My Vocation Story

by Michael Javier, Columban Lay Missionary to Chile

When I was a child I like to be involved in some religious activities in our barangay maybe because I saw it in my grandparents that they were very active in the church. Some people and even priests usually asked me if I want to become a priest someday and my response is just a smile. When I went to Cebu for my college studies I joined and became an active member of Singles For Christ (SFC). I thought it would be enough to me that I can serve my brothers and sisters in Christ but when I left Cebu and went to Taiwan to work, my faith and service in the church became stronger. I volunteered in the church and unknowingly there were nuns working also in the church noticed my presence and asked if I want to become a priest. I told them that I was discerning. So they recommended a Spiritual director to talk to and guide me in my discernment. We talked and he explained to me about my calling and to see what call I have, if it is for priesthood, family or lay brother and I need to discern it well. I was very grateful to what he told me because it helped me a lot in my discernment. In my long time being a volunteer in the church I've already met some Columban Missionaries but I do not have time and courage to ask what their works are. All I know was they are Columban priests. I did not know there were also Columban Lay Missionaries who works with us in the church. When I learned that Beth Sabado is a Columban Lay Missionary I found time to ask what their works and how to apply to become one. When Beth was assigned in Hong Kong, I asked the same question to Joan Yap and she explained the process. So from that time on my mind said that I will try to join the CLM. Then I left Taiwan because my contract has been completed and back to Philippines. I wanted to return to Taiwan but my placement agency did not allow me due to some reasons beyond my control. So I decided to work in Bohol as Customer representative for a local brand of wine. But I worked there only one month and a half because I kept thinking that this was not the life I want so I contacted the CLM vocations and they welcomed me in their accompaniment program then I applied and was accepted in the orientation program. During the orientation program, I learned a lot about mission, social issues and knowing myself more and learned some of the works of the Columban Missionaries. Now I am ready to bring these learnings and my whole self to mission and become the living witness of God's love and mercy.

Michael and his grandparents

Mission Sending Mass of PH22

Be bridge builders of peace and hope....This was the homily of Fr. Ray Husband during the contract signing of Gilda, Michael and Lorna on April 30, 2015..

Read full text here.

Gilda, Lorna and Michael, this afternoon we join with you, your families and friends, to witness the formal signing of your contracts as Columban Lay Missionaries. For the last year each of you have prepared for this day and now it has arrived. I am delighted to be here with you to share this important event in your lives. I thank God for each of you for the gift that you are to the Columban Lay Mission Program and to the Missionary Society of St. Columban. Today signifies your response to God who has called you and is the source of all life.
Our documents, those pertaining to Lay Mission and to the Society as a whole state clearly what is expected of you and how you are to live out Mission as CLMs. It is in and through partnership as Called to Mission states “partnership for mission reflects the life of the Trinity as community of Persons reaching out in love for the life of the world.” Through your commitment today you are saying yes to Christ who has called you, yes to mission, and yes to partnership as lived out by the Columbans. It is good to remember that is Christ who has called you and has brought you to this day. He is always by your side, and will never abandon you, so always place your trust in Him. I believe the essence of who you are and what you are called to be or expressed beautifully in the Prayer of Blessings from today’s ceremony. You are messengers of salvation and peace, marked with the sign of the cross. This means you are entrusted with the task of witnessing to the love that God has for the world, for humanity, especially for the poor, the broken and those whose dignity is denied. You are called to mission not from a position of power or arrogance but from weakness and like Christ you are to be wounded healers. To this mission you bring your own individual gifts and talents as well as your brokenness.
Gilda, Lorna and Michael as you begin this great journey that will take you to Chile, a new land, people and culture never lose sight of the beauty which lives within you as Filipinos. Be bridge builders of peace and hope; embrace the beauty of your new culture while never losing sight of your own. Jesus was sent by the Father and Jesus in turn is now sending you on mission. As Columban priests, sisters or LMs, it is through solidarity with the poor that we are called to live out our mission.
The great Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez captures this beautifully when he wrote; today it is solidarity with people excluded by the present economic system and driven into worst poverty, solidarity with those who encounter closed doors and hearts because of their social insignificance. Never forget that it is with the poor, the broken and the hopeless that you are called to share your lives. Gilda, Lorna, and Michael as you leave the Philippines for Chile know that the Risen Christ is with you. May his peace fill your hearts today and always. Know also that you have the prayers and good wishes of all of us here today. Congratulations and may God bless you always.

Click here to see pictures from the mission sending ceremony.

Preparing for Mission

 by Michael Javier (PH22)
Lay Missionary in Training

“To serve God and His people.” This was my aim when I joined the Columban Lay Missionaries. But before I can do this, I have to undergo further discernment and preparation for mission through the orientation program. I took short courses for one semester, different modules and the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) for ten (10) weeks. From the short courses I’ve learned how to respond to social issues, history, beliefs and culture of different religions, philosophy and gender studies. It’s not that easy to go back to school again because aside from the fact that it has been ten years since my last formal studies, I also encountered a lot of new terms or words that I really did not understand. But I thank GOD I still made it. What I’ve learned also from the different modules is that the Columbans really give the best modules for us to be equipped for our future mission. The topics ranged from creation, Christology, bible studies, church history, transition, environmental awareness, human development, to sexuality. They are preparing us really well so that we can be effective missionaries. But the most important and the highlight of the orientation program, so far, is the CPE. This is a 10 weeks program where we served as associate chaplains at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Quezon City. In every room we visited, we talked, listened and journeyed with the pains and sufferings of every patient and their relatives.  There were some who asked why we are serving in the hospital and not in another place? In the hospital I’ve learned that there are different kinds of pains and sufferings not only physically but mentally, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually as well. Listening to these different stories, I was made to look inside myself and I was surprised with the way I reacted to things and why I focused on a particular thing. I’ve learned that I too was wounded and that I also need to be healed. As Henri J.W. Nouwen said in his book “The Reminder,” we are all wounded and being wounded we need to be healed for us to become a great and effective healer. CPE really gave me the opportunity to know more about myself because a lot of us can easily say “I know myself.” But going through the processing, I was surprised to hear what my supervisor and co-trainees said about me of which I was unaware of. I am very thankful that they helped me see my blindspot. I was given the opportunity to change what I needed to change about myself having grown in some awareness of what could be good or bad for me and for the others. Through CPE my faith in GOD has deepened. I can see and feel the presence of GOD in every person I encounter. Some challenged me, some inspired me, some taught me values and some affirmed the goodness of GOD. The CPE helped me recognize my blind spot and core issues. I have come to know and understand myself better, growing more to become an effective missionary to other people and to myself. My skills in relating with other people were harnessed and I was also challenged to deal with people especially those in pain. Now, I am preparing myself for the next stage of the orientation program and ready to share my learning to others, especially with my two companions Gilda and Lorna, for our future mission.

With supervisor Sr. Tere Yusay (right) and fellow associate chaplains at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Quezon City.

2014 CLM Annual Meeting

The 2014 CLM Annual Meeting was held in Cagayan de Oro City on November 17 to 22.  Present were lay missionaries assigned in Mindanao Aurora Luceno and Ana Flores, and those assigned in the Luzon area Nanise Mounga, Anna Noh, and Sunny Kim, and Regional CLM Coordinator Arlenne Villahermosa.  Facilitating the theological reflection and business meeting  were Columban Frs Jovito Dales and Jude Genovia respectively.

Columban Lay Missionaries in the Philippines

Columban LMs with Frs. Jude Genovia and Jovito Dales