On the 13th of May, 2017, we celebrate 100 years of Mother Mary’s first apparition in Fatima, Portugal. It was also on this same day that we celebrated the inauguration mass for the formation course of the Verbum Dei couples’ branch in Cebu, Philippines. Thus, for nine couples (seven from Cebu and one each from CDO and Sydney), together with the team of formators, begins a two year program of formation and further deepening in the Verbum Dei charism. We were also honoured with the presence of Lucia, president of the Verbum Dei Fraternity, James, ecclesial responsible for the Philippines zone, and Miguel-Angel, general administrator for Verbum Dei. It truly was an ecclesial moment that hopefully would have put a smile on Jaime’s face had he been there to participate, as we really felt like the early Christians in where the females, males and married members of the first Christian communities would celebrate and worship Jesus as one.
It was a journey that started with the discernment course back in 2016, and it was fitting that prior to the inauguration mass, we spent a few days in semi-silent retreat, reflecting and praying about our ‘history of salvation and vocation’. Seeing and sharing each person’s experience to how God acted in their lives to bring them to this point of the formation was a blessing and continued to build the intimacy within this batch of couples. There were very creative ‘titles’ of each persons’ stories (I encourage you to ask them if you get a chance), and the honesty and authenticity of everyone was truly remarkable to witness. People shared their struggles, sufferings, hopes and dreams and the miracles God has worked in our unique lives. It became evident that God truly was the author of our vocation, and it is by His grace and mercy that we are able to consecrate our lives to Him. We are all part sinner, and part saints, all part of our clay that we entrust into the Potter’s hands to mould us as He knows best (James likened it to God being the ultimate ‘Recycler’, he’ll take everything we offer him, the good parts and bad parts, and if we stay humble enough to allow God, he will do wonders in our lives in service of the mission).
Following the mass, we had a couple more days of guidelines, formation, and many question and answer sessions to work out the logistics and planning of the formation course ahead. The couples in formation were encouraged with gifts from other Verbum Dei couples’ branches in Mexico, as the joy of the Verbum Dei charism transcended across continents. Fittingly, we ended the weekend with more celebration as we all joined in with Ida’s Definitive Promise to be a Lay Consecrated Missionary. A memorable and blessed start for all those involved and we move forward with our eyes and hearts wide open, knowing full well that challenges, temptations, suffering and sacrifice will come, but keeping faith and trust in Jesus, the good shepherd who will lead our way. We give praise and glory to our Trinitarian God for the confirmation and blessings he’s giving our Verbum Dei community and we also thank our Lady of Fatima, entrusting our vocation and families in her hands.