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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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. 

38 Neophytes Report to Casiciaco

August 15, 2019/Bro. Ioannes Arong

BAGUIO CITY–Thirty-eight (38) neophytes arrived at the Order’s Aspirancy and Postulancy house in this city to formally begin their seminary formation last August 3, 2019.

National Vocation Director Fr. Allan Jacinto, OAR said that of the 38, there are 17 who will be enrolled at the senior high school; 13 will be admitted to the first year college; and 8 are members of the Adult Vocation.

All in all, there are now 79 aspirants and postulants residing at the Order’s Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary, a decidedly drastic improvement from last year’s record of only 64 seminarians.

Fr. Anthony Irineo, OAR, seminary vice rector, said the good number of seminarians this formation year is a “blessing, a concrete answer to our prayers for more workers in the Lord’s vineyard.”

Fr. Irineo said the formators are elated upon hearing from Sr. Lucille Encabo, AR that of all the religious Orders and Congregations in the Philippines, the Recollects got the “highest number” of neophytes this year.

Sr. Encabo is the Representative for Religious Women, a national officer in the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines–Directors of Vocations of the Philippines (CBCP–DVP) and has access to statistical data concerning the number of seminarians in different religious Orders and congregations in the country.

The neophytes enjoy their first snacks at the refectory after they were distributed to their “Angels”.

Working closely with the local vocation promoters of each Recollect community, Fr. Jacinto went all over the country in order to do vocation campaigns immediately after he received his patente in September last year.

Formerly assigned in the Panama missions, he travelled extensively with missionary zeal even in Mindanao, scouring the Land of Promise for vocations — from Davao to South Cotabato, Hinatuan, Butuan and Dapitan (formerly a Recollect mission site), among many others, an endeavor which yielded three (3) Mindanaoanons in this year’s neophytes.

“Minsan magka-campaign ako sa schools na yung Grade 10 pa lang may 20 sections na. Ubos ang oras, ubos ang boses, Grade 10 pa lang yan sa isang school!” he said.

(Sometimes I would do vocation campaigns in schools whose Grade 10 alone already has 20 sections. It is time consuming an d energy draining and it is just the Grade 10 of a single school!)

But he said he found joy in the task, especially that he was able to meet each family of the prospected applicants and was able to engage the communities in a dialogue, reminding them of their roles in raising and supporting religious and priestly vocations.

Fr. Irineo said the blessing of more youths responding to religious vocation is not without its corresponding responsibilities.

“The challenge is now with us formators to nurture and nourish such vocations,” he said. “We would not want this blessing from the Lord to go to waste.”

In Pictures: RAY de Bacolod holds ARISE 2019

Bacolod City, NEGROS OCCIDENTAL–All in one heart and one mind.

The Recollect Augustinian Youth de Bacolod held its ARISE (Augustinian Recollect Introduction Seminar) last July 20, 2019 at the Sta. Monica Retreat House.

The participants included the RA Youth from the Integrated School and College. The program included series of talks by the Spiritual Director Fr. Jose Teodulfo Jadulco about the Statutes and Charisms being part of the order.

“RAY is a vocation, a gift, a call, a commitment, a spirituality and a way of life, “ Fr. Jojo said explaining the very core of the Recollect Augustinian Youth.

Onwards, RAY de Bacolod

(photos from Recollect Augustinian Youth de Bacolod FB page)

Curso de Preparación 2019: The preparation for the definitive “yes” to Christ

Note: This was translated from the original Spanish article posted in the official website of the Order of Augustinian Recollects (www.agustinosrecoletos.com)

For six weeks, 10 Augustinian Recollects prepare themselves for their definitive “yes” to Christ as religious. It is the course of preparation for the solemn profession.

SPAIN–The Solemn Profession of Vows puts an end to the preparatory stage of the vocational journey. It is the moment in which the Augustinian Recollect religious says “yes” definitely to the call of Christ. This culminates a long process that takes years of effort, reflection and training. This Course of Preparation was organized by the General Secretariat of Spirituality and Formation which started on June 29, 2019.

For six weeks, religious from the Philippines, Colombia, Costa Rica, Brazil, Nicaragua and Mexico delve into their decision to follow Christ as Augustinian Recollects, and reflect on the dimension of this decision and what this means for their lives. During this time they will go through the various basic aspects of the Augustinian Recollect charism: the wisdom of interiority, the wisdom of ecclesiality and the wisdom of the community; to be pilgrims returning one and a thousand times to the heart to find the truth, where the interior Master lives.

The conclusion of this course will be the personal project of life, aiming at the growth in the points that base and build the Augustinian Recollect religious.

For the formative work and the accompaniment of the young people, the Prior General has appointed a team formed by the Augustinian Recollects José Gabriel Rodríguez, Kenneth Onda and Javier Monroy. They are in-charge of making the journey together with these young people, of accompanying them in this formative moment, prior to the definitive surrender of their life to the Lord.

The religious will be trained in the aspects related to the Augustinian Recollect religious life -contemplation, community, apostolate, chastity, poverty and obedience-, as well as in the communication of values ​​or the social dimension of the Order of Augustinian Recollects. In addition to training, these weeks of preparation will bring the pilgrimage experience to Lourdes or Santiago. Through the Camino de Santiago, they will be able to experience in a concrete way what St. Augustine invites us to live: “We are pilgrims together with the pilgrim Jesus Christ, who incarnates himself to accompany all the pilgrims of the world.”

The first week was centered on the wisdom of interiority. Fray Carlos González Castellanos, OAR, the facilitator in this topic, helped the participants to understand the human and spiritual process of interiority. This is the contemplative path that is proper to a religious: to live from the inner man, the path proper to the Augustinian Recollect, who identifies and forms with Christ, and in which he travels with other men.

Fray Kenneth Onda, OAR, has introduced the wisdom of ecclesiality in the second week. It is the second great column of the Augustinian Recollect charism. Topics such as the sense of belonging, what is gathering, growing in love for the Church, and understanding the priesthood as a service with the topics that are offered to the participants as essential to grow charismatically.

This year’s candidates for Solemn Profession are the following:

  1. Fray Antonio Max Oliveira, OAR
  2. Fray Fernando Ferreira, OAR
  3. Fray Pedro Santos da Silva, OAR
  4. Fray Hugo Badilla, OAR
  5. Fray Hector de Jesus Molina, OAR
  6. Fray Jordan Tijerino, OAR
  7. Fray Cristito Rey Pulga Tepace, OAR
  8. Fray Virgilio Cruz Calalang Jr, OAR
  9. Fray Ingemar Dario Duran Barreto, OAR
  10. Fray John Eduard Olarte Murillo, OAR.
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