Following Xavier to the Peripheries: Reflections on the 2015 Alumni Silent Retreat

Seated left to right: Mike Lim ’80, Bambi Chua, XS DARO, Fr. Xavier “Javy” Alpasa, SJ, Willy Tong ’66, Ahsiong Madera ’66 Standing left to right: Edwin Eufemio ’82, Ed de Joya ’80, Bob Yulo ’79, Ever Go Tian ’83, Jeff Yao ’72, Tim Tolentino ’76, George Uy ’66, Andy Chua ’74, Dobbin Tan ’81, Jerome Ty ’73 and Albert Yu ’73.

The 2015 Alumni Silent Retreat was held last 7 to 9 August 2015 at the Carmelite Missionaries Center of Spirituality, Tagaytay City with Fr. Xavier Alpasa, SJ as retreat director.

Reflection 1

Last August, I joined the 2015 silent retreat for a second year in a row – interested in some quiet time but not quite expecting to learn anything new.

Fr. Alpasa was an excellent retreat master. I was struck by his capacity to relate current day issues to religious writings of old. The retreat made me realize that our human life is indeed a gift, but it is not so unique in a way. Our dreams, our hopes, our passions, and even our sorrows have been around from the beginning of time. Thus, I am moved to study how man has managed to handle issues that have confronted him so I can better empower myself moving forward.

Surviving the three days and two nights of silence was not as hard as I thought. Silence is blessed; it makes you listen more intently. With all the clutter around us, it is hard to listen well. The silence allowed me to take a closer look at myself and perhaps even confront my mirror image. Do I like what I see? I have learned to take a step back now when needed, to give myself time to think and process. The experience of listening to God and quieting myself has also improved my ability to listen to others…. often revealing how similar we are.

My silent retreat can be summed up in one word: LOVE. God’s love encompasses us and all that what we do and all that we are. His LOVE can be our beacon in the dark.

What would I say to a fellow alumnus to encourage him to attend the silent retreat? Just be open to listen to what God has to say…it can be truly enlightening. I would not have exchanged it for anything else.

Finally, I had a great time. It was a truly fruitful endeavor.

–Tim Tolentino ’76

Reflection 2

When Pope Francis told the Jesuit community to go out to the peripheries in response to their query during his meeting with the community, he probably did mean to go outside of the cities and help the “poor” in the provinces. Thinking about it some more, it may still be inclusive of assisting the people around us – the “neighbors”. Moving out into the peripheries need not mean moving out physically into Visayas and Mindanao. The periphery can be just outside our homes or comfort zones, much like the use of the word “neighbor”. Physically it is the folks next door. But when we are told to love our neighbors, it does not mean only to love the folks next door. Who is our neighbor? Our neighbor is anyone who needs help. When the Good Samaritan helped the traveller who was mugged, he was in fact helping a “neighbor”. Thus, following Xavier into the peripheries may mean moving out of our comfort zone and spending time, talent and treasure to help a neighbor we see everyday and everywhere: the street children.

–George Uy ’66

 

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