STATE OF THE TOC REPORT
APRIL 19-22, 2005
Health in the Lord and blessings of the Holy Spirit!
In compliance with my function and responsibility as National Prioress, please allow me now to make a full report about the National Council’s activities and significant developments since the 8th National Convention in year 2002.
TOWARDS A DEEPER COMMITMENT
If you still remember, our national convention’s theme last April, 2002 was “Towards A Deeper Commitment”. This was the main reason why all our efforts in the national office have been geared towards that objective since May, 2002. We decided that the only way to achieve that was through a continual or on-going process of renewal and transformation via formation studies and Formators’ training seminars for how can one develop his/her commitment to the Third Order if one lacks sufficient knowledge about the TOC, or one cannot fully identify oneself with it?
A. SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS SINCE THE 2002 CONVENTION
1. THE RDS METHOD OF FORMATION AND STUDY MODULES
· Initially we experienced resistance when we launched the ‘Back to Basic Study Module’ or better referred to as Study Module 1 for Postulants and introduced the RDS Method of Formation. The resistance initially came from some communities especially the old ones, which have been used to the old ‘lecture-type’ of formation. Much resistance was especially felt from the old Monastery-based communities (Cabanatuan, Sibulan and Roxas) whose members had been so dependent on the Nuns giving them formation with the exception of Guiguinto Community who, from the start of the NFC initiatives, has made it known that they (Guiguinto Nuns) have never taken an active role in the formation of the TOC. They only handled the formation of the Seminarians.
· Today however, after more than three years of ceaseless and painstaking struggle trying to consistently and patiently initiate the reforms that we started, we are most happy to report that all the local communities, probably with the exception of Roxas Community, are doing the new approach to formation that we have introduced and feedback coming from them have been very positive.
· There is now a renewed interest and enthusiasm with regards to formation among the great majority of TOC members in these communities. This renewed interest has given way to a better understanding and appreciation of their Carmelite vocation as a TOC and it is our hope that this better understanding and appreciation of their vocation would give way or result to a deeper commitment to the charism of the Order and a deeper involvement in Carmelite Ministries.
· In January, 2003, we introduced the Study Module 2 for Novices and as a “Back to Basic” course for all Professed members. We directed that only those communities who have finished with the Study Module 1 would be allowed to proceed to Study Module 2 and that attendance records should be maintained to make sure this was strictly implemented.
We are not yet however finished with Study Module 2 reference materials. We continue to undertake research in order to complete it. Please understand that we do not have a staff at the National Secretariat or the NFC to help us gather reading materials and type them. [I am actually doing it personally.]
· In Feb. 2004, we came up with the Aspirancy Module for Aspirants. This Aspirancy Module was prepared courtesy of Bro. Ruel Santos, Regional Formation Commission Coordinator of Bulacan.
· With the introduction of these Study Modules, formation studies have become more structured and more streamlined making it easier for formators assigned in a particular formation level to guide and mentor candidates undergoing formation.
2. THEMATIC ANNUAL RETREATS
· In February, 2004 we conceptualized the annual Thematic Retreats in collaboration with the National Spiritual Director and some Carmelite Friars.
· The Thematic Retreat scheme is “truly another step towards a deeper commitment to the charism and spirit of the Order. It is one process that runs parallel with the Council’s “back to basic” battle cry to steer the TOC members towards genuine transformation in Carmel.”
· The National Council created a Technical Support Group for Retreats and Seminars (TSGRS) headed by Sally Castro, TOCarm tasked to organize these retreats in NCR/Luzon. I hope that the Regional Council in the Visayas/Mindanao Region would create the same body to coordinate the thematic retreats in those areas.
· The principle of the Thematic Retreat is properly working in NCR/Luzon. We still need to hear reports from the Visayas and Mindanao however as to its feasibility.
3. ANNUAL FRATERNAL VISITS
· Prior to Year 2002, fraternal visits to local communities were done on a “Per Need” basis.
· Starting Year, 2002 we decided to pre-schedule the annual visits to local communities andset a common agenda for such activity.
· Fraternal visits were undertaken by the National Spiritual Director, National Prioress and National Formation Director plus the Regional Coordinator of the particular TOC Community.
· Agenda include comprehensive reports from the Local Heads and Formators. National and Local concerns are discussed. Open Forum is encouraged where areas of difficulties are openly discussed and settled for the good of all. Members are encouraged to openly air their gripes, complaints, doubts, problems and various community concerns and the National Officers try to resolve them to the best of their abilities with God’s help.
4. EVALUATION OF CANDIDATES FOR RECEPTION AND PROFESSION
· In 2001 and prior years members are received and professed only on the basis of the number of years that they have spent in the TOC Community. Decision whether to be received or professed primarily depended on the candidate’s willingness to undergo the rites. There was no proper evaluation being done.
· Starting year 2002, however, candidates for Reception/Profession are evaluated based on two criteria: a) Completion of the “academics” and b) completion of the minimum time requirement for each level of formation during which time each member is supposed to attend not only the business meetings but also other required activities of the community.
· In September, 2004 the National Council came up with the new criteria for preliminary evaluation giving more importance and emphasis on the attendance rating in Community, Formation and Thematic Retreats.
5. SYSTEMATIZATION OF OUR CENTRAL FILE
· After the 2002 National Convention we continued in our efforts to systematize the Central File via a Database Membership list. In the absence of a National Secretary, I endeavored to undertake the responsibility of maintaining this file personally. I should find it not much of a hassle if all Regional Coordinators are doing their jobs and local Priors/Prioresses are regular in submitting reports that the National Secretariat needs. But what actually is happening is that it is becoming so difficult getting records, documents and reports that are needed at the national office. I cannot seem to understand why it takes so long to submit reports. If the local communities have a good records system, I don’t see any reason why they cannot send these same records to the National Office ASAP.
· To facilitate recording of data, different TOC Forms were designed courtesy of Bro. Joe Generoso III. [He decided it is his duty to design FORMS being the National FORMation Director. :-)]
· Not all communities however have been truly complying with the guidelines regarding reporting of new movements in the local community using these forms. There are still few communities that need to be followed up before submission of these forms can be submitted. Hopefully after this convention all Regional Coordinators and Priors/Prioresses will find it in their hearts to be more cognizant of their responsibilities relative to the submission of documents and necessary forms to facilitate systematization of our Central File.
6. PURGING OF MEMBERSHIP LIST VIA STRICT IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RULE ON ATTENDANCE
· After the 2002 National Convention we started emphasizing the need for a deeper commitment to the Order. It was understood that a “deeper commitment” naturally meant regular attendance in community and formation meetings and a more serious following of the Rule of Life and the Statutes.
· In March 2003 we sent out a directive or guidelines on what to do with members who do not want to comply with community and formation requirements. Despite this directive, there are still communities, which continue to have absentee members until now because the Priors/Prioresses concerned have not tried to implement the guidelines set up by the National Council either because they continue to tolerate absenteeism or refuse to act on the failure of their members to follow the rules on attendance.
· Our early move to strictly implement the rules on attendance was fully supported later by a new provision in our New Rule of Life, promulgated last July 16, 2003 which states in part: “Third Order Carmelites should meet periodically, according to the frequency and way laid down by the statutes so that they may form community in the midst of which Christ dwells.” (Item 91). As we all know our Statutes require TOC communities to meet once a month for Community and Formation meetings.
· We also emphasized the need to re-discern our Carmelite Vocation and directed all Priors/Prioresses to help their members undergo this process of discernment. We emphasized that being a TOC is a vocation and that not everyone is called to be a TOC. We need to always remember that when one joins the Third Order, one has to adapt to the way of life, culture and tradition of the Order. It is not the Order that will have to adapt to the members’ way of life.
· There was a decrease in the total membership of the Third Order from year 2000 to the present time by approximately 40% due to resignations, dismissals or simply dropping from formation of members based on the following reasons:
· Inability to comply with formation and community requirements
· Inability to cope up with formation studies
· Refusal to recognize the authority of the National Council and the Local Council
· No genuine vocation to the TOC
· Purpose for joining was purely for the devotional aspect of the Brown Scapular and not for the Rule of Life of a TOC.
· Contrary to what some of our honorable critics consisting of former TOC members are saying, we do welcome and expect the membership purging because it is our genuine desire to maintain quality members who have real vocation to be TOCs and are willing to abide with the Rules of the Order. We do not need uncommitted members in the TOC because how can we expect them to be truly committed to the works or ministries of the Order if they cannot be expected to be committed to their primary obligation of attending community and formation meetings? And how can we expect them to be committed to the Order if they continue to defy the authority or refuse to recognize the authority of the National Council, which is the governing body of the TOC Philippines?
As of todate we have about 836 official members including aspirants and those on Hermitage and sick members who are Final Professed. Hopefully all these members have a renewed commitment to the Order at this point in their lives.
7. RITE OF HERMITAGE
a. In December, 2002, we came up with the guidelines regarding the Rite of Hermitage.
b. In the words of Fr. Toto Jaranilla, Hermitage is “a way of life for Philippine TOC members who are incapable of exercising their normal functions in the Order due to old age and sickness. A member who takes on hermitage should develop also a prayerful attitude. He/she should also do his/her basic duties and obligations to the Order though her/she will do this in the confines of his/her home.”
8. SPLIT OF BULACAN COMMUNITY
· A strategy has been undertaken to split the Guiguinto Community into three (3) separate TOC Communities, namely: a) St. John the Baptist TOCC in Calumpit, b) Immaculate Conception TOCC in Malolos and c) Holy Family TOCC in Guiguinto (Mother Community).
· Request for the Canonical Approval of the two new parish-based TOC Communities is now being prepared.
9. PHILIPPINE TOC MINISTRIES
· Previous to the National Council’s move to re-orient the TOC members of parish-based communities regarding their role in parishes, majority of TOC members of these parish-based local communities were of the belief that the TOC community is under the Parish Pastoral Council and that it is one of the Parish mandated organizations.
· We really took time to explain to them that the TOC community is a separate entity from the PPC but that we are called to be a willing collaborator of the Parish Priest in the mission of the Church. Members may join parish ministries in their individual capacity as TOCs but local communities are enjoined and encouraged to undertake a ministry as a TOC Community in the parish that will identify them as Carmelites.
· Suggested TOC Ministries are: Carmelite Vocation Promotion, YCPF, Confraternity of the Brown Scapular and JPIC.
· At present some parish-based TOC Communities are now known in their respective parishes as the Prayer Warrior group of the parish. One TOC community has been given the task to take care of the Perpetual Adoration Chapel in their parish. Some have organized the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular. Again, some communities have been responsible for the increase in Carmelite vocations to the 1st Order by looking and introducing prospective applicants to the Order. All TOC Communities have a YCPF Coordinator who handles solicitation of pledges to the YCPF fund but unfortunately it has not been organized as a ministry yet. The JPIC Ministry however has still to be organized in all TOC Communities.
10. YCPF MINISTRY
· Sometime in February of this year I presented to the Carmelite Friars thru Fr. Tony de la Cruz, Fr. Aris Escobal and Fr. Toto Jaranilla a position paper relative to the YCPF Ministry which received positive approval rating from the Commissariat.
· The objectives presented were as follows:
1. To provide for a practical and systematic approach in promoting the YCPF ministry among the TOC Local Communities.
2. To make the YCPF Ministry as a means of creating a sound-economic base for Carmel
Philippines and the National Council of the Lay Carmelites of the Philippines.
3. To provide an incentive and motivational factor to all local TOC communities in order for them to give the YCPF Ministry priority and 100% focus over and above other income generating projects in the TOC.
· Background data:
1. As of April 9, 2005, there are 836 members (Aspirants to Final Professed) in the TOC. This figure includes those on Hermitage and sick members.
2. Excluding those on hermitage and sick, there are 699 ACTIVE members including Aspirants as of todate. The figure does not include new aspirants from Pulong Buhangin, Bulacan.
3. There are members, though on Hermitage who could still be actively involved in the YCPF Ministry.
4. When I was YCPF Coordinator in 1996 up to 1998, I was personally maintaining 119 pledgors in my records consisting of TOCs from Proj 4 and mostly homeowners from my village who were not even TOCs. These pledgors generated a total amount of P131,815 yearly pledges.
5. Thus, if each TOC member could do what I had done (which is not impossible) – generate at least a P100,000 yearly pledges it would mean a yearly P60M Cash inflow for YCPF from the TOC communities alone (600 members x P100K)
6. Or if only 10% of the 600 TOC would be able to generate 100,000 yearly pledges it would still mean a P6 M yearly income for YCPF and that is not so bad.
· My Proposal:
1. The TOC National Council shall set up a YCPF Commission in the Council under the National Prioress and appoint a TOC to head this commission.
2. The YCPF Commission shall help organize all the YCPF Ministry in the TOC local Communities.
3. The TOC National Council gets a 10% commission on all pledges generated from the local communities. This 10% commission will form part of the National Fund. By ensuring a regular source of income for the National Fund, the National Council does not have to bother looking for ways and means on how to raise funds thus we could give focus and priority to the YCPF.
4. From the 10% commission the National Council shall give 25% to the Regional Fund and another 25% to the local community fund of the different communities to be distributed in proportion to the pledges they are able to generate. Out of the total 10% commission, the National Council only gets to keep 50%.
5. This scheme will motivate the local communities to seek more pledges inasmuch as they
would not have to bother about their own sourcing for their local funds. They would not have to bother looking for ways and means to raise funds for their local community. And if there are fund raising projects in their parish, the community can get from their local funds to support them while the members continue to give priority to YCPF.
6. This scheme would be like hitting four (4) birds with one stone. Why? By soliciting pledges for the YCPF, a TOC member would be complying with his/her obligation to give financial support (1) to the Carmelite Order (2) to the Third Order thru the National Council (3) to the Regional Council and (4) to the Local Community to which he/she belongs.
7. The National Council has come up with the Mechanics on the proper control and recording of remittances to the YCPF for presentation later during the convention.
FOUNDATIONS OF NEW TOC COMMUNITIES SINCE 2002 TO PRESENT
a. Tarlac (Monastery-based): There are at present 10 Novices. Though we have appointed an acting local Prioress the local council is under the direct supervision of the National Prioress.
b. Tanay (Monastery-based): There used to be 14 Novices in this community. Five dropped out from formation, six joined the group that the Nuns in Tanay formed while one passed away soon after reception. The two members remaining: Rosmel Chavez and Rosanna Garcia (Prioress and FD respectively) have temporarily joined as Staff volunteers of the National Council while waiting for the right moment to start TOC Communities in the Diocese of Antipolo.
c. Makati (Parish-based): There are 12 members at present where four are professed. The community have been under the direct supervision of the National Council since its foundation.
d. Caloocan (Parish-based): There were initially 5 Aspirants who were undergoing formation under the direction of the Sikatuna TOC Community but said undertaking did not prosper and the group simply disintigrated.
e. Bacoor (Parish-based): There are 6 members at present under the supervision of the Pilar,
Las Piñas Community. Five Novices were received last November, 2004 and one passed away in January of this year. They have two postulants waiting to be received.
f. Cabiao, Nueva Ecija (Parish-based) – there are 17 aspirants under the supervision of the Cabanatuan TOC Community. Sis. Remigia Duque, a Final Professed member from Cabanatuan heads this community at present.
g. San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija (Parish-based) –There are 16 Aspirants undergoing formation
under the direct supervision of Sis. Violy Veneracion, local Prioress of Cabanatuan.
h. Pulong Buhangin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan (parish-based) – There is already an existing Confraternity of the Brown Scapular since the parish is in the name of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. This is the newest addition to the growing communities in Bulacan. The rite of Admission to the new ten (10) TOC aspirants was held on March 19, 2005.
i. Malilipot, Albay (Parish-based) – Three weeks ago, Sis. Paring Palacio, Prioress of Guinobatan, Albay informed me that an orientation will be given to around 40 interested TOC Aspirants at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish of this town on May 7. They hoped to be imposed of the Brown Scapular on July 16, in time for the town fiesta.
We shall be applying for the Canonical Approval of these communities as soon as the members have undergone their Profession.
B. FINANCIAL STATUS
[Confidential - Exclusively for TOC Philippines Consumption]
FUTURE PLANS FOR A TERTIARY HOUSE
Since 2003 and recent months there has been talk of real estate donation to the Lay Carmelites of the Philippines. As soon as a Deed of Donation in favor of the TOC Philippines has been issued, the National Council shall undertake fund raising activities for the construction of a Prayer House or Tertiary House or a Retreat House. I believe that if it is God’s will that we build our own Retreat House, we will have one in God’s own time.
POLICY ON THE USE OF THE NATIONAL FUND
In 2003 in anticipation with the possibility of building our own Tertiary House, I decided to come up with the policy on the use of the national fund to be able to properly regulate its use and protect the interest of the national treasury. In my mind I began to reflect how God will give us the Millions to build the Retreat House if we cannot be good stewards of the few hundred thousands that He sends us now. I wish to assure you that the National Fund is in good hands and I am very hopeful that the Lord will grant us the grace to be able to build our own Tertiary House someday.
The Retreat House will become an income-generating project of the Lay Carmelites Philippines. We plan to establish in the future a TOC Foundation, apart from the National Council, if that is possible, which will be tasked to run and manage it. For those members who disapprove of and do not agree with my business-like manner in performing my function as National Prioress, I beg them to reflect on what a good administrator or good steward should be. I will not be your National Prioress forever. I need to establish a system that will ensure that the structures and foundation we have laid out will not be put to waste when the next set of officers start coming and we, the present set of officers, are not around anymore. The TOC is a lifetime commitment for me and it should be a lifetime commitment for you, as well. I pray that you ponder that all in your hearts.
THE NATIONAL SECRETARIAT OFFICE AND STAFF
We have recently transferred to a new and larger office to accommodate the additional filing cabinets and shelves needed to file accumulated documents and records but we still do not have a regular staff to man the office on a day-to-day basis.
We still cannot afford to employ a regular staff to work 8-hours daily so we really rely on volunteers to do the filing and help in the operations of the National Secretariat Office. Since the last Convention in 2002 I have been asking for TOC volunteers who would be willing to render work at the Office at least one day a month but I guess there has been a lack of enthusiasm in that area among our members.
Elvie de Dios from Project 4 has volunteered to come to the office once a month to do the filing and some clerical work. Rosanna Garcia and Rosmel Chavez formerly from the dissolved Tanay Community have been attending the National Council meetings and have volunteered to do anything the National Office has asked them to do. Onnie Guevarra continues to do errands at the office and help Fe Buenaventura in the handling of finances by serving as Asst. Treasurer in charge of the Petty Cash fund. Tess Culili another TOC from Project 4 has offered to help in the bookkeeping requirements while Pat Holandez from Sikatuna Community very recently served as auditor and was responsible for the preparation of our Audited Financial Reports. I also wish to acknowledge the help of Ruel Santos who is the incumbent Regional Formation Coordinator of Bulacan in the preparation of the Aspirancy Module and very recently the Community Manual. Bro. Ruel also maintains the TOC web site in the internet. If you have email addresses you can join the Carmelite Reflection yahoo group in which he serves as the Moderator.
Again I would also like to acknowledge the help and support of Joe Generoso, Fe Buenaventura and Sally Castro. They have contributed so much to my job as National Prioress and have made it so much easier for me to tackle my responsibilities in the National Council.
Finally I wish to convey my gratitude to the outgoing Commissary Provincial Fr. Tony de la Cruz for having had the vision to grant the TOC complete autonomy during his term of office thus allowing me to discover my own potentials as a TOC leader.
Of course to Fr. Toto Jaranilla, O Carm., my sparring partner for better or for worse. Please accept my sincerest thanks in helping me govern the Third Order. I can say that God has always manifested His will for me thru you every time.
To all the Carmelite Friars who have all been very supportive of the TOC, thank you very much
To the Agusan Carmelites and TOCs for their generosity and hospitality in hosting this 9th TOC Convention, thank you.
And to all of you who have fully supported me through thick and thin and fully cooperated with the National Council, you have truly inspired me to be faithful to my calling and I wish to share the joys and fruits of Carmel with you .
May God bless each and every one of us today and the years to come. Thank you.
Nimfa C. Tangcuangco, TOCarm
 TOC News, Jan-Feb, 2004, page 1