The Daughters of St. Paul in Iloilo organized a day of reflection on the Word of God through film: GOD’S WORD IN CONTEMPORARY FILM and launching of GOSPEL POWER 2018 by Sr. Bernardita Dianzon, FSP last October 22, 2017 at the St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Jaro, Iloilo City.
For walk-in patrons of the Media Center, a simple book signing was set on October 21 - Saturday. Being a professor at the Loyola School of Theology, Sr. Bernie’s former students, priests and seminarians were enthusiastic to get copies of her book prior to the event. Even our former chaplain and faithful collaborator, Fr. Jerry Locsin, who is now assigned in Dumangas – (more or less 2-hour drive from FSP convent) ordered 50 copies with Sr. Bernie’s signature, to be given as gift to his friends. Walk-in patrons did not leave the Media Center without bringing with them one or more copies of Gospel Power signed by Sr. Bernie.
On October 22 – Sunday, the FSP Sisters, together with the APC, IOLA and ISGA, once more came in full-force – participating and serving together at the event. It began with an opening prayer and introduction of the author/speaker. This was followed by Sr. Bernie’s brief but very helpful orientation about how a movie and other media, such as reflections on the Word of God in books, as well as homilies at every Eucharistic celebration, serve as “pointers” to the world projected by the biblical text, the alternative world that God wants us to be part of. She also spoke about the intentional brevity of the reflections in her book, Gospel Power – which is meant to leave more space for the Holy Spirit and for silence that will allow the Word of God to speak to the reader’s heart. The short prayer, she said, is meant to express the reader’s desire to enter into the world projected by the Gospel text. Sr. Bernie concluded her short input with two guide questions for the participants to ponder while watching the movie entitled JOSHUA.
The movie is about a man – a stranger who came to a small town and touched people’s lives by the simple gesture of being present, genuinely interested and involved in their concerns. Joshua figuratively portrayed the Emmanuel (God-with-us), present in the here and now. The film endeavored to show that the message of God’s love is unchangeable even in our age and time. The conflict in the film echoed Jesus’ struggle with the Pharisees, whose role was taken on by a hard-hearted Catholic priest who suspected Joshua’s motives. The priest was converted instantaneously when Joshua touched him to the core of his being and removed all anger in his heart. The movie concludes with Joshua being summoned before the Pope, to whom he offers as gift his carpentry tools. Joshua thanks the Pope for the self-offering he made as a child. This surprising revelation of his secret consecration made the Pope aware of being in the presence of the divine. Joshua renews the mandate given to Peter and enjoins the Pontiff to let the people know how much God loves them and never leaves them, in good times and in bad.
After the movie, the participants were asked to share their reflection and experience as a whole. One participant felt blessed for the unexpected experience of watching a film where God’s Word is clearly projected. The film is at the same time a projection of our relationship with God through our relationship with the people in our family and community. Other participants expressed that they came out of curiosity, since it would be their first time to attend a reflection on the Word of God through film. But later, that curiosity turned into a deep spiritual encounter with God through a medium that is usually associated with entertainment.
The event concluded with a thanksgiving prayer and blessing by one of the participants, Fr. Domingo, a Millhill missionary priest.
The Sisters in Iloilo are most grateful for the prayers of the FSP Sisters and the untiring support of the other members of the Pauline Family in Iloilo: the Association of Pauline Cooperators, the Institute of Mary of the Annunciation and the Institute of St. Gabriel the Archangel. They were also touched by the supportive response of the neighboring parishes - St. Clement and St. Joseph the Worker, where the announcement of the event was made in the Saturday and Sunday Masses, a week before the event was held. The participation of religious sisters from other congregations and seminarians from other parishes, the warm accommodation of the Carmelite Fathers and staff St. Joseph Hall, and the provision of other needs for the event by generous and supportive benefactors and collaborators are very much appreciated.
Our heartfelt gratitude to Sr. Bernie for her presence and for sharing with the Ilonggos (people of Iloilo) the fruit of her daily meditation and the richness of the Word of God in her life. It was indeed a fitting celebration of Mission Sunday and pre-celebration of the feast of Jesus Master, for with God’s grace everything was made possible – to Him be glory and praise! - Sr. Reajoy, FSP