Salesians

[Video] A Day with a Young Salesian

Are you curious what is a typical day for young Salesians? This is for you!

Kudos to our young Salesians in the Postnovitiate community for preparing this video.

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FIN Concludes its Provincial Chapter 

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The Provincial Chapter concluded with the celebration of the Holy Mass today invoking the intercession of St. Dominic Savio whose feast we commemorate today.

In his homily, Fr. Paul Bicomong asked the chapter members to recall their very first experience in the Salesian house and their encounter with the first Salesians they met. He related this to the first encounter of Dominic Savio and Don Bosco and pointed out how Don Bosco wove a beautiful fabric for the Lord in Dominic. He challenged them to do the same in the young people they encounter.

He congratulated the capitulars for their work and asked them to continue praying so that the Provincial Chapter may bear fruit.

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After the homily, the chapter members affixed their signatures as an expression of their approval for the final documents, a concrete output of their five days of prayer, reflection and deliberations.

All chapters members voted for the final documents which will be submitted to the Generalate.

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One of the distinctive marks of this chapter is that it is almost paperless. Most of the chapter members accessed the digital form of the documents deliberated on. Online technology allowed them to comment and revise on the document all at the same time.

The recently concluded Provincial Chapter accomplished three outputs: (1) The FIN Implementation of the GC 27, (2) the revision of the Provincial Directory, and the (3) Reshaping the Salesian Presence of the Province.

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Fr. Umijun explains his point in the plenary. 

 

Postscript to Prenovitiate

I wrote this piece when I was a novice myself some eight years ago. I thought of sharing this here as I saw this photo of our incoming novices in the airport today as they gear up for their flight to Cebu for their novitiate formation. 

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Bon Voyage! Our incoming novices fly to Cebu this morning. They will be back next year, God willing, as Salesians of Don Bosco. Photo by Br. Jomar Castillo, SDB.

After four long years of labor to earn a bachelor’s degree, an extern student will have a wider choice of exploring the real world after college graduation. Having equipped himself with the diploma, he goes on achieving his dreams, typically of having a brand new car, a decent home, and soon, a family he can call his own.

But for us who graduated from being prenovices and who decided to continue with our discernment in following God’s call in the realm of the seminary, it is an entirely different story. We’re to be uprooted from our first seedbed of vocation (Carreno House of Formation) flown to another island (Cebu) and would be contained in a house relatively smaller than CHF (Sacred Heart Novitiate).

Experiencing novitiate for over two weeks now, I can say that our life is not far from being exciting. Unlike the general majority of male bachelors freshly spawn out of school we may not be able to land a job in our dream company and receive a hefty pay check every month (honestly, I did! But that was ages ago!), or see the latest movies every week, or even date pretty ladies night after night.

Two Saturdays ago, we were given the chance to go to Ayala Mall to buy personal stuff using our own money. The remaining amount would have to be surrendered to our Novice Master. Once upon a time, it was difficult for me to imagine myself penniless. But now, I don’t only imagine it. I live it. And believe me, I struggle. To put it more accurately, each day in the novitiate is a struggle: the pains of starting again, of detaching from people, places, things and relationships we need to set aside, albeit for a while. The fear of what tomorrow brings.

The road to adjustment is still a long way to go.

An e-mail I got from a close buddy strikes some sensitive chords in me, I cannot but get some dose of inspiration from it

issues and crises are part of this vocation. our novitiate initiates us to that. religious life is indeed a cavalry…it’s difficult…not that i am beeing pessimistic (although i am a pessismist)…what saves our vocation is the fact that we are happy despite the difficulties. kung hindi ako masya, hinding hind ako magtitiis ng ganito.

I can very well relate to what he’s saying. But apart from the “joyful serenity” I experience here, what consoles me and what makes me stay is my belief that God is pleased to have me in this place where I am now.

Three years ago, I should have been here. But I begged God to wait. I was not ready then. Now, despite the difficulties, and perhaps especially because of them, I am all the more convinced that God is brewing a special plan just for me. The only thing He asks of me is to rely on His Grace.

Back in Canlubang, I thought that becoming a prenovice was the most thrilling part in all the stages of the seminary formation. I was wrong. On the hindsight, prenovitiate is not that exciting after all, or it is the terminal end of an aspirant’s seminary sojourn. It’s merely a prelude to a new exciting beginning.

True, we may not be able to experience all the perks other may be experiencing at the moment, but modesty aside, we have the best.

 

Sino Siya? (Who is He?)

What follows is a reflection on weekend apostolate of John Paolo Romero on his weekend apostolate. Paolo is  a prenovice of Don Bosco Seminary in Canlubang, Laguna.

My classmates and I were formally accepted as prenovices of the Philippine North Province (FIN) of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB). I see my being a prenovice as both a privilege and a grace from God because of my unworthiness. But this feeling of unworthiness makes me more reliant to God’s grace and providence.

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As prenovices, we are sent to different Salesian Parishes every weekend to extend our help and to have exposure in the Salesian apostolate. I was assigned in St. Dominic Savio Parish in Mandaluyong together with Prenovice Romnick. The Don Bosco Youth Center in the parish is very dynamic that I got a bit of culture shock when I first arrived there. But this did not hinder me to express my love to the young people, and to experience the love of God through them as well. This desire manifests itself through my different experiences, both the good and not-so-good.

A 10-year old boy in St. Dominic Savio Parish, Dominic, who is also called, ‘the notorious,’ asked me a seemingly simple question during the catechesis, “Brads, sino po ang Diyos para sa’yo?” [Brother, who is God for you?] Thinking on how to please the boy and make him understand my concept of God in a very simple way, I answered, “Ang Diyos para sa’kin, parang syang hangin, hindi man natin nakikita, pero sigurado tayong nandiyan s’ya, kung wala, hindi tayo makakahinga” (God for me is wind, we may not see Him, but we are certain that He’s around. If not, we’ll not be abe to breathe).

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Deep within, I was not satisfied with my answer that I had to ask myself again, “Who is God really for me? The creator? The redeemer? The Father? A friend? Teacher or mentor? Who really is He?” I was thinking on how God is revealing Himself to me in the here and now. I admit that I have never been attentive to this matter before and it’s strange how a 10-year old boy made me seriously think about it.

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I note that God has given me what I do not like and has kept me away from the things I prefer – my apostolate assignment, my teaching loads and many other things. Sometimes I doubt whether God wants me to be in the seminary, because what I do not like is given to me. Just like putting a mosquito repellent lotion so the mosquitoes would go away because it drives them away. But looking closely on the situation, I realized that, perhaps, God is allowing me to experience such adverse things in order to stretch me and bring out the best in me. He may want me to be more obedient and stronger in will.

Now, who is God for  me? Who really He is for me? He is a God who challenges me so I may become stronger; a God who allows me to undergo desolations in order to relish His comfort; a God who burdens me with so many tribulations so I may emerge triumphant; a God who pretends to hate me so that I may strive with my utmost effort to win His love.

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Towards the end of the catechesis, Dominic shared his answer to the group, “Ang Diyos, para siyang kama, kapag pagod na pagod na ako, hihiga at magpapahinga na lang ako sa kanya” (God is like a bed. When I am already tired, I will just lie down and rest in Him).

Dominic, a difficult 10-year old boy, who has changed my perspective of God, of Love.

+Fr Jonil Lalap, SDB

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This photo I was wanting to post last August to honor the priests in San Ildefonso Parish where I go for my weekend ministry. But since Fr. Ian was not in the frame, I decided against it. But since there’s no way for us to be complete anymore, let me post it anyway.

Last Sunday, January 31, my Facebook timeline was inundated with just two types of posts: (1) Don Bosco feast day greetings and (2) status updates in honor of Fr. Jonil Lalap, SDB who passed on that very day.

Since the feast day of Don Bosco is over, and the wake of Fr. Jonil is still on-going, allow me to just quickly jot three of my fondest memories about Fr. Jonil.

First, he taught me how to celebrate the sacrament of Baptism.

The theory I learned from the classroom found practical application in him. Having been assigned at San Ildefonso Parish in which he is assigned,  he went beyond in simply welcoming me to the community, he took it upon himself to show me how the sacrament of baptism is done. He asked me to observe how he celebrated the sacrament.

That was the first and last time I would see him do it.

Second, when he was hospitalized late last year, we paid him a visit. His situation was bad after undergoing the oral chemotherapy. His sister Ate Lea had to help him extricate the phlegm. He could barely speak. One of the prenovices who came with us observed that instead of being mindful about his situation, he even thought of asking how we were doing. Before we left him, he asked for the white board and wrote there for Beng to read “Treat them for coffee.”

In our community Mass last Monday, Fr. Gerry Battad noted of Fr. Jonil’s concern, too, for others. Two days before he passed on, he even asked Fr. Gerry how many students of theology were in Cebu.

Third, Fr. Jonil is known to be a stickler for punctuality. With his bombastic voice, he is famous–or infamous–for reminding the late comers in the congregation to come on time for the celebration of the Mass.

On the very last Sunday Mass he presided in the parish, once again, for the last time, he repeated to the people that they need to be on time for the Mass. This he did despite the faintest voice that he still had.

In the official notice of his death, we were told that he passed on at 4:30 AM.

In Eschatology, I learnt that “Death is a human act;” that it’s an act of final self-surrender. While I have some issues with this idea, it dawned on me that Fr. Jonil’s passing on, in the wee hours of the morning, must have wanted to emphasize his insistence to be punctual for the Mass.

That even before we could wake up to celebrate the feast day of our founder St. John Bosco, he had already been ready to celebrate it, first hand, and most intimately.

 

Fr. Francis Moloney Gives a Talk in DB Formation House in Lawaan

With the conclusion of the Synod on the Family last year, family has been one of the hot topics of late. Hence, the Philippine edition of the book of Fr. Francis Moloney, SDB “A Body Broken for a Broken People” originally published in 1990 has received a warm welcome in the Philippines, the largest Christian nation not just in the EAO region, but also in the whole of the Asian continent as well.

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After Fr. Moloney’s successful speaking stint in the recently-concluded Theological Symposium of the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (EIC, he addressed the members of the Salesian Family of the FIS Province. The affair was held in the aspirantate chapel, jam-packed with the students of Theology who are in Cebu for the EIC, sisters of other congregations in Don Bosco Formation Center, and ordinary people who heard about the notice of Fr. Moloney’s talk.

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Before he proceeded in discussing about the book, he expressed his joy in being in Cebu for the first time. The enthusiasm of the Filipinos in deepening their faith has never failed to impress him.

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One of the many takeaways from his talk is this line, “Eucharist is not for the good people, but it is where a loving God welcomes everyone especially the sinner,” which may represent the core message of his book.

Right after his talk, there was no gap in between since the audience peppered him with questions. The open forum was moderated by Fr. Randy Figuracion, SDB, FIS Social Communication Delegate. There was the book signing right after this. The members of the Salesian family headed to the refectory for an agape lunch.

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Photos courtesy of Mr. Jan Odivilas

You are Mine (A Vocation Story)

By Br. Rico Mercado, SDB 16931_1193629607747_5876470_n

My vocation story started one beautiful day when I was looking into some documents and files at home, I was then fourth year high school. I saw suddenly my grade school diploma; I was staring at the younger me then trying to see what’s with that diploma. Slipped inside the card, I saw a small religious booklet entitled “Miracles of our Lord of Pardon.” Curiosity made me interested to examine it more closely, and so I got the booklet and read it.

In the booklet there were promises that if one recites the prayers in it for one year, one will enjoy spiritual rewards. And so I was encouraged to pray it. Good thing our school service arrives at school at around 7 in the morning and so I have enough time to recite the prayers inside the Chapel. The prayers were quite long, maybe it takes about 10 minutes to pray them, and so I patiently but sleepily recited them until I finish everything. And so that was my routine every day at school.

One day a priest approached me and told me that he always sees me inside the Chapel praying fervently, and then he asked me if I want to try the “Juan Nite,” which is just an overnight stay in the house of the Salesians. I think I remember telling him that I would think about it because I didn’t not want to go alone. Good thing my friends would also want to go and so I went. Actually I went for “Juan Nite” twice because I was with two separate groups of friends and I enjoyed it a lot because I felt that it was like an outing with them.

After that “Juan Nite,” the priest invited me to go to the seminary in Canlubang for a three-day stay. I said that I would think about it because I had felt that this was becoming serious and going to Canlubang for the orientation means I would really want to consider becoming a priest. And that was never part of my plan in life.

I didn’t know how that desire sprouted in my heart, maybe because of the prayers, of wanting to be like the Salesians who are nice to be with. I was not really sure. I am just sure that the desire to become a priest was born within me. And so I was confused with that desire inside me and I asked for a sign. If this desire is real and if God would grant me the signs that I would ask for, then I will try the orientation.

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Amazingly, God granted the signs that I asked for and so I went to Canlubang, good thing I was again with my friends, and so I really enjoyed my stay. I felt at home. I really would want to enter and try but I was confused and afraid that I didn’t know what to do and so I asked God again to grant me the sign that I would ask. I just wanted to be sure.

Surprisingly, God granted me the sign that I was again asking, but, though that was the case, my fear and confusion got the better of me. I was taken aback, and so I said “No” to God. The priest told me that maybe after studying college I could think about it again, and so it was.

I studied in a university and I just enjoyed being a normal college student not thinking about that desire anymore. Then one day a good friend, also a Bosconian from Makati, asked me if I would want to join him in going for Mass and so I willingly said yes. After that I felt that I had to cope with my relationship with God, because I felt like I had so much time to do other things which may even be displeasing to His eyes but I didn’t not give any time for Him. And so my sensitivity in giving time for the Lord made me visit the Blessed Sacrament more often, then hear weekday Masses frequently. This eventually led me to go to confession regularly.

I just enjoyed being with the Lord. I fell in love with God. Suddenly the desire in me to become a priest sprouted again, but now it was very much stronger, and so I was again confused. I just wanted to do things for the Lord and nothing else. I wanted to say “Yes” already but I was still very much afraid and confused and I do not know what to do.

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Then a Prenovice receiving the cross, Br. Rico Mercado is now a Salesian of Don Bosco.

This confusion kept within me and bothered me a lot. One day when I was hearing Mass, after I have received Communion, they were playing the song “You are Mine” and I heard God’s voice singing it to me. His voice pierced through my heart that my heart melted and I felt an overpowering joy within me and I saw myself broke into tears. God cleared my confusion. At that very moment I said a full “Yes”  to the Lord, leaving everything behind and that is why I am now here in the seminary still following my God who sang to me the greatest melody I have ever heard and told me “Rico, you are mine!

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Br. Rico Mercado, SDB, along with his classmates, made his first profession last May 6, 2015.