The first six months (May-October 2008) in my new responsibility as Provincial Delegate to the OCDS reaffirmed whatever my predecessor, Fr. Alan Rieger, handed over to me as to the directions and priorities that the OCDS in the Philippines should pursue. After visiting more than 90 percent of the OCDS communities, I presented these interesting findings to the OCDS Provincial Council in our last meeting (November 20) in San Pablo Carmel:
a. The need to focus on formation. It means really going back to the most basic and essential values of Teresian Carmelite life in the context of their state of life, such as:
1) Teresian Carmelite prayer/silence and solitude.
2) Teresian community life that transforms the members to become persons in commmunion.
3)Other basic elements of Teresian Carmelite life as stupilated in the OCDS Constitutions and Statutes.
b. Several communities, because of their priorities and lifestyle, are acting more like a confraternity or social club and not as an integral part of the Teresian Carmelite Family.
c. The need for some Community leaders to be reminded of their primary responsibility which is formation, as mandated in the OCDS Constitutions. The Community Council's leadership has to be redirected to their main task and also be empowered to decide. Lay empowerment should be focused on the Community Councils and not on the OCDS Philippines Council, the latter being but a service component of the OCDS with no governing power. What we need to develop are strong, resposible and committed Community Council leaders.
d. The need to recruit younger and male members. Given all these findings, I made the following recommendations that we will pursue with passion and focus on this coming year:
1) Formation is the top priority and it means focusing on the basic elements of our Teresian Carmelite life. I also envision a formation approach that will complement the National Program of Formation Manual. It means a program that is integrative and value-centered in character.
2) Creating the environment in every Community that will enable the members to live the essentials of our Teresian Carmelite life through emersions, Carmelite retreats, building community in contemplation around the word of God, etc.
3) Lay empowerment centered on the Community Councils. With this in mind, we design a Psycho-Spiritual Integration Program for the leaders, formators and potential members whom we expect will be more responsible, committed and empowered in their present and future responsibilities for their Community.
I am aware that the OCDS in the Philippines has developed tremendously in the last few years through the talent, commitment and passion of our lay Teresian Carmelites. However, I have in my heart the notion of the Church always reforming. We cannot simply rest in our laurels and accomplishments. The ideals of the reform initiated by our holy Mother must continue. We just have to be honest that our actual conditions vis a vis the ideals od our Teresian Carmelite values have to improve and mature. That's why we need to emphasize and focus on the formation. I now that some may not agree with my assesment but let us remember that the enemy of becoming better is becoming fixated in our belief that we are already so good. This will surely lead us to mediocrityin our spiritual journey as Teresian Carmelites. Let us remember that our life in Carmel is to become men and women of the mountain, always scaling the heights without let-up in order to reach the summit... and our ultimate goal and value: UNION WITH GOD.