Saturday, July 12, 2008

Jean Louis Ska - Public Lecture on the Bible at Divine Word Seminary

An invitation
from the Catholic Biblical Association of the Philippines
and Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay City:


"Genesis 18:1-15 or the Enigma of a Secret Laughter"
By: Jean Louis Ska, author of Introduction to Reading the Pentateuch (Eisenbrauns, 2006).

Venue: Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay City
Date: July 18, 2008 – 9:30-11:30 AM

J-L Ska, Old Testament scholar (Pentateuch) from the European side, holds Doctorate in Sacred Scripture (SSD 1984) from the Pontifical Biblical Institute where he currently teaches as a professor. He was born in Arlon, Belgium in 1946 and entered the Society of Jesus in 1964.

His books include the following:

Le passage de la mer (doctoral dissertation-1987, 1997)
Our Fathers have told us (1990, 2000, also in Chinese)
La parola di Dio nei racconti degli uomini (2000)
L'argilla, al Danza e il Giardino (2001)
La Strada e la casa (2001)
Abramo e i suoi ospiti (2003)
Cose nuove e cose antiche (2004)
Il libro sigillato e il libro aperto (2005)
I volti insoliti di Dio (2006)
Lessico ragionato dell'esegesi biblica (co-author, 2006, original in French)
Introduction to Reading the Pentateuch (2006 also in French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Korean)
Una goccia d'inchiostro (2008)
Biblical Exegesis in Progress (co-author, forthcoming).

Contact: Bing - 09157884117 or email-

Click on this to read my syllabus of the Pentateuch class and the importance of Ska's Introduction to Reading the Pentateuch.

Friday, June 06, 2008

US Concert Tour of Fr. Raul Caga, SVD

Raul and PAX-Minstrels at Techny

Our "concert priest", Fr. Raul Caga, SVD is in the United States for a fundraising/mission animation concert for Divine Word Seminary. The reason why we need to raise money for the seminary is obvious, enough to know we are avoiding the fate of a Nigerian seminary below. Let me have short excursus to quote the news from

Food Crisis Forces Nigerian Seminary Closure
Many Others in Third World Could Follow

KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, JUNE 5, 2008 ( The Catholic seminary in Makurdi in central Nigeria is facing closure this month as a result of the worldwide food crisis, reported Aid to the Church in Need.Monsignor Kenneth Enang, rector of the seminary, told the aid agency Wednesday that the major seminary, in which some 520 seminarians from 15 dioceses are preparing for the priesthood, has already been forced to ration the food on account of the "astronomical prices."

An additional problem is the price of diesel, which is used to provide electricity. Within just one week, the price of diesel has risen by a third.Father Andrzei Halemba, who heads the Africa desk of Aid to the Church in Need, reports that the worldwide food crisis is becoming an ever greater problem for seminaries throughout the Third World, and is likely to threaten the continued functioning of many other seminaries.

Months earlier, Father Enang had told Aid to the Church in Need of his delight at the many, "good vocations," arriving to his seminary, and the well-qualified staff. He described the seminary as something of a "bridge" between the North and South of Nigeria.It was a "wonderful experience," he added, to see the way in which these young men from all over the country got on together. One could see in it "how Nigeria ought to look."

At that time there was talk of enlarging the seminary, since the space was no longer sufficient for the many seminarians there. Now they are threatened with closure by June 20.

Fr. Raul is also promoting his two CD albums, "Life is Beautiful" and "Called by Love", the latter is recorded, edited, and produced in the Arnoldus Communications Center (or ArCom) located at the basement of Arnoldus Library. The center has since recorded some recent songs of the Fifth Gospel and Padi (group of priest-singers of the Diocese of Urdaneta) . ArCom is directed by XVD composer, Nez Marcelo.

Two years ago, I posted in this blog my review of "Called by Love", please click on this.

Here's Fr. Raul's itinerary in case our US readers want to catch his concert:
May 4 - St. Anthony of Claret Parish, Lakewood, NJ
May 11 - St. Anthony of Padua, Highstown, NJ
May 30 - Techny, Illinois (c/o PAX-USA and SVD Alumni Intl)
June 7 - Dinner and Concert somewhere in Texas.
June 14 - St. Joachim's Church, Hayward, CA (tel: 510-783-2766)
June 22 - Mission Dolores Basilica, San Francisco, CA]
June 29 - St. Matthew County, San Francisco, CA

On the Techny concert, Fr. Raul reports: "Around 100 people came including some confrères and the biggest in revenue so far. PAX-Minstrels (the singing group of Philippine-American XVD's) joined me in four songs. They also sang 2 songs as front act and another 2 songs during the break.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Perpetual Vows 2008

On a rather cloudy morning of May (it rained later), the annual profession of perpetual vows was held here at the seminary chapel. Five young men pronounced "to live for life poverty, chastity and obedience according to the Constitutions of the Society of Divine Word." Representative of the Superior General in Rome and mass presider is Fr. Ernesto Lagura, SVD, member of the Provincial Council of the SVD Southern Province and former president of Holy Name University (Tagbilaran, Bohol).

Perpetual profession makes one a permanent member of the congregation, legally speaking. I wonder whether these young men are aware and convinced of the implication of such a solemn and public oath before God and community, spiritually speaking. I remember some 14 years ago, when seven of us pronounced the final vows. I was preoccupied with visitors and food; it was my first experience of being at the center of public attention. Nonetheless, when finally I came to the line that said, "to live for life," it brought me chills. Such "chilling effect" is still felt whenever I witness perpetual professions of vows.

It's also interesting to see how the celebration of perpetual vows is refined through the years. There is always something new every year. This time, tarpaulin banners are much bigger (biggest) and seminarians begin to wear I.D's.

Although the rite of perpetual vows seems to be the culmination of around 10 years of seminary formation, it is also the start of the different rites of passage to become a full-pledged SVD missionary, usually lasting a year or two. In a matter of days, the five will receive their mission assignments. After few weeks, they will be ordained deacons and will be assigned temporarily to help in the parishes especially in SVD parishes nearby.This December or February next year, depending on the circumstances, they will be ordained priests. The next rite is graduation from Theology which signals the beginning of the preparation to the mission assignments. For those assigned as missionaries abroad, this includes securing a passport and visa, the first experience of an international flight, learning the language of the country---and finally, a missionary.

Sometimes, the experience is so overwhelming and fast-phase that some young missionaries within just a few weeks abroad decide to come home. This abbreviated mission assignment occupied my mind as I prayed for the newest full-pledged members of the Society of the Divine Word.

Fr. Jerome Marquez, SVD
and former parishioners from the Nazareno Parish

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Request for Transcript of Records, Divine Word Seminary, Tagaytay City, Philippines

This blog has been receiving requests from our alumni for their transcript of records at Divine Word Seminary. You may direct your request to:

Fr. Alex Muaña , SVD
Dean of Studies
Divine Word Seminary
4120 Tagaytay City

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Trinity, Pink Sisters and Fr. Dom Flores, SVD

Pink Sisters' Chapel in Tagaytay City
and its sweet-sounding carillon
(photo grab:

For my commentary on the biblical readings for Trinity Sunday, please click on this. Again, may I remind my blogreaders that the materials here may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without my explicit permission.
Tagaytay City is not only known for its refreshing weather and breath-taking view of Taal Lake, it's also famous for its more than 30 religious houses in the city and its environs. One particular place of destination these days is the Pink Sisters' Convent (officially called Adoration Convent of Divine Mercy). It's amazing to see so many visitors coming from all over the country, sometimes from abroad to visit the convent especially to attend mass on Sundays (7:30 am and 5:00 pm). Although a few come for sightseeing, most are her to pray with the sisters.

Last Saturday (May 17), one of the sisters pronounced her final profession to the congregation - meaning she makes a solemn promise to live for life the evangelical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. It's a mystery and grace that in this rapid world, there are still young people who commit themselves to a life of silence, prayer, and anonymity in the contemplative life.
The final profession was presided by Bishop Pablo David,
auxiliary of San Fernando in Pampanga
where the professing sister hails.

Part of the rite of profession is to receive a ring
and the sister accepting to be "betrothed"
to Jesus, the bridegroom.

The pink sister who took the name Mary Chrisanne
signs her "marriage contract"
Fr. Dom Flores, SVD who is the rector of the SVD seminary in Melbourne, Australia and my uncle blogs about their life in Down Under, click on this and bookmark it.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pentecost, CTS, Diwa, New Dean, Library, Perpetual Vows, Summer, etc

Followers of this blog have been prodding me to update it. I didn't know blogging is no luxury. I can imagine the difficulty of Luke who "blogged" the missionary journeys of Paul in the second half of the first century A.D. Without it, we would not have the Acts of the Apostles, the only narrative account of the life of the early Church which we read in the mass during Easter Season. Here's a short write-up on Acts especially 2:1-11, the reading for this coming Sunday's Pentecost feast. Click on this.

CTS Students with German theologian, Fr. John Fuellenbach, SVD

Certificate in Theological Studies
Enrollment is now going on for those interested to join the Certificate in Theological Studies program. Classes are held during Saturdays here at the Divine Word Seminary following the official schedule of the academic year. This is a two-year (or four semester) program of studying in depth the Bible, Theology, and Spirituality. For more information, click on this.

Diwa 33 (2007)
The latest issue of Diwa, the academic journal of Divine Word Seminary (Theology) and Christ the King Seminary (Philosophy) is off the press soon (after much delay!). Please place your order to: Here's the table of contents:

New Dean of Divine Word Seminary
We just elected Fr. Alexander Muaña, SVD as our new Dean of Studies (2008-2011). Fr. Alex holds a licentiate in Missiology from the Gregorian University in Rome (2006) and teaches mission theology here. He replaces Fr. Michael Layugan, SVD who has been accepted in the doctoral program at the Catholic University of Louvain. Fr. Laguyan will specialize in the area of church history.
Dean Alex M. (4th from left)
with long time
rector of DWS, Fr. Antolin Uy, SVD

New Librarians
Yours truly has been appointed as a librarian of the Arnoldus Library. Expect then that once in a while in this blog I will write on some recent books on theology and exegesis. Ms. Joyce Pascua, a young licensed librarian will join us at the end of the month. We are also putting up a homiletic collection where students and preachers can have access to excellent and recent literature on how to preach well. The room is called Nicasio Preacher's Collection since most books and materials come from the personal collection of our homiletics professor, Fr. Linus Nicasio, SVD. With all these and other improvements done last year, Arnoldus Library is an exciting place to visit.
The artistic building of the Arnoldus Library

Perpetual Vows
Five in-coming 4th year theology students will profess their perpetual vows to the Society of the Divine Word on May 25 at 9:00 am at the Chapel of Divine Seminary here in Tagaytay: Gil Rochar Dulay, Felmar Fiel, Jonathan Letada, Aris Martin, and Jaekel Solde. This means that after a month or so, months they will be ordained as deacons then few months later, as priests.

Summer Out There

I spent a short yet unique vacation sometime last week in Labangan, a village in the island of Iling which belongs to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. I was here as a regent in the early 90's. A number of SVDs has also spent summer camps here like Fr. Raymun Festin and Fr. Raul Caga whose names are "written" in the names of some teen-agers here. People here are very warm; despite the poverty in the place, you'll find so many good souls here. I thank the Fabular family, esp. kagawad Lorie Fabular-Dugenia, for their warm hospitality.
This was my "hotel" for a week; thanks to Ate Tina and Kuya Gaspar

our shower place and everything

In the passenger boat: drink "Ursos," the best way to face big waves

this is at the next island, Ambulong

Menu for Lunch: Fresh Sea Urchins
and six-kilo Talakitok

That's Bulaklak, our tourist guide after she brought us up the summit of the island.

She also brought us to one of the caves;
Old friends from the Labangan: Kgd Lorie and Vicky;
Vicky is vacationing with her
husband from the US.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Suffering Servant of the Lord: A Holy Week Reflection

Fr. Fransiskus Madhu (1976-2007)

Fr. Gerry Gudmalin, SVD, former classmate in the seminary, sent a text message last Saturday informing me that he is going to say the Palm Sunday mass in Lubuagan in Kalinga, the place where he was assigned until last year. The town became notorious as the place where one of our young Indonesian SVD missionaries was killed, last year, on Palm Sunday April 1. 2007.
Click here to read more....

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Jesus and Judas

Behold Lent!
On Feb 16 and 23, 2008, both Saturdays, here at the Divine Word Seminary, I will be conducting a public presentation on Jesus and Judas history taking into consideration the four Gospels, extra-biblical sources, Gnostic Gospels, and the Gospel of Judas.

In the afternoon, my colleague and friend Fr. Ronnie Crisostomo, SVD, professor of Liturgy in this institution and former missionary to Argentina, will explain the history and theology of the liturgical services during Holy Week.

For details , please contact/text Bing at 09157884117 or email at