Every stage of a journey has always a next level. After four months of enclosure period, the SMP Postulants started the next phase of the Postulancy Program, which is the exposure period. This is the time wherein they will be exposed to different communities of the congregation. Some of them have a mixture of feelings such as worries and excitement. The Postulants have a first-hand experience of the contemplative dimension of the Congregation with their exposure to the contemplative community of Rogamina in Iloilo.
Monastic life is more challenging than seminary life. It challenges one’s spirituality and vocation. It also challenged the capacity of the body to follow the schedules. From November 2 until November 20, the Postulants lived like monks, having the same lifestyle as them. The 17 Postulants together with Fr. Jessie and Rev. Al John stayed in St. Hannibal Mary Discernment Center. All the postulants were fetched by Bro. Kenneth and Bro. Aian from Iloilo Airport going to Brgy. Capul-an, Mina, Iloilo. Fr. Marcelino Diaz, RCJ together with the RogaMina Community gratefully accepted us.
The life in RogaMina wasn’t easy. It takes a lot of discipline in living on a contemplative community. We need to wake up early to be on time for the Office of the Readings at 4:00 AM followed by morning-prayer, meditation, lauds and Holy mass. The Postulants need adjustment from the environment and lifestyle. After we had our breakfast in the morning the next activity would be mid-morning prayer. After that, we had manualia in the different areas such as cleaning the chapel, cooking, making rounds in the markets to collect feeds for pigs and others. After that, at 11:30 AM, we go back to the chapel for the midday prayer to be followed by lunch. After a brief rest, we had our rising and mid-afternoon prayer at 2:45 PM. At 4:45 PM, we again have prayer for Rosary, Personal Reflection, Adoration and Exposition. Dinner is served at 7:00 PM. After which, we have our night prayer. These are the repeated daily timetable in Rogamina. It demands more silence, personal reflection and most of all prayer. The first week for us was challenging because we adjusted to the schedule. Within our exposure there, we also attended the vocation awareness month of the Archdiocese.
On November 9, 2019, at Jaro Robinsons Place, Iloilo, we had our Vocation Awareness Month joined by different religious congregations from Iloilo. It was a day filled with blessing and joy. The Archdiocese of Jaro opened the month of vocation to invite people who are willing to enter priestly and religious life. The whole day was allotted for the promotion of vocation within the Archdiocese. It was officially opened by Rev. Fr. Julius Jacobres who is the DVP ILO Chairman. It was ended by the celebration of the Holy Mass at the Our Lady of Candles, Cathedral of Jaro, presided by Archbishop Emeritus Angel Lagdameo, DD. The one who gave the homily was Fr. Marcelino Diaz, RCJ. His message was to center our lives to God by living heaven here on earth. He said that we must live FOR Christ, WITH Christ and IN Christ. He also invites the people to pray for the priests and for those who will respond to the calling of God. Last November 16, the postulants had again participated in the vocation promotion in Robinsons Pavia. They are the facilitator of the event. The opening of the Vocation Awareness Month was successful. The faith and hope of the people will bring possibility for the Lord to grant more Holy laborers in His vineyard.
Part of exposure is also visiting some important places. In the afternoon of November 9, we went to Molo, Iloilo to visit the tomb of Mother. Maria Rosario Arroyo, the foundres of the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary Philippines. There we saw her tomb together with some relics of the Saints. After that, we went to Molo Mansion visiting one of the old houses there and the beautiful Church of Molo. On November 17, we had the continuation of our pilgrimage in the different historical and beautiful places in Iloilo such as the Garin Farm in San Joachim, the UNESCO heritage in Miagao Church, Tagbanuan Church, Guimbal Church, the historical Church of Molo, the elegant place of Megaworld and lastly the peaceful place of Esplanade. Visiting significant places help us appreciate the beauty and history of the place.
This experience was indeed a thrilling but beneficial for our formation and discernment. Monastic life is a challenging life. The Contemplative life in Mina brings us deeper on ourselves. Our last day, we had our thanksgiving at the same time the priestly and birthday celebration of Fr. Marcelino Diaz, RCJ. We will not forget the experiences that we had in RogaMina. It was an exciting and life changing experience yet edifying.