The fourth gathering of the Inter-Institute Collaboration (IIC) group was held on April 27, 2016 at the East Asian Pastoral Institute. Fr. Samuel Canilang, CMF (Director), Dr. Amalia Tessa Rosana (Registrar/Faculty), Ms. LettieTaberdo (CARES Staff/Faculty), Fr. Yosef Ferdinandus Melo, CMF (student), and Sr. Wang PinPin (student) attended the conference. The partner Institutes represented were Assumption Language College (ALC), East Asian Pastoral Insitute (EAPI), Institute for Consecrated Life in Asia (ICLA), Institute of Formation – Fondacio Asia (IFFA), Institute of Formation for Religious Studies (IFRS),Institute of Spirituality in Asia (ISA), Religious of the Cenacle, and St. Vincent School of Theology (SVST).
Mr. Ramon Chua of Porticus presided the conference. Mr. Philip Booth and Ms. Eva Luk were also present for Porticus.
After the opening prayer, which was prepared by the EAPI students together with other students from the partner Institutes, the directors or their representatives gave updates on their institutions. The students present also shared their significant experiences in the Institutes they enrolled in for their studies and formation. Likewise, they shared their career path after completing their academic and formation program. The students come from China, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Tonga, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.
In the afternoon, only the Directors of the 8 Institutes continued the conference with Mr. Ramon Chua, Mr. Philip Booth and Ms. Eva Luk of Porticus. Their discussions centered on the following questions: 1) With Manila now being considered as a hub of formation in Southeast Asia, what challenges does a formation institute face to become a center of excellence? 2)How does Manila compare to Rome or India as a feasible place to go to for Asian or even global formation? 3) What are the opportunities for strengthening unity, cooperation and collaboration among the different institutes? 4) What do they expect from Porticus?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.