Written by Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF
Fr. Marcellí "Marcelino" Fonts, our retreat director this year (2015), is a Spanish Claretian Missionary working in Japan ‒ which is a part of the Claretian East Asian Delegation ‒ for several years (about 40). He was born near the birthplace of St. Anthony Mary Claret, the Founder of the Claretian Missionaries, in Catalonia. He is a Claretain by birth and by vocation!
Fr. Marcelino is not really a stranger to ICLA. Just a little bit of history: ICLA was founded upon the collaboration of Claretians in Asia. In the year of the Institute's foundation, Fr. Marcelino was the major superior of the East Asian Delegation. Under his leadership, the Delegation supported the foundation of ICLA, not only morally, but also finacially. Moreover, for some years, he taught the subject on prayer in the Institute.
Fr. Domingo Moraleda, the principal founder of ICLA, used to call Fr. Marcelino "un santo varon" ‒ a holy gentleman. Fr. Marcelino ‒ as a missionary, as a superior, and as a formator ‒ has a long and deep experience of the life of prayer. He has successfully blended the Christian tradition of prayer and a popular Asian method of meditation ‒ particularly, Zen. He has been giving seminars on prayer for several years in different parts of the world.
The annual retreat of the ICLA students for Academic Year 2015-2016 started on August 24, 2015. The Theme of this year's retreat is CALLED to be AWAKE, AWARE, and ATTENTIVE.
After the Community Morning Prayer, Fr. Sammy Canilang CMF, Director of ICLA, introduced the Retreat Master, Fr. Marcellino Fonts, CMF - a Spanish missionary, who lived in Japan for forty years. More information about Fr. Fonts, especially his participation in the establishment of ICLA, will be written in another article.
Each day of the retreat has two conferences: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. There are also two guided meditations. The Eucharistic celebration is usually at 11:00 AM except on the last day which will be the culminating activity at 5:30 PM. Each night at 8:15 is the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for adoration.
In the first conference, Fr. Marcellino Fonts posed these questions: Am I awake? Fully awake? Some of the highlights of the first two conferences are shown in the slides below.
The Center for Accompaniment, Renewal, and Empowerment of Students (CARES) carried out the planned first recollection day for ICLA students on July 25, 2015. The Claretian Theology students joined the ICLA students for the recollection. Fr. Victor F. Sadaya, CMF was the Recollection Master.
In the conference he gave, Fr. Vic first asked the students the following questions:
Fr. Vic gave 12 tasks to do in journeying through Religious Life with joy and passion. These tasks are:
1. Discovering our Unique Purpose in Life
2. Enlarging our Vision
3. Willingness to Walk a Ridge of Uncertainty
4. Seeing Life in Constant Wonder
5. Seeing Ourselves as God Sees us
6. Uprooting the Roots of Bitterness
7. Accepting the Challenge to Transformation
8. Affirming Our Belovedness
9. Affirming Others’ Belovedness
10. Being a Joyful Giver
11. Becoming a Selfless Servant
12. Living an Integrated Prayer Life
Expounding on the 12th task, Fr. Vic quoted from several sources to make it even clearer to the students that prayer is very important in the life of a religious and anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He said that integrated prayer life basically means a “rooting of oneself in Christ” for Christ is the whole meaning of a religious (Vita Consecrata, 16).
Based on the gospel of prayer (Sr. Luke’s Gospel), Fr. Vic stated, “If our activity is to be wise and fruitful and in accord with God’s will and plan, it must be preceded by moments of stillness, of prayer, of being alone, of intimacy with God, and of being in touch with our own inner worlds. If religious life is following Jesus, then a religious should follow Jesus in his prayer.”
“Only those who pray have a message to convey.” (Pope Francis)
Fr. Vic began his talk with some questions and ended it with two questions for the students to reflect on in the moments of silence and personal prayer provided for them.
1. Looking at my life at present, in what ways am I living with joy and passion?
2. How can I become a better religious? What are the challenges or invitations for me?
The recollection ended with the Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Victor Sadaya, CMF.
The Institute is very grateful to Fr. Vic for accompanying the students in their first recollection for Academic Year 2015-2016.
The first general assembly of ICLA resident students for Academic Year 2015-2016 took place on June 26, 2015 at the Conference Room of the Institute. It started with an Opening Prayer led by Ms. Lettie Taberdo, who also explained the reasons why a general assembly is necessary.
ICLA is not just an institute for higher studies, but also a center of formation and a residence /home for students, who live together as brothers and sisters. Psalm 133:1 captures the vision of community life: “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell together in unity.”
Fr. Jonathan Bitoy, CMF announced the appointed Coordinators of resident students. They are Fr. Jonathan Balakase from Zimbabwe and Sr. Sandra Toscano from Bangladesh.
Ms. Menchie Rojas presented the Center for Accompaniment, Renewal, and Empowerment of Students (CARES) Thrust for AY 2015-2016.
Fr. Yoseph Ferdinandus Melo, CMF presented some guidelines for the community liturgy and Mrs. Eisen Villanueva gave the house rules and regulations.
The resident students selected the service team they wished to join. This was followed by the initial meeting of the various service teams, namely, (1) Liturgy and Prayer, (2) In-house Service, (3) Food, (4) Manualia, (5) Sports, (6) Socio-Cultural, and (7) Medical.
After the short initial meeting of the various service teams, some students articulated their concerns related to the community life of the resident students.
The first general assembly was concluded with the community evening prayer prepared by Sr. Lin Yanzhen, CCV.
Fr. Salvador G. Agualada Jr., CMF—Fr. Buddy to many of us who know him personally—was President of Saint Anthony Mary Claret College (Claret Seminary) from October 2011 to April 2015, where he taught courses in theology. He was also professor of the Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia (ICLA) for three years from 2012 up until last semester. He will fly to Rome this coming August to pursue his doctorate in Systematic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he also did his Licentiate in theology in 2009-2011. Last June 8, 2015, ICLA invited him to preside over the Mass of the Holy Spirit in his capacity as former President of SAMCC. Thank you, Fr. Buddy! Kudos to your doctorate in Rome!
Here is an excerpt from the first part of Fr. Buddy's homily:
While the Church and the world were preparing for the coming of the Great Jubilee in 2000, for the coming of the third millenium, Pope John Paul II came up with an apostolic letter entitled Tertio Millenio Adveniente and in that apostolic letter he declared 1998 as the year of the Holy Spirit – the year of a renewed appreciation of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the world on our human families and our human communities. And because it was a year of renewed appreciation of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit, the pope also declared that 1998 was a year of appreciation of the theological virtue of hope. On that year, Pope John Paul II invited Christians all over the world never to submit to cynicism. The question I would like to pose to all of us, as we begin this new academic year in ICLA with the Mass of the Holy Spirit is this: Why does a renewed appreciation of the presence and activity of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the world lead to hope?
You can read the whole talk he gave entitled THE HOLY SPIRIT AND RELIGIOUS LIFE from which Fr. Buddy substantially derived his homily.
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.