Manila, Philippines, 13 December 2020 -- On the special Salesian Family Feast, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (8 December 2020) the first two members of the CDB secular institute made their first profession during the Eucharist celebrated by the FIN Provincial, Fr Gerry Martin. The first profession Eucharist was followed on the digital zoom platform by a good number of CDB members in three other continents.
The two first newly professed members are part of a vibrant Filipino CDB group, born during the past 6 years with the accompaniment of their Ecclesiastical Assistant, Fr. Eli Cruz, SDB. We are happy to share the vocation story-telling of one of the first Filipino CDB members:
"I only came to know about the CDB (Volunteers With Don Bosco) in 2014. It was not really something that I considered a vocational path; considering that when I was younger up to my early years of professional life, I really wanted to become a Salesian priest. I was very attracted to religious life.
I went to the Salesian seminary (Aspirantate to discern and immerse for several days. I had the chance to live their daily life, actively participated in their daily routines, scheduled a one-on-one chat with the priests, and spent most of my free time in front of the Blessed Sacrament and prayed for my vocation. However, upon further reflection and spiritual direction with the Salesians, I came to a decision that religious life was not meant for me.
Months passed by and I was invited by Fr. Eli Cruz if I want to consider another Salesian Family which is the Volontari Con Don Bosco (CDB = Volunteers With Don Bosco). He gave me flyers and articles to read. At the same time, he set up also a meeting with Fr. Vaclav who was years ago the first CDB Assistant in Korea. It took me a while to process everything. I scheduled several meetings with Fr. Eli since I had questions about the CDB’s way of life, the Institute, the vocation, etc.
Soon enough, I said yes to Fr. Eli. But in all honesty, I wasn’t really quite sure if this was the right vocation for me. I had worries and doubts. Thinking of being one of the first CDB aspirants in the Philippines was concerning to me. There were lingering questions like, who shall guide me in this CDB journey? What if I make mistakes? How do I know if was on the right track since there are no contemporary and local CDBs I can share my thoughts with? I opened these questions to Fr. Eli and brought these questions to my prayers. I asked the Lord to guide me and to bear me with as I’m a work in progress.
As I continued my monthly CDB discernment session, I started learning about the Institute; its identity, and its purpose. I began delving into the CDB Constitutions, did some research about Consecrated Secular Life, and read more books about Salesian Spirituality. In due time, I was able to gradually absorb and appreciate my chosen vocation. It only proves that even if I do not fully understand my calling at first, God will never cease to help me figure things out until I finally get it.
My regular formation with our Ecclesiastical Assistant has helped me enrich my vocation. Our collaboration has given me the opportunity to know myself better and ways to further improve my character. The vocation growth continues with each session and it opens the discovery on where God is leading me and what He is preparing me to do.
As I continued my CDB journey, there were challenges that came along the way. As a secular, I live in the world and the demands of the corporate life consumed most of my time. I struggled with my prayer life. I told myself that it’s not an excuse to say that I am busy and swamped with workload… I had to change my routine. Instead of praying the rosary at night, which leads me to fall asleep right away due to exhaustion, I do it while I’m travelling to work. During breaks, I tried to pause for about 10 to 15 minutes to calm things down and assess what happened during the day and how I could change or improve my actions the next day. Also, I need to get used to people asking me when will I get married or what is my sexual preference since they do not see me dating someone. There are times that I’m being challenged on what I know about love, courtship, and sexuality since I’m not in a relationship. At first, I found the questions bothersome, but I got used to it since these are the questions that will be asked from me not just once but a hundred times. Nevertheless, I already have a canned response which is honest and at the same time believable.
On 8 December 2020, during my first profession, I pronounced my decisive and joyful “yes” to the invitation of Christ to become a faithful layman, called by the Spirit, to follow Christ through Salesian Consecrated Secularity. I committed myself to work for the transformation of the world animated by the spirit of Don Bosco.
Living my experience as a CDB, rooted in Salesian teachings, reminds me of what Don Bosco said: “For you I study, for you I work, for you I play, for you I will give my life, to my last breath.” In the corporate world, I might not explicitly teach the faith but I show it through my actions in terms of listening, mentoring, coaching, and by being a friend. By vocational choice I consider myself as a field hospital after the battle; ready to give priority to the wounded and to warm the hearts of the faithful as I live in the world, not of the world, but for the world."
We congratulate the first two professed CDB members and pray for all others who are starting this vocation journey around the world, especially in the Philippines, in Vietnam and in India. Their Central Ecclesiastical Assistant, Fr. Joan Lluis Playa, SDB - based in the General House in Rome, is always ready to assist the SDBs who would like to accompany this vocation.
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