Ancilla Domini. Humble Servants, Called to be Prophetic Witnesses of Hope in Today s World

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1 Ancilla Domini The Official Publication of the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary Special Issue - 20th Ordinary General Chapter April 6-27, 2016 Humble Servants, Called to be Prophetic Witnesses of Hope in Today s World

2 Contents Message RVM Sisters Elect New Superior General Leading the Ignacian Way, A Closer Look at the New Superior General Whispers in the Silence Into Thy Hands, Lord Prayers for the Newly Elected Leaders Ecce Ancilla Domini Prayers of the newly elected and appointed Jurisdictional Leaders Through the Lens Reflecting and Revealing What is most significant about this Chapter? First Impressions Reflections from the first-time delegates Wisdom from the Upper Room Reflections/Insights from Sisters with the most number of attendance to Chapters Changing Through Time, Transformation Beyond Imagining Reflections from the past Jurisdictional Leaders Crumbs from the Lord s Table Points from daily Homilies Martha s Thoughts Reflections from the Working Committee Literary 1 Humor Post The Word in the Words of Holy Men Homily of Rev. Fr. Antonio M. Pernia, SVD Homily of Most Reverend Bishop Reynaldo G. Evangelista, DD M. Maria Corazon D. Agda, RVM Superior General S. Maria Aurora V. Medel, RVM Staff S. Maria Gilda M. Peñafiel, RVM Staff S. Maria Merma Liza M. Shalah, RVM Chair Ancilla Domini The Official Publication of the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary Special Issue - 20th Ordinary General Chapter April 6-27, 2016 Humble Servants, Called to be Prophetic Witnesses of Hope in Today s World The Ancilla Domini is the official publication of the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin. For this edition, the Ancilla Staff included articles, reflections, thoughts, prayers, and humor posts from the Capitulars and Working Staff of the 20th Ordinary General Chapter. This is a one-time issue only.

3 Message Who are we? What is the purpose of our being individually and congregationally? Who do we envision ourselves to be for the next five years? The Twentieth Ordinary General Chapter s theme Humble servants called to be prophetic witnesses of hope in today s world strikingly specifies the BEING dimension of the RVM. It is the strand that binds all that we hope to accomplish together within a five-year journey. In what possible and feasible ways can we possibly BE MORE? Let me count some ways: we can choose to BE MORE Faithful to our Ignacian legacy. In the 1974 English-translated edition of our 1726 Constitutions, Fr. Paul Molinari, SJ is quoted: If members of the institute faithfully respond to the graces of their vocation, and take the road mapped out by the founder, God s grace will be there to ensure a deeper insight into their vocation and all the implications of the founder s original inspiration the presence of the same Spirit will become visible (p. 44) May our knowledge of our Mother Foundress and the community she started be our constant inspiration for every creative interpretation of the Beaterio s purpose for being. Edifying. The Beaterio was recognized as a source of edification to the larger community. It exemplified charity, the theological virtue which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col 3:14) and whose fruits are joy, peace, and mercy (CCC 1829). To guide each beata, the second chapter of the 1726 Constitutions-- spiritual advices which should be observed by those who are engaged in a life of perfection and in the service of God --is a timeless guide. May we find time to constantly re-visit it, make it our benchmark and practice it in community. Hospitable. To be hospitable implies kindness, openness, generosity. The Ignacian spiritual advices are very much about being hospitable not only to our own Sisters but also to ourselves first. It is unwise to attempt to do good to others while neglecting oneself (II.16) and you will benefit others only insofar as you benefit yourself in the spiritual life (II.17) have enduring and ageless values. May our communities be hospitable not only to strangers and visitors but also equitably as welcoming to everyone that compose them Sisters and lay partners alike. Responsible and prudent in using media. The world tends to invade our convents in many subtle ways. Abhorring what the world loves (I.33) does not anymore seem to be very applicable to our way of life. The time we spend in front of the consumer s tabernacle (the TV set) is longer than the time we spend in silent adoration. The purposes and places we use our cellphones and other gadgets for can boggle the imagination. May we have the courage to choose to live differently by being different through countering worldliness. May we proclaim a truly godly life in words and deeds. People-building. The past thirty years have seen significant, progressive, and impressive changes and improvements in the congregation. Truly the RVMs have served by the sweat of their brow and as a result reaped the fruits of their concerted labors, resourcefulness, frugality, and generosity. Whatever good things we build end up building us (Jim Rohn). May the next five years be a time to contemplate on the strong and beautiful edifices built and may it also be a time to evaluate how they have made us better in building each other. Involved. Our present world can be characterized by intense individualism, ever-growing materialism, and multi-faceted exploitation of resources. Being actively involved in local and global issues can be done from the margins where life-changing things can happen without much fanfare. As Mother Ignacia and the beatas counter-cultured the prevailing negative situations of their times by breaking away from and breaking through expectations associated with gender, class and race, may we overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21) and make a difference by advocating issues from the peripheries. As we build on the foundations laid down by the beatas leaders and followers alike before us, let us always keep in mind that the newness and creativity of our response at any given time in history need to be deeply rooted in Jesus who was at the center of Mother Ignacia s life. Let us constantly pray to Mother Mary, the Ancilla Domini par excellence, for guidance. M. Maria Corazon D. Agda, RVM 1

4 RVM Sisters Elect New Superior General 2 Mother Maria Corazon D. Agda, the incumbent Provincial Superior of Southern Mindanao was elected as the new Superior General of the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary on April 12, She was among the fiftythree delegates to the 20th Ordinary General Chapter held at the Betania Retreat House in Tagaytay City. The historic event began with a triduum of silence and prayer facilitated by Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, former Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus. The Chapter commenced with the reports of the then Superior General, M. Maria Evelyn C. Aguilar and the Econome General, S. Maria Rosalia A. Nacionales as the first highlights of the three-week assembly. In his homily during the Thanksgiving Mass, His Excellency Reynaldo G. Evangelista, Bishop of Imus, underscored the Chapter s theme, Humble servants, called to be prophetic witnesses of hope in today s world and reminded the Sisters of the humility of Mother Ignacia founded on her own spirituality of Marian radical openness to the will of God. As humble servants called to be prophetic witnesses of hope, the RVMs should maintain a joyful spirit wherever they go and with whoever they encounter, he added. Along with M. Maria Corazon, the General Consultors, the General Secretary and General Econome were likewise elected to their posts: S. Maria Rosalia A. Nacionales, Vicar-General/ 1st Consultor General; S. Maria Anicia B. Co, 2nd Consultor General; S. Maria Marissa R. Viri, 3rd Consultor General; and S. Maria Gilda M. Peñafiel, 4th Consultor General. Sisters Maria Rosabella R. Gallo and Maria Teresita P. Aspril were elected Secretary General and Econome General respectively. The names of the Jurisdictional and District Superiors were announced singly each day, adding to the excitement and anticipation that this milestone had brought about. The new appointees are: S. Maria Ignacia Marigie D. Barangan, S. Maria Fe B. Lagarto and S. Maria Miraflor A. Bahan for Luzon, Visayas and Northern Mindanao jurisdictions respectively. S. Maria Theresia Yasinta Ngodhu was named District Superior of Indonesia; S. Maria Josielinda S. Tanudtanud, RVM for USA-Canada, S. Paulette Maria Goretti A. Ankrah for Ghana, and S. Maria Sylvia L. Abueva for Italy. Sisters Maria Paulette, Maria Miraflor, and Maria Josielinda came as Chapter observers. The General Ordinary Chapter s eight objectives resulted to the formulation of new mandates and actions plans for the next five years, a well-defined status of the Southern Mindanao Province, and the updating of the Landas and Custom Book. The Chapter proceeded successfully as the Capitulars set the path for the Congregation s journey in the incoming years. The Sisters look forward to a more prophetic leadership as M. Maria Corazon sets the example of humble servanthood, the spirituality that Venerable Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, Mother Foundress, lived. Likewise, the challenge to be credible witnesses of God s mercy and compassion is for each and every RVM to exemplify. The Chapter formally closed on April 27, 2016 with a Thanksgiving Mass officiated by Rev. Father Roberto San Diego, Parish Priest of Lourdes, Tagaytay City. smmls.rvm

5 Leading the Ignacian Way, A Closer look at the New Superior General For one who is used to a fuss-free life in the South, being elected to the highest office in the Congregation with 704 Sisters in 127 communities within five jurisdictions and four districts is quite a task and can be overwhelming. This extraordinary, life-changing event happened on April 12, The delegates to the 20 th Ordinary General Chapter have chosen a new leader, the 23 rd in the line that originated in 1684 with Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, La Fundadora. The election heralded a new dawn for the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary as S. Maria Corazon Dulfo Agda takes on the responsibility of leading the Sisters for the next five years. When the unassuming leader entered the chapel and knelt before the Blessed Sacrament for her oath of office, the Sisters welcomed her with a gentle delight. Mother Maria Corazon s quivering voice and trembling hands betrayed the calm countenance that she naturally exudes. It was only when the Te Deum was sung that the aftershocks started to quiet down. Looking dazed and somewhat perplexed, the newly elected leader admitted that this annunciation event in her life is arcane. Yet the choice of the Holy Spirit is not always understood by those who were called to lead. One thing is certain, nothing happens by chance. The election of a new leader as in any organization is often welcomed by the membership with hope that some things new could happen. But for the RVMs, the election of a new Superior General is an impetus for the Congregation to make more alive the spirit and charism of the woman who valiantly broke the mold and started something deep, something wide, and something tall for the Philippine Church 332 years ago. This RVM Sister from Rizal, Zamboanga del Norte entered the Congregation in 1981, six years after teaching at Xavier High School which was RVM-administered from She had her first profession in 1983, final profession in 1989, and silver jubilee in In the span of 33 years, her assignments include being Christian Living Coordinator, Librarian, Secretariat Staff, Regional Christian Living, Mother Ignacia Club and Vocation Coordinator, Religious Education Director and Dean of College. Her last mission prior to her election was in Southern Mindanao where she was the Provincial Superior. For many who know M. Maria Corazon, her simplicity, generosity, and kind demeanor towards them and her ability to sew strike them as fragments of Mother Ignacia s persona. It is not surprising as she had studied the life of the Foundress and the first Ignacian community and probably memorized the 1726 Rules and Constitutions by heart. Perhaps the constant and unending reading through and re-construction of the document have influenced her. Her writings, Shaping the Ignacian Community (MST, 1998), Leadership and Followership: The Beaterio de la Compañia Foundational Experience (UIC, 2007), and Mother Ignacia: Prophet and Mystic (2015) are works that every RVM Sister should read. The pages of those scholarly oeuvres offer deep insights to the character of Mother Ignacia and to the writer herself. As expected of her, M. Maria Corazon shall attempt to follow the footsteps of Ignacia del Espiritu Santo. She will try her hardest to lead the Congregation as a woman of courage, humility, compassion, zeal, and with great equilibrium (Landas, Chapter VII, 101, Letter D1) which is not at all in contrast with her personality. Added to that, she is supposed to be discerning and decisive, a humble servant, a contemplative in action, and closely united to God in prayer and action. In short, the Superior General is spiritually, intellectually, psychologically, and physically able to lead the Congregation (Landas, Chapter VII, 101, Letter B) one who is closest to the description of Mother Ignacia: mujer verdaderamente fuerte (a woman truly strong). While taking on the responsibility of leading is a great task, the One who chooses does so with mercy and compassion. Her election in this Jubilee Year of Mercy might also be a divine forecast as her name Corazon is an apt imagery for God s mercy and compassion to her and to the Sisters of the Religious of the Virgin Mary. We pray that you will lead well, M. Maria Corazon, according to the design of the Divine Master in the manner that is faithfully Marian and authentically Ignacian. smmls.rvm 3

6 Whispers Every religious institute that conducts a General Chapter normally prepares for this historic event in extraordinary Whispers in manner according to the congregational norms and traditions. This period of renewal serves not only as an occasion to review the past, evaluate the present and plan for the future but also, and more importantly, to examine the institutes influence in the life of the Church. Hence, the preparations for and the acts of this ecclesial event are both logistical and spiritual in nature. It is in this context that the 20 th Ordinary General Chapter began. Fifty-three RVM Capitulars entered the Chapter with a triduum of prayer and silence. The quietude that enveloped the whole time and place was necessary in order for them to listen and to discern with the heart and the soul. Like God at Mount Horeb, His passing by was not in the wind, or in the earthquake or the fire. He came as a gentle whisper and the Prophet Elijah was able to recognize Him (1 Kings 19: 11-13). For three days, silence was reverently observed and from the points shared by the facilitator, these whispers were heard 4 Day 1: Contemplation of the incarnation and Jesus life in Nazareth. Jesus entered the world at a particular time in the form of a human being, giving the world a gift of humble presence. His mission was to save the world. For 30 years He lived like any other ordinary man, obscure and outwardly insignificant, living the life of the greater part of all humankind. In Nazareth, the seed was hidden and what was seemingly dead in oblivion was in fact bearing fruit. At Nazareth, Jesus waited for years until the movement willed by God was clear in contrast with the haste that wants things to be done at once. Jesus gave the lesson which is valuing God s time and the respect it deserves. The invitation therefore is to trust that you need time for growth, in a quiet, obscure manner and that the day to day living of life bears fruit. The contemplation on the incarnation invites you to accept your vast and tremendous mission and yet you are also being asked to spend time in hidden preparation because the way is the way of the God of small numbers, of the One who looks for the lost sheep. Your challenge is to do things in small ways one child at a time, one person at a time, one classroom at a time, one school at a time Looking back with gratitude. The signs of the times must be read with the eyes of faith that will enable you to respond creatively to the needs of the Church. Like the seed that became a tree, your Institute grew and stretched out its branches. This is the essence of a deeper appreciation of the RVM legacy and the living out of the Ignacian spirituality. Beginning with your Mother Foundress and the foundational community, realize how the RVM charism has been lived over the years the creativity it has sparked, the difficulties it encountered, and the concrete ways those difficulties were surmounted. Even your weaknesses are part of your journey with God. To tell your story, therefore, is to praise God and to thank Him for all His gifts. In order to be prophetic witnesses of hope in today s world, Pope Francis reminds that [1] amid uncertainties you are called to practice the virtue of HOPE, the fruit of your faith in the Lord of history, who continues to say: Be not afraid for I am with you (Jer 1:8); [2] this HOPE is not based on statistics or accomplishments but on the One in whom you have put our trust (cf. 2 Tim 1:2); [3] this is the HOPE which enables consecrated life to keep writing its great history well into the future. So do not yield to the temptation to see things in terms of numbers and efficiency. Continue to constantly set out anew with trust in the Lord. You are the present since you are already taking active part in the lives of your Institute, offering all the freshness and generosity of your YES. At the same time you are the future for soon you will be called to take on roles of leadership. Your invitation is to actively engage in dialogue with the previous generation. You will be enriched by their experiences and wisdom while you can inspire them by your energy and enthusiasm, to recapture their original idealism. Thus the entire RVM community can join together in finding new ways of living the Gospel and responding more effectively to the need for witness and proclamation.

7 the Silence Day 2: Mission in Evangelii Gadium. The great danger in today s world is the desolation and anguish borne of the feverish pursuit of frivolous pleasures and a blunted conscience. There is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt, and the desire to do good fades. Many fall prey to it and end up resentful, angry and listless. The invitation is to live the Joy of the Gospel. The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ s cross, constantly invites you to rejoice. A few examples will suffice: Rejoice! is the angel s greeting to Mary (Lk 1:28). Mary s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother s womb (cf. Lk 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: My spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Lk 1:47). Live this joy even in difficulty. Pope Francis exhorts: I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of your personal certainty that when everything is said and done, you are infinitely loved. Understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet you have to let the joy of faith slowly revive you in the quite but firm trust even amid the greatest distress Those in leadership have to bear the burden of their own weaknesses and those of others including the crises and challenges that face your communities. Joy for you then would be more of an inner peace, in the faith and assurance that you are infinitely loved and that a good and loving Father holds you in His Hands. Recover and deepen the enthusiasm. Life grows by being given away and it weakens in isolation and comfort. Here you discover a profound law of reality that life attains and matures in the measure that it is offered up in order to give life to others. Consequently, an evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral! Do recover and deepen your enthusiasm so that the world may be able to receive the good news from you whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ. Pay attention to the global so as to avoid narrowness and banality but also look to the local which keeps our feet on the ground. Together, the two will prevent you from falling into one of two extremes. In globalization, people get caught up in an abstract, globalized universe, falling into step behind everyone else, admiring the glitter of other people s world, gaping and applauding at all the right times. On the other hand, with localization, they turn into a museum of local folklore, a world apart, doomed to doing the same things over and over and incapable of being challenged by novelty or appreciating the beauty which God bestows beyond their borders. Misericordiae Vultus: Jesus is the face of God s mercy. In today s situation, what should you do for the homeless around? for the street children, who are hungry and subject to abuse? for the elderly, the abandoned? The invitation is to touch the flesh of Christ in the outcast, the hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, and the ill. For four years now during the Holy Thursday, Pope Francis actions of washing the feet of the youth offenders (2013), of the disabled elderly (2014), of the prisoners (2015), and of the migrants and refugees (2016) mean to tell us that it is important to pay due attention to the weakest in this historic moment and all are called to restore their dignity without resorting to subterfuge. By washing their feet, Pope Francis implores respect for each one of them. Be reminded, therefore, that there are countless masses of people who are poor, uneducated, prisoners, who find themselves in such situations because others oppress them. 5

8 Day 3: Discernment and dialoguing. The particular challenge for the Philippines is the cognitive and emotional disconnectedness of the Filipino people. Many are connected to more people in the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, Europe, or Japan than the farmers and workers within the country. The challenge for the RVMs: Can you help the disconnected Filipino people connect with one another? Can you challenge the Philippine society with the stories of the people your serve in the peripheries? Can you challenge the Church to join you? The principle, Realities are more important than ideas has to do with incarnation of the Word and its being put into practice. You may speak of grand plans but can you help the next generation begin to dream of and work towards a better way? The other principle, Time is Greater than Space, enables you to work slowly but surely without being obsessed with immediate results. This will help you endure the difficult and adverse situations or inevitable changes in your plans. This principle will teach you to accept the tension between fullness and limitation and to give a priority to time. Let the Parables of the Kingdom govern your mission. Pope Francis notes that one of the faults which is occasionally observed in sociopolitical activity is that spaces and power are preferred to time and processes. Giving priority to space means madly attempting to keep everything together in the present, trying to possess all the spaces of power and of self-assertion. Giving priority to time means being concerned about initiating processes rather than possessing spaces. Time governs spaces, illumines them and links them constantly to expand the chain, with no possibility of return. What is needed is to give priority to actions which generates new processes in society and engage other persons and groups who can develop them to the point where they bear fruit in significant historical events without anxiety but with clear convictions and tenacity. The Way of Proceeding: The whole is greater than the part. It is also greater than the sum of its parts. There is no need to be overly obsessed with limited and particular questions. You only have to constantly broaden our horizons and see that the greater good which will benefit many. But this has to be done without evasion or uprooting. You need to sink your roots deeper into the fertile soil and history of your native place, which is a gift of God. You can work on a small scale, in your own neighborhood, religious communities and academic communities but with a larger perspective. People who wholeheartedly enter into the life of those communities need not lose their individualism or hide their identity; instead, they receive new impulses to personal growth. The global need not stifle, nor the particular prove barren. When silence was broken and the Chapter began, the whispers that were heard directed the Capitulars in their sharings, discussions, and decision-making. But the challenge does not stop when the Chapter ended. The voice of the Divine shall continue to prod and push because at the end of the day, when all is said and done, all the Congregation s great plans should have been incarnated. The RVM 20th Ordinary General Chapter commenced with the triduum of silence and prayer facilitated by Fr. Bienvenido F. Nebres, former Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus, from April 7 to 9, Fr. Nebres is currently teaching at the Ateneo de Manila University. 6 the Silence Paraphrased by smmls.rvm

9 Into thy hands, Lord... Prayers for the Newly Elected Leaders I pray, Lord, that M. Maria Corazon and all newly elected servant leaders may always be open to Your Spirit and attentive to Your gentle stirrings in their hearts and in the heart of each person they will encounter. Through Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Amen. S. Maria Eulalia Banawis, RVM Into thy hands Lord, I commend to you M. Cora and all our newly elected servant leaders. May their paths lead to inner peace that will inspire our Sisters to love and to serve more. May they continue to be docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, thus truly serve according to Your most Holy will. Amen. S. Maria Preciosa Rusiana, RVM Into your hands, Lord, we entrust our congregational servant leaders to your care and protection. May the years of their service of love be filled with continuous assurance of God s presence in their life. May blessings flow in abundance on them that they may become channels of your immense hope in a world thirsting for the Spirit and longing for peace, justice and love. Guide them by your wisdom to lead us to renewed sense of our mission and to look toward a new horizon and even beyond, through their leadership and as they constantly search for your will. Disturb us from our comfort zones to respond courageously to the many demands of our time. With Mother Mary and Mother Ignacia, we lift up to you this prayer, through Christ our Lord. Amen. S. Maria Ceferina Bodiongan, RVM 7

10 Dear God, Your great love for me enables me to say yes to my new assignment. I believe that You are always with me. I pray, to have a heart to embrace the challenges of my office with joy and perseverance. With Mary and M. Ignacia, may I always be Your humble servant. Ecce Ancil S. Maria Teresita Aspril, RVM Econome General Prayers of the newly elected and a Dear Faithful God, Thank you for the gift to serve You through this jurisdiction, Thank you for the treasure of responsibility to trust and be trusted. Provide me with the gift of discretion and bless us with generous hearts, open minds with renewed vision and mission. Together may we work for the building of Your Kingdom. Amen. S. Maria Fe Lagarto, RVM Jurisdictional Leader, Visayas Lord, you have entrusted me for a service of leadership to your RVM servant in Indonesia. I am aware that you entrusted this leadership from my unworthiness. But this service is yours, not mine. So with all humility I surrender myself to you with the service of your sisters and the mission. May all things be for your greater glory, be my life and my service in the spirit of humble servanthood of Mary and Mother Ignacia. Amen. S. Maria Theresia Yasinta Ngodhu, RVM District Superior, Indonesia O, father of boundless grace and mercy, a joyous day of renewed, mission has dawned upon us, your servants. As we journey forward, bless every new morning with your radiance, and each new step with your wise and tender way. Ever inflame our hearts for greater appreciation of the mission of loving service to your lowly people. Strengthen in us the roots of gentleness of the Blessed Virgin Mary and humility and courage of our Revered Mother Ignacia. Caress the inmost part of our being that we may always walk in your light and live in your love. Amen. S. Maria Rosabella Gallo, RVM Secretary General Most Holy Triune God, Thank you for your abundant love and mercy that strengthens and inspires me in my vocation it is grace. Thank you for constantly journeying with me and forever assuring me of Your guidance it is providence. Thank you for the gift of beauty of my Sister-companions on the journey of life called to witness and respond to Your mission of hope it is a privilege. Thank you for calling me to a deeper and humbling mission of love and service, assuring me of Your grace and presence it is a gift. Thank you, dear God, for my life; for what has been, what is, and will be. May I remain Your humble servant and missionary of love and hope it is a blessing. To You, Triune God be glory (Akpe na Mawu Ewe Ghana). Amen. S. Paulette Maria Goretti Ankrah, RVM District Superior, Ghana Dearest God, how your love overwhelms me! In your mercy, you have chosen an unworthy handmaid to belong to the leadership of our Congregation. May I imbibe the spirit of our Foundress, Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo and keep myself always open to your guidance and the inspiration of our Blessed Mother Mary! May I always live in your loving presence as I give myself generously in your service to our Sisters, the Congregation, the Church, and the wider community. Amen. 8 S. Maria Anicia Co, RVM 2nd Consultor General

11 la Domini ppointed Jurisdictional Leaders God our Loving Father, you have faithfully journeyed with us along the years of our existence as a Congregation. You have gifted us with our Reverend Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo. We are grateful for your abiding presence, your Spirit hovering over us as we are on the process of General Chapter. You grace us with the new set of governance. Bless them in a very special way. Grant them the gifts of your Holy Spirit that they need most in the greater task/ responsibilities you have entrusted to them. May we as the Religious of the Virgin Mary continue to live the legacy and charism of our Mother Foundress and her exemplary life of charity, simplicity, and humility. Give us the gift of courage to be prophetic witnesses of hope in the world. Amen. S. Maria Josielinda Tanudtanud, RVM District Superior, USA-Canada Loving Father, thank you for the gift of our Revered Foundress, Venerable Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, who inspired us to trust in Your divine providence and to live by the sweat of our brow. Help us, O God, to be generous, compassionate, and prophetic stewards. Make us responsive to the needs of the people you have entrusted to our care and concern. May Mother Ignacia inspire us always to love and serve them. S. Maria Rosalia Nacionales, RVM Vicar-General/ 1 st Consultor Dearest Lord, my heart is filled with gratitude for the outpouring compassion you have showered in my life from the time You called me to humbly serve You in the communities and ministries until this time of my life. You, O God, cannot be outdone in your grace in my journey through life. Keep my gaze on You as I face the challenging responsibility with greater faith, hope, and in living out Your love in the spirit of Mary and Revered Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo. Amen. S. Maria Miraflor Bahan, RVM Jurisdictional Leader, Northern Mindanao Lord Jesus, your love urges me on and my heart s gratitude is unceasing. As I desire to seek and do what is most pleasing to you, may the spirit and pervading presence of Mother Ignacia guide me. May the prayers of the Blessed Mother inspire and strengthen me as I serve you, my Sisters, and to whoever you send me. In everything that I do, I beg that you grant me your love and your grace. Amen. S. Maria Gilda Peñafiel, RVM 4th Consultor General Father God, feeling humbled yet grateful for the new task entrusted to me, I beg for the grace to allow myself to be always led by your wisdom so that I can discharge my duties with graciousness and cheerfulness, and be moderate and forebearing in dealing with those under my care. I ask this through Jesus your Son and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo. Amen. S. Maria Ignacia Marigie Barangan, RVM Jurisdictional Leader, Luzon COMMITTING COMMITTEES: The HEART of the MATTER The Heart of the Matter is... exercising leadership in the spirit of genuine services and humility in imitation of Jesus Christ who came to serve not to be served. We commit ourselves to become compassionate and prophetic leaders, to undertake bold initiatives to respond to emerging realities in the Church and in the world, and to exercise creative and effective governance. Everyone of us has a leadership role to play; thus we discern and empower one another to exemplify spiritual leadership for the building of the Kingdom for the common good.. Leadership and Governance 9

12 10 Through the lens

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14 Reflecting and Revealing What is most significant about this Chapter? One of the more significant moments for me during the Chapter is the daily anticipation of who will it be this time in the announcement of appointments from M. Corazon immediately after the Holy Mass; the generosity of Yes. Lord by the appointed Ancilla Domini; and the outpouring of support from the capitulars. S. Maria Paula Adaoag, RVM like very much the image of the Spirit enfolding Her wings and embracing I all the Capitulars, the sisters and lay partners that are involved in its entire affairs as well as the space and the venue - caring for it the way a mother holds her baby close to her. It speaks of the tenderness of God s presence and concern on all of us. The image of God in the Spirit is what I always found and experienced since the General Chapter s preparations and most of all in the chapter affairs. Unlike in the previous Chapters that there was the presence of invited reliable-resource person as consultant, most significant this time, is our total reliance in God alone, that we ourselves will be the one to manage its affairs, with Ignatian discernment as the process that we will use to treat the area report and presentations; by which we look at the different experiences we encounter in every presentations, deliberations and to distinguish what is leading us to God from what is leading us away from God; what is God trying to speak to us, learning together the communal choice of identifying God s manifestations over the many that will lead us to make choices for the common good of our membership, the RVM Congregation, the Church and the world. There is always that conscious stance of discerning where the Spirit is leading us, what is it telling us and the practice of Ignatian indifference that created the atmosphere of peace in every decision that took place. By this posture of total trust in God, through discernment, we believe that our decisions are God s and it will truly be for the Congregation s direction in the next five-years. This enlightened gesture connects us to Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo and the foundational community when in all that they say and do, they place themselves in the presence of God... (1726 Constitution, Chapter 1 #7). Another most significant in the 20th Ordinary General Chapter is the celebration of my 66 th birthday within the chapter (since I was born in April 17, 1950) together with another Capitular S. Ma. Marietta Escanan, RVM. Both of us were humbled by this experience to be greeted by our sister capitulars and we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for remembering us and for the presents we received. All the unfolding of God s blessings were graciously felt and shared because we trust and entrust ourselves to His divine providence. May God bless us in all our endeavors and plans. S. Maria Anecita Navaja, RVM The intense practice of discernment all the way from the preliminaries to the Chapter elections to the Chapter proceedings; The felt presence of the Holy Spirit and visible manifestation of unity in the election of leaders in a short time; Relatively young Capitulars; The process of discussion in the basic groups enabled each Capitular to freely express themselves as the Spirit leads in the context of their experiences. S. Maria Marietta Escañan, RVM Most significant were our going over the results of the Survey Questionnaire Assessment (SQA) reflectively, added by the observations/ experiences of the delegates, our reflection time and more importantly our amazing communal discernment through discussion and deliberations. Thank God, truly the spirit was with us, we reach to concerted decisions. The most significant about this Chapter after all the grueling discernment and deliberations, we have personally met connectivities, and discovered the Triune God not only in positive responses but more so in trying moments. Truly God was most present in those moments because He inspired me to go beyond and discover the goldenness of my Sisters and me, to come out alive renewed. Thanks be to God! S. Maria Rosa Celestial, RVM The Chapter is a sacred act because we immersed ourselves in God s presence. It offered an innovation in the form of basic group sharing where everyone is given the chance to explore every opportunity to share and be heard. In the process, the acceptance of the uniqueness and sacredness of each one becomes evident. The varied activities opened the door for sharing, discussing, discerning and deciding on the different issues of the community and ministries that were raised on the floor. There was openness, joy, and docility among the delegates in responding to the movement of the Spirit. This is indeed a moment of grace a holy presence of the Triune God. S. Maria Zita Valerio, RVM The Heart of the Matter is... faithfully responding and continuously responding to the demands of the Church and of the world to integrally educate people regardless of social, racial and religious affiliations employing relevant tools to effect transformation for the common good. 12 Education Ministry

15 FIRST IMPRESSIONS Reflections from the first-time delegates The basic group sharings because it is where I can express best my reflections without any inhibition. The Sisters with me are open and encouraging, not intimidating. I feel I was listened to. Their body movements are very affirming. I am encouraged to share more. Thank you for giving us this avenue for expression. S. Maria Cristy Eguna, RVM never thought that I would be a Chapter delegate. Joining this I congregational milestone, I feel affirmed by God, the giver of all good gifts. This time I am more inspired to continue the mission of the congregation. I thank the congregation for the trust as one of the delegates to join the 20 th general chapter. May God s love dwell in my heart that I can share this love with those who are in need. S. Maria Florentia Thani, RVM God s graciousness is indeed boundless. I am overwhelmed as I listened to the wisdom of my co-delegates. The gifts and blessings received as a congregation lead me to appreciate more deeply M. Ignacia s legacy of living by the sweat of her brow. I pray that the many beautiful insights, realizations expressed and put into words during the discussions and deliberations will find flesh in our daily lives. May we all strive to walk our talk as we witness Christ s compassion and mercy here and now. S. Maria Sylvia Abueva, RVM The Basic Group Sharing created a special bond among the delegates and provided an avenue for the Sisters to express their thoughts and share experiences which had enriched one another. Listening to my Sisters led me all the more to appreciate our Congregation, more so, the person of our dear Mother Foundress. S. Maria Ignacia Marigie Barangan, RVM The real manifestation of the omnipotent God gathered in His name! The movement of the Holy Spirit is evident in the Chapter in the openness and docility of the Capitulars the liturgies the process amazing! Indeed, it is a learning and forming experience for me as a first-time delegate. S. Maria Fe Bigwas, RVM The Heart of the Matter is Process of discernment which is started with reflection, followed by answering the questions, small group, and then plenum. The reflection is a moment for me to listen to deep within before wording them. Reflective posture is essential in decision making, which is clearly seen in this Chapter. S. Maria Theresia Yasinta Ngodhu, RVM process within a process check prayerful silence God speaks A repeatedly, these I had experienced. The journey was not smooth sailing there were rough times too, and I m grateful for being a member of this journey which deepened our love for Mother Ignacia and the Congregation. S. Maria Salvacion Borjal, RVM It is amazing to note that you can really feel the movement of the Holy Spirit in each one of us. Union of minds and hearts in every discernment gives me a feeling that I belong to this Congregation. S. Maria Fe Lagarto, RVM This is an opportunity for me to see Mother Ignacia s life in each sister and dialogue with her as we came to discern our dreams for the Congregation, for the Church, and for the world. My presence here taught me how to listen, to see, to observe, to learn, and to participate in the process. I am being shaped and renewed to regain wholeness of life. S. Maria Agnes Emma Loasana, RVM The solemnity of the Chapter elections; the rich and spirit-filled basic group sharings and plenary sessions; the humor of the Sister- Delegates; but above all is the experience of God lovingly gazing at us as if saying, Well done, my beloved servants. S. Maria Angela Nenette Santiago, RVM As a first-time delegate I was a bit afraid at the start because of the not-so-good stories that I heard about the Chapter. I felt like I could not fit in. But as the Chapter started I was awed at God s movement in everything... in all the exchanges of bright ideas, in the heartfelt sharing, in reporting, in deciding, in voting, and in being with the Sisters. I was awed at how the Spirit touched me in many ways as I listened, expressed my thoughts, reflected on issues and concerns and the events of each day and made decisions for the common good. The Chapter opened my eyes, widened my perspective and deepened my understanding about congregational concerns, about people and religious life as a whole. I thank God for the experience and most especially for His great love and goodness that He bestowed on all of us. May He be truly praised! S. Maria Remy Villaraiz, RVM... opening the door of mercy and compassion to the weary, bring justice to the suffering people of the world and allows them to experience God s loving embrace. Social Ministry 13

16 Wisdom from the upper room Reflections/Insights from Sisters with the most number of attendance to Chapters My experience in the Chapter has continued to define more clearly my identity with Mother Foundress in who she was as a prophetic leader and in how she has guided the Congregation since She has shown how a needle and pair of scissors could pave the way to prayerful holiness amidst so humble a servitude; inspiring me to be creative and enduring in the opportunities to lead. Experience in the Chapter has been an invigorating responsibility. To lead in whatever way. A great blessing, in gratitude of which, it is also easy to obey, to let go and be resigned to what is there; to what the Divine offers me. Thankful smiles to you, dear Sisters, for the trust. God bless!! S. Maria Teresita Arado, RVM Leadership is a privilege The General Chapter is a holy venue where God s spirit works at its best. I feel so much privileged to be a part of it. While it is a privilege it is also a responsibility. On a bigger scale, we are sharers of Holy Triune God s Vision for His people. That s a privilege. We give an account to the Triune GOD on how we made use of our giftedness in carrying out His plan in our congregation. That s a responsibility. That s what we do in the Chapter. It gave me a glimpse of the true meaning of how it is to be a leader and a follower. God leads...we follow. Where do we go from here? The journey continues. A bit of God s Vision for His people found its way in our Chapter Documents. The road ahead is paved...the direction clear. The living out is our challenge...we need to maintain a dialogic relationship in our leading and in our following so that God s desire for His people will remain alive in our hearts. For everything that has been, THANK YOU, LORD! Mabuhay si Mo. Ignacia! Sr. Maria Lourdes Veloso, RVM Experience humility and integrity in leadership and followership. S. Maria Corazon Ricafrente, RVM/ 11 Chapters The Heart of the Matter is experiencing God s love and exuding a love, life-giving presence to others. Retreat Ministry

17 Changing Through Time, A Transformation Beyond Imagining Reflections from the past Jurisdictional Leaders During my visitations and meetings with the Sisters in the different communities, I heard and learned tremendous blessings and challenges in religious life which in turn transformed me to a more understanding and accepting Servant Leader. For this, I am very thankful to the Congregation, to the sisters I have lived and shared with, and above all to God. S. Maria Concepcion Cambaya, RVM Former District Superior of USA-Canada As daughter of M. Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, my discerning love and sacrifices opened me to a greater mission that molded me to be a woman of prayer, passion and creativity in the services entrusted to me. Thank you God for the gift of vocation and I would like to thank M. General and Council for the trust. Terimah kasih dan tuhan memberkati! My experience as jurisdictional leader has changed me a lot. As a woman, it helped me to become more nurturing, patient, and appreciative. As a Filipino, it deepened my faith in God s love and providence, developed my creativity and resourcefulness. As an RVM, it made me grow in contemplation and service and discernment and courage to do God s will. Thank you for the trust of the Congregation to be of service to His divine majesty S. Maria Gloria Bonghanoy, RVM Former District Superior of Italy The love and passion that the Sisters have for the ministry, even in their old age, fired me to do more in the responsibility I was given. Listening to their joys and pains as they go through life s journey was a push for me to be a life-giving witness to others. I, too, had my limitations but still, they trusted me with their life stories. That enough lightens the burden of leadership and for that, I am thankful to the Sisters of Luzon Jurisdiction. The Heart of the Matter is S. Maria Andrea Yee, RVM Former Jurisdictional Superior of Luzon S. Maria Yashinta Hoar-Asa, RVM Former District Superior of Indonesia Gazing with a long loving look for the past five years as a jurisdictional leader, I am so heartened to see how God has been so loving, faithful and patient with me. It is a humbling experience to see God s steadfast love and gentle presence in all the undertakings that took place. It was an experience of grace upon grace and discovering the action of God interwoven in relationships with self and others. The working of God s grace was truly manifested in the changes that unfolds daily through decisions made, journeying with the sisters, engaging in key issues of the congregation, Church, nation and the world. Change and life are inseparable. It was an experience of letting go of the familiar comfort zones to plunge into the unknown and embrace the new directions that leads to endless life changing possibilities. Thank You Mo. Maria Evelyn Aguilar, RVM and Council for the mission in Northern Mindanao. I am deeply grateful for the trust, the love, the support to be God s steward in his vineyard. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, His mercy endures forever! (Ps 107:1) S. Maria Lorina Jumawan, RVM Former Jurisdictional Superior of Northern Mindanao... about the hiddenness of our Mother Foundress experienced by our Sisters working silently in the diverse ministries, giving the best of themselves and sharing their giftedness to the people they are serving. Their commitment and zeal in responding to the challenges of their respective ministries and their life of witness made visible Christ s mercy and compassion to the least, the lost, and the last of God s people.. Special Ministry 15

18 Crumbs from the Lord s Table Points from daily Homilies We can get carried away by the metrics of the world it s easy to get away. But what can truly save us is our participation in the cross. This helps us truly understand what it is to follow the Lord. April 8, 2016 Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ on Following Jesus, the Risen Lord This Chapter is a reminder that you meet to experience Jesus because He said, Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them and look at things from different horizons yet come together in one heart, allowing the Spirit to speak Chapter is an exceptional time of grace of the Lord who called to preach the good news of His resurrection. April 11, 2016 Everything we have done in God s grace. It is God s work, not ours He knows what is best for our Congregation. We only need to trust and believe in His love and inspiration April 13, 2016 S. Maria Nora Joson, RVM, Thanksgiving Mass with Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista, D.D. You must always remember that the Holy Spirit is still writing the history of the Church for us to be able to continue to belong to His Church so that also be shepherds to others. The Church is the Mother of Vocations: 1. Vocations are born with the Church: being active in the Church before being consecrated to the Church; 2. Vocations grow within the Church: if in the beginning of formation, the congregations have ingrained in each Sister the love for the Church, then the congregation has nothing to worry about. The congregation will surely grow within the Church April 17, 2017 As members of our congregation, we must remain steadfast in our fidelity to God and loyalty to the congregation. Each of us must constantly and consistently strive towards maturity in faith. With our maturity in faith, we remain focused in our ministry. If we are focused, then we will be zealous in our mission amidst pain, trials, and difficulties. April 18, 2016 S. Maria Elisa Lavarias on the Four M s: Membership, Maturity, Ministry, Mission In reflecting on our lives and ministries, we need to seriously contemplate on the Four M s : 1] Maturity: together we need to develop our sense of maturity as consecrated women called to serve; 2] Membership: we members are called to be in communion with one another in building community and be life-giving to one another; 3] Mission: we need to share passionately in Christ s mission of love, compassion, and mercy; 4] Ministry: we need to be immersed, visible, and vibrant in the ministry where we are called especially to the last, the least, and the lost. April 18, 2016 S. Maria Aida Mariano on the Four M s: Membership, Maturity, Ministry, Mission The mission is the mission of the Holy Spirit. There is an emerging paradigm where the Holy Spirit makes mission mission outside the boundaries of the Church. If we are truly missionaries, the invitation is to go outside the gates. After Vatican II, Ad Gentes, we are now going inter-gentes because of migration where the gentes is living among us. We have to be open to the Holy Spirit; He will prepare the way. S. Maria Merma Liza Shalah, RVM April 20, 2016 It is the Holy Spirit that guides and inspires mission, keeping it in focus. The growth and fruitfulness of mission depends on the inspiration and work of the Holy Spirit. She will guide us to be prophetic witnesses of hope as we respond to the emerging needs in our world. As we journey towards responding to our vision and mission, we are called to be focused on our goal which is LOVE and SERVICE of God at the center of our life and mission. S. Paulette Maria Goretti Ankrah, RVM Apostolic Community 16

19 Martha s Thoughts Reflections from the Working Committee How serving during the 20th OGC truly resonated with the spirit of Easter! 1. Joy came with hope and trust in the Lord as His guiding hand was made felt through the unfurling of the events of the Chapter Assembly. 2. Through the promise of newness that the Lord directs us towards by the plans made by our Sister Capitulars. 3. Through the simple pleasure of companionship and teamwork, joint prayer and much anticipated shared snacks and signature vegetable salads in between tasks. S. Eloisa Marie Inocentes, RVM Entrusted to serve in the secretariat during the 20th OGC is a gift from God. Being aware of this is a reason to experience the joy that comes from God s grace and His favors. The joy that comes from the smiles of the Sisters as we attend to their needs was an experience of God s presence in new ways. S. Maria Lourdes Cao, RVM I 1. Listened more intently to the life and mission of the Congregation where I belong that continues to live the legacy of a valiant woman named Ignacia. 2. Spent time pondering how we began and how we are now; that inspired me MORE to walk humbly with joy and determination. 3. Being with my Sisters made me feel happy and grateful to God who called me to serve in the 20th OGC. S. Maria Cristina Naranjo, RVM The 20th OGC... A Gaining Experience Collaboration, cooperation with selfless giving is a true joyful experience Transparency, remembering with outpouring - A trust built that brings deep joyful experience Learning, growing with increasing love with the way of life as RVM brings full joyful experience The 20th OGD, a soul feeding experience Thank you Sisters for your trust Serving you is a treasured experience S. Maria Lorelyn Santos, RVM Being with a team who demonstrated joyful disposition, light-heartedness and mindfulness of each other s strengths and limitations made me experience that sincere joy and hope in serving the needs of the Sisters and in doing the task at hand. The abounding grace of God all around us let me feel the freedom of responding to the expressed needs of the time. Thank God, I was given the chance to serve. It was an awesome experience to be with you! S. Maria Leonor Espallardo, RVM 20th Ordinary General Chapter is an experience of. L - OVE, of God s countless blessings for all of us and the Congregation. I - NWARD and outward process of discerning God s will for a better way of living our Evangelical Vows. T- RUST of individual s capabilities and potentials to glorify and serve God in all things. U- NITY of mind and heart to DREAM to HOPE to ASPIRE for something greater than ourselves. R - ENEWAL of our commitment and passion to witness Christ in today s troubled world. G - RATITUDE for the many life forces that God provides for our Congregation to survive and celebrate life. Y- ES to another JOURNEY of GIVING LIFE! I hope and pray that this historic event of our Congregation, the 20th Ordinary General Chapter Assembly, be truly blessed with the richness of God and may serve as light and inspiration to all of us as humble servants called to be prophetic witnesses of hope in today s world. S. Maria Erlinda A. Bolasoc, RVM Temporalities 17

20 Literary 20th O penness to the Holy Spirit R eview recall what has been D iscerning His Holy will I nvolvement in the sharing N atural capacity for listening A postolates our mission to fulfill R esponding, sharing stories with each other Y earning for God abiding presence G oing beyond one s personal border E xpressing thoughts and feelings N urturing thoughts and feelings E xperiencing community in the Chapter R eflecting on our graced history A ppreciating our heritage as RVM Sisters L iving the spirit of Mary and Mother Foundress C ontemplatives-in-action H umble, hopeful and joyful witness A lways wishing for others good P raying for our hopes and desires T hanking him with all our heart E ntrusting our plans our proposals R emembering the God who makes things possible. S. Maria Cristina Naranjo, RVM Mula kay MADRE IGNACIA (ayon sa aking pagninilay) Minamahal ko kayo mga anak ko. Masaya ako sa inyong pagpupunyagi. Ipagpatuloy ninyo ang pagbubukas ng inyong puso sa Diyos at sa kapwa. Marami pang dapat unawain ngunit kinakailangan lang na magtiwala kayo sa walang maliw na pag-ibig ng Diyos. Magpatuloy kayo ayon sa ninanais ninyong mangyari sa mundo ngayon. Hindi ko kayo hinuhusgahan. Kahit kamalian ninyo ay bahagi ng katotohanan. Alalahanin ninyo sana na palaging may pag-asa. Iba na ang mundong inyong ginagalawan. Mga anak ko kayo. Magmahalan sana kayo, maging tapat sa isa t isa. Matutong magtiwala sa kapwa. Buksan ang inyong diwa. Makinig sa sinasabi ng panahon at ng kapwa. Maging malakas ang loob upang itama ang mali at ipahayag ang katotohanan. smabc,rvm Overseas Mission 18

21 Funny Thoughts inspired by the song Kulang Ang bote kung walang laman, kulang Ang kuwadro kung walang larawan, kulang Ikaw kung wala ako, kulang Ako, kung wala ka, kulang Si Mother Cora kung walang 1726, kulang Si Sr. Cora R. kung walang wake up the world, kulang Si Sr. Rufina G. kung walang for the common good, kulang Si Sr. Annie C. kung walang Landas at Custom Book, kulang Si Sr. Rosario R. kung walang fullness of life, kulang Si Sr. Gilda kung walang Yah kulang Si Sr. Lorina kung walang Pope Francis, kulang Si Sr. Olive kung walang emphasis, kulang Si Sr. Lourdes V. kung walang Spiritual Leadership, kulang Si Sr. Marissa kung walang we will take care of it kulang Si Sr. Annie C. kung walang Scriptures kulang Si Sr. Nora kung walang period kulang Si Sr. Agnes kung walang Thank you kulang Si Sr. Teresita Ar kung walang push kulang Si Sr. Tereista F. kung walang African dream, kulang Si Sr. Cora R. kung walang discernment, kulang Si M. Clarita kung walang May I suggest kulang Si Sr. Paula kung walang SQA, kulang Si Sr. Elisa kung walang Wait kulang Si Sr. Nenette D. kung walang elderly kulang Si Sr. Annie N. kung walang I agree kulang Si M. Cora kung walang foundational community kulang Si Sr. Cora R. kung walang humility kulang Si Sr. Erlinda F. kung walang vocation kulang Si Sr. Fe G. kung walang question, kulang Si Sr. Rosa C. kung walang motion kulang Si Sr. Adelaida kung walang I second kulang Si Sr. Eulalia kung walang Let s move on, kulang Si Sr. Delia kung walang bell kulang. Si M. Evie kung walang if and when kulang Si Sr. Cristina E. kung walang enough kulang Si Sr. Fe G. kung walang process check kulang Si Sr. Preciosa kung walang quasi kulang Si Sr. Nenette S. kung walang sageing kulang Si Sr. Ceferina kung walang completo kulang Ang RVM kung walang community, kulang! Ang RVM community kung walang Blessed Mother Mary kulang! Ang RVM kung wala si Jesus ay kulang! Ang RVM kung walang Holy Triune God ay hindi lang kulang kundi wala! By: S. Li C. Ning Breaktime Two Sister-Delegates agreed to share a sachet of coffee since both cannot consume one packet each SD 1: Hating-kapatid, Sister, ha SD 2: Hihiram muna ng weighing scale. SD 1: Ha?! Para saan? SD 2: Para fair and hatian. [Ha ha ha] Martha 1: Martha 2: Martha 1: Martha 2: Dinner Time Wow, the soup is delicious. Unsa na nga soup? Zucchini. Spell Zucchini. If di nimo ma-spell, di ka kahigop ani Cucumber na lang. [Ha ha ha] Sister Wan: Sister Too: Sister Wan: Sister Tri: Sister For: Sister Too: Sister Tri: Sister Wan: Reminder from the Moderator Sisters, please use your metacard in voting, not your name card. If you want to say something, please use your OWN name card, not the other Sister s name card. (ha-ha-ha) By: S. Marigie During the outing When all the passengers assigned in Vehicle 1 were all seated for departure, one of the members of the Basic Group 1 called out: There are seven delegates inside the car and three observers S. Sol, Edgar, and Chef Babes; we have a quorum. [He he he] By: S. Marigie Fun at Table (Joke Mode) Masarap ang bulad kapag may sili. Hanggang ngayon pala mahilig ka pa rin sa sili. Oo, it enhances my passion for mission! (soft voice pabulong) missionary dimension Ano? Missionary dementia? (laughs.) Ano ang lesson? Listening! Ah, oo nga silining (laughs ) (Serious Mode) What is the sili that makes us really passionate for mission? By: S. Li C. Ning Dormitory Ministry 19

22 The Word in the words Loving the Lord more than the Others Presuming the indulgence, I ve chosen to read part of last Sunday s Gospel reading (Jn. 21:15-19) instead of the Gospel reading for today. And the reason is because there is word in last Sunday s Gospel reading that has to do with the task that you will be undertaking today the election of the Superior General and General Council of your Congregation. And that word is the word more. In the gospel reading, the Risen Lord asks Peter: Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others do? Peter responds: Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. The word more will have a bearing on the ones to be elected today as Superior General and members of the General Council. They will be elected because they will get more votes than anyone else. And more votes will entail the perception of the Sisters that they are more capable of leadership, or more qualified, or more intelligent, or more talented. And, perhaps, even the perception that they are more compassionate, or more understanding or more human. Today, however, in the light of the Gospel reading, the Superior General-Elect and her Council are being asked to transform that more into something else. Not just votes, or more qualifications, or more compassion, but more love for the Lord, more commitment to the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, more service to the Sisters. In the Gospel reading, Jesus asks Peter: Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these others do? And Peter replies, Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. From then on, Peter became the leader and servant of the young church of Jesus. And He did so, not because of any special professional qualification, or any particular organizational talent, or any specific scholastic degree; his only qualification was that he loved the Lord more than the others. Like Peter, the Superior General and her Council are called to be servant-leaders of the Congregation. And their only title to such position of privilege and service is to be that they love the Lord more than the others. What does this entail? What does loving the Lord more than the others entail? Strangely enough, it entails being led by others, rather than leading others. This is what the gospel reading says: In all truth I tell you, when you were young you put on your belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands and somebody else will put a belt around you and take you where you would rather not go (Jn 21:18) Loving the Lord more than the others entails this no longer walking to where you like, but being ready to be taken to where you would rather not go. And this is what being a servant leader in the Congregation means - no longer living her life as she wishes, but living her life completely according to God s will, according to the good of the Congregation, according to the needs of the Sisters. Indeed, the call to servant-leadership entails two things: First, in line with its biblical understanding, the call to serve is a call to be the least, to be the last, to be the slave of all. Jesus Himself, who came not be served but to serve, identified Himself with the least. Indeed, not only did he identify Himself with the least, he sought to be least of all. And this is what being the least means seeking to put the needs and interests of others above one s own. Second, the call to serve entails not just doing the acts of service acts of service today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Not just acts of service now here and now there. The call to serve is a call to make service one s style of life, one s way of living. So, as servant leaders, the Superior General and her Council are called not just to do various acts of service, but to become truly servants. Making service second nature to them, making service their way of being. This, in the end, means becoming like Jesus Himself who came not to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for all. In this way, service no longer refers to what one does, but to who one is. Being superior, then, is not, first and foremost, about what one does to the Sisters. It is, above all, how one relates with the Sisters. It is not, first and foremost, doing things for the Sisters helping them, giving them advice, approving funds for their projects, transferring them from one assignment to another. It is, above all, being the least of all and being truly a servant to the Sisters. All of this, of course, is easier said than done. But the ones chosen will not be alone in their task. In the end, we must believe that it is the Lord who chooses the Superior General and her Council. Yes, the Sisters will cast their votes and, in a certain sense, it is they who choose. But each one s choice is not just hers; it is a choice informed and inspired by God s Spirit. For this is how the Lord chooses never without the enlightened collaboration of human beings. How important is it then that we earnestly pray that our choice be enlightened and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Dear Sisters, this morning you find yourselves in a situation similar to that of the Eleven Disciples when they gathered to choose a successor of Judas. As we read in the Acts of the Apostles: So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, You Lord, know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen. Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles (Acts 1:23-26). Today, let us pray in a similar way: You Lord, know the hearts of all, show which one of us you have chosen to lead us as our Superior General and General Council. If our prayer is sincere and earnest, then we can say in the end: We have chosen, the Holy Spirit and us (Acts 15:28) Rev. Fr. Antonio M. Pernia, SVD Formation for Mission 20

23 of these Holy Men Homily Thanksgiving Mass and Installation of M. Maria Corazon Agda, RVM as Superior General Dear Sisters I am with you in my prayers and mass intentions as you hold this 20th Ordinary General Chapter since April 6 until the 27th. You have reached / finished the Chapter of Elections and have chosen your new Superior General in the person of M. Maria Corazon Agda. She will be assisted in her responsibilities by the Consultors whom you also elected. All that you have accomplished and will continue to discuss and discern until the 27th of this month are favors from the Lord. We heard from the First Reading from the book of the Prophet Isaiah: The favors of the Lord I will recall, the glorious deeds of the Lord, Because of all he has done; for he is good to the house of Israel, He has favored us according to his mercy and his great kindness. Yes, everything is grace. All that you have accomplished is from God. It is God s work, not yours. It is the Holy Spirit who inspires each one of you to surrender your will to Him. He knows very well what is best for your congregation and the direction that you will take to respond to the needs of the Church in the next five years. The theme you have chosen for this 20th Ordinary General Chapter is HUMBLE SERVANTS, CALLED TO BE PROPHETIC WITNESSES OF HOPE IN TODAY S WORLD. As members of the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, you are being invited by God to be humble servants, to live a life of humility. This is also the reminder of St. Paul that we heard in the Second Reading: Brothers and sisters: Put on as God s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another: if one has a grievance against another, as the Lord forgives you, so must you also do. The Lord said, He who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18:14) Chapter 2 of St. Paul s letter to the Philippians starts with imitating Christ s humility. Your attitude must be that of Christ: Though he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at. Rather, he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men. He was known to be of human estate and it was thus that he humbled himself, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross. (Phil. 2: 5 8) Because of this very important virtue of humility in our Christian life, St. Cyprian, one of the Fathers of the Church said, Humility is the foundation of sanctity. In my ministry as a bishop, I am always asking God to help me live the virtue of humility. I took for my episcopal motto: minis et humilis corde For I am gentle and humble of heart (Mt. 11: 29). Your Foundress the Venerable Ignacia del Espiritu Santo lived a life of humility. In your RVM Directory it is written, Mother Ignacia centered her life on the suffering of Christ and tried to imitate Him through a life of service and humility, her spirituality of humble service was expressed by her capacity to forgive, to bear wrongs patiently and to correct with gentleness and meekness. I admire Venerable Ignacia del Espiritu Santo in her humility especially when she voluntarily abdicated her position as Mother Superior and chose to live as an ordinary member of the community. You are all invited by God to be humble servants like her. CALLED TO BE PROPHETIC WITNESSES OF HOPE IN TODAY S WORLD. In the context of our Christian faith, we all share in the threefold functions of Christ; Priest, Prophet and King. By baptism, we became members of the royal priesthood of the children of God. We are to share and preach the Good News to others to fulfill our prophetic identity with Christ. We are instruments of God to promote the growth of the Church and spread His Kingdom to all people. As members of the congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, God is calling you to be Prophetic witnesses of hope in today s world. You will not just speak the truth to people but live a life of holiness in order that you may attract the faithful to God. Blessed Paul VI emphasized in Evangeli Nuntiandi: Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelization in the Modern World, Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers; and if he does listen to teachers it is because they are witnesses. (EN,41). We can only live prophetic witnessing through the help of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Father Pope Francis said Spirit-filled evangelizers means evangelizers open to the working of the Holy Spirit (Evangelii Gaudium, 259). Venerable Ignacia del Espiritu Santo did not only teach the beatas, novices and the rest of her community of sisters but also lived a life of outstanding piety and service to others. Her life is a combined embodiment of spirituality and action. She was able to touch the lives of many people because of her experience of God s love for her. Yes, we should remind ourselves that it is only by depending on God s love that we can experience the joy of following our Lord Jesus Christ. If God s love is not clear to us, we will find our life meaningless. Pope Francis said - In union with Jesus, we seek what he seeks and we love what he loves (EG, 267). It is for this reason that the Lord reminds us in the Gospel - Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father s commandments and remain in his love. As humble servants called to be prophetic witnesses of hope, you should maintain a joyful spirit. How can you give hope to others if you are always sad and wearing a long face? St. Paul said- Do not grieve like others who have no hope (1 Thes. 4:13). In a meeting with seminarians and novices in Rome, Pope Francis said, There is no holiness in sadness! In today s world, there are so many people who experience sadness, lack of direction and different problems. As consecrated persons, we are called to be bearers of the message of hope, peace, God s consolation and joy. We are not called to accomplish epic feats or to proclaim high sounding words but to give witness to the joy that arises from the certainty of knowing that we are loved, from the confidence that we are saved (Congregation for institute of Consecrated Life, Be Glad, # 3). May the Blessed Virgin Mary, the humble servant of God, embrace all of you with her maternal love always, that you may be authentic witnesses of hope to all the world. Amen. Most Rev. Bishop Reynaldo G. Evangelista, DD Ignacian Charism and Spirituality / Landas / Mother Foundress 21

24 Pope Francis Easter message of Hope O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures for ever (Ps 135:1) Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Easter! Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God s mercy, out of love for us, died on the cross, and out of love he rose again from the dead. That is why we proclaim today: Jesus is Lord! His resurrection fulfils the prophecy of the Psalm: God s mercy endures for ever; it never dies. We can trust him completely, and we thank him because for our sake he descended into the depths of the abyss. Before the spiritual and moral abysses of mankind, before the chasms that open up in hearts and provoke hatred and death, only an infinite mercy can bring us salvation. Only God can fill those chasms with his love, prevent us from falling into them and help us to continue our journey together towards the land of freedom and life. The glorious Easter message, that Jesus, who was crucified is not here but risen (cf. Mt 28:5-6), offers us the comforting assurance that the abyss of death has been bridged and, with it, all mourning, lamentation and pain (cf. Rev 21:4). The Lord, who suffered abandonment by his disciples, the burden of an unjust condemnation and shame of an ignominious death, now makes us sharers of his immortal life and enables us to see with his eyes of love and compassion those who hunger and thirst, strangers and prisoners, the marginalized and the outcast, the victims of oppression and violence. Our world is full of persons suffering in body and spirit, even as the daily news is full of stories of brutal crimes which often take place within homes, and large-scale armed conflicts which cause indescribable suffering to entire peoples. The risen Christ points out paths of hope to beloved Syria, a country torn by a lengthy conflict, with its sad wake of destruction, death, contempt for humanitarian law and the breakdown of civil concord. To the power of the risen Lord we entrust the talks now in course, that good will and the cooperation of all will bear fruit in peace and initiate the building of a fraternal society respectful of the dignity and rights of each citizen. May the message of life, proclaimed by the Angel beside the overturned stone of the tomb, overcome hardened hearts and promote a fruitful encounter of peoples and cultures in other areas of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, particularly in Iraq, Yemen and Libya. May the image of the new man, shining on the face of Christ, favour concord between Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land, as well as patience, openness and daily commitment to laying the foundations of a just and lasting peace through direct and sincere negotiations. May the Lord of life also accompany efforts to attain a definitive solution to the war in Ukraine, inspiring and sustaining initiatives of humanitarian aid, including the liberation of those who are detained. The Lord Jesus, our peace (Eph 2:14), by his resurrection triumphed over evil and sin. May he draw us closer on this Easter feast to the victims of terrorism, that blind and brutal form of violence which continues to shed blood in different parts of the world, as in the recent attacks in Belgium, Turkey, Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Côte d Ivoire. May he water the seeds of hope and prospects for peace in Africa; I think in particular of Burundi, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, marked by political and social tensions. With the weapons of love, God has defeated selfishness and death. His son Jesus is the door of mercy wide open to all. May his Easter message be felt ever more powerfully by the beloved people of Venezuela in the difficult conditions which they are experiencing, and by those responsible for the country s future, that everyone may work for the common good, seeking spaces of dialogue and cooperation with all. May efforts be made everywhere to promote the culture of counter, justice and reciprocal respect, which alone can guarantee the spiritual and material welfare of all people. The Easter message of the risen Christ, a message of life for all humanity, echoes down the ages and invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future, an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees including many children fleeing from war, hunger, poverty and social injustice. All too often, these brothers and sisters of ours meet along the way with death or, in any event, rejection by those who could offer them welcome and assistance. May the forthcoming World Humanitarian Summit not fail to be centred on the human person and his or her dignity, and to come up with policies capable of assisting and protecting the victims of conflicts and other emergencies, especially those who are most vulnerable and all those persecuted for ethnic and religious reasons. On this glorious day, let the earth rejoice, in shining splendour (cf. Easter Proclamation), even though it is so often mistreated and greedily exploited, resulting in an alteration of natural equilibria. I think especially of those areas affected by climate change, which not infrequently causes drought or violent flooding, which then lead to food crises in different parts of the world. Along with our brothers and sisters persecuted for their faith and their fidelity to the name of Christ, and before the evil that seems to have the upper hand in the life of so many people, let us hear once again the comforting words of the Lord: Take courage; I have conquered the world! (Jn 16:33). Today is the radiant day of this victory, for Christ has trampled death and destruction underfoot. By his resurrection he has brought life and immortality to light (cf. 2 Tim 1:10). He has made us pass from enslavement to freedom, from sadness to joy, from mourning to jubilation, from darkness to light, from slavery to redemption. Therefore let us acclaim in his presence: Alleluia! (Melito of Sardis, Easter Homily). To those in our society who have lost all hope and joy in life, to the elderly who struggle alone and feel their strength waning, to young people who seem to have no future, to all I once more address the words of the Risen One: See, I am making all things new To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life (Rev 21:5-6). May this comforting message of Jesus help each of us to set out anew with greater courage to blaze trails of reconciliation with God and with all our brothers and sisters.

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