The ICLA Staff had Strategic Planning at Maryridge, Tagaytay City last April 6-8, 2015. This was facilitated by Fr. Jonathan Bitoy, CMF. The last Strategic Planning was done in April 2012 that resulted in the crafting of the Vision-Mission-Objectives of the Institute. It was agreed in 2012 that the V-M-O be revisited after three years.
Those who participated in this year’s Strategic Planning were six laywomen (Eisen Villanueva, Floren Ladic, Lettie Taberdo, Menchie Rojas, Susan Mozo, and Tessa Rosana); two sisters (Sr. Amelia Vasquez, RSCJ and Sr. Elvira Camilion, FCJ); and three priests (Fr. Edgar Javier, SVD; Fr. Jonathan Bitoy, CMF; and Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF).
Each day started with an Opening Prayer. There was also a daily Eucharistic Celebration. Fr. Bitoy followed the Awareness, Baseline information, Compelling vision, and Down-to-work (ABCD) approach. The first day was devoted to Awareness and Baseline information while the second day was spent in looking at the Compelling visions of ICLA and Down-to-Work sessions to come up with Strategies and Plans. The third day (half-day) was for reflection on the experience of the first two days.
Three groups were formed for the sharing/discussion, namely: Academics, Administration/Governance, and C.A.R.E.S. (Center for Accompaniment, Renewal, and Empowerment of Students). It has to be noted, however, that some of those present were in reality involved in all the three areas but had to be in one group all throughout the strategic planning.
One of the main recommendations discussed during the planning is the addition of a Propaedeutic (preliminary or introductory) Program to better equip the students with the necessary tools and knowledge to prepare them for their masteral course. It is hoped that this program will start in the Academic Year 2016-2017.
Some of the reflections shared on the third day are as follows:
•The Strategic Planning was an experience of companionship, teamwork, camaraderie, and cooperation.
•It was an experience of grace in abundance.
•It was a privileged moment of learning from each other as brothers and sisters whatever our positions are.
•There was a smooth flow of communication and freedom to share one’s feelings, experiences, and thoughts.
•It gave a better understanding of what ICLA is as an academic school (St. Anthony Mary Claret College) and as an Institute.
•ICLA has gone a long way. Now is a high point for ICLA… a privileged moment. How do we sustain it?
•There is a convergence of people with a sense of mission and dedication.
•The role of Claretians is very vital; the leadership of the Congregation is very important. There is a need for a stronger commitment from the Congregation to nurture/sustain ICLA.
•“Small is beautiful.” The Institute has a good chance to flourish because of its smallness. ICLA is small but big enough to make a difference.
•We are guided by the Holy Spirit.
•The way Fr. Jonathan facilitated was appreciated. It was flexible. He allowed free-flowing conversation and was able to bring it back to the task at hand.
•There is a better understanding of one’s role and a greater appreciation of the contribution of others.
•There’s a feeling of gladness to be part of the community to serve the students.
•It gives a sense of fulfillment to see students who are well motivated.
•The expectation was to come up with a time-frame for the tasks to be done. It is hoped that this will not be forgotten.
Fr. Josep Rovira, CMF delivered the homily at the Baccalaureate Mass on March 21, 2015. He was already set to leave ICLA a couple of days after the Graduation Day and thus it was another fitting moment to draw the depth and wisdom of his experience and knowledge as a Professor and a missionary.
As in all his lectures and retreats, he always gives a thoroughly prepared, solid and very substantial content. This was meant primarily for ICLA’s graduating batch 2015, but a wider readership will certainly benefit from his and thus we are posting it here.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During these past months we have lived, and, in a particular way, we have studied the meaning of our Christian life and mission as committed Lay, Priests and Religious. On this “Graduation Day,” at the end of the Academic Year, having in front of us a period of deserved rest and other kind of activities, or the longed coming back home to our countries and apostolic fields, enriched by what we have deepened and experienced this year, we can ask ourselves: How can we put all our learnings into practice? How can we be more credible and more fitting witnesses to God, to Christ, in our world, with the people (Catholics or not, Christians or not, Believers or not) whom we shall meet? I would like to offer you some suggestions for our own reflection, by means of a sort of “Decalogue.”
1- The first one and the source of all the rest: the insistence on the primacy of God, the search for the Absolute in our human and Christian life, as a response to the increasing secularism in our society, the intellectual laziness, the comfortable indifference, scepticism and superficiality (of those who do not even ask themselves about the significance and aim of their lives); that to be is more important than to have; and witnessing that each one of us is worthier than what he or she produces, because every person is worthwhile in itself. In other words, the passionate search for God, the nostalgia of God, as St. Augustine said: “Oh God, You created us for Yourself; and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”1 Perhaps, someone can take this first suggestion for granted; but that cannot be. In fact, the consumer mentality, the longing for more and more money, the more or less bourgeois way of life (even among committed Lay, Priests and Religious), the need to find a social place, the passion for efficiency even in our apostolate, and the obsession for our own personal realization, have undermined the spiritual life of many Christians as well. Without this primacy of God, our existence has no sense at all. The risk is that many disciples of Christ can die due to many things, and even due to much work, but not due to much Gospel! We are not more or less philanthropic people, but first of all men/women of God; we are called, first, not to share or sell bread, but to be Evangelical leaven. So, the life of faith and, as a consequence, a rich prayer life: to be men/women of God.
2- Fraternity and solidarity, being preachers, witnesses and patient constructors of communion, as a response to the individualism and self-centeredness in the world, to the violence, to the many kinds of injustice, to the slavery in front of an excess of structures, to the sort of social massification, passivity and comfort at any cost (cf. VC 91-92). So, fostering altruism, fraternal life.
3- Simplicity, austerity/frugality and internal and external freedom, respecting God’ creation, as a response to the unbridled thirst for consumerism that destroys creation and produces economic and social unbalance (cf. VC 89-90). If we are attached to many material things, only to one place, to some people, to a culture…,, we are no more free for God and for the mission in favour of our brethren. So, a free and a more or less austere way of life.
4- Humility and courage at the same time, humble courage and spirit of service, as a response to the longing for economic power and political dominion of the people, and to the not so rare temptations of triumphalism and power even in the Church, calling in mind that the way and icon of being in authority in the Families, Parishes, Dioceses and Religious communities is Jesus serving (cf. Mt 23:8-12) and washing the feet of the disciples (Jn 13:1-17; VC 75, FT 12b, 17b). As saint Peter says in his first letter: “… always have an answer ready when you are asked upon to account for your hope, but give it simply and with respect…” (1Pt 3:15). So, not to be afraid –and still less, to be ashamed- to be what we are called to be.
5- Gratuitousness and magnanimity as a response to the relentless and merciless spirit of contract and exploitation of the people (cf. VC 104-105). So, being in a utilitarian and technocratic society and culture, “which is inclined to assess the importance of things and even of people in relation to their immediate «usefulness»” (VC 104), a sign of unbounded generosity and love, a life “poured out” without reserve, “in a world which risks being suffocated in the whirlpool of the ephemeral” (VC 105). To a society of calculation, we offer an unbounded gratuitousness; to a society of ephemeral, we bear witness to human and spiritual depth. In other words, and according to the Gospel (Jn 12:3; cf. VC 104-105), being a sign of the superabundant perfume at Bethany.
6- Cordiality and mercy as a response to any kind of cool, distant and technical, standard and computerized relationship (think, for example, of health’s world in some hospitals, factories, fields, and in general in the working places). Mercy is an image of God, and merciful people are, truly, God abiding on earth. Therefore, Jesus said: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6: 36). We, people, tend to reward those who reach the goal; God, instead, to those who try to. So, examples of closeness and tenderness.
7- Tireless builders of an always possible reconciliation, as a response to any kind of tensions, old and new hatred among people, families, cultures, religions, tribes and groups. As Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said: Love your neighbor and do not do good to your enemy. But this I tell you: Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in Heaven. For he makes his sun rise on both the wicked and the good, and he gives rain to both the just and the unjust. If you love those who love you, what is special about that? Do not even tax collectors do as much? And if you are friendly only to your friends, what is so exceptional about that? Do not even the pagans do as much? For your part you shall be righteous and perfect in the way your heavenly Father is righteous and perfect” (Mt 5: 43-48). So, being models of welcome, acceptance, constant dialog and tireless pardon and reconciliation in any field.
8- Openness to everybody, starting with the small ones (cf. Mt 25: 31-46) and those living close to you (perhaps a member of your own family, Parish or Religious community), as a response to an economic, technological and technocratic depersonalized society. So, witness of humanity.
9- The joy to live and the joy for your Christian charism and mission and, as a consequence, the openness to hope, as a response to the spirit of dissatisfaction, the spirit of resignation, to sadness and to a certain kind of “taedium vitae” (disgust of living), which can lead even to drugs’ experiences, drunkenness, as a result of an atheistic and hedonistic culture (cf. VC 88). So, lovers of life, as a gift of the God of life (cf. Gen 1-2; Dt 30: 19-20; Ps 8; Wis 11: 24-26)2; love for the life that makes us signs of simple and mature joy (cf. FLC 28)3; happy people, in spite of all difficulties—but it does not mean a superficial or candid, ingenuous, unaware people—because God, the Lord is with us “always until the end of this world” (Mt 28: 20); and, “if God is with us, who shall be against us?” (Rom 8: 38), “… whom shall I fear?... I will not be afraid… I hope, I am sure… (we) trust in the Lord”, in Him is our hope (Ps 27). As Mother Teresa of Calcutta said: “The scars are the sign that it was hard, but the smile is the sign that You overcame!”
10- Depth, seriousness, mother of wisdom and, as much as possible, preparation and cultural qualification, with a life inwardly unified, as a response to a sort of uncritical and superficial existence, made by advertising slogans, fashions, vain chatting by internet, every kind of cell-phone and television spots. It does not mean that you necessarily have to get certain academic degrees and doctorates, but it does mean that you have known and have reflected what you think and what you say. You have prepared, you understand it (even with a certain cultural depth, as we do along these years in ICLA) and, above all, you live it, because we are convinced that not our academic titles (although they are so important to improve our mission!) but decisively our lives will convince the people, will “attract” them, as Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have said (EG 14). Being competent, above all, on the divine issues (experience of God, life of prayer, theological and spiritual ongoing formation) and on human issues (experts in humanity and, as much as possible, on cultural subjects too.) So, models of seriousness and competence in your own fields, of human maturity and responsibility.
1- We committed Lay, Priests and Religious men and women, have to be, in our society, more than ever, Christians who point out and stress: 1) God as the sense and centre of our lives, His Word and the life of prayer; 2) life of fraternal communion; and 3) simplicity, authenticity and even austerity of life, being –in this way-, like Christ, free and available for the mission, and especially close to the poor and all people’s human and spiritual needs; 4) in very few words: being men/women of God, rich in humanity,
2- And, at a human level, being: cordial/heartfelt, simple and competent,
3- With a well-defined human, Christian and charismatic identity; a right-centred, deep, joyful, open and welcoming life.
Finally, dear brethren and friends, at the end of this academic year we have once more and better understood that what we are is more important than what we do; but, if we are right and faithful disciples of Christ, inevitably we shall do also what the people need and are waiting from us. The constant temptation in the world that we face is to point out more to do than to be. Let us be like our Master and Lord, and for sure we shall do, like Him the plan of love of the Father in favour of our beloved brothers and sisters.
The council of the Institute and faculty had their annual meeting last February 27, 2015 at the conference hall of ICLA.
This was attended by Fr. Leo Dalmao, CMF, Provincial Superior of the Claretian Missionaries Philippines, Professor Joel Sagut of the University of Sto. Tomas, 16 faculty members, and 2 student representatives. The
meeting was presided by Dr. Tessa Rosana, Registrar, ICLA Secretary, and Department Coordinator for Biblical Ministry. It started with an opening prayer led by Ms. Lettie Taberdo followed by the welcome remarks of the Director, Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF. In view of the presence of new members, there was a brief self-introduction by all.
With a powerpoint presentation, Dr. Rosana presented the key areas discussed in the 2014 annual council of the Institute and faculty meeting.
Sr. Amelia Vasquez, Spirituality Department Coordinator, reported on the overwhelming response from different congregations to the Religious Life Week 2015 and the 5-day seminar-course by Sr. Sandra Schneiders. Fr. Edgar Javier, Missiology Department Head, thanked the professors and students for the success of the Missiology Forum.
The body was informed about Fr. Josep Rovira’s departure for Spain after being on loan to ICLA for more than two years. On March 21, 2015, there will be a program in honor of Fr. Rovira and his book, Evangelical Counsels and Consecrated Life, will be launched. Fr. Buddy Agualada will also leave for Italy for doctoral studies.
Part of the meeting was a small group sharing by departments to discuss issues and concerns on Biblical Ministry, Consecrated Life, Missiology, and Spirituality. This was followed by an update on the C.A.R.E.S. program by Ms. Menchie Rojas.
This year’s graduation rites will be on March 21, 2015 at 8:30 AM with Fr. Leo Dalmao as main presider and Fr. Rovira as homilist.
Before the meeting adjourned, ICLA’s Calendar of Activities 2015-2016, the teaching load of the professors and the list of newly acquired books and journals were handed out to the professors by Sr. Elvie.
Article written by Sr. Josefa Aldana, SFIC
The day started with a very meaningful opening prayer prepared by the Chinese students of ICLA. This was followed by a very comprehensive recap of Day 2 given by Ms. Menchie Rojas.
After the recap, Sr. Josefa Aldana, SFIC introduced the speaker for day 3. Fr. Bienvenido Baisas, OFM gave his talk on "Projecting Paths, Priorities of Religious Life and Mission in Asia", with the subtitle - "Where are you going? Saan ang lakad mo?" Fr. Baisas started his presentation in the manner of FABC Pastoral Spiral/Cycle with a quick but nonetheless compassionate look at the Asian context.
He explored the topics on globalization, the economic disparity of nations, movements of Asian people as migrant workers and refugees, indigenous peoples, Asian youth, women issues, etc. with a presupposition: FABC faith reflections and Sr. Sandra Schneider's re-envisioning as a task proper to the entire local Church to discern and project priorities.
Fr. Baisas gave further reflections on the following: (1) No simply to efficiency but Yes to depth and authenticity, (2) Yes to Gospel radicalism, (3) an imperative again to listen to 'Shema', (4) a paradigm shift not only in our concept of Consecrated Life and its mission but also in our concept and praxis of "Conversion", and (5) Dialogue as the overall encompassing imperative in Asia. At a certain point, Fr. Baisas proclaimed a passionate appeal to embrace what the Spirit says!
The highlight of Religious Life Week 2015 was an open forum with the panel of three speakers of the three-day event. The audience-participants had a chance to dialogue with Fr. Antonio Pernia, SVD, Sr. Sandra Schneiders, IHM, and Fr. Bienvenido Baisas, OFM.
Religious Life Week 2015 was crowned with the Eucharistic celebration presided by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.
Recap of Day 2
By Ms. Menchie Rojas
Opening Prayer on Day 2 by ICLA students from Myanmar
Introduction of Sandra Schneiders, IHM
By Tessa B. Rosana, Ph.D
To add to the Pope Francis’ quotes from yesterday is his encouragement for people to “create a culture of encounter.” I think Religious Life Week is one such kind of encounter—in fact, not just a culture of encounter but an encounter of cultures. And the nature of ICLA itself as an institute is a “culture of encounter” theologically, spiritually and pastorally.
Inviting Sandra Schneiders (and the other speakers as well) is another way of creating that “culture of encounter”-- a mutual encounter of the North American West and Asia particularly the Philippines.
If Fr. Edgar Javier introduced Fr. Tony Pernia as his classmate, I will begin my introduction by saying that Sandra Schneiders was my professor in New Testament study—the gospel of John.
No longer will you know her as the “person behind the text” but later you will listen to her –“the person in front of the text.
Sandra Marie Schneiders, a member of Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Monroe, Michigan, USA, is currently a professor emerita at the Jesuit School of Theology, member school of the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California. She is a professor in New Testament studies and Christian Spirituality at Jesuit School of Theology Santa Clara University, the Jesuit University in Silicon Valley. Her education includes a B.A. at Marygrove College; M.A at University of Detroit; Licentiate in Sacred Theology at Institut Catholique de Paris and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology at Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome—the second woman to earn a doctorate at this predominantly male-centered university.
She has published numerous works on spirituality, feminism and theology, to name a few:
Revelatory Text: Interpreting the New Testament as Sacred Scripture (1999)
Written that You May Believe: Encountering Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (2003)
Jesus Risen in Our Midst: Essays on the Resurrection of Jesus in the Fourth Gospel (2014)—MOST RECENT
Women and the Word: The Gender of God in the NT and the Spirituality of Women (1986)
With Oil in their Lamps: Faith, Feminism and the Future (2000)
Beyond Patching: Faith and Feminism in the Catholic Church (1991)
Early Publication on Religious Life: New Wineskins: Re-Imagining Religious Life Today (1986)
Prophets in their Own Country: Women Religious Bearing Witness to the Gospel in a Troubled Church (2011)
TRILOGY IN RELIGIOUS LIFE
Finding the Treasure: Locating Catholic Religious Life in a New Ecclesial and Cultural Context (2000)
Selling All: Commitment, Consecrated Celibacy, and Community in Catholic Religious Life (2001)
Buying the Field: Catholic Religious Life in Mission to the World (Religious Life in a New Millenium) (2013)
In 2006, a volume of essays was published in her honor, entitled Exploring Christian Spirituality— to quote, “Sandra Schneiders commands respect as one of the most significant and influential figures in the emergence of the study of Christian spirituality as an academic discipline, as the focused and disciplined exploration of religious experience.”
In the same year 2006, Professor Schneiders won the John Courtney Murray Award, the highest honor given by the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA)
Her track record of a distinguished teaching career and scholarly work is widely known and acclaimed among the intellectual circles in North America and elsewhere in the world. And now she is in the Asian milieu. She is breathing the Asian, particularly Philippine air (hopefully, minus the pollution), walking on Philippine soil (so far in ICLA landscape), and encounter Asian contexts, particularly the religious women and men who are here to awaken the world.
Women and Men Religious as well as committed lay people with a religious heart, I have the honor to introduce to you our speaker for today, Sr. Sandra Schneiders, IHM – she will rock your world so that you can wake up the world.
The Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia (ICLA) is a center for doing theology to revitalize spirituality and mission in emergent churches, particularly in Asia.