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.
AWAKENING TO REALITIES, CHALLENGES and OPPORTUNITIES TODAY
Religious Life Week 2015 commenced with the call to consecrated women and men to awaken to the realities, challenges and opportunities in today’s world. This was highlighted by Fr. Antonio Pernia, SVD—the keynote speaker on this first day of Religious Life Week.
Before the keynote speech of Fr. Pernia, there were other items in the program like the opening prayer led by the ICLA students from Vietnam, the Welcome Address of Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF—Director of ICLA, the Overview of the whole Religious Life Week events by Sr. Amelia Vasquez, RSCJ—Coordinator of the Spirituality Department of ICLA, and the Introduction to the Keynote Speaker by Fr. Edgar Javier, SVD—Head of ICLA’s Missiology Department.
Fr. Pernia gave two talks focusing on the following themes: (1) Powerless Servants of Humanity, Humble Witnesses of the Kingdom and (2) The Other Face of God – The Challenge to the Consecrated Life Today.
Sr. Christine Burke, IBVM, an Australian missionary recently assigned to the Philippines, responded to Fr. Pernia’s keynote address. Some of the questions she posed to the participants are: What has been the gift to you of living with people whose background is different from yours? What has been hardest for you? How can we share what we are learning with our wider society, torn apart as it is by difference?
The many participants (488 registered excluding ICLA students & faculty, keynote speakers and respondents for the entire Religious Life Week), who joined in this year’s Religious Life Week, didn’t just listen to the talks; they also had a chance to speak during the dyad sharing that followed the response of Sr. Burke and during the open forum.
Ms. Menchie Rojas served as the very able emcee of the whole proceedings.
Introduction of Keynote Speaker
By Fr. Edgar Javier, SVD
Fr. Antonio Pernia, SVD
Talk 1: “Powerless Servants of Humanity, Humble Witnesses of the Kingdom”
Talk 2: “The Other Face of God – The Challenge to the Consecrated Life Today”
Fr. Antonio Pernia, SVD is a religious missionary priest of the Society of the Divine Word. He holds a doctorate degree in Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a master’s degree in Philosophy from the Divine Word Seminary in Tagaytay City, Philippines.
He professed final vows in the Society of the Divine Word in 1975 and was ordained priest in the same year. He taught Philosophy and Theology at the Divine Word Seminary in Tagaytay City and at the Regional Major Seminary in Davao City. He was Provincial Superior of the SVD Philippine Southern province (1993-1994), Vice Superior General (1994-2000), and Superior General (2000-2012) of the SVD. Currently, he is the Dean of Studies of the Divine Word Institute of Mission Studies (DWIMS) in Tagaytay City.
By Sr. Josefa S. Aldana, SFIC
Good morning. I am very happy to introduce our speaker today, on the last day of Religious Life Week (RLW) 2015 for 3 reasons: 1) He is my brother Franciscan; 2) because of the privilege of having worked with him during the early eyars of ICLA, especially on the yearly celebrations of RLW like this time; and 3) he is my guru. I learned from him an Asian form of prayer called "Anapanasati" - Ana (inhale breath), pana (exhale breath) sati (mindfulness). I was first introduced to Anapanasati at an inter-congregational Buddhist retreat which he conducted together with a North American Buddhist monk, Santikaro.
Dear friends, Fr. Bienvenido Baisas, OFM was the Provincial Superior of the Order of Friars Minor in the Philippines for ten years (1979-1989). He obtained his Licentiate in Theology from the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines and his Licentiate in Sacred Scriptures from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, Italy. He also had some Jewish and Biblical Studies at the University of Mûnster, Germany and at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem, Israel.
Fr. Benny is a guest editor of ICLA's journal, Religious Life Asia. He edited the September 2000 and the December 2001 issues on Ecology and Consecrated Life and Interreligious Dialogue respectively. One can read his articles published in several issues of Religious Life Asia. Some of these are: "The Spirituality of Consecrated Life" published in the book, From Seduction to Mission, An Asian Commentary, 1997; "The Experience of God in Francis of Assisi" (April 1999); "Witness, Our Service and Mission, Asian Perspectives (January-March 2004); and "The Eucharist and Mary: A Bond of Faith and Love" (April-June 2005).
Fr. Benny has lived and worked for some years in a quasi-hermitage in the hills of the Sierra Madre mountains in General Nakar, Quezon, where he gives meditation retreats to individuals and small groups, while giving limited assistance to the indigenous Agta in the area.
He also served as Delegate Provincial "Pro Monialibus" and Religious Assistant to the Federation of Monasteries of the Order of the Poor Sisters of St. Clare in the Philippines. For 10 years and for more than 7 years, he was assigned to overseas mission in the Franciscan Foundation of Blessed Joseph Vaz in Sri Lanka, serving in the ministry of initial formation in Amptiya, Kandy. We all know that last January 14, 2015, Pope Francis declared Blessed Joseph Vaz a Saint in a Eucharistic celebration held at Galle Face Green Park in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Fr. Benny came back from Sri Lanka last year and was assigned to help out in some parishes in Basilan and Kidapawan in the Southern part of the Philippines. According to him, if he gets his visa, he will move on to his next mission in Israel, where he hopes to work with migrants and engage in JPIC work.
I would like to add that for us Franciscans, Fr. Benny is a model of simplicity, humility and service. Personally, he reminds me of our Seraphic Father St. Francis of Assisi and of Pope Francis.
Today, he will lead us in the third movement of our journey by sharing with us "Projecting Paths, Priorities of Religious Life and Mission in Asia." Please welcome Fr. Benny Baisas, OFM