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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. 

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In the conference he gave, Fr. Vic first asked the students the following questions:

  • Do you still have the passion to live your Religious Life? Can you claim to be a passionate religious?
  • Where do you draw your passion as a religious?

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.”

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Fr. Jonathan Bitoy, CMF announced the appointed Coordinators of resident students. They are Fr. Jonathan Balakase from Zimbabwe and Sr. Sandra Toscano from Bangladesh.

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Ms. Menchie Rojas presented the Center for Accompaniment, Renewal, and Empowerment of Students (CARES) Thrust for AY 2015-2016.

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Fr. Yoseph Ferdinandus Melo, CMF presented some guidelines for the community liturgy and Mrs. Eisen Villanueva gave the house rules and regulations.

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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.

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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.

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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! 

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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.

 

ICLA formally opened the new Academic Year 2015-2016 with a Mass of the Holy Spirit on June 8, 2015. The ICLA staff, employees, faculty, and students were present in the event.

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The academic orientation, which took place after the Eucharistic celebration, consisted of the following: 1) Welcome Address by Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF – ICLA Director, 2)Presentation of the different academic programs offered by ICLA and some items in the Student handbook by Dr. Tessa Rosana – Secretary of the Institute and Biblical Ministry Coordinator, 3) Presentation of the CARES Program by Ms. Menchie Rojas – CARES Coordinator, and 4) Open Forum – facilitated by Sr. Elvie Camilion and Ms. Lettie Taberdo.

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In his Welcome Address, Fr. Samuel Canilang gave a brief history of ICLA in the context of the Claretian Institutes for Consecrated Life. He also explained the nature and identity of ICLA, its vision and mission, as well as the line up of the faculty, staff, and employees of the Institute.

Dr.Tessa

Dr. Tessa Rosana presented the various academic programs being offered by ICLA and the requirements for admission. Likewise, Dr. Rosana briefed those present that ICLA education is interdisciplinary, biblically oriented, contextual-dialogical, mission-pastoral oriented, and academic-formative. 

Ms.Menchie

Prof. Menchie Rojas, Coordinator of the Center for Accompaniment Renewal, and Empowerment of Students (CARES) Program, presented the evolution of ICLA’s CARES program and the various activities undertaken for the formation of the resident students to make ICLA truly an institute for higher studies, a center for formation, and a residence/home for the students. 

Simultaneous with the Open Forum for the students, Fr. Sammy met with the faculty and the Superiors of religious communities with students in ICLA and presented to them, among other things, the revised academic programs for implementation in the Academic Year 2016-2017.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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