united in prayer and mission!
“I will show you the way.”
cf. Isaiah 48:17
(Part 2 of 3)
We prayed, discerned, and dialogued as a couple, because this was totally new for us to go to a place unknown to us with our children. When we had our branch retreat, we both received clearly the answer of God in Deuteronomy 7:6-7 “Do this because you belong to the LORD your God. From all the peoples on earth, he chose you to be his own special people. The LORD did not love you and choose you because you outnumbered other peoples; you were the smallest nation on earth.”
We understood in our prayer that it is God who chose us to be sent to Spain. He chose us not because we are the best and brightest missionary couple, he chose us because we are the poorest who can really leave everything for the Lord. But as a parent who always thinks about welfare of our children, we were very concerned about the needs and future of our children since we will be leaving also our jobs. The Lord answered our concerns through the prayer of Elena. “Elena: In the retreat, in my prayer, Jesus told me, do not be afraid. He promised to me “Everything I have is yours“ cf. Luke 15:31. The Father’s voice is very clear, Elena, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.”
With this very concrete promise from the Lord, we were very convinced that the God who promised to Abraham, Moses, Mary, and Joseph will take care of everything we need, will guide and protect us in this journey. So, we are very united with our Yes to the Lord. And our daughters too were happy and excited when they knew that we are going to Spain. Every night when we pray the Holy Rosary, each of us gives our communitarian prayer, and the prayers of our two daughters every night are that our visa processing will be successful, to keep us safe when we travel to Manila and Spain, and asking God to help them to learn fast in speaking Spanish. God confirms His calling through our children also and we are very happy that they are helping us and involved in the mission in their own little ways.
Stay tuned for part 3 …
“I will show you the way.”
cf. Isaiah 48:17
(Part 1 of 3)
Before this World mission month ends, allow me to share our experience of how God sent us for a mission to the other side of the world and showed us the way in the midst of a pandemic.
I am Kris married to Elena and we have 3 daughters (13, 8, and 3 yrs. old). My wife and I are a missionary married couple of Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity. We took our First temporal bonds together with other 3 married couples last October 13, 2019, at Sacred Heart Parish Cebu, Philippines.
Last February this year we received a proposal from the General Responsible of the Missionary Married Couples or “Matrimonios” branch, Adriana and Poncho, if it would be possible for us to study Philosophy and Theology in our “Instituto Teológico Verbum Dei” Loeches, Spain. Of course, our children are part of the package, they should come with us in the mission field that God will send us to go and as married couple missionary, they are our first mission. Since this is a big movement of our family like leaving our home, work, family, etc., we needed to pray and discern well if this really wasthe will of God for us.
We did not expect this invitation and never came out in our mind to be sent to a very far place from home. When we took our temporal bonds, we are aware of our “Yes” to the Lord to be obedient to His will and to be ready for any changes, but the places that came to our mind are places within the country, within Asia and Australia only. Really God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and His plans are greater than our plans (Isaiah 55:8).
Stay tuned for part II of the adventure …
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