After finishing the Course for formators offered by the General Government, the East Asia Prefect of Formation, Brother Sid, is now in Sri Lanka teaching English to the Claretian students there. At the beginning of September he will go to Spain to assist to the first profession of CJ, who is now in the last part of his novitiate. Click to read Sid’s first impressions of Sri Lanka.
The Second Week which covered from Monday, 15th to Sunday 21st April was a continuation of the Autobiography and Fr Jess Doss continued the facilitation, We were brain stormed on the Childhood, Teenage period of Padre Claret, it also treated the Decision making process of our Holy Founder, which was summarized as a decisive moment for him since it was a discernment period. It also treated the spirituality of Padre Claret which was a Spirituality of the Heart. The course also situated Padre Claret in his era, an era of great Revolution which affected the Catholic Religion and Faith in his country.
In the last lap of the week, the Missionary Vocation of Padre Claret was treated, also the Foundation of our Congregation and then it ended up with Initiation in the Ministry of the Word which stressed our call to be Servants of the Words using Padre Claret’s understanding of the word of God since he is our Model. The final stage was the significance and practice of Lectio Divina.
This week too, like the first week was punctuated with visits to some historical places in the life of Padre Claret. In the afternoon of Monday 15th April, we visited Seva where Padre Claret got the Missionary Vocation to preach, Espinelves, Viladrau, and Santa Eugena de Berga (where Padre Claret’s body was preserved for sometime when the news of the Spanish Civil war filter in; it was also in this Church that Blessed Andre Sola was baptized).
Our Prefect of Formation Br. Sid Ching is currently attending the General Government's Course for Formators; let's accompany all of them in their journey.
The First Week which spanned from Monday 8th of April to Sunday 14th of April was a week that We were drilled with the Autobiography and Writings of Padre Claret, though the first two days were dedicated to Formation process, which Fr Paul Smith, the Vicar of the Congregation, facilitated and put us through with the various formation processes. He also stressed the need for constant accompaniment to stimulate a positive growth in vocational identity of others and also the issue of awareness.
The remaining days of the week, Fr Jess Doss related the study of the life of Claret to spiritual accompaniment of the formees. He invited us to attend to the Inner self since accompaniment is a process that deals with the inner self and the inner self is the Sanctum Sactorum, and he highlighted this fact that a Formator must be a person who accompanies a candidate in his inner self, which points to the fact that the mission of a formator is nothing but spiritual accompaniment.
In the Philippines
So I was at NAIA Terminal 3 at 6:20 am on March 2. Arvin, the theology student and soon-to-be deacon and “official driver” of the college, picked me up and brought me to the seminary. Paco was at ICLA teaching, so we had the chance to have our Beijing community reunion in Quezon City. We also went out for lunch with KC one Sunday. KC (or Kay as he is called in the college seminary) has been in the Philippines for 10 months, and his experience there has been good so far. Though he is the only Chinese among 5 Burmese, 5 Vietnamese, and more than 30 Filipino freshmen, he seems to have adjusted well to the community, the first year classes and even to the food, except maybe for the hot weather.
It is good to see the first year seminarians, looking healthy and happy, unlike when they first came to the seminary in May last year when I facilitated their English camp. They did not look “seminarians” then, but I see them now as having fully adjusted to the life in the seminary, and also ready to guide the incoming freshmen in May for the next English summer camp.
That was one reason why I came to the Philippines besides spending some time with K. I will be in Vic in May for the formators’ course, so on March 11, Pipo, the vocation director, and I met with the freshmen-facilitators about the objectives, structure and dynamics of the camp. I have always had trust in the ability and resourcefulness of the students that I let them plan and do things. I see myself as a support and a helper at their side when needed. I am happy to have been with these freshmen both at the start of their life in the seminary and in the last month of this academic year. I also presented the plan for the English summer camp to the formators from other religious congregations in the faculty-formators’ meeting on March 13.
There was no internet access in the retreat house where I was staying, so I went to the college library, which made me a “volunteer tutor” to the students who needed help in writing their term paper and in studying for their final exams. Some students also came and shared with me about their problems in their vocation. In a way, it was good to be free and not have any position of authority as the students felt freer to talk.
Paco went to Macau on March 14, and I left for Beijing on March 16. We will see each other again only on September 17 when I return to Beijing from Madrid. Such is our “itinerant” Beijing community.
The plane landed at 12:20 am, March 17, at Beijing International Capital Airport Terminal 2. By 1 am, I took the airport-bus and reached my destination by 1:30, but I had emailed Qi not to come at 1:30 since I thought the flight would be delayed as usual. It was cold at 6˚C as it was hot at 30˚C in the Philippines. He brought me to our new apartment [Click here for a Premier Video!]. The new apartment is a 2-bedroom house with a small kitchen, a small living-dining room, and a toilet-bathroom. It was less than half our previous apartment in Shangdi, but nearer to the subway station and more accessible to the bus routes, yet even quieter than in Shangdi.
It was good that Paco had cleaned and arranged his room. The other room looks more like a refugee center with boxes and bags and all our stuff, practically from two houses: those of Shangdi and of Paco’s other houses before. I controlled myself from opening any of the boxes since I know that once I begin unpacking and arranging things, I would not want to stop until everything is in its place, and I will not finish until I leave on March 26. I remembered a saying I was taught in grade school, “A work undone is better than a work half-done.” Or should it be the other way around?
My novena of days in Beijing had been eremitic. With no internet access and no cooking, I was alone and lived on bread, fruit and water, and hot cocoa and cinnamon for breakfast. I expected that I would miss our old apartment in Shangdi, but I was surprised that I did not even remember how it was there. I felt right at home in our new house maybe because I had been away for three months, and will be here for only nine days. Or maybe we have been used to moving to a different house every year or so.
The Apple Store, which offered free trial use of their Macs and iPads became my free internet cafe, while I prepared at home the materials I needed to bring to the English camp in Shillong, India, in July and August. That will be my first time to India, but I do not know if I can get the visa.
I came back to Beijing to arrange for my visa to India. Before I left in December, I asked the India Visa Application Center about the requirements and I was told that they needed only 5 working days to process the visa. I did not expect that we would move to a new apartment and with no internet access when I returned, so I did not prepare beforehand my online application. When Monday came, March 18, I went looking for an internet cafe with a printer or that would allow the use of a usb flash drive. But all the internet cafes I went to did not have printers and had blocked all the computer usb ports since they were only for online gaming.
I also spent half of the day looking for the India Visa Application Center, and was so happy to have found the place, but only to read the notice that another company now runs the visa service in another place!
Early Tuesday morning, March 19, I went to Qi’s study room in his university and did my online application. Then, I went to the new India Visa Application Center, where I was told that visas are issued after 7 working days, which meant that my passport with the Indian visa would be released on March 26, but my flight is at 1:30 am on that day. They told me that I should apply in Spain.
I emailed the India visa application center in Madrid, but they replied that I should apply for the visa in my country of origin. So on March 21, I went to the Indian Embassy and the visa officer clarified to me that even if I got a visa, it would expire after three months, the time I will be in Spain, so I have to apply for the visa in Madrid, and they will refer my application to the consulate in Hong Kong. I do not know if I can indeed go to Shillong or not, but with people helping me, Jesu Doss in Vich and Lakshman of the Couples for Christ in Beijing, I know that after having done all we can, I can leave everything in God’s hands with trust and tranquility.
March 25. Qi came again to the house as he wanted to see me off. I asked him about the result of his second TOEFL, and he said he would know after two weeks, then, he would decide whether to begin his formation with us. We had dinner outside, which was the best meal I had had, not so much because of the food but because of the company. It was lonely to eat alone. After supper, he brought me to the airport bus stop, which is quite near our new apartment. So I leave again, this time to Madrid.
Raymond and I went to Jakarta on January 4. Since we do not have a house in Jakarta, the Claretians in Indonesia would usually ask other religious to welcome our brothers who may have to stay overnight in the capital city. Unlike in 2011 when I had to spend the night at the airport in Jakarta for my flight to Kupang the following day, it was good this time since two RSCJ sisters met us at the airport and we spent the night in their house in the suburb of Jakarta. One RSCJ sister is from one of our mission areas in Timor Leste and is a good friend the Claretians.
We were in Yogyakarta the following day. Kuri, one of the first Indian Claretians, Vianey and Damasus were in the formation community with 18 students. Petrus, who will go to the mission in Australia, and Peter Park, a student from Korea, were also there to join the English camp. We held the English camp from January 7 to February 2. We had a total immersion program in English from Monday to Saturday, except for Saturday morning when the students had to go to their respective apostolate. Sunday was mother tongue day.
I was pleasantly surprised that our brothers in Yogya came on time for the activities. I had advised Raymond to be ready for the students to be late as I had that experience in my last English camp with the students in Kupang in 2011. The Yogya community does not ring the bell since the time Emilio Pablo “removed” the bell from their schedule, but they were responsibly on time in the community activities.
Different from Kupang, which is predominantly Christian, Yogya is mostly Muslim, and it is their call to prayer that woke us up, even earlier than our prayer time. The community had to celebrate two masses everyday: a mass in Indonesian for the laypeople who come to mass daily, and a mass in English for the students.