by Philip Portillo – Novice

A lot of things happened as we approach the mid-year of our Novitiate journey.

Fr. Willy Jesena, C.Ss.R., the Novitiate Socius, went to Korea for his retreat and at the same time for his vacation visit there with his confreres. He spent his whole September there and got back in October with, of course, his Korean pasalubong (special mention for our favorite packed Korean seaweeds!) for us.

On one hand, we have just finished our class on the Constitutions of the Congregation with our Novice Master, Fr. Enos Bulu Bali, C.Ss.R. We are now moving on to the Statutes.

Approaching the mid-year of our Novitiate called for a deeper reflection on our lives and a time for discernment as Novices, thus, we had our mid-year retreat. It was a 6-day retreat facilitated by Fr. Martin Tobin, C.Ss.R. In one of his talks, he reminded us on the importance of discernment in the life of a religious. Thus, we were invited to have an honest and sincere discernment to be more committed to the Person whom we are following. Moreover, the retreat also helped us in preparing ourselves for the upcoming immersion exposure in EXODUS (Exchange of Dreams in a Unified Struggle).

Meanwhile, we have also finished our sessions on Centering Prayer, Mission and Inculturation, and our Immersion exposure from EXODUS. The Immersion lasted for ten days. We were assigned to different sectors: to the fisher folks in Batangas; to the Hansenite (lepers) patients in Novaliches; to the specially-abled in Tahanang Walang Hagdanan in Cainta, Rizal; to the urban poor in Tondo; and to the Aetas in Porac, Pampanga. Three days after our Immersion, we had our processing for two days.

On the other hand, Kenneth del Villar, from the Vice-province of Manila, has decided to leave the Novitiate and take another path of his life outside the formation program. We are now reduced to the number of twelve. However, as we have said our goodbye to Kenneth, we welcome Ian Antonio in the Novitiate. He also comes from the Vice-province of Manila. Novitiate is not anymore new to him since this would be his second time already. He was a batch mate before of Fr. Julius Martin Malacas, C.Ss.R. Our number is back to thirteen again. We are happy to welcome Ian to the Novitiate formation.

There have been many outs and ins in the Novitiate as we approached mid-year. It also tells us that our journey in the religious life is all about outs and ins. There are a lot of things that can be said about this but it would be better to put this metaphorically – unlearn and learn.

Our Novitiate journey has offered us many things. These are opportunities that should not be taken for granted. We need to learn from those and at the same time unlearn from what we are used to which are not relevant to our own formation. We are now entering the second half of our Novitiate year. Please pray for our perseverance. We will also pray for you.

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