Preparation Program for Perpetual Profession of Vows 2019

LOMERI, FIJI—We are now at the end of our 8-week long preparation for perpetual profession here in Marist Brothers Novitiate where we arrived last May 24. We, the 15 participants from six different countries, are the following

District of Melanesia
1. Dominic Nekebatu (Solomon Islands)
2. Jeremy Wabi (Bougainville)

Compostela Province
1. Fabio Oliveira (Portugal)

Marist District of Asia
1. Cong Nguyen (Vietnam)
2. Quy Nguyen (Vietnam)

East Asia Province
A. Philippine Sector
1. John Emil Alada (Philippines)
2. Rechie Dean Bagsican (Philippines)
3. Raymund Gallardo (Philippines)
4. Lloyd Gamboa (Philippines)
5. Deo Dudz Hizo (Philippines)
6. Philip Caesar Renacia (Philippines)
7. Cian Marco Tabuada (Philippines)
8. John Allen Timola (Philippines)
9. Aljon Yonder (Philippines)

B. Korea-Japan Sector
1. Moses Cho (South Korea)

Along with the Novitiate community, we were welcomed by the Preparation Team headed by Br. Bryan Davis (Australia), Br. Jacobo Song (South Korea), and Br. Ted Fernandez (Philippines).

Br. Bryan Davis led the first week with “Vocational Quest”, where we shared about our vocation stories, our questions on religious life, discernment, meaning of life for us, and our hopes and expectations.

Br. Graham Neist presented the topic on Listening and Responding Contemplatively, where contemplative practice and “turning up” (presence) appealed to us.

Br. Michael Green presented us Marcellin’s Spirituality according to the vows, wherein the “bon enfant” style of being a brother, a down-to-earth way of being a brother, struck us the most.

Br. Sean Sammon presented An Undivided Heart, a topic on celibate chaste living, and even gave out copies of his book.

Br. Barry Burns presented Living Simply, a connection of our vow of poverty with our pope’s call to care for our common home.

Br. Tony Leon presented Brothers Today as an epic love story, and he even prompted us to make our own artworks.

Br. Angel Medina presented New Expressions of Marist Life, particularly the La Valla 200 Program.

In the midst of the program, the brothers enjoyed going to the nearby beach in Loloma to swim and play volleyball. But what excited them most was drinking kava, a must-try local drink here. Each brother even bought Bula shirts and some even wore Fijian sulu.

Our final week of the program is dedicated to what we call as the Synthesis, wherein each brother will make a creative presentation of all their experiences of the program with songs, dance, music, artworks, poetry, crafts, video presentation, and even told their own life stories.

And now, our hope for the future is that we would bring all of these learning into our respective communities and our ministries.

Please pray for us. 🙏

An encounter with a Dominican priest

MALAYBALAY CITY, MINDANAO — After the Easter vigil this Saturday night, we had a festive dinner followed by socials with matching drinks and dessert. After getting my allowance (which is not that much), I was talking to Br. Romy and asked him about the Starex vehicle that broke down in Damulog. Since his group was on the broken vehicle driven by Br. Joe that arrived at 8pm last Monday, I mentioned about our retreat facilitator and how he started the retreat with an orientation.

The Habit
Our retreat facilitator, Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., is a Dominican priest who was the former Rector of University of Santo Tomas. When he entered the Manresa conference room here in a Jesuit Retreat House, he was wearing his Habit. His wearing of Habit is not about his being a Dominican Order of Preachers giving a retreat in a Jesuit retreat house (while co-presiding a Mass with a Jesuit priest, they assured us that it’s not yet the end of the world). He emphasised at the start of this week long retreat that his attire is to remind us that the success of the retreat mainly depends on the disposition of the listener, meaning us Marist Brothers present.

The greatest truths are the simplest ones
There are lots of take aways from the seven sessions but I will mention the simplest ones since St. Thomas Aquinas said that the greatest truths are the simplest ones.

On poverty
1. “When God is all we have, we realize that God is all we need.”

On Sinning
1. “There are no private sins. All sins are communal (1 Cor. 12:26).”
2. “Sin brings its own punishment (Deut.6:15).”
3. “Unconfessed Habitual Sin causes Moral Anesthesia.”
4.If the devil cannot make you Sin, he will make you busy.”
5. “If I am full of myself, I am empty.”
6. “Hurt people hurt people.”

On Change
1. “Only the dead does not change.”

On dreaming
1. “You cannot outdream God.”

On love
1. “We become what we love.”
2. “We cannot love that which we do not understand.”

On Forgiveness
1. “Forgiveness does not change the past but enlarges the future.”
2. “Even when reconciliation is not possible, forgive.”
3. “If one forgives, one must remember.”

On classics
1. “A classic is timeless because it is forever timely.”

On hermeneutics
1. “Every translation is an interpretation.”

On presence
1. A bra is someone close to the heart and is there to support.”

On peaceful living
1. “A peaceful life is an orderly life.”

There are lots worth mentioning and I’ll update this post once I remember them.

The reason why I tell lies about our house when I was twelve

If you ask me about our house when I was twelve, I might have told you a lie. I might have told you that I live in a big house with rich neighbors in a subdivision. As I recall it, I refuse to tell where I live in whenever someone asks. Why? Reason: bullying in school.

I’m bullied most of the time in school. My classmates call me names such as a “son of janitor” or a “squatter”. In truth, both of them are not true. Yes, I am a son of an employee but my father was a school electrician not a janitor. I might be living on a poor settlement site but we are not squatters. Though we are still playing our lot, we still own our house. Our house is just small, only a mere two-storey building with an area of 40 square meters. The house exterior is not even painted. Why we were living there is a painful story to tell.

We just transferred since we got booted out with the government demolishing our house. I do not really know why and how that happened but I heard that we raised the issue in court. We had a document proving our grandfather owned a title of the land but the court said it was invalid. Too bad, the document was still written in Spanish and not renewed. That explains why we live in a cramped house. We desperately needed a house to stay in. We are seven in the family but we have no other choice but to stay in a small place.

During sleeping time, we roll in some sleeping mat in the first floor. This is where I, our youngest sister, and my parents would sleep in. My other siblings would sleep upstairs with my eldest sister in a bed, my two brothers in a double-deck.

Like any other kid with my age, I spend most of my time in school. If not studying, I’m with the chess varsity training. If I’m not in school, I’m playing games with kids in the neighborhood. I’m usually out of our house. Now, I wonder why is it I’m always out of our house? I guess I’m just enjoying the best out of my childhood. I’m still a kid, right?

This was thirteen years ago.

Writing Prompt: Writing 101—Size Matters (Assignment 11)