Greetings to all of you from Dennis, Theo, Ian and Moy in Cebu City in the Philippines. We’ve just had our mid-term retreat and break last week, and are surprised to find there are only five weeks remaining in this first phase of our training for Journeying Together. The weather is warming up and our ministry placements are growing in complexity and number.
Our community had developed a rough sort of rhythm, but more frequent calls for evening work and our breaking into pairs for different experiences is requiring some flexibility. We honour our ‘Check-in Day’ on Fridays, and are enjoying the spiritual accompaniment provided by Sister Mila of the Holy Spirit Sisters, every fortnight or so. The washing, cleaning and shopping continue apace, and we’ve found our house a very comfortable place to live, in a noisy and crowded area.
The SVD community continue to guide us through our ministry placements and reflection on these powerful experiences with some of the poorest people in Cebu City. We’ve shared with teenage drug addicts, women working as prostitutes, women dying with AIDS, and many people who work as scavengers in the three large dumpsites around Cebu City. We have been visiting settlements where families have moved from dumpsites and slums. Dennis and Theo have kept us in touch through their language skills. Brother Paul Bongcaras svd has been our guide and mentor, as well as the staff of the JPIC centre run by the SVDs.
We’ve had two breaks from Cebu. We all travelled to Maasin to celebrate Dennis’ first vows in his home town, and to meet the other Brothers working in the Philippines, on the weekend of Jan 27 – 29. Last week (Feb 20 – 24), we spent three days on retreat on nearby Mactan Island, and then took two days break on the island of Bohol, again hosted by the Holy Spirit Sisters and SVD community. This helped us appreciate the sheer beauty of these places, often obscured by the gross wealth of some and the desperate poverty of most.
On our return, we were shocked and saddened by the news that Luke Quinn, our Cluster Leader, who helped orient us to Cebu, had had a serious accident and is now in a critical condition in a Brisbane hospital. We are in daily contact with the latest news, and we hope and pray for Luke.
Thanks for all your contributions, and we look forward to meeting you in April.