Friday, June 25, 2010

The Installation of Lectors and Acolytes

Today marks the beginning of life for the new comers at SAT Davao community to the ministry of Lectors and acolytes. The installation process started the night before when Fr. Cruz – the Prefect of Student in SAT – gave the orientation regarding this ministry of lectors and acolyte. He explained to us the value and dignity that these offices hold. Over and above, in my limited capacity to recall the whole discussions, I learned that these offices are sacred and should be held with reverence, honor, and respect. He further emphasizes proper decorum on the actual practice of it since it is sacred and should be held with esteem.

Back to the Eucharistic celebration on the installation to these sacred offices, the students to be installed with the main celebrant (Fr. Ben, the superior) and the con-celebrant (Fr. Michael, formator) had their procession to the altar followed by the proper of the order of the Eucharist. Before Fr. Ben delivered his homily, the rite of installation to the order of lector and acolyte took place.

Fr. Ben in his homily shared to us his inspirational reflection on the simple and ordinary drift wood he saw during his personal time in the day chapel. The way he describes to us the drift wood was something one may loose interest. However, as he continues that while the drift wood was used as base for flower arrangement, its beauty starts to be revealed. Something extraordinary happened to that very simple and ordinary drift wood.

As he connects his reflection to us who will get installed, I realized my unworthiness and imperfections as human. And I believe it’s true with the other brothers who will be receiving the order. Yet, in the midst of all these imperfections and unworthiness we have, God desires us to be unique and made us something that catches one’s attention. God designed us, like the drift wood used as base for flower arrangement, to be honorable and dignified in the order of lector and acolyte. It’s not about feeding one’s ego, rather having that privilege to be chosen to serve despite one’s imperfection. It is out of reverence and respect that one observes after his installation. With these, one desires to become closer to God in his knowledge of God’s word by frequent reading of the sacred scripture and his intimacy with the Eucharist.

This elevation to the order of lector and acolyte gave one the opportunity to be closer to people because he now identifies himself as Christ’s disciple. He now has Christ in his life. This can be manifested by his dedication and faithfulness to his duties and obligation to the church. And everyday in his practice to this ministry – with the people –he will have better knowledge and understanding with the one behind this ministry who is Jesus Christ. From there, he will draw his energy and hope to become faithful to the call.


Friday, June 18, 2010

The Amazing Race Davao

Here's another freshman from Thailand and his first article in SATMI blog. Great job. And we will see more from him for sure.

After a long and long time of planning, all new students had their activity called “The Amazing Race” – which in fact was just like a city tour. This activity was meant for the newcomers to explore and to have an exposure of Davao City especially in downtown. New students were to look for the places in Davao according to the clues given to them. We were divided into groups consisting of members from different countries and units. They had to find and reach the places in Davao city including the City hall, San Pedro Cathedral, China town, San Pedro Hospital, Ataneo de Davao University, Ramon Magsaysay Park and the final station, Gaisano Mall.

We started the activity in the front of our convent. The members in the groups were mixed up with different nationalities such as Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese, Singaporean, and Indonesian. It was good for us that, at least, we can use English to communicate with other people naturally. We also had to follow the rule that no one take their own money because the staff gave us money equally to all the groups. After that they gave us a clue to reach the places or stations in Davao, so when we reached each station we would get another clue to find another place until we go to the final station.

In this activity, we got a good opportunity to be familiar with some of the important places in the city, like the hospital, the University, the Cathedral, and, of course, the Shopping malls. The city was so big that it was not easy for us to reach the place we wanted to be. So we asked the people along the way, even a Jeepney driver, how to go to the place written in the clue. We walked, run, and Jumped up the Jeepney and the tricycle. We could say that we took all kinds of transportations in one day except Taxi because of our financial limitation. These were the good experiences for the new student to survive and to find all the places without losing. We finished and reached the final station, Gaisano mall, and it was almost lunch already.

As we went along the activity, we were able to see the city, buildings, houses, Churches, schools, hospitals, especially the life style of people, or even a traffic in Davao. We also felt God’s providential guidance among us when we could not find the places that we were looking for, but in the end everyone was able to finish the activity although sometimes we had to ask Jeepney drivers or take photos according to the requirement of the staff in each station. Most importantly, we found unity and friendship among ourselves.

The advantage of this activity was not only to know Davao city but also to learn and live with new friends in this foreign land. The members, especially the first years and new students, knew each other better. Thanks to the wise activity from our creative staff which helped us know the city and new friends. It was a Good start for this activity because a good experience from this activity can be one of million experiences that we will have here in the Philippines.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Welcome to the Club

Welcome all our new CSsR students to Davao Formation Community for the school year 2010-2011. It has been our trademark now that, unlike other formation houses, here in Saint Alphonsus Theologate, Davao, we welcome our new comers with long days of exhausting meetings. For some, only a few moments later after their feet touched the Davao soil, they already found themselves locked in a meeting room, listening to a discussion of which they had no idea whatsoever. And I’m telling you. This is just the beginning of the all new episode of “Survival SATMI.”

So, one might ask, “what the heck are these meetings all about?” In fact, these meetings at the beginning of the school year are called “the student planning.” It is a venue wherein all the students and formators, aiming at the fulfillment of the core values in the Ratio Formationis, come together, discuss, and plan for the activities and schedules that will be done throughout the whole school year. In addition, the new students will also be introduced to the way of living in this new community. How we do things here. And also how they might get kicked out of the formation program! Of course, there is the pain (3 whole days of meeting is no fun at all), but the gain is also even considerably more beneficial to our growth if we consider ourselves as a mature religious formandee. We are the real co-formators. And we can truly say that this formation program is of us, by us, and for us.

Then, right after the planning is done, another important thing that usually follows is the election of committee coordinators and most significantly the election of the new capo (the head of students). This year the voting was so close that a neck and neck race between the two nominees seemed to go on forever. And finally, at the 7th ballot of voting, we had our new capo, Rufino Jr Mea Macasaet (Jun), a second year student, our hard working, talented, yet very humble brother from the vice province of Manila. Shortly after being elected, Jun expressed his sentiment in his facebook saying, “Now I know what Pope John XXIII felt when he said, ‘They are calling me Pope when I'm just a poor country priest.’ I say, ‘They are calling me Capo when I'm just an ordinary religious.’” Don't worry, Jun, you'll never walk alone.

After we were done with the election, we proceeded to the common room for Gaudeamus, celebrating the end of all the meetings! No, I mean, the beginning of the new school year.(^__^)


Admissions Day and Opening Mass

Please welcome Bro. Mark, another CSsR talented young blood from Singapore, with his first contribution to SATMI blog as he has been assigned as one of the academic committee members. We are looking forward to a lot more articles from him this year. Stay tuned.

Today was an exciting day for all of us here at SATMI. Well at least exciting for one person, me! After all the years in formation, aspirancy, postulancy and novitiate, I finally get to be enrolled as a student here at SATMI. I almost felt like a leprechaun who had finally found his pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Well almost. However this could also be attributed to a certain feeling of Irishness in the air in these parts of the redemptorist world.

Well after breakfast, all the students gathered excitedly in the AV room for the morning's activity of form filling facilitated very professionally by Ms Ella and Sr Miriam who were both quite the experts in getting a room full of vowed celibate men to do exactly what they wanted. Talk about girl power!

After about an hour or so, most of the students had finished filling up their respective forms except for a few including myself who seemed to take forever to enroll for the huge, tremendous number of classes this semester……5! Ha Ha.

Okay jokes aside, I really felt that this was a milestone day for me. It was the day when I officially began theological studies in the congregation. It was like a coming of age day…. When the boy becomes a man. This analogy admittedly is not original, it is inspired by my novice director. (Still trying to earn brownie points!)

Later that day in the evening, we all gathered for the opening Mass of the academic year. There was a lot of pomp and circumstance including flag bearers, I thought it was like a united nations day! All the students, both internal and external, the faculty and staff processed from the new SATMI building to the day chapel outside. Just in front of the faculty were the student reps from each country proudly carrying the flags of their respective countries. For that evening, I had the privilege of having duel citizenship of both Singapore and Malaysia, as I am the only member of my Vice Province which comprises of both those countries who is in Davao this year and thus carried the flags of both Singapore and Malaysia.

After a very beautiful and inspiring Mass which might have made everyone think twice if not trice or four times before even contemplating to open facebook or even worse, the dreaded farmville instead of the Summa Theologica, we all gathered in the courtyard to have a very very simple, great emphasis on the simple, fellowship under the beautiful night sky.

A simple day but then again, isn’t God found in the simple things in our everyday lives? Till next time. This is Mark signing off.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A new flower bloom for the Redemptorist family.

The day began with a nice sunshine for the for the great occasion which is about to happen in the Redemptorist family. New hopes, joys and dreams were overwhelming of a son in that family. Because it is the day of his ordination as a son of St. Alphonsuns. Rev. Bro. Shaun was getting ordained by his lordship Bishop Manny Cabajar. We the students in the Satmi with the seniors and few of our Redemptorist fathers joined the procession before the mass. Rev. Bro. Shaun with his parents went in front. There was no doubt that the parents of Bro. Shaun would have delighted when their son was about to be ordain as a priest. After all these years parents gave their blessing to their son and now after Shaun’s ordination for the first time he blesses his parents. What a privilege and a blessing to his parents and relatives to have a priest son for their own. The mass for the ordination started with an inspiring hymn. The mass and the ordination rite went smoothly. All the students did their responsible tasks with great enthusiasm. Thus another son of St. Alphonsus was ordained to the priesthood for the province of Cebu. After the ordination mass Rev.Fr. Shaun gave his thanks giving speech. All the conferrers tagged in a community picture with Fr. Shaun. Soon after the ordination mass followed the get together. There were many people including Fr. Shaun’s relations. Few of them gave some speeches about Fr. Shaun’s past life experiences which were inspiring to listen. According to them Fr. Shaun was very kind and polite person which of course we can see it from his simple lifestyle. His father gave a good motivation speech too. After that the long awaited performance was started. Where the Satmi students and the friends of Fr. Shaun during his high school performed their various talents on behalf of newly ordained priest Rev. Fr. Shaun C.Ss.R. And thus end another important occasion in the SATMI.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Our vocation as a religious

We know that at the time of our baptism every Christian has a vocation which is given to us by God. A call from God to holiness and service. This call is lived out by being single, married, ordained as a priest or deacon, or consecrated as a religious brother or sister. The Holy Spirit invites all of us to share our gifts, talents and lives in service to others and to the church. God calls us from a silent voice deep within to “come and follow me”. Discovering the vocation that God has given to us is a process that takes time. Our abilities and talents, the things that we enjoy doing and the things that we dislike. These things can give us some important identifications of what God is asking of us. Once chosen we should know that our vocation is more than our career choice or occupation. It is God’s invitation to live out our commitment to holiness and service in a specific lifestyle that we choose. Therefore we have to place our religious life in the church. Because all of us are called to be religious to become holy in the presence of God thinking about our identity our vocation as religious. Hence we should remember always the new commandment of Jesus and live the values of the Gospel one at a presence in a radical ways. We should give ourselves totally to God and to Him alone. This should be followed by seeking God, community spirit, will to love, say good things about each other and specially forgiveness, because without forgiveness our lives will be useless. Hence it should be a love, affirmation and forgiveness like the Trinity. As religious we have to sanctify our work as religious. Once late pope John Paul II said that “God had to leave the world because people have sent or chased out Him from the world. We religious have to bring him back and made him present in the lives of the people.

One may think that the religious life appears to be a difficult one. But if we look to our own unaided strength, certainly it is. One needs confidence in the goodness and the power of God, whose grace is always sufficient to accomplish what he asks. This trust will be gained by fervent prayer. We must pray in order to know God and do His will and we must also ask for the grace to carry it out promptly. To delay once vocation without a good reason is to risk losing God’s special invitation. Once our founder Saint Alphonsus De Ligouri said that “if they who give a cup of cold water in his name shall not be left without abundant remuneration, how great and incomprehensible must be the reward which a religious who aspires to perfection shall receive for the numberless works of piety which he/she performs everyday; for so many meditations, offices and spiritual readings; for so many acts of mortification and of divine love which he/she daily refers to God’s honor? Do you not know that these good works which are performed through obedience and in compliance with the religious vows; merit a far greater reward than the good works of seculars?”

Therefore religious life must be about seeing what others do not see or saying what others may not say, for whatever reason at whatever price. To live a religious life today takes all the life we have. To live a religious life takes the heart of a hermit, the soul of a mountain climber, the eyes of a lover, the hands of a healer and the mind of a (Guru) teacher. It requires total immersion in the life of Christ and complete consecration on the meaning of the gospel of life today. In the contemporary world religious life is just now emerging from a period that has been both blessed and burdensome. Those of us who are its members continue to face difficult and complex challenges. Therefore the works that lies ahead will require of us open minds, a willingness to surrender and a great deal of sacrifice.