The Young Thomasian Professionals Lay Dominican fraternity with Fr. Enrico Gonzales OP. The retreat was also attended by friends of the YTP.
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The Young Thomasian Professionals Lay Dominican Fraternity (YTP), a chapter-in-formation based in the Dominican-run Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila, held its annual three-day retreat from Holy Monday to Holy Wednesday (April 10 to 12) at Santa Catalina Spirituality Center. Retreat master, Rev. Fr. Enrico D. Gonzales OP from the Dominican Province of the Philippines, focused on two pillars of Dominican life, namely: prayer and study.
Dr. Belén L. Tangco, OP addressing the YTP Lay Dominicans
Fr. Gonzales emphasized the importance of the heart’s formation vis-à-vis the professional and academic advancements of a person. He pointed out that while the world is sprawling with talented and competent professionals, it also needs people whose hearts are transformed by Christ and His Gospel. Only when a person’s heart is ‘educated’ in this sense can he/she start living a true exemplary life, a unique way of preaching and affecting change in the world, especially for Lay Dominicans in the twenty-first century.
Vocation and Profession Fr. Gonzales also explained to the young Lay Dominicans that their profession is subordinate to their vocation. “Profession is something we choose for ourselves,” he said, “but vocation is something that God wills for us.” Fr. Gonzales invited the young professionals to let their God-given vocation be a compass in all aspects of their daily life. “In your profession you will certainly have to retire one day,” he said, “but you cannot retire from your vocation.” He also added that at the end of their lives, God will not ask them how many academic or professional achievements they gained, but how they lived and loved through their vocation. Still, one’s profession must be viewed as a gift from the Lord because it can be highly instrumental in fulfilling one’s vocation. He explained that profession implants a person in the world, enabling him/her to penetrate the world more deeply —including its different aspects and strata— putting him/her in a favorable position to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Problems vs. Difficulties Fr. Gonzales called to remembrance one of the important messages of the cross of Jesus Christ: life will not be without its difficulties, and it is through suffering that Christians are able to grow more in love of God and of neighbor. He invited the young Lay Dominicans to always see and reflect on human life in the light of the cross of Christ. “Problems are different from difficulties,” Fr. Gonzales said. He explained that problems have solutions while difficulties require Christians to bear them patiently. In life, it is necessary to be able to identify which are problems and which are difficulties. Christians must not be afraid to endure suffering because this is the narrow way to heaven, as Jesus Himself has shown through His example.
The retreat attendees with Fr. Enrico D. Gonzales OP and Dr. Belén Tangco OP. They are also joined by Sis. Imelda Emoylan, a Lay Dominican novice and catechist; and Janna Aquino and Wilfred delos Santos, friends of the YTP.
The YTP Lay Dominicans enjoying the gardens of Santa Catalina Spirituality Center, a retreat house named after St. Catherine of Siena and run by Dominican Sisters.
Meanwhile, Dr. Belén L. Tangco OP, formator of the Young Thomasian Professionals (also President of the Provincial Council of the Laity - Philippine Province and Asia-Pacific Coordinator to the International Council of Lay Dominican Fraternities), expressed her heartfelt gratitude to Fr. Gonzales who has been the group’s retreat master for years. Once again, she emphasized to the young Lay Dominicans the significance of spending some time, withdrawn from the rigors and the noise of the world, evaluating themselves and strengthening their relationship with God.
In relation to this, Fr. Gonzales also stressed the importance of constant prayer. Citing Christ’s command for us “to pray without ceasing” (Luke 18:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:17), Fr. Gonzales said prayer is an unfaltering connection with the Lord. When people lose prayer in their lives, then they are most certainly poised to lose their fight against evil. Persistence in prayer, he pointed out, is essential to daily survival. “Always pray. Whenever you find it so hard to pray, that’s reason for you to pray more,” he said.
On Holy Wednesday, the Young Thomasian Professionals made a pilgrimage to the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag in Pangasinan province. Run by the Fathers and Brothers of the Dominican Province of the Philippines, it is one of the best known Marian shrines in the country. The young Lay Dominicans were received and blessed by Rev. Fr. Eugene Cabillon OP who is part of the Dominican community there. Philippine Prior Provincial, Fr. Napoleon Sipalay Jr., OP, was Prior of that community before he was elected to the top post last year. The Young Thomasian Professionals Lay Dominican fraternity accepts applicants year-round. It is a chapter-in-formation that primarily caters to university students and young professionals. For more information, visit their website at www.laydominicanytp.org.
Young Thomasian Professionals Lay Dominican Group
Santísimo Rosario Parish, University of Santo Tomás
España Boulevard, Manila 1015 Philippines