Philippines: Beginning of the Inter (V) Provincial Novitiate year in Lipa

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St. Gerard Majella Inter (V) Provincial Novitiate of the Conference of Asia-Oceania held the Rite of Installation of the Novice Master and the Rite of Acceptance for the Novitiate Batch 2024-2025 last June 16, 2024, at the Divino Amor Novitiate chapel. Rev. Fr. Yohakim Rambaho Ndelo, CSsR, conference coordinator for the Asia-Oceania conference, was the main celebrant for the Eucharistic Celebration together with Fr. Raymond Urriza CSsR, Superior of the Vice-province of Manila, Some of our confreres concelebrated in this significant event. The concelebrants were Fr. Teodolo Holgado, CSsR Rector of Lipa Community; Fr. Jerome Abila, CSsR, Director of Formation for VP Manila; Fr. Mhel Dacillo, CSsR, Postulancy Formator; Fr. Mark Benedicto, CSsR, Vocation Convenor and Fr. Gervasius Patiola Kenoba, CSsR from the Province of Indonesia.

The Rector of Lipa Mission Community, Fr. Holgado CSsR, gave a welcoming message during the event. He likened the community to a ‘farm’ where the novices can grow, with each member acting as an essential element of an ecosystem that supports mutual growth. He invited them to embrace the tranquil, natural environment of this Canonical house and the community, especially as one transitions toward becoming a temporary professed Redemptorist missionary. Afterwards, Fr. Urriza, declared the Formal Opening of the Novitiate Year and recognition of the incoming of the novices.

On the other hand, Fr. Ndelo, CSsR, explicitly shared an inspiring homily that focused on the “Parable of the Mustard Seed.” He emphasized three points.

1. We all start as mustard seeds, small, ordinary, insignificant, “stupid,” and humble. Henceforth, there is growth from being a “stupid novice” towards smart and good confreres. There is also a reminder not to act as priests and superiors already.

2. We grow in hope, which is different from optimism. He shared a personal experience of being delayed in his final profession.

3. We grow in the soil of grace. It is only through and in God that we continue in our vocation.

In his inspiring homily, he urged the new novices to remain hopeful, faithful and focused on their novitiate journey. He underscored the importance of adhering to the Constitution and staying true to their religious path without distractions.

After the homily, the Novice Master Fr. Brian Espejo CSsR, and Fr. Mario Yolus CSsR, made the renewal of vows. Then, the new novices for 2024-2025 were officially accepted. They are Thivanon Vihokpaiwan and Anuwat Wangkeelee from the Province of Thailand, Jose M. Deloeste Jr. from the Province of Cebu, Clyde Cedo, Luke Gealogo, Angelito Ryan Balagbis and Jeric Gajonera from the Vice-Province of Manila and Gene Vincent Lam, from the Vice-Province of Malaysia-Singapore.

The crosses and the Ratio Novitiatus were given to the novices. They read the Candidates’ pledge as they knelt before the Superior. After that, the Superior entrusted them to the care of their Novice Master and Novice Socius.

The occasion saw the presence of Fr. Brian Espejo’s family, who joined the celebration and shared lunch after mass. Additionally, the outgoing twelve novices assisted in the celebration to pass on their experiences to the new batch.

This dual celebration marked another milestone for the St. Gerard Majella Common Novitiate and the Redemptorist Lipa Mission Community, symbolizing both continuity and hopeful beginnings. The community looks forward to nurturing the new novices, guiding them through their spiritual journey, and witnessing their growth and development in the coming year.

Copiosa Apud Eum Redemptio!

Brian Espejo, CSsR.