PTH Moments of Grace
Information N.7 – January 31, 2023
The last day of the 4th Provincial Chapter was dedicated to the evaluation of the recently concluded 1st session and planning for the 2nd session which was agreed to be on Oct 9-13, 2023 at Don Bosco Batulao.
The 1st session of the 4th Provincial Chapter was officially closed by Sr M. Anthony Basa with her final message addressed to the 20, capitulars and to Sr. M. Anetta Szczykutowicz reminding each one that the mission has not yet ended but is just starting.
The closing liturgy for the Chapter was the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Rev. Fr. Rolin Flores, Provincial Superior of the Society of St Paul. Fr. Flores shared that he found the day’s Gospel from Matthew 18:1-5 resonating with the theme of the Chapter, “I Have Seen the Lord!: The Beauty of the Encounter, the Joy of a Mandate.”
According to Fr. Flores, the humility of the children referred to in the Gospel is best manifested in obedience. He connected this with the Letter to the Philippians (2:6-11) where St. Paul speaks about the obedience that brought Jesus to exaltation. This echoes the Gospel which teaches that the humble will be exalted. Fr. Flores affirmed that only the humble obeys and disposes himself to be a servant. St. Paul, in fact, understood very well the connection between apostleship and servanthood. To be an apostle, he said, is to be first of all a servant. Coming from an experience of encountering and seeing the Lord, the apostles were mandated to proclaim the Gospel. They do what they are told and forget about their own preferences. St. Paul is a model of humility for he felt comfortable being the servant of all for the sake of the Gospel.
At the end of the homily, Fr. Flores asked the capitulars two questions: 1) how comfortable are you with being servants and apostles? and, 2) how joyful are you to receive the mandate? Fr. Flores said that St. Paul received the mandate and still proclaim “Rejoice!”
In the afternoon, the capitulars went for a nature walk at Caleruega. The day ended with a sumptuous dinner celebrating the feast of St. John Bosco.
To all who have journeyed in prayers with the capitulars in this Provincial Chapter, a resounding THANKS to all of you. GLORY to the Triune God! Deo Gratias!
Information N.6 – January 30, 2023
Inspired by the words of the Nicene Creed pertaining to the Holy Spirit, Rev. Fr. Rene Lagaya, SDB, imparted his words of encouragement to the capitulars during the 6:00AM Mass. He invited them to surrender to the Holy Spirit, allowing themselves to be possessed and be led where He wills. This call, he said, particularly applies to those who will be elected as delegates to the General Chapter, which is the main goal of the day.
Fr. Lagaya also pointed out how the Gospel speaks about the devil who tends to “dramatize” and makes things “grand.” This is in contrast with the ways of the Kingdom which is simple and silent. Simplicity, he remarked, is God’s hallmark. And so this is also the way of those who do God’s will.
He also touched on the Holy Spirit as “Vivificantem” (Giver of life). The fullness of life, he adds, leads to fulfillment. Therefore, the sense of fulfillment of each of the sisters is a sign of life for the congregation.
In conclusion, he underlined that the communion between each member the Divine Trinity should inspire those who will be elected to the general chapter. They must be prophets who speak in God’s name. This means setting aside personal agenda. Reflecting on the Fourth Gospel which portrays the birth of the Holy Spirit as a product of the Paschal Mystery, Fr. Lagaya, reminded the capitulars that participation in the Spirit also entails opening ourselves to the Paschal Mystery.
The rest of the day for the chapter members transpired as follows:
- Resumption of the presentation, deliberation, and approval of the Motions for the 10th General Chapter.
- Orientation for Communal Discernment in view of the election of the delegates to the General Chapter led by Sr. M. Victoria Victorino, the moderator of the day. This highlighted the process of discernment, the role of the delegate to the General Chapter, and the criteria for choosing the delegate.
- Intensified silence during the session breaks including lunch and the afternoon snacks.
- Gathering in respective groups for Spiritual Conversation in line with the discernment and election of the delegates to the General Chapter.
- The election of Sr. M. Victoria Victorino and Sr. M. Nimfa Ebora as delegates to the 10th General Chapter, and of Sr. M. Magdalene Magallanes and Sr. M. Janice Golez as substitute delegates.
We thank the Lord for His Spirit’s active presence that enabled the capitulars to have docile and listening hearts.
Information N.5 – January 29, 2023
On day 5 of the chapter, the capitulars celebrated the Eucharist of the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time with the lay faithful at the Chapel on the Hill presided by Fr. Arthur Hizon, SDB. His homily touched on “being poor in spirit,” which he said could mean opening ourselves to God’s plan even if it entails abandoning the goals we set for ourselves. He also invited everyone to set aside fear and see where God in his providential guidance leads. These words, though not intended exclusively for chapter members, certainly guided the capitulars in their work for the day which includes:
- Presentation of the priorities that came out from the various group’s prayer experiences and spiritual conversation.
- Discussion by triad to choose which among the proposed priorities are to be brought to the General Chapter.
- Votation for approval of the priorities for the General Chapter.
- Individual reflection and discernment of the motions to be presented to the 10th General Chapter.
- Reformulation, deliberation, and votation for approval by the chapter members on the motions initially discussed in groups.
Thanks to the Guiding Hand whose direction the capitulars certainly felt today. For the good things accomplished today, the capitulars say: “Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Information N.4 – January 28, 2023
The capitulars’ day began with the Eucharistic celebration where Fr. Rene Lagaya, SDB preached on two things: 1) the importance of faith in Jesus, and 2) focusing on Jesus alone. The Gospel of Mark relays that amidst the violent squall which frightened the disciples, Jesus asked them why they panic in fear when He is with them in the boat. Fr. Lagaya gave the assurance that nothing wrong can happen when Jesus is with us. He said, the Gospel summons us to trust Jesus for he is a God who journeys with his people. Fr. Lagaya likewise meditated on the life of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose liturgical memorial was celebrated. Having asked by the Lord in a vision what reward he desired for all the good things he wrote about Him, St. Thomas decisively responded, “Only YOU, Lord.” Therefore, St. Thomas’ supreme teaching pertains to focusing on the Lord. Fr. Lagaya encouraged the capitulars to ask the intercession of St. Thomas “for wisdom from above” and the capacity to say, “Only YOU, Lord.” In conclusion, he said that the solutions we try to put to the problems in front of us should in the end lead us to the Lord.
The capitulars gathered at the chapter hall at 8:30 in the morning and meditatively listened to a song that invited them to seek the face of God. Sr. M. Anthony Basa then opened the session with Sr. M. Victoria Victorino who served as the moderator of the day. The most significant events of the day are the following:
- The capitulars’ approval of the amendments made to the Institutional and Administrative Reports on the PTH Province.
- M. Anetta Szczykutowicz’s presentation of the Stage 2 of the Guidelines in Preparation for the 10th General Chapter. She started with a reflection on the faith of Abraham inspired by the day’s first reading. She stressed on the FAITH that made Abraham obey without knowing where he was going. She also echoed the Gospel’s invitation to “cross over to the other side” as the chapter participants prayed before they put forward their chosen priorities for the General Chapter. She considered the process a risky business for the boat may rock and shake. However, they are assured of the presence of Jesus.
- The chosen priorities as fruit of the personal prayer, reflection and discernment of the capitulars were brought to their respective groups for the Spiritual Conversations.
The day concludes with the Evening Prayer and the evening banquet.
We thank the Lord for all the graces received for the day which made us say, like St. Thomas Aquinas and Mother Scholastica Rivata, “Lord, You alone are enough!” We also thank all our PDDM communities who accompany us with their prayers. To God be the glory. Amen.
Information N.3 – January 27, 2023
The 3rd day of the Provincial Chapter began with a Eucharistic celebration presided over by Rev. Fr. Rene Lagaya, SDB. Taking from the liturgical memorial of the day, Fr. Lagaya presented St. Angela Merici as of model of innovative, non-traditional response to the needs of her times, braving the risk of being opposed and misunderstood by her contemporaries. St. Angela Merici’s vision was way ahead of her time, just like the vision Don Bosco and Blessed James Alberione. Thus, Fr. Lagaya, challenged the capitulars to think “out of the box” during the process of discernment and deliberation on the issues concerning the Congregation’s mission. He invited them to ask “What would Blessed James Alberione do if he were alive today?”
The day’s session was formally opened at 8:30 AM with the invocation to the Holy Spirit. Sr. M. Celine Santiago served as the day’s moderator. Sr. M. Janice Golez, Provincial Secretary, read the minutes of the 1st and 2nd days which were approved by the plenary assembly. The day’s highlights were the Institutional Report of Sr. M. Anthony Basa and the Administrative Report presented by Sr. M. Angie Rhona Alvarez and Sr. M. Magdalene Magallanes. These reports were clarified and amended by the chapter assembly.
Lastly, Sr. M. Anthony declared the conclusion of the plenary session at 6:00 PM. It was followed by the Vespers and table fellowship.
Praise be to the Triune God whose guiding presence the capitulars clearly felt on this day. Deo Gratias!
Information N.2 – January 26, 2023
The second day of the provincial chapter was dedicated to prayer and recollection. At 9 AM, Fr. Mariano Agruda III, OCD, gave a meditation on two mystical icons of discipleship, John the Beloved Disciple and Mary of Magdala. Fr. Agruda proposes these two Gospel figures as points of reference and inspiration in our response to the challenges posed by the complex issues concerning our call and mission. As John the Beloved leaned on Jesus’ breast during the last supper – suggesting deep intimacy and profound listening – we too are called to place our ears on Jesus’ chest to listen to Jesus’ heartbeat. Father Agruda points out that it is only from this position can we look at the issues concerning our life, the congregation, the church, and the world. It is from listening to the heartbeat of the Master, that we are able to know that we are loved and what Jesus asks of us. Mary of Magdala, on the other hand, is a figure that echoes the restless, passionate, driven figure from the Song of Songs. She too, like John the Beloved, is a portrait of intimacy and listening. She is unable to rest until she finds her Beloved. Her Beloved becomes her all, everything else is secondary. Fr. Agruda emphasizes that true discipleship is anchored in yearning and intimacy with Jesus. It is the love that gave Mary of Magdala and John the Beloved the heart to understand since love is the supreme interpreter and discerner of what we are unable to grasp especially in the midst of chaos. Love decodes what the intellect struggles to make sense. Fr. Agruda invites the capitulars to that love that looks within and beyond. He encourages them to let love enter the cracks of their weaknesses and to see God’s presence there. Since love is the eye that sorts things out, lack of love impedes us to look clearly and beyond into the present and the future.
Concluding his reflection, Fr. Agruda exhorted the capitulars to see things from the experience of Easter, where, amidst darkness and gloom, Christ’s light broke out. He said that our call goes beyond restoration and renewal. The call is for Recreation. This image from Gn 1:2 presents a God who brings forth order and life out of the formless void and primeval chaos. Chaos and darkness are a gift overflowing with potential. They are raw materials of life. Eggs need to crack so that life can emerge. Seeds need to fall and be buried in order to sprout. These images make us realize that chaos and darkness are in fact Good News! Recreation involves risk, courage, and vision and yet we are assured because Resurrection makes us see the God of many chances, who never tires, who loves unconditionally, and who can draw life beyond scatteredness. Like John the Beloved, we are invited to proclaim, “It is the Lord!” Like Mary Magdalene, are called to declare, “I have seen the Lord!”
Fr. Agruda presided also over the Eucharistic Celebration commemorating Sts. Timothy and Titus at 11 AM. His homily calls on each capitular to participate in collaboration as a group, but also to be that “one camel” – that “one voice” – that makes a difference.
In the afternoon, after a period of silence, each one proceeded to her designated group for the Spiritual Conversation that centers on their God experience for the day. The day concluded with the celebration of vespers.
Information N.1 – January 25, 2023
Summoned from the different parts of the Philippine-Taiwan-Hong Kong Province, 21 delegates arrived at Don Bosco House of Spirituality in Batulao, Batangas on January 25, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, to participate in the PDDM 4th Provincial Chapter. The following are the capitulars:
Sr. Mary Anthony Basa
Golez, Sr. M. Janice
Santiago, Sr. M. Celine
Victorino, Sr. M. Victoria
Szcykutowicz, Sr. M. Anetta
Consultant from the General Government
Alvarez, Sr. M. Angie Rhona
Cabahug, Sr. Maria Luz
Cualquira, Sr. M. Cherylsalve
De Jesus, Sr. M. Carolina
Dy, Sr. M. Francis
Ebora, Sr. M. Nimfa
Guadalquiver, Sr. M. Christina
Legaspi, Sr. M. Kristine
Magallanes, Sr. M. Magdalene
Malonzo, Sr. M. Aida
Martinez, Sr. M. Bernadette
Parrilla, Sr. M. Celeste
Payawal, Sr. M. Cecilia
Pineda, Sr. M. Mercedes
Salido, Sr. M. Elizabeth
Velez, Sr. M. Virginia
The celebration has the theme “I Have Seen the Lord!”: The Beauty of the Encounter, The Joy of a Mandate.
The highlights of the day include the Eucharistic Celebration presided by Rev. Fr. Celso Godilano, SSP. His homily stresses on “Listening” as a vital part and process of discernment. Listening, he said, allows us to be attuned to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and with one another. It is in listening that we read the signs of the times which move us to assume our prophetic role in the Church and in the world. It is also in listening that we become a synodal church, which he puts in our Philippine context as “bayanihan” spirit, that is, being involved – mind, soul, and body. Like St. Paul and Mary Magdalene who were ardent proclaimers of the Good News, we were called by the Shepherd who knows us by name. All that is needed is to listen to his voice and follow him.
After the celebration of the Vespers, the capitulars proceeded towards the chapter hall in a solemn procession accompanied by the chanting of the Veni Creator Spiritus to formally open the chapter. There was the convocation of the names of the delegates, the presentation of the schedule and regulations, and a short discussion and clarifications of some procedures. The day ended with a sumptuous dinner and recreation.