November-December 2017

From the Editor

November – December 2017

Life, Death and the In-Betweens

This issue of MISYONonline.com focuses on life, living and death. In November, we celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day wherein we remember the lives of all those who have gone before us – how they had lived their lives and the mark they left on us. In December, we commemorate the birth of Jesus, the Word made flesh, the fulfillment of God’s love for humanity and all of His creation. Jesus showed us the way how to live life fully, inviting us to follow Him in loving obedience to the will of the Father...

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A Last-Minute Surprise

By Fr. Felisiano Fatu

Fr. Felisiano Fatu, from Tonga, is the rector of the Columban Formation Program in the Philippines based in Singalong, Manila.

I was only seventeen when I completed my secondary education in 1991. I wanted to take a break from furthering my education and decided to search for a job in Tonga. I applied to both government and private sectors for any jobs available. My first preference was to get a job in a bank and second was to work in a government office. My applications to banks were not successful but I was lucky to get a job in the Ministry of Justice. During this time, I really enjoyed being a young man exploring life opportunities and learning about myself...

Read more

I Have Found My Inner Joy

By Jinky Ucol

Evangeline “Jinky” Ucol is from Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro. She joined the Columban lay missionary team PH 24 with Lily Faunillan and Jake Lunor, and left for Fiji in October 2017 for a three-year mission.

At 2AM, the phone rang asking me to bless the dead. By the time I reached the hospital room, the family was grieving and the dead body was already covered. That was good timing, otherwise it would have been difficult for a first-timer like me to bless the dead person. I was a bit scared and hesitant. Questions came into mind: What do I do now? How will I show my sympathy to the family? Basic questions that we are confronted with in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)...

Read more

Chased by God’s Love

A Reflection on My Prison Ministry

By Louie Q. Ybañez

Louie Ybañez is a Columban student from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. He is presently studying Theology at the Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila compound, Quezon City.

As part of our formation program, I go to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa under the Philippine Jesuit Prison Service for my pastoral ministry every Saturday. We usually start our day at the Reception and Diagnostic Center where we give values formation classes to new inmates considered as juvenile offenders. We facilitate this class through a group reflection on the gospel. Then we proceed to the Medium Security Compound to do some counselling with inmates who have long been held in prison or visit the inmates who, for a long time have not been visited by their families...

Read more

The Joy I Found with the Youth

By Ma. Fe Corazon P. Arienza

Ma. Fe Corazon "Azon" Arienza is from Cabadbaran City, Agusan Del Norte. She was a youth leader of the Parish Youth Apostolate in Candelaria, Cabadbaran and a member of the Oasis of Love Community. With Hazel Jean Angwani, she is currently undergoing the Columban lay missionary Orientation program.


Columban Lay Missionary PH 25 in Orientation: Ma. Fe Corazon Arienza and Hazel Jean Angwani

My love and passion for service sprang from my experience with a Diocesan priest back at my hometown. His name is Fr. Isaac Manuel Moran. Me and my childhood friends used to accompany Fr. Moran when he celebrated mass in Pirada, a small town in Cabadbaran City. I love how he made all of the people there happy with just his presence and the way he made them feel that they are cared for especially the little ones. When I thought it was Fr. Moran who gave so much joy to those people, he told us instead that it’s the other way around. I found it hard then to understand, until I joined the Parish Youth Apostolate...

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To Search is to find
November – December 2017

When I assured a friend that I will pray for the eternal repose of her father, she responded with an invitation to rather pray for them, the bereaved family, for strength. She continued with, “We do not pray for the dead for it is the dead now praying for us.” I was a bit surprised for she too is a Catholic engaged in a religious group. They do not really grieve that much for they have to “take delight in the promise of the resurrection”.

I am wondering, do we, Catholics, have varied beliefs on praying for the dead, the resurrection and the need for grieving for the loss of a loved one?

Read more

November – December 2017

Lord, kindle our lamps, Saviour most dear to us, that we may always shine in your presence and always receive light from you, the Light Perpetual, so that our own personal darkness may be overcome, and the world’s darkness driven from us. Amen.

~ St. Columban, Sermon XII

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Columbans ‘Who Have Gone Before Us With The Sign Of Faith’ November 2016 – September 2017

COLUMBAN PRIESTS


Since we are travelers and pilgrims in the world, let us ever ponder on the end of the road, that is of our life, for the end of our roadway is our home.
(St Columban, 8th Sermon)

Fr Bernard O’Connor (’58) – 17 September 2017

Fr David Padrnos (’55) – 18 August 2017

Fr Charles Duster (’61) – 7 March 2017

Fr Thomas Parker (’47) – 31 January 2017

Fr Charles Flaherty (’50) – 20 January 2017

Fr Michael Harrison (’48) – 17 January 2017

Fr Fintan Murtagh (’63) – 23 December 2016

Fr Keith Gorman (’43) – 19 December 2016

Fr Maurice Vincent Foley (’58) – 18 December 2016

Fr Michael Augustine Duffy (’56) – 21 November 2016

Fr Bernard E. Toal (’43) – 14 November 2016

COLUMBAN SISTERS


We await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Who will change our mortal bodies,
To confirm with his glorified body.
(Philippians 3:20-21)

Sr Eileen Rabbitte SSC – 2 May 2017

Sr Francesca Garvey SSC – 12 March 2017

Sr Mary Bernardine Rush SSC – 31 January 2017

Sr Damien Rooney SSC – 29 December 2016

Sr Catherine Courtney SSC – 19 December 2016

Sr Mary Enda Staunton SSC – 16 November 2016

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A Last-Minute Surprise

By Fr. Felisiano Fatu

Fr. Felisiano Fatu, from Tonga, is the rector of the Columban Formation Program in the Philippines based in Singalong, Manila.

I was only seventeen when I completed my secondary education in 1991. I wanted to take a break from furthering my education and decided to search for a job in Tonga. I applied to both government and private sectors for any jobs available. My first preference was to get a job in a bank and second was to work in a government office. My applications to banks were not successful but I was lucky to get a job in the Ministry of Justice. During this time, I really enjoyed being a young man exploring life opportunities and learning about myself.

Being in a Catholic high school run by the Marist Fathers afforded me numerous opportunities to listen to vocation talks by both religious nuns and priests, mainly from the Marists. I was not overly mad with the idea of becoming a priest though I guess the seed of interest was there but I did not pay much attention to it. I had a number of cousins and uncles who were in the Pacific Regional Seminary in Fiji and some aunts who are nuns. I guess I was greatly influenced by them. They were my role models in terms of vocational discernment. Naturally, I followed their paths by attending the various ‘Come and See” programs advertised by the Marist Fathers in Tonga. I had attended a number of their vocation programs and even stayed with them on some weekends. There were very limited options in terms of congregations to apply for. There were only the Marist Fathers and the Diocesan priests.

My knowledge of the Columbans was very limited. I only knew them by association. I knew that my uncle, Fr. Palenapa Tavo, was a Columban seminarian in Fiji at the time as he joined in 1993 and we come from the same village in Tonga. Even during his vacation at home, I was not interested in asking him about the Columbans since they were not present in Tonga. I was interested more in joining the Marist Fathers. At that time, the Diocese of Tonga had a Diocesan Vocation Committee which organized various ‘Come and See’ weekends in different parishes in the main island, promoting priestly and religious vocations. The program lasted for the whole year and at the end of it, most of the vocation searchers were encouraged to make a decision about making formal contacts with the vocation directors from the different congregations and the diocese.


Fr. Felisiano (second row, leftmost) and his uncle Fr. Palenapa Tavo (standing at the back, rightmost) with Columban missionaries and friends, October 2016

It was during one of these ‘Come and See’ weekends in September or October of 1992 that I came to know a little bit about the Columban Fathers. It was a session in which Fr. David Arms, a Columban priest from Fiji, gave a talk about the Columbans and showed us a video about their works. I enjoyed the talk but was more impressed with the video presentation which had a deep impact on me. I think the video was about the Columban works in Peru. At the end of it, there were brochures about the Columbans left on a table for anyone to take, together with Columban magazines. Out of curiosity I took one brochure home. I read the information a couple of times to make sense of what the Columbans were about. Eventually, I filled out my name and address at the back of the brochure and sent it to the Vocation Director in Fiji. At that time, I did not even know who the Vocation Director was.

The surprise was that I totally forgot about continuing with the Marists when I received a surprise and prompt response from the Columban Vocation Director in Fiji. I waited with great anticipation for the arrival of the letter with the Columban magazines by post from Fiji. My response to his correspondence was filled with excitement as I shared about what I read in the magazines and about my interest in getting to know more about the Columbans. I stopped attending the vocation weekends with the Marists. In hindsight, the excitement and sense of adventure and exploration of an eighteen-year-old got the best of me in the initial stage of correspondence with the Columbans which was a positive one. I was effervescent about my correspondence with the Vocation Director through letters. And I loved receiving and reading the Columban magazines. I never attended any accompaniment program that time. Later I found out, in the course of our correspondence, that the Vocation Director was Fr. Daniel Ahern from Ireland, who was to become my first rector when I joined the Columban formation program in Fiji in 1994. Coincidentally, he was the Fiji Regional Director during my priestly ordination in Tonga in 2003.

It was a surprise for me, at that time, to simply change my attention from the Marists to having greater interests in getting to know the Columbans which has eventually led me to become a Columban missionary priest to this day. As I look back, I can say with confidence that it was God’s grace working in my life and I happened to be receptive and open to it.



Chased by God’s Love

A Reflection on My Prison Ministry

By Louie Q. Ybañez

Louie Ybañez is a Columban student from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines. He is presently studying Theology at the Loyola School of Theology, Ateneo de Manila compound, Quezon City.

As part of our formation program, I go to the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa under the Philippine Jesuit Prison Service for my pastoral ministry every Saturday. We usually start our day at the Reception and Diagnostic Center where we give values formation classes to new inmates considered as juvenile offenders. We facilitate this class through a group reflection on the gospel. Then we proceed to the Medium Security Compound to do some counselling with inmates who have long been held in prison or visit the inmates who, for a long time have not been visited by their families.

I was hesitant when I first learned about the ministry assigned to me. Maybe because I didn’t know then how to deal with persons subjected to different stereotypes that come along with being law offenders. At the start I had some fears. Much of these fears came from being unable to respond to the complex situations the inmates had to deal with; from the anguish of separation from their families, to the continued struggle to renew their lives in the midst of the harsh realities of community life inside, and even to needs as basic as food and personal necessities. It was these situations that I have to grapple with.

Along many of their stories echoed regret over the wrong choices they made and the hope of being given the chance to renew their lives again with the anticipation that they will be reunited with their love ones once again. There were also stories of anger and injustice; with many of them claiming to be falsely accused of the crimes they are charged with. Whatever their prevailing circumstances, I felt that they need two things from me, understanding and that I don’t judge them.

In many occasions, I got frustrated over hearing that someone from the class was given punishment called Bartolina which is a month or more of isolation in a tight cell over a violent fight when a week before that he shared about his great plans for himself and the change that he wanted to pursue. This is no different from the human condition outside. We, in many instances, fall short from the very good we want to follow. Every time I go there, I feel sad about the helplessness of their situation. I could only encourage them to gain back their faith in God. How? I myself don’t even know the answer. I just recognise that somehow I need to be fully present with them when I am there.


Louie with Columban seminarians from Fiji (L-R): Iowane Naio, Kusitino Saro, Louie, Meli Farasiko, Antonio Seeto and Remisio Domodomolagi
Louie conducts his Pastoral Ministry at the New Bilibid Prison with Kusitino.

The pace to renewal could be very slow for the inmates; for some it could be close to impossible but my faith tells me that God pursues with much intent those whom we consider menace to the society, even those whom we deem unchangeable. God whispers to them the very same words he tells each one of us, “You are mine.” Our God is a God of mercy and compassion who rejoices in the coming of his lost child. He runs towards their desperate condition to give hope. As a minister, I always find inspiration in God’s personal calling to each of the inmates to always be united with him. God never disowns them and this is the very reason that I will always find that persistent hope that the inmates, chased by God’s love, will find a renewed version of their selves and come home to feel their very identity - the one whom God loves.


The New Bilibid Prison, Muntinlupa, Philippines [Inquirer.net]



Author: 

Columbans ‘Who Have Gone Before Us With The Sign Of Faith’ November 2016 – September 2017

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Columban Fr David Padrnos RIP


Fr David Padrnos
(7 September 1944 – 18 August 2017)

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Columban Fr Charles Duster RIP


Fr Charles Duster
(15 September 1934 – 7 March 2017)

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Columban Fr Thomas Parker RIP


Fr Thomas Parker
(28 March 1924 – 31 January 2017)

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Columban Fr Charles Flaherty RIP


Fr Charles Flaherty
(15 January 1926 – 20 January 2016) [Source]

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Columban Fr Michael Harrison RIP


Fr Michael Harrison
(21 March 1924 – 17 January 2017)

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Columban Fr Fintan Murtagh RIP


Fr Fintan Murtagh
(12 February 1940 – 23 December 2016)

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Columban Fr Keith Gorman RIP.
‘Having breakfast with Jesus on the shores of eternity.’


Fr Keith Gorman
(21 January 1920 – 19 December 2016)

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Columban Fr Maurice Foley RIP


Fr Maurice Vincent Foley
(2 February 1933 – 18 December 2016)

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Columban Fr Michael Duffy RIP


Fr Michael Augustine Duffy
(28 November 1931 – 21 November 2016)

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Columban Fr Bernard Toal RIP


Fr Bernard E. Toal
(17 October 1915 – 14 November 2016)

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COLUMBAN SISTERS

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Sr. Eileen Rabbitte, RIP

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Sister Francesca Garvey, RIP

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Sr. Mary Bernardine Rush, RIP

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Sister Damien Rooney, RIP

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Sr. Catherine Courtney, RIP

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Sr. Mary Enda Staunton, RIP

From the Editor

November – December 2017

Life, Death and the In-Betweens

This issue of MISYONonline.com focuses on life, living and death. In November, we celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day wherein we remember the lives of all those who have gone before us – how they had lived their lives and the mark they left on us. In December, we commemorate the birth of Jesus, the Word made flesh, the fulfillment of God’s love for humanity and all of His creation. Jesus showed us the way how to live life fully, inviting us to follow Him in loving obedience to the will of the Father.

I visited the grave of my father last November 1 and 2, and for these two days I caught myself staring at his tombstone for a good number of minutes. Flashes of what my father had said and done came to mind. I could only utter words of gratitude for the life he had lived, the example he had shown and the love he had given. His was not a perfect life but he lived it to the full. This made me ask myself, “How am I living my life?”

I recalled a poem written by Linda Ellis called, “The Dash”. And it goes like this:

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on the tombstone
from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth
and spoke of the following date with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time
that they spent alive on earth.
And now only those who loved them
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own,
the cars… the house… the cash.
What matters is how we live and love
and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what’s true and real
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile,
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read,
with your life’s actions to rehash…
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent YOUR dash?

While I was in the hospital bed for about a month in 2012, I watched life passed me by. I could do nothing because my body was hooked to different kinds of tubes. I managed to wake up each day only with the grace and generosity of God manifested in and through the people He sent my way – the doctors, nurses, hospital staff, friends, Columban family, relatives and my family. I could not ask for more. The service, love and generosity of the people surrounding me were all that mattered. As I watched them each day, I could not help but be filled with gratitude for the love, care and service they have shown. I became the recipient of all of these. The only way I could show my gratitude was to fully participate in the healing process by being obedient to the procedure I had to undergo and allowing people to attend to and care for me. I was called to be still and allow God to be in control. With humility and gratitude, I let go and allowed God in. It was a moment of complete trust and obedience. I smiled because it did not dawn on me that I could allow myself to simply drift in His love, practically doing nothing except to obey.

God meets us as we are, in the different stages of our lives. The important thing is that in whatever stage we are in, we do (or not do) things with great care and joy, in the spirit of generosity for the abundance of blessings we receive, mindful of the presence of others and of God's creation. We are constantly invited to let Him in and allow His love to transform us and guide us in our actions and decisions – to be part of the healing process that we all need, individually and as a community of peoples.

God has given each one of us the gift of life. He showered us with His love, accompanied us in our joys, sorrows and difficulties, and gave us His only Son that through Him we may find life eternal. Jesus was obedient to the Father till the end. He showed us the way to love.

The invitation and challenge in our world today is how to live our lives in loving response to the gift that was freely given to us in love – to live a full life participating in the salvific plan of God for all.



I Have Found My Inner Joy

By Jinky Ucol

Evangeline “Jinky” Ucol is from Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro. She joined the Columban lay missionary team PH 24 with Lily Faunillan and Jake Lunor, and left for Fiji in October 2017 for a three-year mission.

At 2AM, the phone rang asking me to bless the dead. By the time I reached the hospital room, the family was grieving and the dead body was already covered. That was good timing, otherwise it would have been difficult for a first-timer like me to bless the dead person. I was a bit scared and hesitant. Questions came into mind: What do I do now? How will I show my sympathy to the family? Basic questions that we are confronted with in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).

At 4PM on that same day, while doing my rounds, I passed by a woman of about my age who was hysterical. Her father had just died. I tried to comfort her. Then, I accompanied her to see her father. I saw the dead body that had been her father. I held it. What I did not witness that morning, I witnessed in the afternoon – just another experience we had to deal with in CPE. The woman's grieving was so intense that unconsciously I cried too. It was a sudden death and she could not accept it yet. She asked, “Why my father, when all that he was is a good man?” I did not know how to help her. I went home heavy-hearted.

That was my struggle with CPE at that time. I did not yet know enough. Later on, I learned how to handle my emotions; I learned not to absorb the negative energies, and opted to pray for others.

I learned later that when practicing CPE, I did not have to do anything; I only had to listen. But that was a big thing for the patients and their families. I did not need to know what to say to comfort them, much more how to answer their questions. Listening was the only thing I could offer.

I found it difficult to be truly sincere in listening to others when I have many distractions. CPE has called me to grow in my ability to listen. In listening, I learned the virtue of humility as I freed myself from my tendency to be judgmental.

To become humble, I had to admit to myself that I cannot control everything. Just when I would boast to myself that I can save the world and help everyone, I was confronted with the fact that I am powerless and can do nothing. There are things in life that are best dealt with by surrendering them to God. I can pray about them; I can accept that I can only do so much and, then, I must let God take care of them. When I realized that, my encounters, no matter how heavy the situations were, felt lighter.

Because of what I learned, I did enjoy my CPE.


Columban lay missionary PH 24

I also learned to be person-oriented. In the past, when students or friends approached me, I pretended to listen without really hearing what they said, because I was too focused on myself and the work I was trying to do. Now, I have learned to spend quality time with others and have become sensitive to their feelings.

Later, I was assigned in the patients' ward with cases of myoma. When the patients told me about their scheduled operation, I normally asked them how they felt. They would express how scared they were. Many shared their anxieties and then cried. I tried to comfort them by saying that I understood how they felt, but the truth was, I never really understood. Being able to listen somehow gave me a sense of fulfillment but it's a lot different when you are the one in the situation.

When I learned that I needed to be operated on for myoma, I cried. I had not expected this. That was the most difficult part for me. I remembered all those other patients during and after my operation. Now I really understood. I could feel with them. Being in their shoes made me grow in mercy and compassion. I can now relate with sympathy and sincerity with these kinds of patients.

God prepared me emotionally, spiritually and also physically. Before my diagnosis and operation for myoma, I could hardly accept any changes. But with my operation, I have learned to accept my situation, receive the generosity of other people, of what they can offer to help me in my needs, and the love they have freely given me. Because I am rather used to serving other people, giving instead of receiving, I used to be shy to accept the small and big things others offer me. However, I have now learned to recognize that each person has the capacity to give, and the more that I receive, the more that I can give.

I have been blessed to feel inner joy. Most of the time I stayed alone inside my room after my operation, but I was not moved to complain, neither did I feel heavy-hearted, nor was I filled with self-pity. I grabbed the opportunity to accept, to give even when I thought I had nothing to give, to be humble and to grow.

I also learned to be patient with myself, giving my body the time to heal. In the past, I was the type of person who always rushed things and expected results right away. I set my goals, planned my future and kept looking ahead. Because of this I failed to be attuned to the present moment. Now, I am learning to take things slowly, one thing at a time, one day at a time, for it is in slowing down that I get to see many things I did not see before.

God has brought me deeper into myself with this experience. I have found my inner joy. I am not yet done since my healing process may take a long time. But I am amazed at what I have realized. My thoughts, feelings and goals have been purified. Thanks be to God!



Author: 

Our Hideaway

The Joy I Found with the Youth

By Ma. Fe Corazon P. Arienza

Ma. Fe Corazon "Azon" Arienza is from Cabadbaran City, Agusan Del Norte. She was a youth leader of the Parish Youth Apostolate in Candelaria, Cabadbaran and a member of the Oasis of Love Community. With Hazel Jean Angwani, she is currently undergoing the Columban lay missionary Orientation program.


Columban Lay Missionary PH 25 in Orientation: Ma. Fe Corazon Arienza and Hazel Jean Angwani

My love and passion for service sprang from my experience with a Diocesan priest back at my hometown. His name is Fr. Isaac Manuel Moran. Me and my childhood friends used to accompany Fr. Moran when he celebrated mass in Pirada, a small town in Cabadbaran City. I love how he made all of the people there happy with just his presence and the way he made them feel that they are cared for especially the little ones. When I thought it was Fr. Moran who gave so much joy to those people, he told us instead that it’s the other way around. I found it hard then to understand, until I joined the Parish Youth Apostolate.

My involvement in the Parish Youth Apostolate (PYA) was mainly on giving youth ministry formation, basically on how to develop and sustain parish youth ministry. Together with other PYA youth leaders, I was assigned to specific areas for chapel visitation. I can say that this was the happiest moment in my ministry, requiring not much of intelligence but a heart for service and for the youth. The sense of fulfillment I experienced at the end of the day was nothing compared to how my day ended at work. Both required a lot of time and effort but differed in the way it made me feel after the task was done. My work with the youth was very tiring but it’s the kind of exhaustion that did not wear me off. It rather rejuvenated and gave me so much energy, inspiring me to create programs for the youth in line with workshop formations. I guess this was where I honed my organizational and planning skills.


Azon giving recollection to youth leaders, Missionary Sisters of Mary Retreat House, Cabadbaran, February 2016

Working with the youth was not always fun and happy. There were also trials that we, as youth, had to face, both external and internal. There were instances that I had to stop in the middle of my involvement with the ministry because of misunderstandings, which is inevitable in every organization, but it didn’t stop me to look for other opportunities where my help was needed. These were occasions where I got to examine how truthful I was to my vocation.

It took me a long time to realize what Fr. Moran meant with what he said about how those people gave him so much joy more than what he had given them. It was during those chapel visitations that I understood how the youth made me love God and His people more than myself. This was where I found joy in serving, understood myself better, and became more open and selfless.

To quote my favorite verses from Ruth, “for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried”. In whatever way, with whatever challenges, the goodness of the experience propels me to continue my vocation to love, to the service of humanity.


April 2016 Summer Youth Camp
Azon with youth leaders from the different chapels at the culmination of chapel visitation, Candelaria Institute covered court



Peace by Peace

November – December 2017

Lord, kindle our lamps, Saviour most dear to us, that we may always shine in your presence and always receive light from you, the Light Perpetual, so that our own personal darkness may be overcome, and the world’s darkness driven from us. Amen.

~ St. Columban, Sermon XII



While I know that humanly speaking, I will have to deal with some difficult moments... I can say in all sincerity that I am at peace. We can look at death as an enemy or a friend. If we see it as an enemy, death causes anxiety and fear. We tend to go into a state of denial. But if we see it as a friend, our attitude is truly different. As a person of faith, I see death as a friend, as a transition from earthly life to life eternal.

~ Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago (1928 – 1996)



The church has lighted my way. Instead of struggling through a wilderness I have had a road – a road to virtue and truth. Only a road – the road to an end, not the end itself – the road to truth, not the fullness of truth itself… In one word, she has taught me how to seek God.


Maude Petre’s Way of Faith

~ Maude Dominica Petre, Catholic Modernist (1863 – 1942)



If you give your people halfhearted leadership, you’ll get a halfhearted following. But if you invest yourself in them, if you have a heart for them, your people will return your investment with a heartfelt following.


~ Kevin Leman and William Pentak, The Way of the Shepherd: 7 Ancient Secrets to Managing Productive People



May Wisdom be present in your discernment,
    shedding light upon your dormant dreams
    and unfolding paths.
May Trust invite you to explore the unknown
    with a hopeful heart.
May supportive companions keep vigil
    in your waiting.
May you be blessed
    with Patience and Courage
    in the expression of your true self.
May the yearnings of the Spirit call forth
    Generosity and great Love.
And may your heart be opened to welcome
    Holy Newness. Amen.

~ Sr. Pat Bergen, CSJ, Sisters of St. Joseph



To Search is To Find

To Search is to find
November – December 2017

When I assured a friend that I will pray for the eternal repose of her father, she responded with an invitation to rather pray for them, the bereaved family, for strength. She continued with, “We do not pray for the dead for it is the dead now praying for us.” I was a bit surprised for she too is a Catholic engaged in a religious group. They do not really grieve that much for they have to “take delight in the promise of the resurrection”.

I am wondering, do we, Catholics, have varied beliefs on praying for the dead, the resurrection and the need for grieving for the loss of a loved one?

Praying for the dead has always been part of the Catholic tradition. This was profoundly captured in Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy 1:18 in which the apostle asked Timothy to pray for a man named Onesiphorus who had died. He wrote, “May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that Day.” Paul remembered him and was grateful to his help when he was imprisoned in Ephesus. He said, “Onesiphorus often gave me a new heart and was not ashamed of my chains.” Paul remembered him fondly and he also prayed for this man’s family.

The important word in this biblical passage from Paul is mercy. We pray to God that He will grant mercy to our loved ones who passed on. I think it is a beautiful tradition we have. The living still shares a real and deep connection with the dead. It is part of our belief in the communion of saints. Our Christian life is not simply a private affair, we belong to a community. However, this community is an imperfect community that journeys towards union with God. In the celebration of the Eucharist, we acknowledge that we are a “pilgrim church on earth.”

The passing on of our loved ones from this life to the next does not separate them from our community. We are a community of believers including those who have gone before us. But as imperfect pilgrims, we continue to pray for one another especially praying to God to be merciful to us in our imperfections. We also believe that our loved ones who have passed on from this life are praying for us. As a community of Christ, we hope to also share in the glory of his resurrection which is not for us to decide but rather a gratuitous gift from God that is already realized in the resurrection of Christ. Thus, the Catechism for Filipino Catholics, in speaking of our funeral rites where we pray for the dead states, “God is worshipped, the paschal nature of Christian death is proclaimed, and the Christian hope for the reunion of God is strengthened” (CFC no. 1841).

For us Filipino Catholics, we also respect the grief of loss of our loved ones, in a sense that we no longer experience the person who passed on as we used to. There is a sense of absence that we feel because we could no longer feel the person through his/her bodily presence. This is a kind of loss. But there is also a consolation that one’s life does not end in physical death. This person’s presence is felt differently now, for instance through our memory of that person. Our remembrance of the dead connects us to the dead and makes the dead present to us. It is our memory of love that connects us to them and this love is grounded in the love of Christ for us. This relationship of love in Christ makes all the difference.

Prayer connects us with our loved ones in the afterlife and through our prayers we continue to cherish their life as part of us. It means a continued relationship and also a desire for reconciliation of things that are left unresolved. We can still forgive the dead and they can forgive us, too. As a Christian community, we are also a reconciling community because God continues to call us towards reconciliation. We are reconciled to God through Christ and we must be reconciled also to one another. Reconciliation is not only for the living but for all who await for the coming of the final realization of God’s kingdom and glory.