Let you in on a little secret… In our Novitiate House in Tugbok, Davao City, formators have this unwritten (and somewhat funny) tradition of giving a particular class of novices a “nom de guerre.” For my novitiate class (besides myself, there were Vinci Guia, Romy Miano and Arnel Tindugan), we were humorously referred to as the “ihi” group (roughly translated in English as the “bathroom boys”) because we were constantly asking permission to go to the bathroom. Until now I can often be caught on the lookout for the nearest bathroom when entering new premises… just in case I need to live up to my batch’s lofty calling.
Kimchee, bulgogi, kalbi chin, bibim bap, udong… These were just some of the gastronomic treats that visiting Carmelite friars tasted in Incheon, Korea. The brothers from six circumscriptions namely: host-country Korea, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines-Vietnam, Singapore-Taiwan met in Incheon last Oct. 12 – 16, 2009. They were there not just to savor Korean cuisine but to be part of the regular gathering of Carmelites in the Asia-Oceania region.
Every year, the friars meet to discuss a particular aspect of Carmelite life and/or ministry. The venue for the conferences rotates amongst the six separate juridical entities of the Carmelite Order in the region. The main theme for last year’s meeting centered on the “Retreat Ministry.” All together there were 19 delegates who attended the forum. The Philippine-Vietnam circumscription was represented by Fr. Alan Rieger, Fr. Buddy Torres, Rev. Jack Tangan and myself.
The main points of discussion focused on how the friars in the region can share their available resources (e.g., personnel, facilities, material, etc.) with one another. The different Provincials also agreed that whenever possible, they will allow member-friars to spend some time in the different retreat houses in the region so that said friars can experience Carmelite life as lived in the different circumscriptions.
The meeting in Incheon was also the first conference that the new General Definitor for the Asia-Oceania region, Fr. Peter Chung (Korea) attended. He replaced Fr. Angelo Madelo (Philippines) in this particular job. We will be seeing more of Fr. Peter this year as he makes his Visitation in the Philippines this coming April 15- 30, 2010.
For the current year 2010, the annual get-together is tentatively set to be held in Bangkok, Thailand. It will be a meeting of formators and formandees and will in turn be hosted by Singapore-Taiwan. I look forward to the lively discussions in the conferences as well as the renewal of fraternal bonds. You can also say that my gastric juices already anticipate the delights of Thai cooking. Hello… tom yam, phat thai, kai sate and pandan jelly.
A “Scent” of
A recent phenomenon that has been surprising a lot of people is the success of the trekkies (read: Star Trek) conventions in the
It is along the same line of thinking that I was so excited to attend the General Chapter of the Discalced Carmelite Fathers in Fatima, Portugal last April 17 to May 8, 2009. Aside from it being held only once every six years, it would probably be the only forum where I would meet more than a hundred other guys who are confronted with the same problems that I struggle with everyday. Some of these problems are so mind-boggling, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.
The participating Provincials came in all shapes, sizes, ages, color and degrees of receding hairlines. One thing though we had in common was our struggle to be faithful to prayer. I was specially edified by the friars, who even after a long day’s work, would still find time and energy to do their private prayer in the oratory. Others woke up very early and did their mental prayer before our scheduled masses. This was quite difficult because the weather in
The Chapter lasted for three weeks and we tackled many difficult issues and problems. Some of which were left unresolved due to their complexity. The new General ( Fr. Saverio Cannistra) and his Council really have their work cut out for them. With so many changes and challenges confronting the Order at this time, I have no doubt that the next six years will be an uphill and arduous climb for all of us. However, I am also sure that with prayer as our guiding light, no problem will be insurmountable.
Ascending the heights of