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.

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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.

Installations!

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Formation community once again has conducted a ceremony last January 27, 2016 for the installation of our First Year brothers to the ministries of Lector and Acolyte. It was  indeed a memorable event for our brothers. It was presided by Fr. Bert Cepe, CSsR and witnessed by the members of the community.

These ministries were not only for ceremonial purposes or requirements to the priestly formation but more importantly as ministries of service to the Church. The event was followed by community celebration since the date marks the Feast Day of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.

RFC Welcomes First Years!

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As the new formation year 2016-2017 starts in RFC so does the community welcomes its new members,the incoming First Years. Faithful to the thrust of having a multi-cultural formation these newly professed members of the Congregation are welcomed with fun and formation-related games. These new batch comprises the following students of different units: Province of Cebu (6), Province of Thailand (3), Vice-Province of Manila (2) and including the fifth years from the Province of Indonesia.

SATMI Sports Day

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February 25, 2016 – The Redemptorist Formation Community joined the Sports Day 2016 initiated by the Saint Alphonsus’ Theological and Missiological Institute to build camaraderie among students and staffs. Rev. Fr. Victorino Cueto, SATMI director opened the event with a cutting of the ribbon. Games such as Volleyball, Basketball , Badminton and some parlor games were played. The said event was attended by guests coming from the family and friends of staffs and students as well as some of the professors from Ateneo De Davao University._MG_0565 _MG_0528 _MG_0524 _MG_0518 _MG_0388 _MG_0327 _MG_0293 _MG_0287 _MG_0277 _MG_0257 _MG_0205 _MG_0166 _MG_0102 _MG_0091