Happy 400th Anniversary Of Vincentian Charism (1617-2017)!
(Volume 25. No.1. Quezon City. January 31,2017. Edited by Fr.DelaGoza,CM)
Happy 400th Anniversary of Vincentian Charism (1617-2017)!
857. 400th Anniversary of the Vincentian Charism (January 25,1617-2017). The crescendo moment of the 400th Anniversary preparations of the Philippine Province reached its peak with the official launching at the Santuario de San Vicente de Paul at T.Sora Ave. QC. More than a thousand persons: Bishops, Priests, Brothers, Sisters and lay persons, all imbued with the spirit of St.Vincent de Paul, filled the huge Shrine which coincidentally is named after St.Vincent de Paul. Three Bishops were present: Bishop Antonio Tobias, the Ordinary of the place, Archbishop Jesus Dosado, CM, and Bishop Rolando Santos CM. Bishop Santos presided at the Holy Eucharist and Fr.Serafin Peralta delivered the homily. There were 80 Vincentians and some secular priests headed by Fr.Venerando Agner, CM, the Provincial Superior and his council. Moreover Filipino Vincentian Missionaries came from as far as Japan, Lebanon, Thailand, PNG, etc. with the Japan Mission confreres coming in full force (four of them). The members of around 20 organizations of the Vincentian Family, notably the Daughters of Charity, the Ladies of Charity, the SSVP, etc., came in full force swelling to over a thousand people inside the Santuario. The individual banners bearing the “Logo and Motto” of the 20 organizations affiliated to the CMPhilippine Province were proudly displayed inside the Church and a drone obligingly flew inside the Church to take pictures of the affair notably the sky picture of the interior of the Santuario.
After the Holy Eucharist there were catered lunch, the special programs and meetings which included tour of the Seminary complex and museum, some songs and dance presentations, the Vespers and dinner for the confreres. During Vespers, Fr.Agner delivered a sharing of his vocation story which helped galvanize and center the celebration. After dinner at the DePaul House, the seminarians, Priests and some guest performers regaled the Priests with their musical talents.
The January 25 launching of the 400th Year of Vincentian Charism was a celebration but was also a reminder to all Confreres that the spirit of St. Vincent is very much alive and that we should “live the Legacy” by embibing and spreading it to the whole wide world. It was a truly Global Vincentian celebration.
858. Emotional, Happy,and Vincentian Spiritual Retreat (January 19 -24, Alfonso, Cavite). It must have been one of the most dramatic Spiritual Retreat which coincided with the 400th Anniversary of the Birth of Vincentian Charism and it was emotional, happy and mental as well.
It is hard to pin-point the most important meaning of the Spiritual Retreat which got together almost 90 confreres(89 after one confrere did not come due to sickness), including our two beloved Bishops: Bishop Dosado and Bishop Santos. There were calls for renewal and change but the message of change of mentality was probably the strongest. They came from the expert speakers, from the Vincentian Family which included lay persons, Sister and Vincentians. Our Father Provincial had several reminders and one of them is mental change of attitude in serving poor and in our own personal lives. He noted that personal needs are often on the way of our service to the needy. This spiritual retreat should be reflected upon as a start of our going back to our Vincentian Legacy. Below are some important moments by one who has tried to live the Vincentian charism during the past 50 years:
Moments of Surprises. They say that God is a God of surprises (Deus est Deus Novitatis). This year’s retreat is a further proof of this saying. For indeed many of the 80 or so Vincentians were pleasantly surprised by the spiritually-enhancing and beautiful venue, the excellent speakers and the overall efficient organization of the Spiritual Retreat. For most of us the St. Paul Center at Alfonso Cavite was a geographical version of a Garden of Eden(with some exaggerations, although it could have more varieties of trees and plants than many imaginable places). The facilities were spiritually conducive and the rooms and the meeting rooms were first class standard. The Sisters and the staff went out of their way to give us special attention especially because the Mother Superior was with Fr.Bing Caintic at the Nunciature. The speakers were kept secret up to the last moment and most of us were happily surprised and edified. They not only provided for some mind-changing inspiration but also elevated our Vincentian consciousness. Surprisingly the lay speakers sounded more Vincentians at least in spirit and in the way they developed their topics. The interventions were full of surprises not only for the surprising people but for the surprising content. Surprisingly, it could be classified as one of the best organized and emceed Spiritual Retreat including those we have attended abroad.
Moments of Emotions. Maybe this spiritual Retreat is also striking for the emotional manifestations shown by the confreres. The dominant emotions in favor of spiritual renewal were affected by some fears, worries, and desire for change. The Holy Masses and some of the sharings were really emotionally spiritual in tone and greatly appreciated by all. The talks elicited varying emotions which could be looked upon according to one’s mental capacity, training, social backgrounds, etc. Someone mentioned “quidquid recipitur, ad modum recipientis recipitur.” Some statements which looked innocent enough were looked upon as purely rebellious, other statements which were considered out of Christian ethics, were considered situationally accurate. Some did not hide their emotions, others tuned their emotions and others had no chance to express their emotions for lack of time. The example of outsiders living a much more Vincentian way of life (Is this how you live your Vincentian poverty?) cannot be have a harmonic chord in one’s heart. Overall, the emotions were happy, spiritually enhancing and mind-changing. Thanks be to God.
Vincentian Moments? The future of the world is darkly shrouded in mystery but the Vincentians in the Philippines found the time to reflect deeply and in a soul searching way. That was rightly so since the retreat coincided with the start of the 400th anniversary of the celebration of the Vincentian charism. But more than the scholarly and inspiring words, other moments conspired to give a Vincentian flavor to the occasion. There were regular Holy Eucharist, Lauds, Holy Hour and Vespers. The name of st.Vincent was uttered left and right with appreciation and reverence. Arguments were solved or toned down by the quotations and reference to our saintly founder and the confreres showed quite a Vincentian demeanor. This year was something special with the presence of Archbishop Dosado, now retired and back to the central House and of Bishop Rolly Santos who preached the very first homily on the first day. Both Bishops were pillars of good sense and Vincentian spirit. Actually their moderating influence went further than their venerable words and presence. They even shared in our socials and the social hour on the last day revealed a still excellent entertainment value for the song “La Bamba” which we have heard hundred of times since the seminary days. Our non-Vincentian speakers surprisingly showed the right and high ways. Thanks to both of them we are reminded of our Vincentian Legacy to recall, defend and to cherish. The Vincentian openness and fraternity were broken open on various occasions especially during the question and answer and clarifying sessions where confreres shared their personal and communal concerns. Where else could one hear the torments and the worries of some young confreres trying to cope with their personal problems while faithfully performing their Vincentian tasks? Hopefully we can sustain the Vincentian spirit which has already stayed in the Philippines since 1862 a full 155 years already. May St.Vincent fill us with his charisma.
859. Community-Get-Together in Sucat (January 1). Despite the uncertainties and vulnerabilities in the world and in the country, the Filipino Vincentians held an amazing and enjoyable New Year Community-Get-Together at the Miraculous Medal National Shrine in Sucat, Paranaque. Around forty priests were present and thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality, the atmosphere and the emceeing of Fr.Nelson Bisco. There were prayers, games, quizzes and gift giving. One highlight was the appeal for help to bury a victim of EJK family. As expected the community responded right there and then and provided the necessary funds.
The Miraculous Medal Shrine is undergoing many material upgrades: air-conditioning of the huge Church and the remodeling of the hall where our program was held. Around three or four years ago, the community also held a Year End Get-Together and the place was hot and steamy. This year it was air-conditioned and quite comfortable all the way. It was indeed a happy occasion with lots of laughter and songs mostly due to the expert and entertaining MC of the day, Fr. Nelson Bisco. The speeches were short, even that of Fr. Agner who reminded the community of the 400th Anniversary celebration.
860. Retirement Home.
Week of January 1-January 7,2017. Fr.Randy AGner,CM announced last January 1 that the Domus Pacis will be finished by September this year. Last January 4, I took a peep inside and saw the progress of the construction. They have all the steel bars for around one fourth of the second floor ready for pouring, cleared the site of the muddy earth, and are preparing LiuGong (back hoe)to dig up four more holes.
Week of January 8-14. There is a sense of urgency to pour cement on the second floor of the building because practically all the 40 plus footings have been cemented and because, on January 25, there will be a big celebration ,”The Launching of the celebration of the 400th Birth of Vincentian Charism.” It is expected that around 60 plus priests will come for the celebration with over a hundred members of the other Vincentian Family groups, notably the DC, SSVP and the Ladies of Charity. It will be good time to show off the Retirement Home to the confreres and lay people as well.
Week of January 15-22. For the past few weeks, the center of the construction activities were on the ground floor which will house the “Assisted Living Quarters” with the medical facilities and of course the small garden. During those days, the 48 footing for the posts were excavated by “LiuGong” and then cemented by the workers. This week they have started pouring cement on parts of the second floor, notably the south portion of the building which will hold the elderly and mobile confreres. It is interesting to note the speedy progress of the construction and hopefully, the building will be ready by September. Meanwhile, the six room guest house near the garage of DPH is also progressing. They will house a number of guests who will stay for several weeks of intensive theological and English training.
861. St.Paul Center for Renewal, Alfonso, Cavite (January 19-24). The Center is capable of comfortably hosting 300 retreatants at one time and has the facilities to do so: nice chapel, swimming pool, mini library, meeting rooms, etc. it is a place to find oneself and at the same time to enjoy the amenities of a spiritual center. Located at the town of Alfonso in the province of Cavite it is considered one of the best Retreat Houses in the country. The town of Alfonso is a first class municipality with 51,000 people and is only 74 kilometers from Manila. It was detached from the town of Indang and is named after Alfonso XII of Spain. Practically the members of the whole Province of the Philippines spent five days in deep reflection on the Vincentian Charism which has survived and is flourishing after 400 years. (Please see No. 858).
862. Random News.
1. Santo Nino celebration. The popular devotion to the Santo Nino(Christ Child) enshrined in the Sinulog in Cebu , Dinangyang in Iloilo, and Ati-Atihan in Kalibo was once again highlighted during the month of January. Thousands of faithful and tourists flocked to watch the various colorful parade in several Filipino cities.
2. Spiritual Retreat in Alfonso, Cavite. (Please see nos.858, 861). Around 90 Vincentians, including two Bishops attended the annual retreat at Alfonso, Cavite.
3. Thesis Defense of Fr. Eprim Gaza,CM (January 28). It was well attended and Fr.Gaza received a 1.25 grade and we are happy to note that the Filipino text and Filipino defense was the first at SVST and one of the few in the country.
4. Coordinators ’Meeting on January 26-27. The Coordinators’ Meeting was held at the DePaul House in the presence of Fr. Randy Agner to help coordinate the numerous apostolic activities of the Province.
5. Replacing the “Time Capsule” and Corner Stone of the Retirement Home on January 25. The “Time Capsule,” earlier installed on September 27,2016 had to be replaced because it cracked due to LiuGong. It was just as well since there were more confreres present including Bishop Santos and Archbishop Dosado because of the Annual Retreat and the 400th Anniversary celebrations.
6. The Global Filipino Vincentian. During the January annual retreat it was clear that the Filipino Vincentians have become global, reaching through the five continents. Most of those who were missioned abroad had many wonderful and amazing experiences to share. Some of the Missionaries who came from abroad were: Bishop Rolly Santos, Fr. Mariio Colina, Fr.Tans Consulta, Fr.Rodge Cardenas, Fr.Roed Desamparado, Fr.V.Pacheco, Fr.Danny Abogado, Fr. Monching Encinares, Fr. Thawon Uthai, Fr. Gestie Advincula.
7. Retirement Home. As of January 31, one fourth of second floor is cemented and hopefully will be fully cemented by the middle of February. It was nice to see several confreres, mostly young ones who were able to climb to the second floor. Meanwhile the six additional rooms at DPH are half through and several rooms at SVS are being prepared for future use.
8. Birth of the Vincentian Charism? Was the January 25,1617 the first sermon of the Vincentian Popular Mission? When did St.Vincent arrive in Chatillon? There are very good materials in French and Spanish published in CMGlobal.org., which offer alternative views.
“Hope lets new life blossom like a plant that grows from the seed fallen on the ground.” Pope Francis on Twitter, Jan 27,2017.
“…pray, be attentive, look for, encourage, and promote one new candidate to join forces during this Jubilee Year.” Fr.Thomas Mavric, CM.
Fr.Rolando S. DelaGoza, CM