Talisay City, the Philippines, 11 December 2016 -- Don Bosco Formation Center - Lawaan, had a soft-launching of a year-long celebration of its forty years as a Salesian house. The institution began as a minor seminary for high school students. Today, it is a full blown Formation Center for college aspirants. It is also home to the Center of Lay and Youth (CLAY) that runs programs for Catechists and Religius formation, the Social Communications office and the Retreat house.
The opening of the ruby year of began in the afternoon with three important blessing rites: first was the ground breaking for a new chapel for the novitiate house and the Balay ni Don Bosco (house of Don Bosco) -- a replica of St. John Bosco’s childhood home; second was to honor Fr Eduardo Espirtu and Fr John Peter Clifford, who were pioneers of the forty year old Salesian house and lastly the blessing of the whole Formation Center main building following the route of the first blessing in its inauguration day Dec 7 1976. The blessing concluded with the ribbon-cutting ceremony of an exhibit showcasing memorable pictures throughout the years.
A well-represented concelebrated Mass was celebrated and a dinner program that honored the alumni priests and brothers of the institution. To conclude the night, an academy in honor of the Blessed Mother, the Immaculate Conception was staged by the novices and seminarians, dubbed as “Wala”, a play on the word “empty” and “nothing” which highlighted inner goodness, openness and humility to God’s will as manifested by the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception in novitiate
Lawaan, the Philippines, 8 December 2016 -- The Novices presented Academy in Honor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception entitled “Wala” (Nothing). Whenever someone would ask about the title of the academia, the respond would be, “Wala” or “nothing” in English. Honestly, there was really no title even during the first weeks of practices. Maybe this was a sign that Mary wanted us to highlight her nothingness, her being wala – her being Immaculate or no stain of sin, her humility and the like.
The play revolved in the story of how a street boy was able to solve the parochial problem for the coming feast of Mary, Immaculate Conception. This academy also intended to introduce to the people the “Year of the Parish as a Communion of Communities” – this year’s theme set out by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippine (CBCP) as part of the preparation for the 500th year anniversary of Catholicism in the country.
The academy was staged twice – on the eve of the feast and on the feast itself. And it was attended by religious, priests, lay mission partners, benefactors, members of the Salesian family, and many young people.
Fr. Amelito Racelis, SDB, rector of the Don Bosco Formation Center- Lawaan, gave the good night talk. He said that it is not about the crowning of Mary with the golden crown, but being the golden crown itself. He also emphasized the emptiness that Mary had, which gave way for God to fill her with His grace.