Fr. Rector: God may be silent, but never absent

By: Bro. Jesse Meer E. Alipes

Baguio City – The Rector of Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary is the main celebrant of the Mass of the Holy Spirit last September 5, 2020 at the Capilla de Nuestra Señora del Pilar.

In his sermon, Rev. Fr. Bernard C. Amparado, OAR encouraged everyone to have faith in God’s mysterious ways of revealing the truth amidst this pandemic.

“There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Apparently, God seems to be out of sight. God may be silent but he is never absent,” he said, adding that “God reveals the truth in mysterious ways. These mysteries transform us for the greater good.”

The Father Rector said that at the moment, we may not understand God’s mysterious ways and it is then important to invoke the Holy Spirit who endows us the gift of understanding.

“Sometimes the truth is too much too bear that is why we need to invoke the Holy Spirit to give us the Gift of Understanding,” he added.

Lay formators’ Professio Fidei. The Lay Formators professed that they will not teach to seminarians anything contrary to the teachings of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

During the Mass, the rector also witnessed the Professio Fidei (Profession of Faith) of the religious and lay formators for the Formation Year 2020-2021.

Official Welcome

After the Mass of the Holy Spirit everyone was invited to the Seminary Refectory for the Welcome Program where breakfast was served.

Seminarians prepared various performances to entertain those present in the program.

In the program, the neophytes formally introduced themselves to the community after giving their own rendition of “Harana” by Parokya ni Edgar.

Harana. Bro. Fortune Cano expresses his gratitude in behalf of the neophytes for the warm welcome.

The seminary Dean of Studies, Rev. Fr. Anthony P. Irineo, OAR, invited everyone to remain grateful to God in his Closing Remarks.

Fr. Anthony Irineo, OAR during the closing remarks.

“We thank the Lord for his help and guidance,” he said.

Amidst the problems that surround us on every side, Fr. Irineo asks everyone to see how God works in our lives. “We remain faithful and hopeful, because we have a great God,” he added.

Fourteen New Aspirants Join CaReS Community

By: Bro. Jesse Meer E. Alipes

BAGUIO CITY ­– Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary welcomes fourteen (14) new aspirants for the formation year 2020-2021, last August 21.

The 14 neophytes arrived at the seminary grounds at around 2:00 p.m. aboard the bus chartered by the seminary.

Upon arriving, the newcomers were welcomed by the seminarians as they presented a song and dance number at a safe distance featuring two animation songs: Greatest Dream and Magpapari na.

Oldphytes performing the seminarians’ theme song “Magpapari Na.”

The newcomers this year are as follows: Heljen Lance C. Acha, from Bohol; Alan Dale V. Adel, Palawan; Kent C. Año, Palawan; John Vel B. Candar, Cebu; Fortune B. Cano, Rizal; Lyland P. Cañezares, Cebu; Christian Joseph T. Codilla, Cavite; Jon Midred S. Duran, Davao; Pious F. Garcia, Bohol; Ken Joshua S. Manalo, Quezon; Eivan Earl Martinez (a returnee), Quezon City; Kevin Mark C. Ola, Quezon; Daniel Ray A. Perez, Baguio City; and James Sarilla, Albay.

Neophytes waiting for their turn before admission to the quarantine facility.

After the ceremonial fraternal welcome, the neophytes underwent disinfection and interview before their admission to the quarantine facility.

Like the returning seminarians, the neophytes will undergo the 14-day quarantine period mandated by the city government of Baguio.

New Challenge for Everyone

Earlier that day, the neophytes gathered at the Recollect administered St. Nicholas of Tolentino Parish at Quezon City before taking the six-hour ride to Baguio.

“This is a first for everyone,” said Fr. Alan Jacinto, OAR, the National Vocation Director of the Order of Augustinian Recollects who arrived at the seminary the following day, when asked on the vocation promotion amidst the pandemic.

“On the first months of the year, the vocation campaign in schools were already limited. I was not allowed to meet large audiences since the threat of the virus started to loom. So I decided to administer the exams online,” Fr. Jacinto said.

“Yet, nothing could compare to the experience of conducting interviews face-to-face than just doing it online, since there are places that cannot be reached by the internet.”

Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary has a total of 74 formands as the 14 new seminarians join the 59 returning seminarians and one adult vocation aspirant from Vietnam.

Bishop Gaa ordains 7 Augustinian Recollect Priests

by Bro. Romel Acebron

Mira-Nila Homes, QUEZON CITY—On Saturday, December 7, 2019, the Bishop of Novaliches, Most Rev. Roberto Gaa, DD, officiated the Presbyteral Ordination of seven Augustinian Recollect deacons held at Our Lady of Consolation Parish.

After the long years of seminary formation, seven religious friars of the Order of Augustinian Recollects were solemnly ordained to the priestly ministry. They were as follows: Fray Jorr S. Rabacal, OAR, Fray Monday Benjamine Edobor, OAR, Fray Ifeanyichukwu Maximillian Omem, OAR, Fray Jovy A. Gallego, OAR, Fray Andrie S. Pugate, OAR, Fray Tomakatsu N. Yamaguchi, OAR, and Fray Jessriel L. Marcha, OAR. Fray Edobor and Fray Omem were the first Nigerian Augustinian Recollects ordained as priests in the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno.

The ordaining prelate, Bishop Roberto reminded the ordinandi and the people about the significance of the occasion. “The ordination…is not a magical event that erases all our issues; [ordination] consecrates us before God that sets us solely for the service of God. In fact it is just an acknowledgment of the little things these deacons gone through. Mind you, formation only allows us to handle our issues, but the issues are still there. But we have learned to handle them hopefully,” said Bishop Gaa. The good bishop, during his homily, emphasized to all the endless struggle and demand of following Jesus.

After the ordination, Fray Jovy Gallego, OAR, one of the newly ordained priests, delivered a message of gratitude by extending his heartfelt thanks to God and to all who tirelessly helped them all throughout their formation years. He also ask for continuous prayers for all of them especially as they venture into their newly designated assignments.

The celebration was well-attended by a good number of guests present that include the parishioners, the parents, relatives and friends of the deacons and including the members of different religious congregations who came. The estimated number of people present were about a thousand which was quite unexpected. Present during the celebration were 48 Augustinian Recollect priests.

Before the final blessings, the Vicar of the Philippine Province, Fray Ian Espartero, OAR read the assignments of the newly ordained priests. Fray Jorr Rabacal, OAR, will live in the community of brothers in Recoletos de Casian, Palawan; Fray Monday Benjamine Edobor, OAR, will stay in Recoletos de Plaridel, Palawan; Fray Maximillian Omem, OAR, will be back to where he spent his diaconal exposure program in Recoleto de Valencia, Negros Oriental; Fray Jovy Gallego, OAR, will be sent to the newly established community of Recoletos de Bengkayang; Fray Andrie Pugate, OAR, and Fray Tomokatsu Yamaguchi, OAR, will be assigned in Recoletos de Kamabai and Recoletos de Kamalo, respectively; and Fray Jessriel Marcha, OAR, will be assigned in Recoletos de Provincialate.

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AR–OAR formands: Called and formed now, to be sent out later

by Bro. Ioannes Arong

Tagaytay City — Christ did not just send out his disciples to preach the Gospel. Before all else, he gave them proper formation.

This was the content of the impassioned homily delivered by Rev. Benjamine Edobor, OAR to the gathering of formands of the Congregation of the Augustinian Recollect (AR) Sisters and the Order of Augustinian Recollects (OAR) last Nov. 30, 2019 — feast of St. Andrew the Apostle.

“As disciples, we must allow ourselves to go through formation and be formed, to allow God to take control of our formation,” Rev. Edobor told the congregation gathered at the chapel of the AR Sister’s Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Novitiate house in this city.

The gathering of the AR–OAR formands was designed to foster stronger “fraternal communion” between the two religious groups closely linked in the spirits of St. Augustine and the Recollection.

Rev. Benjamine Edobor, OAR during the homily which draws reaction from the congregation

All levels of formation from both sides were properly represented, excluding the postulants of the AR Sisters who were on vacation at that time.

“We might not understand the importance of formation now, but we will be grateful for it later,” Rev. Edobor said. “First we are called; then in our convents and seminaries we are formed. Later, we will also be sent out to make disciples of all nations.”

A highlight of the convention was the fun-filled activity of making Christmas trees. Distributed randomly among groups, the formands were to make Christmas trees using organic materials like chopped wood, walis tingting, and leaves and flowers available in the garden.

During the smaller group sharing, the formands were able to process the significance of such values as cooperation, resourcefulness, enthusiasm, and service, among others, in seeing to completion any common aspiration, no matter how seemingly insignificant or trivial it is, like making a mere Christmas tree.

Such realizations were then cascaded to the larger community in another sharing, where each group was allowed to introduce and explain the collective effort that went into the making of the Christmas trees.

Overall, the convention was pervaded by a spirit of camaraderie and fun, as much of its activities were centered on fraternal bonding and encounter. This was evident during meal times when the refectory would erupt in loud laughters and endearing banters.

Each community was also given the chance to showcase their talents through socio-cultural presentations which mostly involved religious singing and dancing.

“As religious or aspiring religious, more is expected of us,” Rev. Edobor said. “We do not just preach with our words, but more importantly, with our lives. Hopefully what people would see in us and in our communities is the love of God filling our hearts to overflowing.”

Formators of the AR-OAR formands also get a chance to bond during the gathering.

Photo Credits: RFC

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OLCP receives new CARAS members

by Fray Jhoben Rodriguez, OAR

Mira-Nila Homes, QUEZON CITY – “Today we will witness the investiture of young men. They will commit themselves to God as part of Confraternity of Augustinian Recollect Altar Servers (CARAS),” said Fray Gideon Antolin U. Lagrimas, OAR, Parish Priest Our Lady of Consolation Parish, in his homily.

Fifteen young men coming from villages, subdivisions and area chapels under the jurisdiction of OLCP were invested and commissioned as members of the Confraternity on the Solemnity of Christ the King last November 24, 2019. They were as follows:

            1. Akia Lyle R. Andres

            2. John Iverson Arandia

            3. Tristan Cliford C. Aujero

            4. Geones Aldrin C. Beran

            5. Mark Jayson A. Cabana

            6. Christian Emmanuel C. Dancel

            7. Jayson L. Datul

            8. Joaquin Miguel F. De Jesus

            9. Julius Maximus F. De Jesus

            10. Marcus Jericho F. De Jesus

            11. Kalvin Cesar M. Estrera

            12. Ken Chrysper A. Pasilan

            13. David Rhys N. Price

            14. Matthew N. Price

            15. Samuel Genn M. Tango III

  16. Francis Rupert J. Sarno

Before they were officially accepted to the ministry, they went to series of formation as part of the preparation. They were introduced to the rudiments of the Liturgy, Holy Eucharist, and of assisting the priest in the Altar. Part of their formation was the fundamentals of Augustinian Recollect Spirituality with emphasis on brotherhood (community life), love for the Eucharist and prayer, and commitment to service (apostolate).

During the Rites of Investiture, the parents and relatives were present to witness this meaningful event and were asked to put on to their sons the white vestment and cincture as a sign of their support in fulling their son’s ministry.

Dra. Meryl F. De Jesus, mother of the three newly invested Altar Servers expressed:“We are blessed and grateful that our sons have this opportunity to serve here in our Parish.”

Part of their formation and service as members of the confraternity is to give them the opportunity to experience the Augustinian Recollect way of life, and eventually, to enter the seminary and be an Augustinian Recollect religious. At present, there are a good number of Philosophy and Senior High School seminarians who were once members of the Confraternity of Augustinian Recollect Altar Servers.

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Bp. Santos to 2 newly ordained OAR Deacons: “In your name there is already a sign that you will imitate Christ”

by Fray Jhoben Rodriguez, OAR

Mira-Nila Homes, QUEZON CITY- “The reason for this is simply the imitation of Christ. The imitation of Christ that leads to the establishment of the kingdom of God and the offering of the self…When I read your names tamang-tama yung pangalan nila isang Kristo (Cristito) Rey at isang Virgilio Cruz. In your name there is already a sign that you will imitate Christ,” said Most Rev. Bartolome G. Santos, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of Iba, Zambales, during the Diaconal Ordination of Fray Virgilio C. Calalang, Jr., OAR, and Fray Cristito Rey P. Tepace, OAR last November 16, 2019.

In his homily, Bp. Santos exhorted that vows, particularly the vows as consecrated–Obedience, Poverty and Chastity–are all about the imitation of Christ. He addressed the two friars that they should be signs of God’s Kingdom.

He challenged all to go beyond mere kailangan (need). Bishop Bartolome in his conclusion articulated: “You are an offering. Salamat po sa mga magulang (Thank you to the parents for) allowing your sons to be offered…It is an offering of life, a thanksgiving, gratefulness to God who is so merciful and so gracious to us. Consider your life now, wherever you will be assigned, as an offering.”

The night before the Ordination, they solemnly professed their Faith, and they were reminded by Fray Lauro V. Larlar, OAR –Prior of Recoletos Formation Center – that being an ordained minister is not solely about the ministry, but first and foremost a call to holiness.

Few days after the Diaconal Ordination of the friars, their designated assignments were announced to the community: Rev. Tepace is assigned to the Our Lady of the Visitation Parish, Pasibi East, Urbiztondo, Pangasinan; while Rev Calalang is to the St. Raphael Parish, Plaridel, Aborlan, Palawan.

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Fr. Provincial: “Wearer of the habit is a property of God”

by Bro. Ioannes Arong

Baguio City — The religious habit is a sign of the transcendental and supernatural realities which the wearer gives witness to in this highly secularized world of today.

This was the content of the homily delivered by Rev. Fr. Dionisio Q. Selma, OAR during this year’s investiture of five formands of Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary on the feast of the seminary patroness, Nuestra Señora del Pilar, last October 12, 2019.

“The habit does not make the monk,” he said. “But it is an external reminder of one’s religious consecration to God.”

Fr. Selma, the Prior of the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno of the Order of Augustinian Recollect, exhorted the investees to act appropriately for the habit now expressly identifies them with God.

Fr. Dionisio Selma, OAR giving exhortation to the candidates for investiture

“Before the eyes of God and man, behave properly,” he said. “People recognize that the wearer of the habit is a property of God.”

The Prior Provincial warned the investees not to use the habit in boosting their self-worth or in attracting undue attention to themselves. On the contrary, the religious habit should remind them of their identity and give witness to a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience which they desire to live out, he added.

The five newly invested seminarians belong to two batches. Three of them are third year college who comprise the Batch Cherubim. The other two, moreover, are from Batch Altruists who are currently in their second year in college. They are part of the first batch of Senior High School seminarians of Casiciaco who entered the seminary in 2016.

The investees prepare to give flowers to their supportive families and friends who grace their milestone event.

Just like producing good wine

Seminary Rector Rev. Fr. Bernard C. Amparado, OAR thanked the parents of the investees present for their generosity in offering their sons to the service of the Church, an offering that is not without great and many sacrifices on their part.

The rector reminded the parents that there is still long a way to go for the seminarians of Casiciaco and so encouraged them to not waver in their commitment and support to their sons’ formation in the religious and priestly life.

He said formation milestones like the investiture are a “big deal” to the seminarians for they rejuvenate the fire of their vocation which could grow dim because of the many challenges in the seminary and the long years of formation.

Fr. Amparado likened seminary formation to the long and tedious process undertaken to produce good wine. The longer the wine undergoes the process, the smoother it becomes, he said.

“Everything that is worth doing well requires time,” Fr. Amparado said. “We are forming here not just any priests and religious, but priests and religious with a certain degree of holiness and wisdom as a response to the demands of the Holy Mother Church in this age of the new evangelization.”

This news article was originally published in www.recoletosdebaguio.edu.ph.

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Fray Selma on Solemn Profession: “We are called to be God’s presence wherever we are”

by Fray Jhoben Rodriguez, OAR

Mira Nila Homes, QUEZON CITY–“Solemn Profession is the definitive profession, perpetual, of our brothers,” Fray Dionisio Q. Selma, OAR, Prior Provincial, articulated during his homily last September 7, 2019 on the occasion of the Solemn Profession of the two Friars at Our Lady of Consolation Parish.

The brothers who solemnly consecrated their lives to God in religious life were Fray Virgilio Calalang Jr. y Cruz, OAR (35) from Balagtas, Bulacan – son of Mr and Mrs. +Virgilio Sr. and +Nelia Calalang – and Fray Cristito Rey Tepace y Pulga, OAR (27) from Laoang, Northern Samar – son of Mr. and Mrs. Reynaldo and Purita Tepace.

Fray Dionisio Q. Selma, OAR, officiated the Rites. He said: “We are called to be God’s presence wherever we are.” He explained that this Vocation to Religious Life is primarily a Gift, not given to everybody; secondly, it is Mystery, with the question of “why;” and thirdly, it is a Call that needs proper discernment. He concluded his homily by reminding all to remain in Jesus Christ despite all the odds in life.

Prior to the Solemn Profession of the brothers, they had their seven week Curso de Preparacion in Spain together with other OAR friars from other countries who made their Profession of Vows this year.

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RAY Vis-Min get challenge on Regional Summit

Story and Photos By: Georgene Quilaton-Tambiga

San Carlos City, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL—“Be on a mission, Filipino youth!” Fray Vicente Ramon, Jr., OAR, called to the Recollect Augustinian Youth (RAY) participants of the Regional RAY Summit at Colegio de Sto. Tomas-Recoletos.

The challenge came at the tail of the inspiring homily of Fray Ramon who was the main celebrant of the opening Holy Mass at the evening of the feast day of St. Bartholomew, Apostle.   

RAY Vis-Min

The youth from 14 Augustinian Recollect communities, specifically from the eight OAR schools and six quasi-parishes and chaplaincies administered by the Augustinian Recollects, were gathered for the 2019 Regional RAY (Visayas-Mindanao Area) from August 24 to 26, 2019.  

The RAY from Cebu were from University of San Jose-Recoletos Main, Basak and Balamban; Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Ermita; Our Lady of Consolation Parish, Laray.

The Negrense RAY were from University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, Bacolod; Colegio de San Nicolas de Tolentino-Recoletos, Talisay; San Pedro Academy, Valencia; San Pedro Academy-Recoletos, Caidiocan; Our Lady of the Abandoned, Valencia; Our Lady of Lourdes Chaplaincy, Tambo, Ayungon; and CST-R.

The Surigaonon delegates were from Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur led by Fray Mark Saludes, OAR.

C.H.R.I.S.T.-like Millenials

Anchoring his homily on the theme, “The Filipino Youth in Mission: Beloved. Gifted. Empowered,” Fray Ramon challenged the millennial Recollects.

“Millenials, you are called to be like Christ.”

He went on to dissect CHRIST to define the Recollect Augustinian Youth as “Change-makers, Heartbreakers, Responders, Influencers, Seekers and Servers, and Trailblazers.”

Visayas and Mindanao participants of the Regional Recollect Augustinian Youth gather at the CST-R Cultural Hall for the opening Holy Mass.

Fray Vicente, who has practically have been assigned to various apostolates of the Province where the participants are from, confronted contemporary social issues that directly affect the Filipino youth like the controversial yet never ending pre-marital sex and abortion, the continuous environmental degradation, and even the harrowing extra-judicial killings that he described to be “the killing of the poor.”

Fray Randy Castillo, OAR, Regional Youth and Vocation Promoter, during his brief speech before the RAY delegates

One Recoleto

Meanwhile, Fray Randy Castillo, OAR, Regional Youth and Vocation Promoter and the Parochial Vicar of San Nicolas de Tolentino Parish, Talisay City, Negros Occidental, thanked the CST-R community and his brother-priests for coming together to lead their young parishioners in the varied activities of RAY. Among the co-celebrants of the Holy Mass were Fray Jose Teodulfo Jadulco, OAR (University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, Bacolod City), Fray William Cordero, OAR (Our Lady of Lourdes Quasi Parish, Tambo, Ayungon), Fray Invenzor Melgaso, OAR (Our Lady of Consolation Parish, Laray, Talisay City, Cebu), Fray Domingo Saladaga (University of San Jose-Recoletos, Balamban) and Fray Renie Alviola (Colegio de Santo Tomas-Recoletos, San Carlos City).

The Diocesan Youth Council of the Diocese of San Carlos also showed solidarity by sending the Pilgrim Cross as a symbol of the 2019 Year of the Youth.    

Fray Vicente Ramon, OAR, awards gifts to a young delegate and choir member from University of San Jose Recoletos-Balamban during his interactive homily

The second day of the summit will involve group dynamics and team building activities that will build camaraderie and develop leadership skills among RAY. On the third day, selected speakers will give the participants talks about contemporary issues and their effects on the Recollect youth.

STV-R welcomes High School Seminarians

August 16, 2019/Fray Keneth B. Pahamutang, OAR

San Carlos City, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL—Two years have passed since Sto. Tomas de Villanueva–Recoletos Formation House was not catering high school seminarians. This Formation Year 2019-2020, STV-R has opened again its doors for those who would like to follow Christ in the Recoletos way of life. STV-R Formation House welcomed 13 young and brave men who heeded the call of God of which 6 are stay-in seminarians and 7 are under the Live Out Plan of Formation (LOPF).

The stay-in seminarians are:

Grade 9

  • Christian S. Compas from San Carlos City.
  • Bon Frances Paul S. Ocag from Kanlaon City.
  • Lawrence Jeff L. Pang from Vallehermoso.

Grade 10

  • Jericho F. Guigayoma from Talisay City Negros Occidental

Grade 11

  • Brice Stephen B. Leuterio from San Carlos City
  • Ben Cyron Francis L. Yap from San Carlos City

And those under the LOPF are:

Grade 9

  • Llukas Antonio B. Grunewald from San Carlos City
  • Justine Dale Acojedo from San Carlos City
  • Railley Sean M. Lee from San Carlos City

Grade 11

  • Khent A. Bahinting from San Carlos City
  • Reuel Hurlfield O. Zaraga from San Carlos City
  • Christian Jeff L. Pang from Vallehermoso.

Grade 12

  • Roger Belga from San Carlos City

We pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out more laborers into His vineyard.