Confirmation students with Father Edwin Soliva, SDB, Facilitator, and teachers Rachelle Wenger, Mimi David, Yolanda Lomotan, Nancy Gonewai

The morning of Saturday, 23 January, dawned cool and sunny.  With happy anticipation, the CCD (Continuing Catholic Development) level 7 Confirmation students and their teachers gathered early at the Parish Centre – it was the day of their 2016 annual Recollection.  After a full briefing on the day’s program from the teachers, and a prayer for guidance and a safe journey, the group departed in two busloads from Santuario  de San Antonio Parish promptly at 8.00am  for the first part of their journey to Antipolo and the Eugenio Lopez Centre, the Recollection venue.

For the fifth year in a row, Father Edwin Soliva, SDB, was again the Facilitator and as in previous Recollections, his lecture, his advice, his counselling, his mentoring, his charisma – held the students spell-bound from the beginning to the end of the day’s activities.   The Recollection proper started at 9.00am and his opening remarks   were “Confirmation is allowing God to bring out the best in you and saying I CAN.”   And yet, he continued, of all the seven Sacraments, Confirmation is the most neglected, forgotten, and un-appreciated of all.  Therefore, as he told the students, he would teach them and show them how to receive, to respect and to sustain the coming of the Holy Spirit into their lives which would enable them to live their lives each day, to the fullest.

Father Edwin’s first talk was on the 3Ss  – stewardship  – the realization that we are mere caretakers and that all the blessings in life come from God;  simplicity –  the realization that there is a great God Who is in control and Who is the source of all our blessings; sharing – the realization that on receiving these many blessings, we not keep them to ourselves but share them with others just like Mary, when after the Annunciation, she travelled to visit and to serve her cousin, Elizabeth.

On Reflection, student, Gabe Bautista said “………… The last S is sharing and this means I should share what I have with others.  Sharing means to give but you don’t necessarily need to share objects, you can share knowledge and when you share knowledge, it means you teach something to others”.

Student Carina Samson, reflected on the final concept Father Edwin shared in his second talk on FEAR and LOVE.  Father Edwin demonstrated the difference between saying I can and I wish.   In her Reflection, Carina  said that Fear is a powerful force which can make man say “I wish I can but I can’t”   Love also is a powerful force that can make man say “If I want to make my dreams come true, I have to wake up and make them happen”.  “Father taught us how to sing the song I CAN by Donna Cruz –  ‘I’m so lucky I could smile, I didn’t know this for a while’ were the words which touched me the most because I used to complain about what I didn’t have in life instead of finding ways to enjoy the life I’m blessed with.”

The inspirational movie Father Edwin showed the students, FACING THE GIANTS, demonstrated what can happen if we allow the giants and failures to pull us down like what happened to the coach of the football team.  But his life turned around for the better when he surrendered his fear to God.  In his Reflection, Diego Lorenzana, concluded , “I like to think that fear and love are completely opposites.  Since it’s either being mediocre and being passionate.  ‘If we lose, we praise God, if we win we still praise God’ inspired the team’s determination never to give up.  Fear is always trying to fit in while love, is being yourself and showing passion to live the best life we can”.

As always, the day ended with the celebration of Holy Mass and thanksgiving for a truly wonderful and meaningful day.   The Chapel of the Eugenio Lopez Centre was standing room only and the presence of so many parents and siblings of the Confirmandi at Mass was indeed an affirmation to the teachers in particular, and to CCD in general, of the importance and the necessity of this annual Recollection, to fully prepare the students in the reception into their lives, of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation.  Part of the Offertory were  the students’ letters  to their parents in response to the parents’ Palanca to them.  Before the final blessing, the students read out loud to the congregation their individual “love dare” to make them realize that the Recollection was not an outing but instead, it was a great Timeout with their Coach (God), asking them to do something.

This Recollection has been special and unique in two ways : the students numbered the most with sixty-two who will be making their Confirmation in May; and the attendance rate was one hundred percent, breaking all CCD records – a sure testament to the teachers in prepping them well and mentoring to them, before the Recollection.