Written by Jessie T. de Guzman



The annual Religious Life Week organized by ICLA took off on January 20, 2017 with an Opening Prayer led by the Vietnamese students of ICLA.The whole community participated in the reading of the Scripture text from the Book of Isaiah (61:1-2a) and of a short prayer projected on the screen. This was followed by a prayer-dance interpretation of the song The Mission by Jamie Rivera.


In his Words of Welcome during the 24th Religious Life Week, Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF – ICLA Director – stated "this year's theme has to do with who we are - since the times of our founders and foundresses; precisely, since the time the Holy Spirit gave birth to Religious Life - and with what the world today expects of us. As Religious we are a prophetic presence in and for the Church and the world. And today, we are expected to be so, especially in the peripheries - both in the geographical and existential senses of the term."


Sr. Amelia Vasquez, RSCJ – Coordinator of the Spirituality Department of ICLA – gave the Overview. She announced the three invited resource persons, who would give the keynote presentation on each day of the Conference. She also outlined the 3-day conference (20-22 Jan.) and the 5-day short courses (23-27 Jan.) and encouraged the participants to take this opportunity to learn from and with the Resource Persons in both the Conference and the Short Courses.


Dr. NatiPagadut, Secretary General of the Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate (ECBA) and Scripture professor in ICLA, introduced the keynote speaker, Sr. Laurie Brink, OP.


For Day 1 of the Conference, Sr. Laurie Brink spoke about: Presence, Prophecy, and Passion: Biblical Spirituality and Apostolic Religious  Life. She started with the beautiful reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Philippians (1:3-6). She answered the question: What do we mean by "Spirituality"? She presented several scriptural passages (Psalm 23, Jer 20:14-18, Mark 14:36, Acts 2, and Gen 32:23-31) from which she drew an apt metaphor for the Spiritual Life, namely: 1) the search for God, 2) wrestling to understand the manifestation of God, 3) an earnest desire to name the mystery, and 4) a deep longing for a blessing.


Sr. Laurie spoke about Presence: The Experience of God with three aspects: encounter, call, and communion as our expressions of our experience of God's presence. She also presented Prophecy: At the Service of the Spirit focusing on Resistance/Insistence, Prophetic Dialogue, Speaking Forth, and Speaking Against. When she came to the third P - Passion - She talked about Passion: The Word made Flesh with three stages: 1) On the Way, 2) In the Midst, and 3) after Easter.

To give a chance to the participants to interiorize the insights presented and to appropriate these insights in their personal lives, the whole presentation was interspersed with moments for reflection with some reflection questions.

Sr. Laurie Brink ended her presentation with these words: "At various moments in our lives, we pass from Presence, to Prophecy, to Passion - and back. Biblical perspectives on a Spirituality of Apostolic Religious Life clearly show us that our coming to God is an organic process. We are invited to return again and again to our Scriptures for support, direction, and inspiration. For as we hear in the Gospel of John:

        These are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief, you may have life in his name. (John 20:31)

A dyad sharing enabled the participants not just to listen to the talk but also to share with one another their insights and answers to the reflection questions given by Sr. Laurie Brink in the course of her talk.


The conference ended with an Open Forum, where participants were again given an opportunity to actively participate through their questions and comments on the keynote presentation by the resource person.

The Registration team reported a total of 454 participants on the first day of the Conference.

                                                                                                                                                Prepared by: Lettie A. Taberdo