Monday, March 29, 2010

Blessings, Renewals, Celebrations, Farewells & lots of Love

Well, I know we are in the middle of lent and we really should be fasting, praying and reflecting, but with all the big important stuff happening around us, it’s really quite impossible not to be in a joyous and happy mood. Errm… as what I have been going around telling people… “I am very sure Jesus will understand, and if he’s here with us, he’ll be the first one to let his hair down and party.”

So the day before, 19th March, was the official last day of our academic year. Of course, we end it with a bang, or err.. maybe a modest little spark. We had our closing mass with Fr Ben as our main celebrant, and we had a nice big supper after that.

Well, my task here is to talk about what happened the day after, 20th March.

Early in the morning we heard that the temporary professed will be renewing their vows during the evening prayer. Of course, commotion started to build among the students concern, as no one really know what is going on, no one knows who’s in charge, and ahem.. there were no scheduled evening prayer on that day. So panic ran high on those who care, and for a long while everyone were just in a state of confusion. (hmm.. I guess this is something that happens around here quite often :P)

Anyway, after some time, finally Br. Ole took charge and everything came under control.

Yours truly, however, had other MAJOR issue to occupy the brain and induce cold sweat.

Weeks prior to this wonderful day, the Team of the Month had proposed to have a mini little celebration for the community, this was meant to serve as a celebration of the truly blessed academic year for all students and formators, and big farewell to those who will be leaving us (the deacons who will be ordained and move on to greater pastures). Of course, that suggestion came under HEAVY bombing and firing as our dear rector artistically rolled his eyes and wonder if we students even understood the whole concept of Lent and fasting (that fully accompanied with the “tsk tsk tsk..” and “Oh Jesus…” that made our guilt level shoot right to the max!).However, some of us chose this event to exercise our well trained resilience, and finally, our truly gentle hearted rector gave in and allowed us to hold this “sinful party”.

To add colour to the celebrations, the students decided to perform a song (a very brave move if you have heard us sing). As we were very busy with our exams prior to this, the only chance we could practice for the song was the afternoon of the day itself. When our dedicated choir master arrive, fate (or maybe just Davao Light) decided to play a prank on us and we had a brown out. Well.. so much for preparations!

Without any options, we gathered in our common room, brave the heat and practiced with the piano as best as we could. After the practice, the choir master chatted with us and when he found out we were performing that night, his jaw dropped to the ground (he must have really admired out guts). He was so worried that he offered to be present on the actual event itself to help us play the keyboard and give us some saving grace. God bless him :P

So finally, the big evening came. We gathered for evening prayer, of which the Thai Bro (Ole & Joe), Vietnamese Bro (Dominic and Joseph), Malaysians Bro (John and Terence) and Singaporean Bro (Eugene) had their renewal of vows.

Right after that, the party started !!!

Oh.. I forgot to mention, as most of the superiors from the region (Manila, Ipoh, Thailand, Vietnam) were present, the party was extra meaningful as we get showcase and share our community life with them. After a short time of eating, the program started.

The highlight of the night was the St Alphonsus Theologate Awards. A total of 6 awards were given out to students and seniors recognizing the special efforts and wonderful contributions of different members in making our community and better one. (the full details of the awards will be shown below).

In between the awards presentation, we had our talented composers Br RJ and Br Efrem perform their compositions, which garnered great applause.

And finally, we called upon our departing brothers (Shaun, Ole, May-T, Efrem, Vinsen, Robby, Raymond, David) to give them our best wishes and have our Rector bless them with a special blessing. Fr Brendan blessed the brothers with a beautiful Irish Blessing, and of course, he did not forget to end the official program by doing another round of ‘machine gun firing’ on poor ol’ defenseless yours truly.

Well, come on, the night is still young, we could not just end that way, so we continued with the jamming session. Of which our superiors joined us in singing and dancing. Members from all regions took turns to showcase their talents and lots of cheers and laughter were heard deep into the night.

God has truly blessed us during this special and wonderful academic year. We thank God for this great year, and we pray that the years to come would be even better and more wonderful.

Here’s our SAT awards nominees and winners:
2010 St. Alphonsus Theologate Mr Entertainer Award
This award goes to the student who has been the most entertaining and joyful among all, bring fun and laughter to everyone.
Br. Wanrop Boothod (Pui)
Br. Joseph Tran Dinh Phuong
Br. John de Agnel

Winner:Br. Joseph Tran Dinh Phuong

2010 St. Alphonsus Theologate Mr Congeniality Award
This award goes to the student who has been the most friendly among all, the one who has always make everyone feel at home and comfortable.
Br. Wanrop Boothod (Pui)
Br. Joseph Tran Dinh Phuong
Br. John de Agnel
Br. Robertus Melkior Bayo (Robby)

Winner:Br. John de Agnel

2010 St. Alphonsus Theologate Mother Theresa Award
This award goes to the student who is most caring among all, the one who has always been able to be a true friend to all, and has always provide comfort and a shoulder to cry on.
Br. John de Agnel
Br. Shaun Silagan
Br. Rufino Macasaet
Br. Vinsensius Nani Bili (Vinsen)

Winner:Br. John de Agnel

2010 St. Alphonsus Theologate Sainthood Award
This award goes to the student who is most diligent in prayer, the one who is most spiritual and the one who serves as an inspiration for us in coming closer to God.
Joseph Tran Dinh Phuong
Br. Jose Arnel Rallos
Br. Suresh Kelum Fernando

Winner:Br. Jose Arnel Rallos

2010 St. Alphonsus Theologate Student of the Year Award
This award goes to the most rounded student, the one who serves as an example for what a true Redemptorist in formation is supposed to be like.
Br. Dominic Tra Tran
Br. Poowanai tantikul (Ole)
Br. Terence Wee
Br. Rufino Macasaet (Jun)
Br. Robertus Melkoir Bayo (Robby)
Br. Jose Arnel Rallos

Winner:Br. Poowanai tantikul (Ole)

2010 St. Alphonsus Theologate Senior of the Year Award
This award goes to the most inspiring senior confrere, the one who exemplify a true Redemptorist in thoughts, words and deeds, and serve as a true model for the students.
Fr. Brendan Kelly
Fr. Senen Javier
Fr. Amardo Picardal
Fr. Allen O’Brien
Fr. Nestor Gaspe

Winner:Fr. Allen O’Brien


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

From Davao with Love

As our academic year come to a close, our Indonesian deacon Rev. Efrem shares with us his experience here.
Br. Efrem will be leaving back to Indonesia tomorrow, and will be ordained on 3rd May. We wish him all the best. However, he will be coming back to our community as a priest and as a student next school year. We really look forward to this interesting dynamics.

In a loving family, a child becomes sensitized to love, and learns to respond with love. The experience of loving appreciation in the home or in the community gives us some measure of self esteem, love, and friendship. This is what I have experienced here in the Davao Community, particularly as a student of SAT-MI.

Although it has been only a year of stay here in the Davao Community (a very unique community where I have ever stayed in), I found love and friendship in diversity.

I still remember at first I encountered many difficulties in adjusting with the life here due to rhythm of life, study and even lack of English skill in conversation. In my part, I was struggling and even asking myself: “why do I have to come here?”, “Why do I have to face the other difficulties in my life?” Then I noticed, there were so many “why” which needed immediate responses and answers. Really, life was difficult, yet it was meaningful when I realized the meaning of suffering as the other side of the coin of life. As I went along, I began to realize that I do not walk alone. I had my friends that really helped and walked together with me. I was also motivated and encouraged by my fellow brothers and the community. I realized, it was not as difficult and impossible to do, that’s why I could say it was really challenging experience.

I am pretty sure that the new students, (particularly foreigners) coming to Davao community will have the same feeling as I did. It might sound insignificant to some, but I can’t hide my feelings to say that I am happy with this community, It is unique in its own, and has a very big sense of family where everyone has motivated and encouraged me and even gave me the experienced of being at home. For me, SAT-MI is not merely a community and formation place, it is where we are fully known, loved and received just as we are, you and I.

It is true that the experience of being known and loved in a special way in human friendship frees me from disbelief and opens me to believe that God could love me in a special way. Jesus makes it clear that we can be His friend only by loving one another. “I have called you friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn15:12-15).

Rev. Efrem Bolly CSsR

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SATMI Closing of the School Year

Today, another successful school year ended in the SATMI theologate. All the SATMI students, staff and some Redemptorist superiors from different units from Asia Oceania joined to mark the end of school year.

The closing up of the school year was started with the holy mass. The main celebrant was fr. Ben Ma. The celebration of the Eucharist was done meaningfully and in a creative way. Soon after the mass all the staff together with students and superiors tagged in a community picture. Then under the proclamation of the rector the fellowship meal followed.

Students were very happy that they were free of studies for few months but of course not for the final year theology students, since they have their comprehensive exams. Towards the end of the fellowship meal Fr. Rector gave away the graduation certificate for the students who were leaving. Then our SATMI students performance were finally put up in a grand scale.

Everything went on well and the students and the fathers greeted each other by wishing each other good luck for everyone’s future endevours.

Thus ended the school year for 2009 – 2010.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hopping to Physical and Spiritual Healing

A big thanks to our bro Ryan, who contributed his "virgin-work". We just found out he's a very good writer, so we'll be looking forward to many more contribution from him in the future :P

Some people would associate lent with mastering one’s will to change, an opportunity to make necessary changes like reducing negative habits or starting positive behavioral patterns. People engage in fasting and penance in order to die to their physical needs and false securities, to change their life for better. Sad to say some would misconstrue it as punishing our own bodies in order to glorify God. What a traumatic and horrific experience! Those who are caught in this dilemma should consider an alternative.

What we surely need is healing and restoration of our wellbeing. The island hopping last February 22 had surely granted this chance. The physical and spiritual charm of the sea has always captivated most of us. I could still remember how the students talked and spend time to reaching a consensus. In the end, nearly all liked the sea rather than spending it somewhere else. Island Hopping, fun and healing power of the sea in one package deal.

We went on with our usual routine. As usual those who are in charge of moving the provisions woke up early than the rest. Although some were sluggish because of personal pre-occupations of term papers and reports, but most were there and were excited of the trip. Still, some preferred burying themselves with assignments, but we were glad that our senior confreres - Allen, Phaiboon and Remi were with us.

It took almost an hour to reach our first stop, Bago Santa Beach in Talicud Island. We enjoyed the white sand and the clear water, the chow, the company and the girls in their bathing suite. We eat, talk, play – our trademark! After the meal we moved to our next stop, Corral Garden. Swimmers and non-swimmers alike plunged themselves in a 20 to 30 foot trench. The only person who relished the underwater view the most was Eugene with his scuba.

Again, we wasted a great time together, for the last time in this semester, I suppose. We went home tired, exhausted but rejuvenated. Thanks to the company of confreres and the healing magic of the sea.
Hippocrates coined the word "thalassotherapy" to describe the use of seawater in health restoration and maintenance. Thalassotherapy comes from the Greek "thalassa" meaning water and "therapia" meaning to heal. The Greeks soaked in sea water hot tubs and heated seaweed baths, drank and inhaled sea water for health, got sea water massages, had sea green facials and body wraps, and used sea water pools for hydrotherapy and elimination of toxins from the body.
There is more to the sea than just fun… the healing hand of God within our reach.