The mandatory month-long preparation proximate to solemn profession of vows is called Month of Preparation (or better known in Spanish as Mes de Preparaciόn). As in the past, the Casiciaco Recoletos Seminary in Baguio City is this year’s venue of the activity that began last June 17 and will end on July 17.
The six friars are Fray Paul S. Demillones from Tacloban City, Leyte; Fray Robin Ross S. Plata from Candelaria, Quezon Province; Fray Niel Ryan E. Jarumay from Canlaon City, Negros Oriental; Fray Elpedio N. Sarita, Jr. from Valencia, Negros Oriental; Fray Keneth B. Pahamutang from Tagbilaran City, Bohol; and Fray Kenneth S. Caligdong from Brooke’s Point, Palawan.
A 3-member Responsible Team was appointed and is composed of Frays Bernabe Dosdos (chairman), Ronel Gealon, and Raymund Rueann Alcedo.
According to the Constitutions of the Order, the Mes is a required program for the candidates for solemn profession to specially prepare them for this event (cf. Add. Code 233). The preparation includes, among others, a series of inputs given by carefully selected persons, whether religious, priest, or lay, vis-à-vis the different facets of religious and pastoral life an in depth reflection and discernment on the part of the participants.
To better immerse the candidates in the life and charism of the Order, different topics were given to different resource speakers so that the candidates may better appreciate and know deeper the life they are about to embrace for their whole life. Before they delve into the topics, they first underwent an ARSE or Augustinian Recollect Spiritual Exercise, with the theme: “Holiness and its Models in the Augustinian Recollect Family” which was given by Fray Emilio Edgardo Quilatan, OAR from June 20 to 22, 2017. Readings on the life of some Augustinian Recollect Saints and Blesseds, lectio divina type of meditation, observance of absolute silence, veneration of the Cross, and penitential service characterized those special days with the Lord.
Immediately following the retreat was a review on the History of the Order of Augustinian Recollects from its humble beginnings up to the present. The same resource person expounded it to us from June 23 to 24.
Fray Regino Bangcaya, OAR was given the topic OAR Constitutions and Charism. He met the participants on June 26 to 27. The Theology and Anthropology of the Vows was assigned to Fr. James Castelo, OAR from June 28 to 29. June 30 was graced by the presence of Sr. Cleofe Maria Agua, AR as she talked about the life and charism of the Congregation of the Augustinian Recollect Sisters. The responsible team invited Sr. Evelyn Balingit, SAR and Br. Edwin Ruiz, SAR to give a talk about the Life and Spirituality of the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity, which they ably did on July 3. The next day, July 4, was reserved for Fray Gideon Antolin Lagrimas, OAR who presented the statutes of the Recollect Augustinian Youth and planned a series of activities for the said organization. Fray Jaazeal Jakosalem, OAR updated the candidates on Social Apostolate of the Province and of the Order. His talk was scheduled on July 5. The Educational Apostolate of the Order in the Province was given by Fray Cristopher Maspara, OAR, USJ-R President, on July 6. Fray Paul Dacanay, OAR was invited on July 7 to share his views and experiences on the Year of the Parish and Basic Ecclesial Communities.
As of this writing, the upcoming topics shall include: The Canonical Implications of the Vows to be given by Fray Arnel Diaz, OAR, a canon lawyer, on July 10-11. Then, The Prior Provincial, Fray Dionisio Selma, OAR, will dwell on the State of the Province and on the process of Discernment of Religious Vocation, on July 12 to 13. The last talk regarding Stewardship and Patrimony of the Order will be shared to the candidates on July 14 by Fray Henry Santiago, OAR, the Provincial Procurator.
In a strict sense, one month would not be enough to fully equip the candidates for solemn profession for the reason that a lifetime cannot be contained in just one month. However, this does not mean that the simple professed friars are not worthy to make their solemn profession of vows. It is God who made them worthy. The abundance of God’s grace will make them sturdy amidst the challenges of religious life. And if they fall, it is the same grace that will make them stand up again. After all, when God calls someone to follow him, He will provide all the means for him to endure.