PROVINCIALATE, Quezon City—Three Augustinian Recollect missionaries underwent a two-week orientation seminar at the Divine Word Institute of Mission Studies (DWIMS) in Tagaytay City last May 28 to June 11, 2017.
Frays Jerome Virtudazo, William Cordero, and Vincent Cadeliña joined in the “Dating/Balik-Bayan” seminar specifically tailored for returning missionaries. Frays Virtudazo and Cordero went home last February from their stint in Taiwan while Fray Cadeliña arrived from Sierra Leone late last year.
Pursuant to the Life and Mission Project (LAMP) of the Province, the said weeklong program was among activities jointly prepared by the Secretariat of Spirituality and Liturgy (SSL) and the Secretariat of Ministerial and Mission Apostolate (SMMAP).
“DWIMS provided the avenue proper for the returning and vacationing missionaries of the province,” said Fray Edgar Tubio, SMMAP president. Here are some questions that the three missionaries answered before, during and after the seminar orientation.
What are your expectations regarding the Dating/Balik Bayan Seminar orientation?
Fray Cordero: First and foremost, learning for me is a continuous process. Every day is an opportunity to learn and broaden my perspective in life. Hence, when I heard that I’ll be going to attend the seminar orientation for the missionaries who are balik-bayan, I was excited to join and participate the orientation seminar. I expect to learn more from the stories and the life experiences of the missionary participants and deepen my understanding about mission. This opportunity would also strengthen my passion to go wherever God wants me to do. Hopefully, there will be new discoveries and insights that would inspire me and I long to share the joy of salvation to our brothers and sisters.
Fray Cadeliña: I expect that new learnings and fresh ideas regarding the mission will help me in my future apostolate. I hope that the seminar orientation will be more exciting and reinvigorating experience for me as a missionary.
What is your opinion regarding this Dating/Balik Bayan seminar orientation?
Fr. Virtudazo: The two-week long orientation is intended for two groups of participants, i.e., the Balik – for the Filipino missionaries serving abroad and the Dating – for the foreign missionaries coming to serve in the Philippines. For both participants, the orientation is very helpful in many ways. For the Balikbayan, there is a need to be re-oriented to one’s own culture and the present situation of the local church where they will be sent soon, more so for those who were in the foreign missions for very long period of time, e.g., 20 years, 30 years and 40 years. For the Dating bayan missionaries (foreign missionaries). It’s a solemn obligation to be educated or oriented to the culture where they’re about to enter to.
Fr. Cadeliña: When I learn about the theme of the seminar orientation, I thought about a similar orientation of the missionaries when I was working in Brazil. Before I was assigned in the Amazons, I had a three-month long study and orientation of the culture and faith of the local people. The DWIMS seminar-orientation was quite similar in structure when I had my three-month study and orientation in Brasilia. It was an enriching and a paradigm-shifting experience in doing missions. At DWIMS another fresh learning in doing missions in my own local culture.
Kindly summarize your personal leanings from, and insights about, the seminar orientation.
Fr. Virtudazo: To work as missionary in or out of the country needs to have a good and solid preparation such as personal disposition to go to mission; has to attend some seminars on missiology; sound mind and body; and have a deep relationship with Christ. I am very happy and blessed that I had the chance to review and relearned my own culture and understand the different dynamics in missiology. I hope this practice of sending the missionaries (going out and coming back) for orientation must be continued.
Fr. Cordero: By joining the orientation seminar, I have plenty to assimilate and comprehend. I realized that I still have much to learn and be schooled to become a good religious missionary. I really admired the witnessing of the missionary participants. I was inspired to listen to their own stories that would somehow encourage me to pursue my passion of being a missionary. Now, I realized that being a missionary is not all about sacrifice but also sharing the love of God, sharing “the joy of the Gospel” to our brothers and sisters.
Fr. Cadeliña: My experience on the seminar orientation was great and above my expectations. I recommend this program to be continued as part of the continuous formation of the returning missionaries and fulfilling the LAMP of the province. Kudos to the Secretariat of Spirituality and Missions for their collaborative effort for the welfare of the returning missionaries.
Note: Fray Virtudazo spent a cumulative of ten years while Fray Cordero, three years, doing mission work in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Fray Cadeliña had spent three years in the Amazons, Brazil prior to his assignment in Kamabai, Sierra Leone, West Africa where he worked for another two years.