Saturday, October 30, 2010

“Disturb us Lord” SAT Students Mid-year Retreat

After a semester of studying, doing projects and extra-curricular activities, the SAT students had their four days last October 27 – 31, 2010 at the Dominican House of Prayer, Matina, Davao City. It was facilitated by a Passionist priest, Fr. Rogie CastellaƱo, C.P. His view of a retreat is to be disturbed by the Lord. He explained that people might find their life mechanical, scheduled or structured but a retreat is a time for the Lord to come and disturb these kinds of feelings. He further explained that it is not to make life more complicated but to breathe new life into it. It is more of putting things into new perspective. Therefore, he reminded us to pray, to be in silence and to listen to God’s message and God’s will after finishing the first semester.

And to facilitate us in the four days retreat, Fr. Rogie prepared series of reflection sessions. The first and second sessions were focus on reflecting the dry bones in Ezekiel 37. He emphasized that it is the breath of God that gives life to our lives. It is also the challenge to every religious to hope in God to renew them every step of the journey. Session 3 was about recalling our “sequel Christi,” our vocation story. Fr. Rogie encouraged us to remember the moment that we first responded to the “call.” He also wanted us to reflect on the ups and downs of our journey in following Christ. It is like to be in touch with the reason why we follow so that we will know where we are going.

Then, the rest of the sessions are all about deepening our “sequel Christi” with some reflections of the evangelical vows; poverty, chastity and obedience. These sessions reminded us about the meaning of these evangelical vows in relation to our formation and desire to follow Christ as a Redemptorist.
Aside from the formal sessions, Fr. Rogie also helps us in reflection with his downloaded videos from youtube. The videos were short films, some are funny advertisements to amuse us and some are serious dramas that made us stop and reflect about our own lives. In general, the videos were helpful to bring life and point of reflection while listening to the input. And our retreat days will not be complete without our creative opening prayers. We danced and pray through the steps of some bibliodrama dances.

On a personal experience of this mid-year retreat, I really enjoy the light schedule of the retreat. It was also helpful that Fr. Rogie gave a simple but direct message during his inputs and sessions. He was also dynamic in acknowledging the good things of the different cultures present. And the place was very inviting to reflect and to be in touch with our inner stirrings.

In my reflection, during the retreat I was disturbed by the Lord in a good way. I was reminded that what I experienced in the past semester is just part and parcel of my “sequela Christi,” my journey of following Christ. I am also reminded to be in touch with the life giving breath of God to refresh me every time I feel dryness in my life. “Breathe on me, Breath of God”


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Studendate Program Evaluation and Peer Feedbacking:

Looking Back with Gratitude and Continuing the Journey with Hope
The way we live our present life is essentially; how we learned from the lessons of the past; how we discover and appreciate the hidden graces that were and are there; and how we envision our future.

Last October 25- 26, 2010, the Redemptorist Students Community in Davao had its Mid-year Program Evaluation. It is an exercise of critically and honestly evaluating the success and the lapses in terms of the implementation and of the way students responded to the Studendate Program for the present school year. Although there were some gray areas in the process and procedure of the evaluation but the exercise was able to give them a picture of the past, with its graces and lessons.

There is a reason to be grateful since generally the evaluation on the different aspects of the program was good. The students also responded well to the program and did commendable efforts towards its implementation. They, however, are continually challenged not to be complacent. There is nothing that one can do to undo the lapses of the past- there is no reason to cry over a spilled glass of milk but there is reason to cry when one keep on spilling the glass of milk.

On the afternoon of October 26, 2010, after the formal program evaluation a co-formatorship exercise, peer evaluation, was held. The focus of this exercise was on the individual members of the community. It was a venue for the students to express their appreciations, their fraternal love and concern, and their constructive critiques to one another. Fr. Cruzito Manding, C.Ss.R., the student prefect, facilitated the activity. The process this time was different from what has been done before. Each student was still given a sheet of paper for them to write their feedbacks and for them to hand to the concerned individuals. Everyone was given an equal opportunity to give their written feedbacks to their fellow students. But instead of having the formal sharing of feedbacks done within the whole studendate community, they have it within their BEC and Batch groupings.

The Studendate Program Evaluation and the Peer Feedbacking were venues that allow the students to look at the past to discover and to be grateful for the hidden graces that were and are there while being open to be taught by the lapses that were done. It is, moreover, an opportunity to practically examine their visions for the future and a stepping stone for them to continue their journey with hope.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

SATMI Film Festival 2010: The Beginning

October 16, 17 and 18 of this year saw the budding and discovered the talents of the students as the SATMI Film Festival is fashioned. It is a response to the challenges of the times to create an attractive means to sow the Gospel seeds in the heart of the multitudes in a fast changing reality today. Started as the first year’s class requirement, it surprisingly pushed it luck into becoming a SATMI program. With the initiative of the organizer, Bro. JM, and the approval our Dean of Studies, Sr. Miriam, the Film Festival is formalized. To make it more appealing and as a SATMI’s effort, the second year students contributed to the creativity of the event through their exhibits while the fourth year students conducted seminars on scriptures on the 17th. The endeavor is great and ambitious. Consequently, though, despite its idealism and complexity, it made the students bring out their best in the enterprise. It has now become part of the SATMI history that etched consciousness to the needs of the time, meaning and beauty to the religious education of the institution.

Certainly, all of us learn to stand and walk with a guide. And sometimes, you will need a push to start pondering about a journey. Personally speaking, as we make the film, it feels like a baby learning the balance and the steps, and that, I believe, you will never know how far you can reach if you will not dare to take a step. The SATMI Film Festival is a great opportunity to experience something new in the institution through the trust and belief of all who have pushed it to happen and made us walk the path. It is a meaningful experience.

It makes me grateful recalling what have happened along the way. As we prepare and discuss about the movie, we could not find an assuring direction. Our ideas are scattered. Our concepts are confronted with the realities we encountered and need to address. We relied much on our inner resources and the expenses on our pockets and of course God’s providence. There are moments when we have to decide not to include a certain idea for time and financial constraint. There are a lot of considerations: cast, script, message, finances, time, venue, and devices. Amidst the odds, we continued the endeavor hoping to find a light on the way. God has been good. He provided. It seems so exceptional that things work out after all.

From the experience, I begin to be conscious not just how the story flows, imparts its message and ends but of how movies are created. It was a series of thorough analysis and repetitions in the taping. Tough situations make strong character. What is true with our experience is that the lessons learned mostly come from what we have been through and not what we have reached. I will always carry the inspiration that says, “Life is not about the destination but rather it is about the journey.” I will be forever grateful for the friendship built among the members of the group and the casts, the talents that was discovered, the support and encouragement of Sr. Miriam that we are able to come up with the idea, the tensions between us that made us strong, the guidance of God as we discerned for His message and His revelation in the generosity and kindness of the people we met and supported us along the way. These are the treasures worth keeping.

The seed has been planted. I am hopeful that this beginning will inspire the future of the institution. Time and circumstance is constantly calling for versatility in proclaiming the Gospel. God speaks through various ways.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Theological Synthesis

“I don’t want to be an eagle, nor do I want to be a worm. What I want is to simply be a priest with a soft heart but a sharp mind.”

After semester- long laboring, the final day had come (Though it was not really final and it was a week rather than a day.” On the last week of the past month (September), SATMI had devoted its whole afternoon for an event called “public lecture.” This public lecture was part of the theological synthesis of the fifth year students who were moving toward their graduation in the near future. 

Before I would tell about the actual experience from the public lecture, I would like to tell you a little bit about this theological synthesis. It had been a tradition here in SATMI that on the last year in their academic life, students would be asked to do systematic theological synthesis. It was a time when students would synthesize all the scriptural-theological-moral -pastoral learning they had for years in this institute and came up with a systematic presentation to prepare a ground for them before they would exposed themselves in their future ministry. 

This year, academic council had decided to change the method from synthesizing each subject separately to make it as a whole in order to respond to the given pastoral issue. After choosing the topic (pastoral urgency) prepared by the council, the students used their first semester to develop their topics in the related areas such as biblical, doctrinal, moral and pastoral aspects. In developing their topics on the basic area mentioned above students are ask to come up with a presentation (public lecture) of their topic at the end of the first semester before professors and other students. However the challenge did not end here and the work were still ongoing because students had to develop their topic into an academic paper on the second semester. 

Here we arrived at the point of public lecture; the week was heavy but fruitful for every fifth year students who worked so hard with their mentor (Bro. Ramon.) At the public lecture, after presenting their topic, everyone would receive feedback, comment, and suggestion from panelists to improve their work in the future (next semester.) It was a good academic experience indeed and we would like to use this moment to show our appreciation and gratitude for everyone who had also worked hard to make this project came true.

Personally, I felt more challenged to apply this method in our synthesis because in the process I did not only  have to review, summarize and remember the studies that I had for many years but also to be able to see their connection to the real pastoral situation, to make a criticism and to suggest some possible solutions on the ground I had founded from m study. It was a exercise of mind indeed that I was challenged to have a critical mind to see the whole picture of the pastoral issue I had chosen while at the same time be sensitive to the outcome of the pastoral guidance that I may give in order to respond properly to such an issue.

Even tough, public lecture was done, the study was still going on and there will be a lot to learn next semester. I at the moment felt that I started to become a minister with a soft heart and sharp mind as our synthesis intended. Thanks be to God.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Eden Nature Integration

Last September 22, 2010 was the integration for the First Year SATMI students in Eden Nature Park. This is part of our activities in studying Introduction to Sacred Scriptures with Sr. Miriam Alejandrino, OSB as professor. The said trip was participated by (15) fifteen first year students from different congregations, like C.Ss.R, TOR, Marist, CFIC and our guest priests Frs. Caloy and Meechai. Some were first timers in this place and some have gone here many times but they still consider this place a paradise.

We started our activities with the morning prayer led by Sr. Miriam. We experienced God’s presence among us and in the place. Of Course, strolling around the vicinity followed. As tourists, we were privileged to be toured and oriented to different attractions in the place like the bio-organic garden, the wonderful view overlooking the city of Davao, the different cottages of the indigenous people of Davao and many others. We also witnessed the beauty of God’s creation. We inhaled fresh air. We were greeted by the dances of flowers and trees in the vast fields, and the songs of birds which added to the inviting serenity that filled the place. Our morning activities ended with the most awaited part – snacks.

Our afternoon session began with a reflection on Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build labour in vain, Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain”. We were instructed to express our reflection through poem, essay, drawing or song lyrics. As I reflected on the activity which Sr. Miriam gave to us, I realized that the main purpose of us coming here was to witness the integrity of creation, to appreciate and enjoy God’s craftsmanship. The text led us to a deeper level of reflection and contemplation, and enabled us to tap our inner resources as we childlikely basked in the unspeakable pulchritude of the “tall trees and the green world”. Nonetheless, we became aware that God was really present in us through his creation. Without him we are nothing. And we are challenged that in everything we do we should be anchored in God’s will.

Finally, we finished our individual reflection, the group was ready and set for the skyride. Everybody enjoyed the said activity and even wanted to have some more rides if it had not been for the expensive cost. Most of us were first timers to take this ride yet certainly we enjoyed. Before we left the area we capped the day with our last ritual prayer led by Sr. Miriam and off we went... Home sweet home .