Author Archives: rfcdavao

About rfcdavao

Redemptorist Formation Community is the is a community of the Asia-Oceania conference aimed to form missionaries across Asia nourished with the love of Christ the Redeemer manifested in the diverse communities of the Asian cultures.

A Hundred Years of Gratitude

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Photo Credit: EJ Frenandez

 

      I have often said at a few events where my books were launched that I write primarily for my family, confreres, and friends. This is even more true with A HUNDRED YEARS OF GRATITUDE.  Like the winner of  Nobel Peace Prize for Literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, while I write, I have the faces of those I have a deep affection for in my mind.  This has made it far easier for me to commit words to paper when I find myself in the mood to textualize deep thoughts, feelings, and reflections.

      I am turning 70 years old in June 2017,  This year, I also celebrate my 30th year as a Redemptorist brother (I entered the postulancy program in 1985, had my first profession in 1987 and my final profession in 1990). That explains the number one hundred in the book’s title. For this double celebration, I thought I would come up with a book that will express my deep gratitude to God, to my family,  the congregation and my friends. For it has been only through the Lord’s blessings and compassion and the love showered on me by family, confreres, and friends that I have survived the various vicissitudes of life, whether tragic or comic, desperate and frustrating, pleasurable or miserable, delightful or sorrowful.

        Truly I have been blessed with precious treasures which are kinships, friendships, and confrereships. In celebrating all these, I thought it would be best to tell stories and having lived a full life, there are a lot of narratives to share. Some of the essays that are compiled in this anthology are articles I have written through the years. Some were published in the online news agency known as Mindanews, a few in my journals (which I keep intermittently especially when I am in the missions) and a few more written for this anthology.

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         There are four sections in this anthology including 1) Biographical Sketches (or those that help to chronicle my inter-action with family, engagements before I joined the Redemptorists, and my life as a Redemptorist Brother, 2) People who mattered to me (from congregations like the Jesuits and Claretians, to those I idolized in my youth such as Bishop Federico Escaler, former classmates and co-workers (there is an essay on PRRD) and friends, 3) Advocacies that I consider my passions in terms of engagement with social and ecological concerns (mainly solidarity work with Lumad, inter-faith dialogue in the context of peacebuilding, climate justice, and disaster response), and 4) Reviews of films, books and art exhibits by mainly Mindanawon artists and cultural workers.

          There is the last section of the book which allows the voices of confreres and friends to critique the anthology as well as reveal how our friendships arose and have been sustained through the years.  There are those who I knew since way back my college years, my childhood friends and school chums, my co-workers in CSOs where I worked before joining the congregation, former students, surrogate children and confreres (I am truly grateful that ex-seminarians Belindo Aguilar, Pals Padilla and Danilo Agustin Jr. as well as confreres like Fr. Picx Picardal, Fr. Jun Butlig and Fr. Richie Cuaton  also contributed pieces). Interspersed with the texts are artworks of artist friends.  I also appreciate very much the work of the editors (Ms. Carol Arguilas and Ms. Pam del Rosario-Castrillo), the book cover design and lay-out (Abe Garcia Jr) and the publisher (Peter Paul Elicor of the Alithea Publications).

            The books has been  launched at various sites: at  the Urios University in Butuan City on January 26, 2017, at ADDU during the Abdon Josol Lecture Series last February 4, at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City on Feb. 8, at MSU-IIT in Iligan City and  on Feb. 9 (thanks to Fr. Nono Reiteracion and Fr. Oming Oback who provided backup support). A future book launch will be in Malaybalay City, Zamboanga City and Metro Manila.  Copies are available for sale at the Daughters of St. Paul Sisters Bookstore in front of UM in Davao City and at SATMI.

Karl M. Gaspar, CSsR

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Photo Credit: Ariel Lumaad

 

 

About the Author:

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Brother Karl M. Gaspar, CSsR is currently the Dean of Studies at St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute (SATMI) in Davao City and a professor of Anthropology at the Ateneo de Davao University. A prolific writer who authored several books including, “Desperately Seeking God’s Saving Action: Yolanda Survivors’ Hope Beyond Heartbreaking Lamentations” and two books on Davao history launched in December 2015.

New Year! New Day! New Hope!

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The last year 2016 there were many circumstances that had happened in my life.  Some were good memories that I want to keep in my mind, at the same time, there were some memories that I want to erase and pray that it will never happen again. Every year, I am growing and learning more about myself together with other people whom I journeyed with. There are many things that I now realize and there are some that I understand by the help of others. This New Year is a good year, with the hope that there will be many good things that will happen and I look forward to exploring more about the world in which I need to see.

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     Every day is a new day.  I am learning every day with my life in order to understand myself more. Normally I will not let any bad attitude to disturb my thoughts because yesterday is already done. I cannot go back and fix it bearing in mind that I still have today and tomorrow. I see my yesterday as my big library that every time I have problems in my life I will go back to some shelf and look for the book of experience that I can use in order to understand the many challenges that I have to face.

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     I strongly hope to know and understand more this year 2017. Life is a long process; I don’t see myself as an expert at some particular aspects of life. Every day is a new beginning for me. Life is full of surprises, no one knows, only God knows everything that will happen with me. All I have to do is to believe and trust that He will guide and protect me in every step of the way.

Happy New Year!

 

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In this photo: Banky (Right), Fr. Prud (Center), James (Right)

 

 

About the Author:

Thanapong Sawangtummakul, CSsR is a Redemptorist Missionary from the Province of Thailand. He is now in his 2nd year Theological Studies. “Banky” as he is fondly called in the community is a multi-talented brother who loves music. He is also a superb cook best known for his signature Thai dishes.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the Year..!”

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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” as the popular christmas song goes.It is indeed the most wonderful time since it is only during Christmas that everyone is very generous to give something to his or her loved ones. The downpour of gifts and of hosting parties are almost everyhwere that you cannot help but count when will be the next reunion or gathering one will attend to. It is also the busiest time in the Church’s calendar since every faithful is preparing internally/externally for this season. It kicked off wth the preparation during Advent – wherein every faithful’s mood is also attuned with the lighting of candle – Waiting is the key term during this season.

RFC joins this celebration within the calendar of our Church. After the school break from SATMI, our brothers from different units of the Asia-Oceania spend their precious Christmas vacation across local houses of VP-Manila. Our Thai brothers took this opportune time to be immersed with the different apostolic engagements of the unit. Some were sent to the National Shrine in Baclaran others were engaged in the mission teams of Legaspi, Ilocos Region and Palawan areas. In the south our brothers from Cebu, Indonesia, Sri-Lanka and Vietnam also took this moment to nourish their pastoral formation  in the different apostolic engagements of Davao Mission and Formation Community. Our Cebu brothers joined the Mission team in Bukidnon while the rest were engaged in parish activities of Redemptorist Davao.

Christmas won’t be the same if one does spend it in a meaningful way. And for us in RFC celebrating Christmas will always have a touch of Missionary spirit!

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Disconnect…Reconnect…Love!

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Disconnect…

Our five-day retreat began by the invitation to disconnect from our routine life as a prerequisite to enter into the sacred presence of God. Fortunately, the Benedictine Retreat House provided a good venue to disconnect us from our busy academic life. This enabled us to be mindful of ourselves and God. To be in God’s presence requires us to dispose of ourselves in a prayerful manner. By doing so, we were able to communicate with God through silence and words. It was not easy to be disconnected from our routine life. However, by God’s grace, I was able to live in a sacred moment with Him. When we disconnect ourselves from the routine realm of our life, our “chronos” sense of time turns into a “kairos” experience. This is the moment when we enter into God’s time, and that through the grace of the Holy Spirit we are able to discern our life, especially our religious missionary life.

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Reconnect…

The moment we disconnect from something, we are connecting or reconnecting to something new or that we have forgotten or taken for granted. In our retreat, we were reminded of our Redemptorist identity. This challenged us to reconnect again to the very core of who we are as Redemptorists. Fr. Sonny, our retreat facilitator, reminded and reconnected us by reflecting on our Constitutions and Statutes of the Congregation. Our Constitutions and Statutes said that a Redemptorist Missionary is “Strong in faith, rejoicing in hope, burning with charity, on fire with zeal, in humility of heart and persevering in prayer, Redemptorists as apostolic men and genuine disciples of St. Alphonsus follow Christ the Redeemer with hearts full of joy; denying themselves and always ready to undertake what is demanding, they share in the mystery of Christ and proclaim it in Gospel simplicity of life and language, that they may bring to people plentiful redemption (Constitution 20).” These very descriptions of a Redemptorist are able to capture our missionary spirit and identity. But this is somehow very ideal. Probably our founders and predecessors were the only ones who were able to imbibe this missionary spirit for even myself is struggling to live and give witness to the rule of our life. We know that this is our identity and that this should be the way to live and understand it. However, we also have our own understanding, priority, and will that we follow.

When Peter was asked by Jesus, “Who do you say I am?” With eagerness, Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” But when Jesus tried to explain how it is to live a Messiah, “to be killed and on the third day be raised,” Peter immediately changed his spirit and was absorbed by his own will, priority, and understanding. Therefore, Jesus reprimanded the dual character of Peter. This is the same with our religious life; sometimes we are living on our own “will” that deviate us from our very identity. We know the ideal but we never actualize it in the way we live. Indeed, the challenge is to continually anchor our life into the life that we are embracing now, that is, religious-missionary Redemptorist. Constitution 20 may be an ideal Redemptorist but to give witness and to live it in the grace of God is what we ought to do. We then, reconnect to the very core of our religious identity and to the will of the Father in our missionary life that we may be able to disconnect from our own desire and priority.

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Love!

To reconnect from our identity is also to remember the love that we experienced as the main reason that we responded to His calling; the experience of the overflowing love of God for us. This is the love that urges us to share to others through our religious-missionary life. To rekindle this is to ask the same question, “Where are you staying, [Lord]?” (John 1:35-42) And to invite us again, “Come and see.”

The encounter of Jesus and the first two disciples in the Gospel of John will always remind me of my vocation as Jesus continually invites me to follow him, as a “Come and See” experience of my calling. I know that to follow Jesus is to radically leave my prior commitments in life and to receive new life in him. But more than just radical commitment in Jesus and receiving new life, Jesus continually invites me in his mission area. Hence, the first nameless two disciples represent us, Redemptorists, who are continually seeking and following Jesus.

Jesus asked, “What are you looking for?” Then I respond, “Where are you staying?” And Jesus looks to me intently saying, “Come and you will see.” I went and I saw where he was staying. Jesus was living among the poor and the most abandoned. He was living with them and this is what he wants me to do also, to live with the poor people and to let him be present among the destitute of our society so that I may be able to share the life and love that Jesus is so eager to give to us all. Therefore, I stayed with him that very moment when I said “yes” to my missionary vocation.

A radical commitment to the mission is what Jesus is asking us; ready to leave the “nets and boats” (Matthew 4: 18-22) in life so that we can easily take another means of going to the mission. And that we may be able to share the love that we first experience in Him. It may be hard at first but it is fulfilling just like the two disciples who willingly and happily left everything and followed Jesus Christ.

We disconnect from our own desire, reconnect to the will and mission of God and to experience and share again and again the Love that He gave to us.

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About the Author:

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Edward Allan Pandaan, CSsR is a member of the Redemptorist Missionaries from the Vice-Province of Manila. He is now in his 4th year Theological studies and is preparing for his synthesis paper as one the requirements of the priestly academic formation in RFC.

Thoughts on Formation

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The formation process of a seminarian is not like a fairy tale. It is not only touching someone’s mind but also it touches every aspect of his being in relation to his experience. A seminarian is not only shaped by sufficient knowledge and freedom to choose his way of life but also of the experience of family life from which he originated. For example, if he is an only child or the eldest son, he has a different internal struggle. There are some who face the responsibility of caring for their parents and siblings. Or some face the discernment between the love of service to the Church or to only one person.

These are just some of the realities that a seminarian encountered and must never be disregarded. There are many seminarians and priests who do not seriously treat this case. As a result, they stumble on this problem and jeopardize their vocation.

Beautiful words may be necessary but this cannot be served as the only solution. Witnessing of the vowed life is the best example especially with those involved in the formation. Seniors who are not only done with their formation but also as priests or formators are supposed to be the real examples. Unfortunately, these things I believe are usually realized by a seminarian, but less able to present it to the formators. Or sometimes formators realized it but has not seen as a top priority.

So, how should we address this? As a candidate for the priesthood, I believe we should focus on our courage to face the realities and be responsible.

Novirius Caesarius Tse, CSsR is a Redemptorist Missionary of the Province of Indonesia. Novri , as he is called in the community, has just professed his perpetual vows to the congregation last year 2015. Currently, he is preparing for his ordination to the diaconate which will be solemnized here in Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church, Davao City, Philippines.

 

Love or Hate: A Reflection on Pres. Duterte and His Presidency

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Vincent Chloe Que, CSsR

 

Have you eaten Durian? Do you like the smell or taste of it? These are some of the questions that welcomed me as I arrived in Davao. I get the impression that Durian is a love or hate fruit; its either you love it or you hate it.  This quite resonates the presidency of the former mayor of Davao – Rodrigo R. Duterte. People get asked, “Do you like him?” apparently, like Durian, many people love Duterte and to some, they hate him and his ways.

In our recent forum about the presidency of Duterte and its challenges to the Catholic Church, Bro. Karl shed light as to why the majority of the Filipinos seem to be consenting of Duterte’s violent ways. The tribal mentality of morality based on communitarian principles, not in the belief of a deity, still prevails in us Filipinos. Which puts the Catholic Church into questioning; what have we did for the past 500 years?

I cannot agree more with Bro Karl’s presentation: the violent ways of Duterte are not necessarily moral but it appeals to the people. What alarms me as a religious is the fact that people care less whether it is moral or not; the more urgent question is, “does it work?” When confronted with the choice of the good of the many and the good of the few I would readily choose the good of the many. But if it cost the lives of those few, deep inside it feels wrong. What if there is no other way, what do we do? Or is there really no other way? Am I just tired of looking for creative ways to be effective yet remain humane and Christ-like? Do I have a crisis of Hope to look into better possibilities that I seem to settle for what is here now, even if it compromises my conscience?

I like Duterte, his vision, his sincerity, his simplicity, and his love for the country. But even if there is due process, taking a person’s life can never be acceptable for my conscience. The culture of death that is creeping into our country is scary. The choices and dilemmas we are confronted today are consequences of the choices we made in the past. So think again and consider the future, will we be able to love it or we’ll just throw our hands down and hate it?

 

Vincent Chloe Que, CSsR is a student of the Redemptorist Missionaries – Cebu Province. Chloe, as he is fondly called in the community, is in his 1st-year theology in SATMI. Currently, he is a member of the Pastoral Committee and of the Vocations Ministry in Davao Community. After attending the Academic Forum given by Br. Karl Gaspar, CSsR he was then asked by the admin of this blog to share his own reflection.

We Redemptorist don’t say goodbye, We only say see you again….

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Mark Anthony Benedicto, CSsR     (July 11, 2016)

“Never say goodbye because saying goodbye means going away

and going away means forgetting.”

-Peter Pan

Sometimes it’s really hard for us to say goodbye, especially to a person who became part and filled a role in our journey. But as a missionary and a Redemptorist, St. Alphonsus our founder would say that we should not be attached to anything that will hinder us in our mission, be ready  to respond to any work especially to those in need. It is our way of responding to the signs of the times.

Fr. David Ketsurin, CSsR was one of the prominent formator who gave himself for almost 6 years in the Redemptorist Formation Community in Davao. Within those years, he was being partnered with different formators. In every other year most of his co-formators were reassigned again to different units in the conference thus left him alone, but Fr. David continue to humbled himself and carry on with his mission, that is, to be part of the journey, struggles and growth of every student in Davao.  We can say that he had a unique approach in formation that is why he was loved by his students and became “famous” while enjoying his call and mission.

To show our love and gratitude to him, the RFC Council and the rest of the community, were gathered in our common room to offer Baici (a ritual of blessing from Laos) which is done through tying a holy thread into the wrist while offering and saying our prayers, blessings and thankfulness to the one whom we honored. As part of the ritual everyone offered Fr. David a drink which symbolizes our wishes for success in his missionary life and to celebrate all his good deeds. After saying the blessing and gratitude to Fr. David, the members of the community, including our senior professed, had a chance to bless and pray to each other through this ritual. And the celebration continued with fellowship while eating authentic Thai noodles prepared by our Thai confreres.

The farewell Party of Fr. David Ketsurin, CSsR last July was an event filled with mixed emotions and inspirations. I can say that the missionary life exemplifies that there is no permanent in this world and we are always ready to go out from our comfort zones. Through this kind of life we are given a chance to explore the world and share the love of God in every place that were assigned to. Farewell party is not only a venue to say goodbye to the person whom we honored but it is also a way to remember all the blessings that God has endowed us. As they say, people come and go in our journey but the experiences and learning will remain in order for us to treasure and reminisce until the time we meet again…

About the Author:

Mark Anthony Benedicto, CSsR is a Redemptorist from the Vice-Province of Manila. He is currently in his 4th Year of theological studies in SATMI and this year’s Vice-Caput of the RFC. He spent his immersion year last 2015 in the Democratic Republic of Laos and took his experience as the background of the “farewell ritual” for Fr. David.