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2 DIRECTOR S NOTE Dear friends, It has been more than a year since San Damiano Spirituality Centre (SDSC) was established and blessed. Truly, it has been a gift to us from our Heavenly Father through the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) in Malaysia and Singapore. In SDSC, we have been able to share our inner lives, deepen our understanding of our faith and most importantly find solitude and rest with Christ, our Refuge has begun with much excitement after a year of establishing operations and pilot programmes. In January 2018, SDSC began vocational work for the Franciscan family. Working together with the friars-in-formation, we hope to provide a haven for vocation seekers through the lens of Franciscan thought and spirituality. We have also been planning our first pilgrimage with great anticipation. This May, SDSC accompanies 70 pilgrims to Italy, walking in the footsteps of our Father Francis and Mother Clare, seeking to be strengthened in our earthly pilgrimage towards Christ. The trip includes a 2-day Camino walk through the towns and fields in Francis s life, and periods of individual silence in Carceri and La Verna, where Francis found Divine LOVE in his deepest struggles. For the lay person, SDSC seeks to broaden faith formation opportunities in Singapore through programmes like God s Extravagant Love: an introduction to Franciscan spirituality and Brother Francis: The Barefoot Saint of Assisi, an interactive audio theatre biography. RYAN MARCUS COLOND These programmes, in line with Pope Francis s exhortations, invite us to respond to the God of love who invites us, to see God in others and to so forth form ourselves to seek the good of others. (Evangelii Gaudiam n.39) Apart from adult formation, in January 2018, SDSC launched a post-secondary programme in theology for youths aged Inspired by St Anthony of Padua s nickname, Hammer of Heretics, the Hammer programme seeks to foster youthful fraternity through shared learning, to nurture faith in a global climate which views God as irrelevant. This programme aims to empower youths to grow in ownership of their faith, pursue questions of the heart, and ultimately become witnesses to God in their own parishes and homes. Hammer also aims to sow the seeds for YouFra, an international Youth Franciscan movement. With World Youth Day 2019 on the horizon, we hope this might become a reality. Apart from our programmes, SDSC also caters to the individual seeking rest and spiritual nourishment. With a team of 8 spiritual directors, SDSC is open for Individual-Guided Retreats and Ongoing Spiritual Direction. These programmes and retreats however, would not be possible without our past participants and well-wishers, our faithful intercessors and our team of volunteers who contributed to SDSC, with their gifts in key areas of administration and hospitality. SDSC remains in great need of your kind support. The programmes and activities are in place, but to paraphrase St. Paul, how are people to hear about St. Francis and the good news that he lives out unless someone tells them! (Rom 10: 14) 2

3 C O N T E N T S STORIES I. SAN DAMIANO SPIRITUALITY CENTER: CARCERI ROOM II. VOCATION EVENING: RUNNING BACK TO OUR PRISONS III. ASSISI PILGRIMAGE PREPARATION UPCOMING Dearest brothers and sisters in Christ, Pa et Bonum! This month, we feature one of the main rooms in SDSC, Carceri, and share its significance in Franciscan Spirituality. We also share the experiences of those who participated in our programmes, the vocation evening, themed Running Back to our Prisons and our recee trip to Assisi as part of the preparations for the upcoming pilgrimage in May We pray that this issue will inspire you to walk closer to God through the spirituality of our brother, St. Francis. With love, 3 I. GOD S EXTRAVAGANT LOVE (GEL) (6 JUL 8 JUL) II. HAMMER : SCRIPTURE AND LITURGY CLASSES III. UNDONE : YOUTH RETREAT (12 JUN 17 JUN) IV. FRANCISCAN VOCATION RETREAT (26 JUN 30 JUN) V. VOCATION EVENING: THE UPPER ROOM (12 JUN 17 JUN) FEATURES I. GAUDETE APP


5 Written by Ryan Colond Carceri room in SDSC Carceri in Assisi Taken from the hermitage Eremo della Carceri, our featured room in SDSC is Carceri, the meditation room found on the first floor. Carceri, first shares the same Latin root, prison, as the word incarceration. We invite our pilgrims to spend time in meditation, courageously confronting the darkness in our lives. It is a call to return to our prison world so as to be freed with and by Jesus, who alone can set us free. One of the central aspects of Franciscan spirituality is the familiarity with prisons. St. Francis found solitude in caves because they reminded him of the environment of a medieval prison. It was said that of the many points of conversion in Francis life, his time as a prisoner was probably his first. Left in the dark, cold and wondering when the end would be, Francis encountered our Lord. From this painful experience, whenever Francis wished to meet God, he would return to his prison world, to meet his Beloved. In modern times, pilgrims sometime seek refuge and solitude from the world around by escaping to retreat centers much like ours. For Francis, the encounter of God was not found separate from our problems. Instead it is found within ourselves, when we truly confront these issues with the light and companionship of Christ. Christ humbles himself to be a prisoner with us, so that He may free us and give us life eternal. 5 Carceri in Assisi

6 Written by Clare Ho In the literal meaning, vocation is the strong feeling of suitability for a career or occupation, or rather, someone s trade or profession. But what does vocation mean in the Catholic faith? To put it in simple words, it is a call a call from God. Thinking about vocations is so much more than the discernment process of becoming a priest. Rather, to fully understand and be able to interpret God s call, it is important to answer the very first and most important call from Jesus the universal call to holiness. This call to holiness is a call to love and serve the Lord, a movement to bring us closer in our journey towards union with God. This teaches us the freedom there is to gain, when we join our will to the will of the Father s. John Carlo, aged 20, one of the participants, recounts his experience During this formation session, I was given the opportunity to meet the Franciscan Brothers over dinner. After which, we went through the Life of St Francis in an audio theater, allowing the sounds and music to come alive in our own imagination. This gave me the opportunity to view Francis life in relation to my own. The audio file spoke of the struggles faced by Francis in his attempt to figure out what God had planned for him. Francis pure desire to hear God s voice and follow what God had intended despite all worldly perspectives was truly inspirational. As I am personally dealing with earthly temptations, I felt a sense of comfort that even such a revered saint was as human as I was. As following the theme of the night, we learnt about how Francis chose to face his problems and struggles head-on rather than run away from them. Despite the fear of temptations running over him, he continually sought help from God, to not allow his temptations to disrupt his love for others. Participants reflecting on spiritual input To help young men identify God s calling in their hearts, SDSC organized a vocation evening on the 14 th April This interactive evening between the Franciscan friars and attendees included sharing dinner together and a listening to an audio theater biography of a part of Francis s life. Another thing that struck me was how he was unfazed when faced with the reactions of others with regards to him helping the poor and needy. Relying on God s strength rather than his own, he held a desire to show God s love to the people around him (including his encounter with the leper). The Franciscan brothers also gave me an insight on how they related to St. Francis and ended up serving in the Franciscan order. Sharings by the friars included their individual gifts, and how they brought what God has given them together to serve as a community. They were extremely friendly and open to sharing, keeping a lighthearted atmosphere throughout the night. Participants listening to the audio file 6 From the session input to the sharing, I have received a lot from this formation that can aid me in deepening my own spiritual life and am looking forward to such future events.


8 Written by Derrick Tan Being part of a Franciscan church, I think it is important to understand what it means to be a Franciscan and know the kind of life that St. Francis led. Knowing that Ryan was headed to Italy, we asked if he could bring us along (Daichi, Benedik and I) to visit the places of the pilgrimage beforehand. During this trip, we went to the different places that St. Francis went to during his lifetime, getting to know the historical recounts and praying over what it means for us today. We walked the Camino di Francesco (St. Francis s Way), which is a route towards Assisi linking places where major events took place in Francis life. Starting from Rieti, we headed to La Foresta and Poggio Bustone on the first day. On the second day, we walked from Rieti to Fonte Colombo and Greccio. From left to right, Ryan Colond, Daichi Tan, Derrick Tan, Benedik Tan Left: Santa Maria della Foresta in La Foresta Right: Statue of Francis preaching the gospel to the brothers Rieti is where St. Francis experienced the certainty of being forgiven. And it was in La Foresta that St. Francis was inspired to write the Canticle of the Creatures. Map of the Camino di Francesco Poggio Bustone 8

9 Poggio Bustone is known as the place where St. Francis started to greet people with Good day, good people! This walk called me to reflect on how God pours Himself so completely into creation and how we are invited to share in that love. This walk invited me to examine what it means to be a Franciscan and to ponder the humility and love of God in the person of Jesus Christ. The next day, we headed towards Assisi and visited the home of St. Francis, and reflected on his life and struggles with his family and local church authorities before he moved to become the saint he eventually became. Fonte Colombo Fonte Colombo was one of the places where St. Francis spent long periods in fasting and prayer, and is also where the Franciscan Rule was written. In Greccio, St. Francis had a deep desire to recall the memory of the Nativity of Jesus and started the now-famous tradition in recreating the manger scene during the Advent and Christmas season. The world around us is often too noisy, making it difficult to remain still in a quiet environment for a long time to meditate. For me, this silent camino walk was an experience like no other. I was able to be constantly moving instead of sitting still, and be completely immersed in the sounds, smells, sight and touch of the environment, while spending the whole time in prayer. It gave me many opportunities to examine my own heart. At the same time, it was amazing to behold God s glory in creation all around me, walking across various humble dwellings and majestic sceneries. It is good to pray for the same things St. Francis received during these walks, which I believe our good God would love to gift us with, but I thought Jesus might have something different to offer me in this season of my life. In my experience of the silent camino walk, I learned to allow God s voice to drown out the other voices inside me, including bodily hunger and exhaustion. I also became more aware of my dying to self every day, and my rising to new life in Christ. To sum it up in a sentence, it was, for me, an intimate silent walk with a talkative Jesus. Photos by Benedik Tan Piazza at Greccio 9


11 UPCOMING EVENTS Gaudete The official mobile app of the Society of the Infant Jesus (IJ) Spiritual insights from Scriptures and Saints Be inspired as a consecrated person Watch informative and religious videos