REPORT FROM CABANATUAN
By Violy Veneracion , TOCarm
Regional Coordinator - Central Luzon
August 27, 2005 was a red letter day for the Cabanatuan TOC Community. It was the annual fraternal visit of the National Council officers led by Fr. Toto Jaranilla, O Carm, National Spiritual Director together with the National Prioress and NFC Director.
Fr. Toto Jaranilla, using the mid-morning Liturgy of the Hour, led the opening prayer. He opened his talk by stating that the objective of the fraternal visit was to lovingly correct any indiscretions and failings in the governance and formation aspects of the community.
Violy Veneracion, TOCarm, local Prioress, reported on the program of activities that the community had undertaken the past year. It was also noted that two other communities were started during the year – the TOC Community of St. Bartholomew Parish, San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija with 17 aspirants and St. Nepomucene Parish, Cabiao, Nueva Ecija with 18 aspirants – governance and formation of which are being presently being undertaken by Sis. Violy herself and Lulu Aquino, TOCarm as formator.
Cely Baldedara, TOCarm, local Formation Directress also gave a report on the status of the members’ formation studies.
The community’s attitude was noticeably quiet, more friendly, and receptive to the presence of the National Officers, unlike previous fraternal visits when various unresolved issues were causing tensions and negativity in the air. Difficult members have since resigned from the community hence, the prevalence of a peaceful atmosphere this time.
Fr. Toto opened his talk by expounding on the four TOC ministries which every TOC member is expected to uphold since Carmel Philippines is now on its own and independent from the Dutch Province.
In answer to the question "What is the identity of a TOC", Fr. Toto gave qualifications lifted from the Rule of Carmel and Canon Law and discussed point by point the Criteria for Discernment of Vocation that the National Council sent out earlier to all Priors/Prioresses for discussion in their respective communities.
A mild reaction came from some aspirants of the newly established community in Cabiao when the issue on the age limit was brought up since at least four of them are already in the late 70s and early 80s. Since what attracted them was the TOC formation program Fr. Toto assured them that even if they will be integrated in the Confraternity, they may continue to attend formation studies for as long as they are able to though the RDS will not be required of them.
Meanwhile, Bro. Joe suggested a better way for them to hold their formation meeting and gave the following format with the corresponding time allotment.
I Opening Prayer – 15 minutes
II Life of Saints – 15 minutes
III Rules and Statutes – 15 minutes
IV Introductory Exercise – 15 minutes
V Main Theme RDS – 2 hours
For her part, the National Prioress explained that in the area of governance, authority is vested in the National Council. Our promise of obedience compels us to say "yes" when assigned by our Superiors to do certain tasks for the good of the Order and community. First and foremost, we are Final Professed TOC, hence, we are at the disposal of the Order.
Sis. Nimfa gave us the following gems for reflection:
1. Journeying in the dark nights is journeying in faith and walking in faith is like walking like a blind man with God as his only guide.
2. The LORD always manifests HIS will for us through our leaders and superiors in the Order.
3. A real contemplative does not refuse assigned task because he/she attributes the assignment as coming from God.
4. Final Profession in the TOC means total commitment for life. Hindi pwede ang isang paa ay in at ang isang paa ay out.
5. Many of us are being asked to choose. We need to put our trust in the LORD. GOD is the Master of all Creations. Our time, talent, treasures all come from Him. Why can’t we entrust our life and everything to Him?
6. The LORD does not call the qualified but HE qualifies whom HE calls.
7. Do not use and say the word "Busy" because busy with other things beside the things of God means "Being Under Satan’s Yoke"
8. Just offer your goodwill to the LORD and the LORD who sees your heart will arrange things for you. We are only an instrument. What we do is not by our own strength. As Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say: "I am only the pencil; it is the LORD who does the writing." So, let us allow God to use us as His instrument.
9. The LORD promised that HE will provide for all the needs of HIS disciples but there is a condition: first, you must truly become his disciple.
Finally, Fr. Toto administered the Rite of Admission to aspirants who were present – 9 (Cabiao), 2 (San Leonardo), and 1 (Cabanatuan). The meeting ended about 4 pm. Everybody had been truly enlightened and recharged in knowing their roles and responsibilities as TOC. It is greatly hoped that with this fraternal visit members would be inspired to become better Lay Carmelites.