With over 15,000 Guides working in the Prayer and Life Workshops throughout the entire world, people are being taught to pray in a progressive and experimental manner; introducing them in the liturgical prayer and sacramental life.
The Guide’s mission is to implant the living God in people’s hearts while opening spring of peace, fortitude, and joy; both being an eminently evangelizing task as well as humanitarian one.
- Based on the bible.
- Christ centered.
- Nursery of apostolic vocations.
- Exclusively lay service.
- Practical and experimental character.
- Step by step prayer activity – adapted to the person.
- A liberating and healing Workshop made possible through the knowledged of God and of oneself.
- Transformation engligthened by the Word.
- Commitment with the poor.
- Promotion of Gospel values.
His parents were Marcelino Larrañaga and María Salome Orbegozo, who formed a big family consisting of: Josefa Ignacia, born in 1924, Jesús in 1925, José María in 1927, Ignacio in 1928, María Ascensión in 1930, Jose Luis in 1931; Francisco in 1934; María del Carmen in 1937 and Javier María, in the year 1943.
In 1940, at the age of 12, he enters the Seminary of the Capuchins in Alsasua. Before his priestly ordination, he becomes a sub-diaconate on the 29th of March of 1952, in the city of Pamplona and is ordained priest on the 20th of December 1952, in San Sebastian.
He has lived in Chile since 1959; he has had a very diverse and fruitful apostolate. He began a series of Weekly Franciscan Gatherings throughout the narrow and long Chilean geography. As a result of this prolonged evangelization, and with the passage of time, a great enthusiasm began within the members of the Franciscan family, that was not limited to emotions and words; but it took shape into beautiful projects.
And since 1974, Encounters An-Experience of God have been given uninterruptedly for 33 years in 34 countries of four continents, with an average of 35 to 40 annual Encounters and an average attendance of 250 people per week. In 1974, begins his period as an author, late, at the age of 46; by the year 2004 he had written 16 books. The majority of them have had multiple editions and translated to 10 languages. Now-a-days he is considered as one of the best read authors of religious and self-help literature.
Among the participants, more especially the more recent ones, there was a felt need of asking how this movement started in the Philippines. They took advantage of my presence there as a simultaneous translator and one of the earliest participants to write a short history of the existence of the Workshop in the country.
I sat down to write but solely relied on my memory of those years. But like many other happenings in salvation history as chronicled in the Bible, beginnings of truly significant events are not the result of well-laid out plans or detailed strategic campaigns but through chance encounters between persons and casual situations of every dayness.
To write a history of the beginnings of the Prayer and Life Workshops in the Philippines would, somehow, be tentative at the start since we have to look back at events that we certainly did take for granted at the time they were taking place and, by consequence, not given much attention. It is only by hindsight, from the
vantage point of what and where we are now, do we need to ascertain “facts” and the little vignettes of life that carried the “seeds” of history in the making.
In between sessions and far into the night, I wrote a first draft without consulting anyone, and solely relying on my own recollections. That is the very risky part. For the little vignette of history, influenced by the passage of time, either become “hard facts” that may prove certain or quite inaccurate. Or it may happen that fuzzy recollections by people who are always acting under the law of remembering and forgetting, become jumbled up and therefore do not really fall in the proper sequence of happenings.
After submitting the first draft, I stumbled upon a pile of old notebooks and fax-letters from those years -some of which are completely faded and therefore cannot be deciphered to be read. The only reliable data are the dates of some pages!
By trying to piece together a plausible “history” by using these “documents” and supplementing them with the recollections of people who were involved, a picture of those years would emerge from the shadows of near forgetfulness. They also show how inaccurate my first draft was!
But the effort to remember is always a mark of human life. And to remember is also an option for life and continuity. The opposite, which is forgetting, is to court death and dissolution. It is only in remembering are we able to recall, rejoice, and rekindle.
By the mysterious ways of the Lord, which is the confluence of events that we call Providence, the existence of the Prayer and Life Workshops (PLW) in the Philippines may be determined to have begun in the last lustrum (five years) of the last century. And it came to pass without planning or even by man’s desiring it.
In January of 1995, the World Youth Day was held in Manila and passed into history; and in February I was hospitalized for a mild stroke. But, again, by the grace of God, recovery was quick and almost total so that I could go on with my work again.
Now, the question is: what is the connection of these two events with the existence of the Prayer and Life Workshops in the Philippines? Firstly: Seeing the millions of people who wanted to see and be near the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth, the question that circled at the back of my mind was the following: if such is the enthusiasm that people have for a mere mortal who simply represents another reality, what would it be if they encountered the Real and genuinely Eternal Reality that is represented by finite realities of human life? Then, secondly, the precariousness of human life must have a direction and meaning for the time that it is granted to it to exist on this earth, does it not? What significance can it have while it lasts in time and space? Those questions lingered in my mind.
As my three-year term as Provincial was coming to an end in 1997, in Easter week, -that was in April already- another Provincial Chapter was held in our Capuchin Seminary in Lipa City. Being re-elected to office for another three-year term, we laid the foundation-stone of what is now the Capuchin Retreat Center at the field that used to be planted with sugarcane after it was abandoned as a cemetery.
Now here is the connection. In the previous month of March, 1997, prior to the Chapter, I received a faxed letter from one of the Spanish Capuchin missionary friars in the Philippines, who encouraged me to prioritize the life of prayer among the national friars. The Rev. Br. Julian Villar OFMCap., (+1210) mentioned the Encounters with God which he had the chance to attend while on sabbatical. He was spending sometime in Mexico although he is from Spain. He gave some names and addresses, and urged me to write a letter of invitation to some addresses there so that they may come to spread the movement of teaching people how to pray and even contemplate.
I will include here the whole text of his faxed letter in Spanish to see the “finger of God” writing history:
“Ayer asistí a una charla que el Hno. Ignacio Larrañaga daba a los “guias” de los Talleres de Oración. El fué su iniciador inspirado y carismático. Hace ya varios años que confió el funcionamento a los laicos. El se quedó a la sombra, desaparecido, en un Segundo plano. Diós ha bendecido sobreabundantemente este projecto, extendido ya prácticamente por todo el mundo.
El ‘96 contaban con más de 11,000 “guias” que celosamente impartien esos talleres. En ese año impartieron por el mundo 7,744 a más de 94,000 talleristas, con un 80% de perseverancia. Los “guias” de jóvenes son 920.Se impartieron 679 talleres a 7,630 talleristas jóvenes.
Aunque no soy “guia” ni tengo conexion oficial con ellos a mi me gustan mucho; he palpado su benéfica influencia y hasta los recomiendo muy de corazón a nuestras hermanas Capuchinas. Ayer asistí a esa reunion por cariño y admiración al hno. Larrañaga, como docil instrumento en manos de Diós. Allí me permiti recordarles el olvido en que han tenido a Filipinas. Reaccionaron! “No fuéolvido” – ‘kanila–“No tenían traducido al ingles el material.”
Ahora sí lo tienen. Se verán muy felices de poder introducirlos. Cómo podrán comenzar? Naturalmente, hno. Joseph, eres la persona indicada, elegida y presdestinada a ayudarlos. Como hermano y como superior – animador, les di tu nombre y dirección. Pienso que pronto recibirás el material. Ójala encuentres tiempo para echarle una ojeadita y te animes. No se se ellos irían a Filipinas o como lo harán. Esos talleres no los manejan los presbíteros, sino los laicos.Y que bién y eficázmente lo hacen. Pero, desde luego, van a necesitar al menos el apoyo moral de todos los hermanos sobre todo al principio. Necesitarán lugares de reunion para esos talleres, convocar a las personas, contactos con nuestros hermanos en nuestras escuelas y parroquias y con párrocos diocesanos y religiosos amigos nuestros. Necesitarán vuestra cariño y acogida. De esos Talleres salen además laicos comprometidos, muchas vocaciones religiosas, sacerdotales, missioneras y contemplativas. De esos “Talleres” brotan paz, alegría, humildad, sencilléz, desprendimiento, hermandad. Necesitarán nuestro cariño y acogida. Los que van a mandar el material son: Hans y Guillermina Thomas. Su direccion: Adolfo Prieto, no. 925, Departamento 2, esquina con Eugenia, 85 Sur Colonia del Valle, C.P. 03100 D.F. Mexico.
La responsible última, al menos la que me llamó al telefono es: Esperanza Pando, Plaza 3944 Colonia Las Torres, C.P. 64930 Monterey, Nuevo León, Mexico.
No los conozco personalmente. A ciegas, en pura fe, ten en ellos, Joseph, plena confianza, pues la tiene incondicionada nuestro Hno. Larrañaga. Ya la tengo plena [confianza] en que han de cuajar y fructificar en Filipinas estos Talleres
Pronto verás que han de traer una primavera de gracia a tantíssimas buenas almas que buscan y encuentran su felicidad en el sueño dorado de Jesus: “amáos los unos a los otros.” Y esto es todo por hoy, querido hermano Joseph. Con un fuerte y seráfico abrazo, deseándote la mejor, fraternálmente en Cristo, Br. Julián Villar OFMCap.
d. Acabo de recibir el “Chronicle” No. 3 (Sept-a Dec 1996). Me píden desde la oficina de correos que rectifiquen el número Apdo. Postal. No es 80, sino 89. Favor de decírselo al encargado.
Mientras sigan mandando – cosa que en el alma agredezco, celebraré una misa cada mes a sus intenciones. Toma cuenta de ello! Se la comunicaré, si algun día, dejo de ofrecerla.
Sique aún muy vivo y fresco en mí el interés y cariño “for everything Filipino.”Y mucho más por todos mis hermanos Filipinos. Un abrazo, same
P.S. Si el fax sale borroso o ilegible, diganmelo, por favór.
Yesterday, I attended a talk given by Bro. Ignacio Larrañaga to “guides” of those Workshops of Prayer. He was the initiator, inspired and charismatic. For some years now he has entrusted the running of this to the lay. He remained in the background, disappeared, in second place. God has more than abundantly blessed this project that is extended practically throughout the world.
In ’96 they already counted more than 11,000 “guides” who zealously shared those workshops. That year they conducted 7,744 workshops for more than 94,000 participants with 80% perseverance rate. The “guides” for the youth number 920. They conducted 679 workshops to 7,630 young participants.
Although I am not a guide nor have any official connection with them, I like them very much as I have felt its blessed influence and I even recommend it to our contemplative Capuchin sisters. Yesterday I attended a meeting out of esteem and admiration for our Bro. Larrañaga, who has been a docile instrument in the hands of God. While there I allowed myself to remind them how they have forgotten the Philippines. They reacted “It is not forgetfulness, they said, The materials have not been translated into English.”
How, they have them. They would be very happy to be able to introduce them. How would they begin? Naturally, bro. Joseph, you are proper person, elected and predestined to help them. As a brother and as a superior – animator, I gave them your name and address. I think your will soon receive the materials. How I wish you would have the time to take a look and be encouraged. I do not know whether they will go to the Philippines or how they will do it. Those workshops are not conducted by priests but by lay people. And how well and efficiently they do it. However, they will need your moral support especially in the beginning. They will need places to assemble for the workshop, to invite people, to contact our brothers in schools, and parishes and diocesan and religious parish priests who are our friends.
They would need your welcome and attention. From those workshops would come committed lay people, many priestly and religious vocations, missionaries and contemplatives. From those Workshops come forth peace, joy, humility, simplicity, detachment, fraternity. They would need your care and welcome. Those who will send the material are: Hans and Guillermina Thomas. Their address: Adolfo Prieto, no. 925, Departamento 2, esquina con Eugenia, 85 Sur Colonia del Valle, C.P. 03100 D.F. Mexico.
The head responsible, at least the one who called me by phone, is: Esperanza Pando, Plaza 3944 Colonia Las Torres, C.P. 64930 Monterey, Nuevo León, Mexico.
I do not know personally. In complete ignorance, in pure faith, Joseph, have full confidence in them, as our Br. Larrañaga has unconditional [confidence]. I have full confidence that those workshops will take root and bear fruit in the Philippines.
You will soon see that it will bring a new springtime of grace to many good souls who seek and will find their joy in the golden dream of Jesus: “Love one another.” And this is all for now, dear brother Joseph. With a firm and seraphic embrace, wishing you the best, fraternally in Christ, Br. Julian Villar OFMCap.
d. I have just received the “Chronicle” No. 3 (Sept-Dec 1996). The post office has asked me to please inform the correct Post Office Box. It is not 80 but 89. Please inform the one in-charge.
While you seek sending – something that I really am thankful for – I will celebrate 1 mass each month for your intentions. Take note. I will inform you, when I would stop celebrating.
Still alive and fresh in me is interest and love “for everything Filipino.” And much more for my brothers Filipinos. same
P.S. If the fax is unclear and unreadable, please tell me.
I accepted the suggestion and wrote a letter to those names mentioned and addressed in Mexico. It is now 2012 and I am still waiting for an answer from Mr. and Mrs. Thomas.
However, on June 25, 1997, I received a letter from a Ms. Maria Inés Rojas from Chile, who signed herself as the Responsable International T.O.V..
The letter, which is textually presented here without editing, is as follows:
Father Joseph Nacua OFMCap.
Minister of the Province
Kapatirang Capuchino sa Pilipinas
Dear father Joseph,
M. Ines Rojas, Responsable of Talleres de Oracion y Vida International is who is writing you, due that I am in charge of the world expansion of this service.
We had our first contact in Mexico with father Julian, and with pleasure, I can assure you that we are able to prepare material in order to fix talleres for Pilipinas. Your letter has been of great encouragement for us. At this moment we are sending you some of the books that have already been translated in English. We would like to keep fluid correspondense [sic]and together see which steps we can give in order to help you. Thanks for your warm attendance [attention], and from far send us your bendition.
(Signed) Maria Ines Rojas, Responsable International TOV.
Towards the months of the Third Quarter of 1997, a box of booklets entitled “Encounter” arrived at the Capuchin Curia office in the Convent of the Sta. Teresita parish in Quezon City. Its provenance was the United States but there were no instructions at all accompanying the shipment. And I wondered what was this all about. I completely forgot the letters of Ma. Ines Rojas nor did I yet see the connection of this shipment with the letter I wrote earlier. The reason for this oversight might have been the volume of concerns that need the attention of the office of Provincial Minister. And I had also written them regarding the possibility of a retreat for friars to be conducted by practitioners of the PLW. And since there were no instructions, the box languished in one corner of my office since I, honestly, did not know what to do with them.
The Retreat House that was being built in Lipa City seemed like a good place to bring later the box of books containing a collection of prayers. In the meantime, I distributed to all the friars a copy of the booklets. They also wondered how to use it as it also contained some directions for a kind of praying styles and methods! Therefore, many of the booklets were not used since the friars had their own breviaries for praying the Divine Office.
At this writing I have in my possession –as I already said- a bunch of faxes that are now completely unreadable because they are totally faded! We need a technology to be able to decipher what those traces of letters in the old–style fax paper actually said and meant! As luck would have it, the dates of some of the faxes could still be discerned although with much difficulty. Some that could still be deciphered are dated April 5, April 14, April 16, 1998. One of these must be carrying the information that a certain Cynthia Forlla was coming to the Philippines for a long visit and to conduct workshops on prayer and life.
And as luck would have it, my answer (which is on plain paper) to the one dated April 16, 1998, is as follows:
April 18, 1998
Dear Ma Inés Rojas
Pax et Bonum.
There are four copies of the same letter you sent advising me about the arrival of Cinthia Folla (?) between 25-30 of this month. They all arrived. I sent you also a fax telling you that I received your message.
Well, the news is quite in short notice but, of course, quite pleasant. And I am glad.
OK, I have noted that in my calendar. But there are still a few questions: what are the exact details of her arrival such as flight number, airline, time? There is no problem about where she may be accommodated
We will plan what to do when she arrives. OK?
Joseph Nacua OFMCap.
I remember also being informed that she would be happy, therefore, to use the “Encounter” booklets! But I did not have them anymore as I had given them all away to disencumber some space in my office! Well, some problem there!
Another fax dated, which is now also completely unreadable except for the date(April 27, 1998), must have given the details of Cynthia’s arrival so that we could meet her at the airport of Manila. Cynthia duly arrived at the end of April 1998 and informed me that she was sent by Fr. Ignacio Larrañaga OFMCap., to conduct the Prayer and Life Workshops in the Philippines. And that she would be needing those booklets of prayers!
After making a courtesy call to Cardinal Sin at his Residence in Mandaluyong, he gave us his nihil obstat, so that we began distributing informative materials to various parishes and conducted the first Workshops in and around Metro-Manila after Holy Week. We used some of the booklets that Cynthia brought along; but we had to reprint in a hurry more copies of the “Encounter” booklets!
With the start of the first sessions at Mrs. Antazo’s residence in Sta. Teresita parish, the Prayer and Life Workshop was planted in the Church of the Philippines.
What caught my attention was the manner the retreat was conducted. Somehow, the style of conducting the retreat was a little different from the usual preached retreats famous in those times. What was the difference? For example, an hour’s talk was divided into four 15-minute segments interspersed with instrumental piped-in music and/or some live singing. That kept young students whose attention tends to wander somehow attentive listeners to the new ideas coming out of the just concluded Second Vatican Council. I remembered that very well – the new style.
Almost twenty years later, in 1987, I was sent by the Franciscan Institute of Asia for post-graduate studies at the Institute of Franciscan Studies, a faculty attached to the St. Bonaventure University in New York. One of our subjects was unique in the following sense: our professor required that each student follow-up the ministry of any Franciscan individual in any field of activity and make a study, as a kind of prosopology, of the significance or impact of their work for the Franciscan spirituality in action.
I chose to study Fr. Ignacio’s ministry in Chile. Right after the Council, all religious were asked to update themselves by going back to the primary sources of their life and activity. It was actually a mandate to return to the Scriptures as the source of our vocation and a return to the “classics” of our spirituality = to Francis and his insights in putting structure and form to his response to the vocation to which God had called him.
Fr. Ignacio’s work at CEFEPAL (Centro de Estudios Franciscanos y Pastorales para America Latina) in spreading the Gospel and the Franciscan response, became the subject of my study. Despite the meager resources of the Library at the University, I managed to come up with a study that merited an A! And that also encouraged the librarian to complete the collection of Fr. Larrañaga’s works as additional volumes for the library.
Those are the “building blocks” of a relatedness that someday would allow Fr. Ignacio to be present in the Philippines, not only once, to encourage the Workshop Guides to become living icons of the Poor Man of Nazareth who is our masterful teacher for how to relate to our Loving Father.
The first fifteen-week Cycle of the Workshops was duly conducted also in jails, hospitals, in schools that culminated in that Desert Day in Lipa on September 6, 1998.
In the meantime, Cynthia got sick for a while but continued to guide the participants who continued to meet. But her six-months visa was expiring; thus she had to return to Argentina, through Los Angeles. There she met with Gloria Ardila from Miami, who was the Zone Coordinator for English-speaking areas of the world.
On November 16, 1998, Gloria sent me a fax-letter:
Attn: Father Joseph Nacua
From: Gloria Ardila – PLW Miami, USA
Dear Fr. Joseph,
May the blessings from our Lord Jesus and our beloved Father God have your heart full with the Holy Spirit.
Just a few lines to let you know that we remember you dearly. I meet with Cynthia Forlla in Los Angeles and also with the new missionary Dinorah. We had a four day reunion and it was indeed a blessing. Both these women are specially blessed by the Lord. Their commitment, their love for the mission and the people is so great. I thank the Lord because through this opportunity of meeting and sharing with them I learned so much.
Dinorah, as you know, is ready to go at the end of November. Most probably I will be sending to your address, Father Joseph, some books from Fr. Ignacio as Cynthia told me, the guides are in need of them.
Once I have the shipment ready by Fed-Ex I will let you know. In the meantime please tell the guides that even though I have not met them personally, through all the details that Cynthia shared with me, is as if we are very close. Please tell them that I admire and bless the Lord for each one of them, for their commitment to this apostolate of Prayer and Life for the having said “yes” to our Lord when He called each one of them.
This precious evangelization and mission is going on and will expand with the Lord’s blessing and also thank you from the bottom of my heart to you Father Joseph for all the spiritual and human support, for being that column, for all the “life” you have given and I know will continue giving to DInorah. Only the Lord is the one to crown you with all his love and tenderness for all you have cooperated with P&LW.
United with you, and al the guides from Philippines in prayer and thankfulness to our dear Jesus, I remain
(name cut off from fax!)
After Cynthia returned to Argentina, another guide by the name of DInorah Olavarria, was sent from Arizona USA. Dinorah came over to supervise the progress of the workshops that were conducted by the Guides who had some experience on how the sessions. They learned how the sessions were conducted by simply accompanying Cynthia and assisting her in the various sessions she conducted herself. In this sense, these guides were still “undergoing” the School of Formation.
Dinorah duly arrived in November and had a series of meetings for the next step in the Workshops. Then she immediately intensified the School of Formation for Guides. It was already December 1998. And because it was Advent, she was able to experience the so-called Misa de Gallo – the nine-day novena masses at 4:30 at dawn that led to Christmas Day. Only in the Philippines.
There is another series on unreadable faxes dated January 3, January 4, and January 10, 1999. All of them, as can be ascertained, were sent from Argentina by Cynthia.
Potential Guides, those who had already finished the first fifteen weeks, were invited to attend the School of Formation. And halfway through the formation sessions, other workshops were organized so that some Guides received a kind of On-the-Job-Training in conducting workshops.
However, before the start of the new cycle in the first semester of 1999, there was already a felt need to translate the Workshop into the vernacular.
Here is a letter I wrote Fr. Camilo Luquin, OFMCap., in Chile:
<Hno.Camilo Luquin OFMCap.
Casila 11, Lo Barnecheo
Santiago, Chile, Tel: (++56 22) 16-84-42
Muy estimado Hermano,
Paz y Bien.
Al comenzar, pido perdon por mi pobre castellano. En Filipinas ya se ha perdido totalmente esa herencia cultural iberica.
Bueno, en esta carta se trata de algunas cuestiones relacionadas con los libros utilizas [sic] los Talleres aqui en Filipinas.
Quien realmente posee el “copyrights” de las publicaciones en Ingles del librito entitulado: ENCOUNTER? CEFEPAL or Paulines? Los libros que estamos usando lleva el cuño de Paulines.
Sabe que en Filipinas, desdel os tiempos del dictador Marcos, existe una ley que permite publicar libros extangeros con tal que se utilizan solamente e unicamente dentro del pais. O sea, era temrinente [terminantemente] prohibido vender copias de los libros asi imprimidos fuera del pais.
Ahora bien, cuando llego por estas costa los Talleres de Oracion y Vida del Hno. Ignacio mandarin libros de EE.UU. Pero relativamente que valia un ojo a la mayoria de la gente del pais. Hay que tener en cuenta que los que vienen a las sessions del TOV no son ricos sino mas bien l amedia de la clase media. Me explico?
Es verdad que tuvimos qu eimprimir al menos el librito ENCUENTRO para tener algo entre manos al empezar las sesiones. Si no, hubierarmos quedado en blanco. O sea se imprimio mil (1,000) exemplars que ahor avendimos al costo de la impression. Ganancia? Zero. No hay margen ni para porcentajes o para lo que sea.
Mucho mas importante todavia, como he dicho, el castellano se ha perdido totalmente por estas latitudes. El lngles se habla como para servir de lingua franca entre las islas de distintas idiomas (de hecho, el pais contiene 8 linguas principales y mas de 70 dialectos). Practicamente, el Ingles que habla la gente es lo mas simple para conversasiones diaries y del comercio. Muchos participantes de las sessions dejaron de venir porque no seguian el Ingles que se utilizeba como medio de instruccion durante la session. Añadir las conferencias de Ignacio traducidas al Ingles y vamos. Puedo afirmar que se pierde al menos 40% de la riqueza de las conferencias. Y si tenemos que grabar copias de las conferencias – cuales son las leyes que gobiernan estas practicas?
Conclusion muy importante: necesitamos, y muy pronto, una traducción en Pilipino si queremos que las talleres sean efectivas. Quien nos dará el permiso para hacer esto? De hecho, ya se han hecho traducciones al Tagalog pero no oficiales! Tenéis que escribirnos detallando lo que se puede hacer y lo que no se puede hacer. Tambien, lo más rapido posible.
Finalmente, y es lo mas urgente: pedimos permiso traducir (de hecho, ya esta hecha por aqui) el ultimo librito de Ignacio entitulado “La Rosa y el Fuego” y publicarlo tambien.
Bueno, nada mas, hermano, que lo paseis bien.
Joseph Nacua OFMCap
Br. Camilo Luquin OFMCap.
Casila 11, Lo Barnecheo
Santiago, Chile, Tel: (++56 22) 16-84-42
Peace and all good.
For starters, pardon my poor Spanish. In the Philippines this Iberian cultural heritage has been totally lost.
Well, this letter deals with some questions related to some books that we use in the Workshops here in the Philippines.
Who really has the “copyrights” of the publications in English of the booklet entitled ENCOUNTER? CEFEPAL or Paulines? The books we are using bear the stamp of Paulines.
Know too that in the Philippines, since the time of the dictator Marcos, there is a law that allows the printing and publications of foreign books on condition that they be used solely within the country. In other words, it is expressly prohibited to sell copies of those books thus printed outside the country.
Now, therefore, when the Prayer and Life Workshops of Fr. Ignacio Larrañaga arrived on these shores, they sent us books from the United States. But relatively cost an eye for the majority of our countrymen. We also have to take into account that those who come to these sessions of the workshops are not the rich but rather the middle-middle class. Am I explaining myself?
It is true that we had to print at least he booklet “ENCUENTER” so that we would have something to use at the start of the sessions. If not, then we would have been left with empty hands. So, we printed one thousand (1,000) copies which we now sell at the cost of printing. So, profit? Zero. There is nothing left for percentage-share or for whatever.
Much more important. However, as I already said, Spanish has totally disappeared in these latitudes. English is spoken as the lingua franca between the various islands with different languages (in fact, the country, possesses 8 major languages and more than 70 dialects). Practically, the English spoken by the population is simple enough for daily conversations and for commerce. Many participants of the sessions have stopped coming simply because they could not follow the English which is being used as medium of instruction during the sessions. Add also the English translations of the conferences by Fr. Ignacio … that’s it! I can affirm that 40% of the richness of those conferences is lost. And if we have to record copies of the conferences – what are the laws that govern these practices?
Very Important Conclusion: we need, and quite quickly too, transactions into Pilipino if we want these Workshops to be more effective. Who will give us permission to do this? In fact, some translations have already been done into Tagalog but are not official. You have to write us, giving us details what can be done and what cannot be done. If possible, quickly too.
Finally, and quite urgent: we ask permission to translate (to be honest, it has already been done!) the latest book of Ignacio entitled “La Rosa y el Fuego” (The Flame and the Rome) and publish it too.
Well, until here, brother, have a good time.
Joseph Nacua OFMCap
As can be seen, the need to have the Workshop in Tagalog was already felt, at least, right at the early stages of the history of the Workshop in the Philippines.
On January 21, 1999, the elected-by-consensus as National Coordinator, Ms Evangeline Gonzalez, also wrote another letter to Ms. Maria Ines Rojas, as a kind of report regarding the where and when of workshop sessions that were planned for the first semester of 1999. The letter also presented our felt needs for the spread of the Workshops.
The text of the letter is as follows:
Sra. Maria Ines Rojas
Prayer and Life Workshops
Through Dinorah Olavarria
Dear Sra. Rojas,
Peace and all good!
We in the Philippines have started the 1st cycle of 1999 Prayer and Life Workshops with a little over two hundred participants mostly lay persons. The Workshops are being conducted in eight venues.
Even during the first two cycles completed in 1998, the guides became aware of the desire of many to attend the Workshops but they were discouraged by their lack of facility in the use of the English language.
Many of our countrymen read, write, and understand English quite well, but, since they do not use that language in their daily lives, they cannot express their thoughts and feelings very well in English.
We have asked the participants to share during the community meditations and reflections in English and this has hampered their expressing what the biblical passages and the messages mean to them. This way, it would seem that asking them to share in English is very restrictive and is a block to their truly interiorizing the benefits of the Workshops.
This exclusivity in the use of English in expressing the participant’s feelings and thoughts will restrict the propagation of the Prayer and Life Workshops to people belonging to their upper and middle sectors of society. These same people have all the other venues of developing their prayer life open to them. Those belonging to the less affluent sector are the ones who have greater need for the Workshops and these are the people who have difficulty in English.
We guides understand well the need to conducting the Workshop in English this time and we all feel that the participants appreciate this fact. However, we would like to request that the participants be allowed to share in Tagalog or a mixture of our language and English. I am sure that the sharing given from their hearts and expressed precisely will be most enriching to the sharer in particular and also to all the other participants listening to them! The guides will be under strict instructions to observe the time allotted for the meditations, reflections, and sharing as strictly as possible to foreclose the fear that sharing in our native language will prolong the time allotted for the activity and cut into the prayer time. All the other activities in the Workshop will be done in English as per Manual.
We ask for your kind understanding of our situation as regard the Language and hope that you will grant our request.
Thank you for all the efforts and prayers on behalf of the prayer and life workshops in the Philippines.
We join the rest of the PLW all over the world in thanking God for this new manifestation of His love.
And accompanying the above letter is a list of planned Workshops:
Lourdes Church PLW
Felicidad Yapjoco – Emilynne Paragua
Sta. Teresita PLW
Joy Lara – Derrick Lara
San Pedro Bautista PLW
Fr. Agapito Diez, OFM – Lucy Almirañez – Carmel Buenafe
Sta. Ana PLW
Felicidad Yapjoco – Gely Gonzalez
Sta. Clara Monastery PLW P.M.
Flor and Bebot Manabat
Sts. Peter and Paul PLW
Fr. Joseph Nacua OFMCap – Derrick Lara
Sta. Clara Monastery PLW A.M.
Ledda and Noel Rebollos
While waiting for the response, Workshops were organized in quick succession following the list above. Bataan came first since it was discovered that Cynthia had family relatives there. Other places, aside from Sta. Teresita Parish and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Quezon City, followed quickly in Marikina, and in various other parishes such as San Pedro Bautista, Sta. Ana, Sta. Peter and Paul, all in the Metro-Manila area which was then still one archdiocese.
There is another series of faxes dated March 4, March 5, and another that is completely unreadable.
But among them, there is a fax from Cynthia Forlla, dated April 30, 1999, which, though personal and not official expresses the thoughts and sentiments of Cynthia interpreting Fr. Ignacio’s gesture of sending her to conduct sessions of the Workshop in the Philippines.
The letter in Spanish goes like this:
To: Fr. Joseph Nacua OFMCap.
From: Cynthia Forlla
Dear Fr. Joseph and fr Troy,
Un gusto de saludar les una vez más después de tanto silencio. Este es un pedido mu yimportante – son dos cosas primeramenteque se guarda en secreto entre usted, Fr Troy y yo – nadie más por ahora. No se si usted recibió algo de Padre Larrañaga. No se si enviaron a Dinorah tampoco, pero por la duda, por favor no digan nada. Me adelantaron que despues de muchas oraciones en los pies de Jesus Eucaristico, inspirado por el Espiritu Santo en el Amor del Padre y la Virgen Maria, P. Larrañaga ha reflexionado la importancia de tener Talleres en Pilipino. Eso quiere decir, en Segundo lugar, traducciones de todo la Sessions – de todas las Sessiones desde la Reunion de Apertura hasta el Desierto con los Silenciamentos tambien. [emphasis mine]. Ya comenzé a hacerlas pero por mi falta de vocabulario y el diccionario, no puedo hacerlas con mucha fidelidad y eficiencia. Ya les dije que todo eso necesita la ayuda de ustedes dos porque yo sola. No puedo. Tengo algunas cosas ya traducidas pero me parece que sera mejor … Por favor, mándenme fax porqué están controlando los correos personales en el trabajo de Tanya. Espero que pueden entender mis letras porque se me rompio la impresora justo ayer.Desde ya.muchas gracias. Pido sus bendiciones y que Dios les bendiga.Unidos siempre en oración y en los Corazones de Jesus y de María en las Manos Poderosas de Tata Diós.
To: Fr. Joseph Nacua OFMCap.
From: Cynthia Forlla
Dear Fr. Joseph and fr Troy,
Pax et Bonum.
A pleasure to greet you after such a long silence. I am making an important request – two things, first, that this be kept as a secret between you, fr. Troy and myself – no one else for the moment. I do not know whether you received anything from Fr. Larrañaga. I do not know either whether they sent Dinorah; but since there is doubt, please do not say anything yet. I am going far ahead [to say] that after much prayer at the foot of Eucharistic Jesus, inspired by the Holy Spirit in the love of the Father and of the Virgin Mary, Fr. Larrañaga has reflected on the importance of having the Workshops in Pilipino. This means, in second place, translations of all the sessions, – of all the sessions from the Opening Sessions until the Desert as well as the Silencing Exercises [emphasis mine].
I began to do it but because I lack the vocabulary and do not have a Dictionary, I cannot do it with fidelity and efficiency. I already told them that we would need the help of you two because I alone cannot do it. I have some translated already but it is better… Please, send through fax because they at the office of work are watching the personal correspondence of Tanya… I hope you can read my handwriting because my printer broke down exactly yesterday. Well, anyway, thanks very much. I ask your blessings and that God would bless you. Always united in prayer and in the hearts of Jesus and Mary in the Powerful Hands of Father God.
Therefore, our petition for translations into the vernacular was already in the heart of Fr. Ignacio since the start. It will take years before the idea would really take root in the minds and hearts of those who were in-charge to allow Filipinos to teach the people in their own language.
For the Second Cycle of 1999 (August to November), I found a page detailing the plan for Workshops in various venues.
Workshops were planned for:
Mondays: 6:30 PM – St Paul’s Church – Fr. Joseph and Bebot
Mondays: 7:30 PM – Lourdes Church – Carmel and Derrick
Tuesday: 5:30 _PM – Makati Business Offices – Noel and Fely
Wednesdays 7:30 PM – San Pedro Bautista – Joy and Gely
Thursdays: 7:30 PM – Bataan – Meng and Divina
Fridays: 4:30 PM – Lourdes School – Fr. Joseph and Fely
Saturdays: 5:00 PM – Marikina – Ledda and Flor
Saturdays and every 2nd Sunday: Baguio – Gely
I do not know for sure whether these schedules were followed; but what I can recollect is that workshops were conducted and some “guides” substituted for those unable or were present as observers and supporters to those conducting the sessions.
Workshops were also conducted even in the National Penitentiary of Muntinlupa, the Women’s Correctional in Mandaluyong, and in the Orthopedic Hospital in Quezon City.
The experience of those years may be characterized asan interplay of success and failures too. But the Workshops continued until it grew, albeit slowly, across the years to what it is now.
There is another fax dated June 26, 1999, which is a really a transcript of an email that never arrived dated June 13, 1999.
The writer began thus:
Peace and all Good!
Hope you’re back home this time. Please pass on the following news to Joy et al…
Went to Sta. Barbara last May 29 and met the English and Spanish Guides of the Calif/Texas/Arizona group of Zone 1. I was warmly welcomed by Gloria and Rita, the Zone Treasurer. I was presented to the groups separately as a “SURPRISE!!!”
I sensed the difference between the English and Spanish groups; I surmised that the English group is composed of Latinos who were born in the States or at least have lived here almost all their lives. There were just around nine of them! They held their meetings in a library room, seated very informally around a table. They were very warm and very interested in what is happening to us there. They asked questions and I answered as best as I could, and they seemed happy about the Philippine group. Then I was brought to the Spanish group. They held their assembly in the basement of the church. As we entered the hall, one could not mistake that the group meeting there are people who are so like us! Why? Because there was a long table loaded with FOOD! All sorts of food. Then I was brought into the big room where there were seated and you know how many they were about a hundred and twenty! All types of Latinos, blond, dark, slim, big, and all of them very warm and I felt that they are really family! I was introduced in Spanish but I spoke to them in English. My closing remark was that with their prayers and support the Philippine group will hold their assembly in 2000 with the same number of guides present or a few more then they. That got a big laugh and clapping.
Took up with Gloria your offer to “re-format” the Manual. She says okay but be sure not a word, a punctuation mark is changed. I promised you would not. The re-formatting will be just so the instructions will be read by the Guides more easily. Isn’t this what we agreed? Anyway, Gloria said that the new improved Manual should b out soon. This is what the English group is working on.
She gave me more materials, which I will present to the Guides when we meet before August 1st. In this connection, could you please ask Joy to call me? She could just mark the call in her bill and reimburse it from PLW funds. Ask her to call me before I leave for New Jersey on the 23rd of this month.
One last thing, could you please email me the phone numbers of Cynthia and Dinorah? I don’t want to bother Gloria about this. Thanks. Give my warm regards to our fraternity members. Are they preparing for the assembly and election of new council? I hope that they young people will take on more responsibility in the fraternity. They are all qualified to take on the job as council members. Extend to all greetings from big, beautiful, materialistic United States!
Fr., learned from Joy you did not receive this email! So am faxing it to you. Perhaps you will (or may) pass on the … when you meet next. Emailed Joy too, but no reply up to now. I don’t know that is wrong, but we get replies from Baco and my office. Regards.
There is a hiatus in the description of what happened next as there is again a series of faxes that cannot be deciphered anymore! Until there is a fax sent and copied in plain paper which is preserved much better. Since the dates are unreadable, we do not know whether these faxes were sent before or after September 30, 1999. A faxed copy of an Invoice bearing this date arrived from Miami. It is really a Bill for some books sent from the United States. This means that the Workshops were going on as reference books such as these were in demand.
The last recorded page I have is a program for the Guides’ Assembly to be held in La Verna Retreat House in Tagaytay City with the theme: Journeying Together Towards the Golden Dream. The Assembly were assigned dates such as May 5, 6, and 7, with the objective of “…bringing about unity among Guides to enable them to impart to all not only the workshop but the P&LW Spirituality.”
On the next month, on June 4, 2000, the Coordinating Team held a meeting at 16:30 hrs at the Lourdes Convent Receiving Room. The following was in the Agenda:
Evaluation of the May, 2000, Assembly.
Schedule of the 2nd Cycle Workshops
Visits to: Bataan – June 6th
Naval, Biliran – end of June with Sr. Cecille, OSC
Baguio: Workshops and formation
Materials for coming cycles
International Guides’ Assembly
Already was mentioned there as possible venues: Naval (Biliran), and Isabela! Would you imagine that!
It was also discovered, early on, that every Guide must transform himself or herself into witnesses of their own message in order to be credible. That is still a concern at present and will always be as long as the Workshops are being conducted. That is simply taking to heart what the late Pope Paul VI already expressed in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi: that “…the world believes more witnesses than teachers; and if it believes teachers it is because they are also witnesses.”
Statistics will somehow reflect in its own way some information that may complete the portrait of the Prayer and Life Workshops after fifteen (15) years of its experience in the Philippines and its dreams and plans in these next decades of the Third Millennium.
In praise of God. Amen..