Homily of Ramon R. Caluza, CICM
On the Occasion of the Perpetual Profession
Of Bro. Willian Fernandes da Silva, CICM
Theophile Verbist Chapel, CICM Provincial House Compound,
New Manila, Quezon City
February 2, 2016.
Today, we have come to witness the perpetual profession of our brother Willian Fernandes da Silva. I see here religious sisters from different congregations, friends of Willian from the different parishes, confreres from AIFC and numerous CICM confreres. In a very special way, we have here Fr. Rex Mananzan, SJ, the spiritual director of Willian, Fr. Franz Eilers, SVD, the professor of Willian in the School of Social Communication at UST. And added to that, a special delegation from the Dominican Republic, brothers of ours who came for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress held in Cebu. They are Most Rev. Francisco Ozoria, Bishop of the Diocese of San Pedro de Macoris, Most Rev. Camilo Antonio, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of La Vega, Fr. Carmelo Santana, the secretary of the Bishop’s Conference of the Dominican Republic, Fr. Michel, a priest from the Diocese of La Vega, and a lay social communicator, Juan.
The family of Willian could not come to participate in this ceremony but, what a blessing, we have with us representatives from Latin America, where Willian hails. Your presence here is indeed ENCOUNTER.
Today, we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. This celebration is also called the feast of encounter. In the Gospel reading of today, we heard of Mary and Joseph taking their child to the Temple of Jerusalem. In the words of Pope Francis, in his homily two years ago on this occasion,
… it is Jesus’ first encounter with His People, represented by the two elderly Simeon and Anna.It was also an encounter within the history of the People, an encounter between young people and the elderly: the young were Mary and Joseph with their newborn, and the elderly were Simeon and Anna, two personages who always frequented the Temple … Our Lady and Saint Joseph wanted to do what was prescribed by the Law of the Lord (cf. Luke 2:22.214.171.124). One gathers, almost perceives that Jesus’ parents have the joy of observing God’s precepts, yes, the joy of following the Law of the Lord! …
And Pope Francis continues to say: …
Of Simeon he affirms that he was a just and pious man, who awaited the consolation of Israel, and that “the Holy Spirit was upon him” (2:25); he says that “the Holy Spirit had revealed to him “ that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ, the Messiah (v. 26). And, finally, that he went to the Temple “inspired by the Spirit” (v. 27). Then of Anna, he says that she was a “prophetess” (v. 36), that is, inspired by God, and that she was always in the Temple “worshipping with fasting and prayer” (v. 37). In sum, these two elderly were full of life! They were full of life because they were animated by the Holy Spirit, docile to His action, sensitive to His calls …
Dear friends, at the center of all these encounters is Jesus. He attracts one and all to the House of the Father. Willian, I can say that Jesus has attracted you to follow him in a more radical way, in and through CICM and its charism. It is with joy that you wish to join CICM forever, observing our basic agreements as a religious missionary Institute but always looking forward with hope and creativity.
In the abovementioned homily of Pope Francis, the Holy Father continues to say:
It is an encounter between young people full of joy in observing the Law of the Lord and the elderly full of joy by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is a singular encounter between observance and prophecy, where the young are the observers and the elderly are the prophets!
We are thankful to Theopile Verbist, our Founder, who was attracted also to Jesus and gave his whole life to the people of Inner Mongolia, together with his companions. In January 14, 1866, a few days after their arrival in Siwantze, China, he wrote a long letter to Jacques Bax, who was in Brussels, Belgium, and among other things he wrote, he said: We have a good and beautiful mission! We come to know, that from that day onwards, they (the pioneer group of CICM Missionaries) had to face many hardships. The mission territory where they were was very very difficult, but they remained always hopeful! And they persevered and stayed put till their last breath.
You are convinced to follow Jesus in the CICM way. What is that way? What is specific to our charism? It is to go the poorest among the poor, preferentially to them. We go to where we are most needed. YES, WHERE WE ARE MOST NEEDED and not just where we think we are needed. To go to the peripheries, to dare to go, to pioneer to place where nobody has dared to go. A simple four-letter word, M-O-S-T, but crucial because it defines the nature and scope of our Mission and serves as the reference point of our Identity.
The following beautiful words of Pope Francis reinforces this idea:
“The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. … And you have to start from the ground up.”
(Pope Fancis in an interview with Antonio Spadaro SJ in August 2013;Evangelii Gaudium, #76)
I just came from the CICM General Conference held in Yaounde, Cameroun. In that encounter, among other things, we prepared the theme of the next General Chapter and also the most important topics to be discussed. We will concentrate in our Mission and Identity. For the theme, we decided to propose to the General Government the following:
We have a good and beautiful mission. Go, and God will go with you!
The Holy Spirit continues to animate us, to animate Willian to do mission. At the end of the day, we come to the conclusion that mission is precisely encounter. Encounter between persons and nations, all in the person of Jesus, the Lord of Mission. Mission is to be an inspiration for others to move closer to God in joyful and meaningful encounters of real brothers and sisters united in LOVE.
Willian, we are witnessing your perpetual profession. Our presence here signifies our commitment of never to leave you alone. We will always support and animate you. You will never be alone. So, go and God will be with you!