Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bro. Dodong's Big Day!

On the 13th of December, some of the students together with Fr. Cruz travelled to Iligan for the final profession of Bro. Dodong on the next day, Dec.14. Riding on a van, we traversed Davao to Iligan road in an 8-hr trip. We left Davao City at around 8am, took our lunch somewhere in Bukidnon, and arrived at Iligan past 4pm. After supper, the rehearsal for the rite of profession took place, with some of the students taking roles as servers, lectors, etc. The excitement was in the air especially in the face of Bro. Dodong as he prepared himself for his big day.

After all things for the next day was prepared, with the rite already rehearsed, we proceeded to the refectory for a simple fellowship. Eat, drink and be merry! We had a good time laughing, sharing stories and drinking together with other confreres from different communities and units.

And so Bro. Dodong’s day came…

At around 10am in the 14th of December, the final profession commenced. While the faithful are waiting in the church, the liturgical servers, Bro. Dodong with his parents, Redemptorist confreres, guest priests, and the mass presider and Provincial of Cebu, Fr. Ben Ma, were processing from the front office to the altar accompanied by Fr. Fruto’s singing of Veni Sancti Spiritu. The place was in a solemn mood as the liturgical celebration continued. Two of the car watch boys sung the psalm while Fr. Fruto shared about Bro. Dodong’s vocation and the vocation as religious brother in his homily. Bro. Arnel led the faithful in praying the Litany of the Saints. Then the celebration of the Eucharist continued.

After the whole celebration of the Eucharist, Bro. Dodong delivered his reflection and thanksgiving speech. Teary-eyed, he shared how wonderful his life and the day had been with all those people who were significantly sharing, supporting and praying for him in his journey towards religious life. Then the photo-op for the finally-professed Redemptorist happened. Everyone wear a smile as they congratulate Bro. Dodong in his most special day.

A simple yet equally sumptuous lunch awaited everyone in the convent’s refectory. That’s how Bro. Dodong’s final profession ended and so the day’s celebration.

But oh, wait, not for the students. Immediately after lunch we had to return back to Davao for the next day’s another big event: the final profession of Bro. Shaun and his ordination to diaconate together with the five Indonesian confreres. Again, we have to take our homeward eight-hour trip back to Davao with our sometimes-slow-sometimes-fast driver. (what’s his name again?) But we had a stomach-filling pit-stop in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Thanks to the generosity of Fr. Ben’s family, we had something in our stomach as we travelled back to where we belong, our Davao Community!


Friday, December 11, 2009

The Gift of "50 Years"

This Monday (December 6, 2009) was one of the very significant days of the month because on this day we celebrated the golden jubilee of Fr. Allen's profession. The day began with a joint community recollection. The theme for reflection was very fitting indeed; PERSEVERENCE. So in the morning we spent time together reflecting and sharing our past experiences in life as a redemptorist and why we are still here continuing in this religious life. We ended the recollection in the afternoon at 4 pm with a community mass presided by Fr. Allen.

To make the day even more special, team of the month planned a common celebration on this very same day (usually, a common celebration is on the last Sunday of each month.) That is why that evening we had dinner in the garden and we gave special recognition to Bro. Eugene, the birthday celebrant of the month of December as well. Aside from the members of the community, there were also some of the close friends of Fr. Allen whom he personally invited.

One thing I noticed was that most of the songs played during that evening were something I have never heard before (which means that they went back more than 28 years ago.) Perhaps these songs were meant to help Fr. Allen recall the good old memories of his past 50 years of his profession. Fr. Picx read for us his poem that he composed for Fr. Allen in this graceful occasion as well (although somebody said to me that this poem was the one he used for his own 25th anniversary and he just changed the number 25 to 50!)

In the end Fr. Allen gave a closing remark expressing his thankfulness to God for the gift of life and the gift of vocation, to all the guests who came, to the community for the support, and to those prepared for this evening. Then the big, blue cake was brought in for Fr. Allen to make his wish. I didn't know what he asked for but I knew that my wish was fulfilled; I didn't have to wash all the dishes after that because everything was taken cared of by the food catering. ^ ^


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What’s So Amazing about Grace?

Our Br Shaun shares a beautiful refelction on Grace as he prepares for his final profession and deaconate this coming December 15. May the Lord shower him with plentiful grace and blessings and keep him close by His side during this special moment.

When I was in the mission during my immersion year, a lay missionary introduced me to a book “what’s so amazing about grace.” It says that God’s grace is amazing because despite human weaknesses and limitations, God continually showers us with His blessings. He loves us unconditionally. He loves us and forgives us always. That's what's so amazing about grace. And as followers of Jesus, we are invited to do the same, to love others with no conditions.

My final profession and ordination to the Diaconate on December 15 certainly make me say that indeed God’s grace is amazing. God has been with me in the joys and challenges in the formation even when times that I failed to recognize Him.

While preparing for this important event in my life and the lives of my brother Indonesians, many things come to mind. I was worried when the cards were not yet done. Sometimes even during classes, my mind is preoccupied with the many things that have to be looked into; the liturgy, the choir, the powerpoint for songs, the visitors. But behind these external preparations, deep within my heart is praising. But I can’t thank God enough through my words. And so I’m hoping and praying that I would be able to thank Him through a life of gratitude because of His amazing grace every single day of my life.

Several years ago I painted a face of a man with his hands covered on it. The painting symbolized my emotions caused by the death of my mother. I was angry to God but I was ashamed to show it. I was ashamed to tell Him how painful it was seeing my mother “tortured” by cancer. I was also ashamed of myself. I thought I knew God from my studies in College and from the seminary. But the God that I experienced with what happened to my mother was different from the God that I learned. I had difficulty reconciling my mind and heart.

This painting caught my attention a few days ago. It’s like a scar. But unlike my gloomy feelings when I painted it, my emotions now are of gratitude and love. The painting is like a scar that reminds me not of pain and sorrow, but of God’s love that silently, constantly, and deeply surrounded me even those times when I was rock bottom. I could not have survived without Him. He seems to say now that despite my limitations and struggles, my loneliness and frustrations, He loves me and calls me to be His own. The painting becomes a reminder of God’s presence in my life even in the most difficult times.

Back to the present, I realized how fast the days have passed. I’ve been here in SAT, now SATMI, for almost 5 years already, but it seems like it was just yesterday. Many things have changed; people came and went, some were ordained, others changed course. Davao city have also changed a lot. But the greatest evidence of the changes along the years is my hair. No need to explain here why. ;)

Time runs so fast and so as changes. And with all the changes that happened in my life, last year I decided to put to mind to live one day at a time. It’s a great effort for me. I always tend to live either in the past or in the future. But having conscious of the blessings each day makes me somehow lessens my past and future-oriented mind. I learned to savor moments. I learned to appreciate each day and welcome new things and changes.

The mass and the liturgy of the final profession and ordination will only take a little more than an hour, but it will definitely be the start of the new chapter of my life. And like any other stories whether fiction or real, new chapter means change. And I welcome change with trust in God.

I love art, may it be music, dance, photography, or painting. After all life itself is an art. One of the many things that I learned in my journey in the formation is that loving others is an art, a difficult art. It may take a lifetime to learn this wonderful art, but this is the only way to follow Jesus.

To all of you who have been part of my formation, thanks so much for your support and prayers. May God grants you His promise of a hundred-fold for your understanding and love. God’s love is amazing. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,” as the song says. I pray that I may be able to share His love to others through my words and actions. It’s difficult. It’s easier said than done. This is the greatest challenge in this kind of life. But I‘ll take it one day at a time.

I’m now towards the end of my initial formation, and I can say that the road is as important as the destination. Each day is precious. Each day has its own unique blessings. Many changes will come the coming days and weeks. “Life is a constant flux,” as the philosopher Heraclitus had said. But one thing remains - God’s amazing love.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Loy Krathong

Loy Krathong is one of the most popular, colorful festivals of Thailand. It is celebrated annually on the Full-Moon Day of the Twelfth Lunar Month.

We at SATMI had been celebrating this event for quite awhile now. It is one of the most colorful and well anticipated event of the year, but unlike the past celebrations, this year’s Loy Krathong was marked with real goal, appreciation more of the culture of our Thai brothers. Of course the event was celebrated at the end of the month together with the celebration of the birthdays.

Like any other celebration, we the food was delicious. The activity by the way was held at the top floor of the new building and it was the first time it was used in such a way. On portion which was highlighted was the dance. All were so participative with thedance, even Sr. Meriam, our dean of studies and Fr. Senen joined in the festivities by dancing their hearts out with the students.

Within the celebration we were introduced into the games that children in Thailand used to play and to our surprise it has similarities with the games of other cultures. Unlike today the games were played with inexpensive materials. The materials used were mostly coming from nature and can be made by a child, with a few active imagination and presto! A game that a child could enjoy and play without spending too much money in the process, in a way I hope we could reflect on this simple aspect. With all the gadgets we have around, we sometimes forget that simple can also be fun.

The event ended by going to the pond and letting the Krathong float in the pond. I pushed my Krathong hoping it would go to the center, but instead it capsized. I had to reel it over as Fr. Senen commented that I wouldn’t get my good luck. Anyway after the event we all cleaned up and everybody commented that this might be the last time an event will be held on the top floor and it is very hard to climbing the stairs carrying things. Thanks team of the month.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Foundation Day

Our poor Br Suresh must have done something wrong because he was banished to the Academic Comittee, haha! Anyway, we the geeks would like to extend a BIG WELCOME!!! Welcome to the club bro. So finally we got one extra permanent staff to lament on the constant need to submit articles. haha! Here's our Br. Suresh's debut article. Enjoy!


Today (9 Nov) is a very important day for all the Redemptorists in the world, because today is the founda tion day of C.Ss.R. We the seminarians in SATMI too celebrated the feast of the founding of C.Ss.R.

There was a notice in the notice board that we will be having mass at 5.30pm in the church and at 5.20pm all the Brothers should be there for the procession. Before the mass began our beloved and everyone’s sensation Bro.Joseph gave a meaningful introduction about the Founding of C.Ss.R. The main celebrant in the mass was Fr.Senen and with him there were co-celebrants and two of them were new.They were Fr.John Hill from Australia and Fr.Anton Shiran from Sri Lanka. In the beginning of the mass Fr.Senen introduced the foreigners to the congregation including the two theology students from Sri Lanka Bros.Morris and Suresh. The homily was on the history of C.Ss.R .

Soon after the mass was the long awaited, carefully prepared and thirst-quencing 'spirit-filled' event. The Fathers and the Brothers gathered in the common room for the gaudeamus. All of them were happily enjoying the feast and there was a prize distribution too. There were lot of sharing, jokes and singing. This is a true portray of the meaning of unity in diversity. After the gaudeamus you could see some had got into their real resurrected mood and some even had got four legs to walk (which is a normal thing). However, things ended up very nicely and all proceeded to the refectory for the supper at around 8.00pm. The main thing was that we were one with our Redeemer.

Happy Foundation day to all.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Welcome to the Family

[Br Suresh]

[Br. Morris]

After months of anticipation, finally our Sri Lankan brothers have arrived to join our big group of 'halo-halo' students here in SATMI.

We have with us now Brother Suresh and Morris (Clap clap clap....). Br Suresh will be joining the 4th yr while Br Morris will be joining the 2nd year.

The brothers arrived with their formator Fr Anton, and were just in time to join us in our students recreation in Talikud, which was the perfect opportunity for the us to get to know them. Thus far, I belive that i speak for everyone when i say that they have been extremely wonderful and eveyone is happy to have another 2 marvelous guys in our group. I am sure Br John is especially happy as now he finally have 2 brothers to speak Tamil to :)

I requested for some photos of them to put in this post so that people far and wide can know how they looked like, but was a little shock at how serious they look. They must have been very nervous while taking the pics. (no worries bro... smile a bit more and show your sparkling teeth :P) I assure all, they are way more fun and candid than what you see in the pictures. haha!

Anyway, welcome to the Family bros. It's really nice to have you!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sun, Sea, and FUN FUN FUN…

After surviving a semester of hard work, we students finally had our semester break. However, we still did not have lots of time to ourselves as there were endless evaluations and processing to go through. Fortunately, we were given 2 days of full recreation in a nearby island resort, and this time we were determined to party to our heads drop!

The resort was located in Talikud Island, about an hour boat ride away from Davao city. It was a nice little resort with a very clean and well kept beach and not too many visitors. In other words, we pretty much had the whole resort to ourselves. At once upon touchdown, we secured our bunks and had out lunch, but many were already busy fixing cocktails and getting our bodies high in “Spirit”…

Of course, we did find some time to enjoy the sea, and we had a great BBQ dinner with lots of exotic food (squid which made half the group itch up in red patches, sea urchins, thai soup with unidentified objects, etc…) That side, we enjoyed each others’ company through card games, beach games, and of course by entertaining ourselves seeing full transformation of various brothers after the effect of the great “spirit”!

Anyway, the fun 2 days lasted way too short, and before we knew it, we were already packing our bags and heading back to reality. As I type this blog entry, I could not quite believe that school is starting in 2 days. Gosh… I still have so much to do, all the movies to watch and all the sleep to catch up. Well, life goes on!!!

Here’s to a memorable Break. Can’t wait for the next one to come :P

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's Processing Time...

Last October, we had our processing with Mrs.Mylene and assisted by Mr.Frehqz from 28th to 30th in St. Isidore retreat house in Megrande, Digos. We had many activities such as bingo social, message passing, film viewing, treasure hunt, affirmation and etc. The main purpose is to build a good relationship and better understanding.

All the activities really help us to work together as a team. One of the activities on the last day, which really touched me, was the affirmation session. I was really affirmed by my fellow brothers. These really challenged me and raised a question in me. If my fellow brothers can see good things in me, why don’t I see good things in them?

What I really realized was that, I should not only give constructive criticism but also affirmation and encouragement to my fellow brothers even in the little things they do for others and community. By doing this, it will not only deepen the relationship with one another but also help to understand each other better. On the other hand it will create openness to one another.

Nobody is perfect in this world and we all are trying to walk towards the way of perfection with the help of God. As now we can be staying under the same roof but our relationship can be only at surface level. I will very much appreciate if everyone had a chance like me because the method was change due to short of time.

Ultimately we were able to meet the purpose of the processing. The important part is to continue what we learned by applying in our daily live. It is a process so; we need to start it in order the things to flow. I hope and pray to God that there will be always an agape love in our community. I thank God for this wonderful opportunity.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Pleasure, Leisure and Celebration

To celebrate the successful presentation of the first years and the Johannine class in their final project with Sr. Miriam, we had our integration in Mergrande last October 17, 2009. More than that, it was also an opportunity to unwind and be merry after the end of the first semester. Together with us were Sr. Miriam herself and Sr. Claire, our liturgy professor. Our Indonesian brothers also joined us in this day of relaxation.

Before spending the rest of the day in Mergrande, the first years and the Indonesian brothers, together with Srs. Claire and Miriam headed to Eden Nature Park. As soon as we arrived in Eden Nature Park, which is an hour drive from the city proper, everyone was filled with enthusiasm anticipating on activities that lie ahead. After paying our entrance fees, we decided to take our snack first before engaging ourselves with the available recreation facilities in the park. But while waiting for the snack, some were too excited and tried the “Indiana Jones” experience. After taking the snack, we proceeded to the other side of the park to try horseback riding and the “sky-rider”.
Following the equally breath-taking and exciting experience, we had the tour around the park. While on the service shuttle together with the tour guide orienting us about the park, everyone took pleasure in looking in the scenic view within the vast privately-operated park. Gardens occupied with fruit bearing trees, ornamental flowers, edible plants and cultural displays depicting the natives were the main attractions on the park. Picture taking, by the way, was never out of sight. Almost at every stop, we manage to pause and pose for a shot. We then ate our lunch at around 2pm and headed back to Mergrande to join with the other group.

In Mergrande, the second years and some of the fourth years (Johannine class) had already begun swimming, drinking, eating, talking, playing (in short, relaxing) when we arrived. That’s what the integration is all about. So we also joined them making the most out of the precious moment to relax. At around 5pm, we gathered together along the shore for our evening prayer. Sweetly caressed by the sunset breeze, we enjoyed singing songs afterwards while sipping beer and chatting, enjoying each other’s stories and laughters.

Oh, before I forget, though it was the end of the semester, Sr. Miriam gave us a short task: reflection paper. Each of us tried to find our own time and phase responding on the two points for reflection. Well, good enough to keep us always aware and grounded on our own direction and vocation.

We ended up the day with a sumptuous meal. Thanks to the kind-hearted sponsors.

See you on the next semester!