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January 25-29, 2016 marked the National Bible Week (NBW) in the Philippines. This year’s celebration centered on the theme, “God’s Word: Hope for the Family, Strength for the Nation,” anchored on Psalm 33:12 and Acts 16:31.

The annual celebration of the National Bible Week started on the first week of Advent in 1972 as a way of participating in the International Book Year by the United Nations. The celebration every last week of January became official when the late President Corazon C. Aquino issued Presidential Proclamation (PP) No. 44. This was later followed up by former President Fidel V. Ramos in PP 1067, which recognized that "national attention be focused on the importance of reading and studying the Bible in molding the spiritual, moral, and social fiber of our citizenry." These two Presidential Proclamations were actually an affirmation of an earlier proclamation (PP 1923) by the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos on October 27, 1979, in recognition of the Bible as "an excellent source of principles for the development of moral and personal discipline" for Filipinos (Source: Episcopal Commission on the Biblical Apostolate).

ICLA celebrated National Bible Week 2016 through various activities. A Eucharistic celebration, presided by Fr. Sammy Canilang, CMF—Director of ICLA—opened the week-long celebration. Each day of the National Bible Week, the Biblical Ministry students prepared posters with biblical quotes and posted them on bulletin boards in strategic places.

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A poster-making contest with the theme “The Bible and Laudato Si” was also launched with two entries from each major field of concentration, namely, Biblical Ministry, Consecrated Life, Missiology, and Spirituality. Several faculty members and staff of the Institute served as judges in this contest. Prizes included cash, books, and other useful items.

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In the morning of January 29, 2016 the culminating activities included the following: 1) Doxology and Bible Enthronement by the First Year MA Students, 2) Welcome Remarks by Dr. Tessa Rosana, Biblical Ministry Coordinator, 3) Talk by Fr. Jonathan Bitoy, CMF on the NBW 2016 theme, “Word of God:Hope for the Family, Strength for  the Nation,” 4) Dance by Sr. Sandra Toscanoand Sr. JuspinaRakhi Gomes from Bangladesh, and 4) Open Forum.

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The afternoon of the same day was dubbed as Bible Learning and Fun with games like Bible Jigsaw Puzzle, Fill in the Blanks, Parable of the Talents, and Biblical Couples. Prizes were immediately given to the winners.

National Bible Week 2016 in ICLA opened and closed with the celebration of the Holy Eucharist—“the  source and summit of the Christian life" (Lumen gentium, no. 11; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1324). 

 

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Sr. Mary Anne summarized her work in HEAL as “learning from individuals and groups in a “mutually enhancing” Human-Earth relationship.  It is an experience of drawing a tremendous power, wonder, beauty, vitality, and energy when we truly connect with the Earth and her life. It is a day-to-day life of walking in the sacredness of the Earth, a gratitude to the primal revelation of God in creation and a life lived in contemplation.” 

The Opening Ritual was a “grounding meditation on the five elements: Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Spirit.

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January 17 was the last day of the symposium. Before the closing Eucharistic celebration, the three resource speakers, namely, Fr. Denis Edwards, Dr. Douglas Christie, and Sr. Mary Anne Bellosillo, MMS, responded to comments and questions from the participants.

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The closing Eucharist was presided by Fr. Bonifacio Fernandez, CMF with fellow Claretians in ICLA: Fr. Samuel Canilang and Fr. Jonathan Bitoy.Before the final blessing, Sr. Amelia Vasquez thanked the ICLA employees, staff, resource speakers, participants, and all those who have helped in the preparation and holding of the 3-day symposium. She also announced the short courses on January 18-22, 2016 that were part of the Religious Life Week 2016.

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RECAPITULATION OF RELIGIOUS LIFE WEEK – DAY 2

Prepared by Prof. Carmencita Rojas

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The second day of the Religious Life Week 2016 started with an Opening Prayer led by the ICLA Vietnamese students.

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In his second talk entitled A Dark Stillness: What the Night Can Teach Us, Dr. Douglas Christie had five sections.

I. Introduction

• Entering the darkness: becoming lost, facing the abyss

• The way of Unknowing (the apophatic tradition)

• The night in contemporary discourse

II. A Journey through the High Desert of the Andes

• The road to Laguna Grande

• Encounter with Los Flamencos del Altiplano

• The unknowable: humility and respect for mystery

• “We are measured by vastness beyond ourselves.” (Simon Ortiz)

III. The Night in Contemporary Human Experience

• Seeking “the God beyond God” (Meister Eckhart)

• “The Baptism of Solitude” (Paul Bowles)

• “Make me night” (Fernando Pessoa)

• Faithful and Virtuous Night (Louise Gluck)

IV. Painfully Aware: Learning to be Lost in the Night

• Entering the Void of the Desert (Edmund Jabés)

• How far does our responsibility go (toward one another, toward the living  world)?

• Recognizing our lostness: a way of practicing solidarity

• Dwelling “deep in the lostness” (John of Ruusbroec)

• The difficulty of getting lost (Alejandro Zambra, Ways of Going Home)

• Becoming “painfully aware” (Laudato Si)

V. Conclusion: Entering the Vastness of the Night

Like on the first day of the Religious Life Week 2016 event, there was also Dyad Sharing after the two talks, followed by the Open Forum.

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Recapitulation of Religious Life Week Day 1

Prepared by Dr. Tessa Rosana 

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  1. Introduction

    • Entering the darkness: becoming lost, facing the abyss

    • The way of Unknowing (the apophatic tradition)

    • The night in contemporary discourse

  2. A Journey through the High Desert of the Andes

    • The road to Laguna Grande

    • Encounter with Los Flamencos del Altiplano

    • The unknowable: humility and respect for mystery

    • “We are measured by vastness beyond ourselves.” (Simon Ortiz)

  3. The Night in Contemporary Human Experience

    • Seeking “the God beyond God” (Meister Eckhart)

    • “The Baptism of Solitude” (Paul Bowles)

    • “Make me night” (Fernando Pessoa)

    • Faithful and Virtuous Night (Louise Gluck)

  4. Painfully Aware: Learning to be Lost in the Night

    • Entering the Void of the Desert (Edmund Jabés)

    • How far does our responsibility go (toward one another, toward the living  world)?

    • Recognizing our lostness: a way of practicing solidarity

    • Dwelling “deep in the lostness” (John of Ruusbroec)

    • The difficulty of getting lost (Alejandro Zambra, Ways of Going Home)

    • Becoming “painfully aware” (Laudato Si)

  5. Conclusion: Entering the Vastness of the Night

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The Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia started its 23rd celebration of Religious Life Week on the 15th of January 2016. The theme for this year’s celebration is Care for our Common Home in the Cosmos: Ecological Conversion in Religious Life. 

The Opening Prayer was led by the students of ICLA from the Philippines and their friends from Indonesia, Malawi, and Vietnam.

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In his welcome address, Fr. Samuel H. Canilang, CMF – Director of ICLA – gave the reasons for the choice of this year’s theme and resource speakers.

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The whole welcome address is included as a feature article of RLW 2016.

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The resource speaker on the first day of the symposium was Fr. Denis Edwards from Australia.

There were two main talks given by Fr. Edwards. The first talk focused on Jesus and the Natural World: The Theological Concept of Deep Incarnation, and the second talk dealt with the Eucharist and Ecological Conversion.

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Fr. Denis Edwards summarized his second talk about the Eucharist and Ecological Conversion in four statements:

  1. We bring the whole creation to the Eucharistic table.

  2. In the Eucharist, we praise God with animals and plants, rivers and hills, stars and galaxies.

  3. In each Eucharist, we keep a memorial of both creation and redemption.

  4. Each Eucharist is an event of communion — of what Pope Francis calls sublime communion — with the rest of creation.

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    After listening to the very insightful talks given by Fr. Denis Edwards, the audience participated in a dyad sharing of their thoughts, feelings, insights, and challenges. It was such an animated sharing that it took some time for the emcee to make them stop to give time for the open forum that followed.

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    Ms. Menchie Rojas served as the emcee on the first day.

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    There were around 500 participants on the First Day.

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It was an afternoon and evening of fun, of presence, and of presents. That is how the ICLA Community Christmas Party 2015 can be summed up. This was held at the Moraleda Hall on the 15th of December. It started with parlor games in the afternoon organized by the student representatives with the dynamic leadership of Sr. Elvie Camilion of the Academic Department.

The evening program started with catered dinner, which everyone appreciated. This was followed by presentations starting with a Doxology in dance prepared by the First Year students.

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Dr. Tessa Rosana, ICLA’s Registrar and Secretary, gave the Welcome Remarks while Sr. Marilou Montalban from the Philippines and Bro. John Yang Zhenxiong from China served as emcees for the program.

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The presentations, consisting of dances, songs, and dramatizations, were interspersed with the giving of door prizes to lucky persons, whose names were drawn out by some ICLA professors. 

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After the various presentations, Fr. Lonely Paul Mashonga announced the winners of the sports tournament and Ms. Eisen Villanueva handed the prizes to the winning groups and individuals. Congratulations to all the winners, especially to the Yellow Team—the over-all champion. Sr. Elvie Camilion also announced the winners of the parlor games.

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One of the highlights of the program is the exchanging of gifts. Sr. Elvie read a story and each time the word “right” was mentioned, each person had to pass the gift she or he brought to the person on the right; likewise, when the word “left” was read, each person had to pass the gift to the left. When the story came to an end, the gift in one’s hand became one’s Christmas gift. 

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After the exchanging of gifts, Fr. Christian Cangkung, CMF gave the closing message and the blessing. The fun and camaraderie continued with community dancing.

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Pasko sa ICLA 2015 was indeed a joyful event, where brothers and sisters from different countries were united in celebrating once again the keeping of God’s promise and the coming of the Messiah.

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders;

and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 

Isaiah 9:6

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