Lipa Archdiocesan Lay Leaders Celebrate Month of the Laity
Some 200 lay leaders from all over the Archdiocese of Lipa gathered on Oct. 8, 2016 at the Archbishop’s Residence in Lipa City to mark the extended celebration of the Month of the Laity usually observed in September. It was organized by Bro. Loreto Guinhawa, president of the Archdiocesan Council of the Laity, together with the Council’s spiritual director, Rev. Fr. Angel Marcelo Pastor.
Highlight of the assembly was a talk on the life and teachings of Venerable Fr. Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD, a French Carmelite priest who will be beatified on Nov. 19, in Avignon, France. Ven. Fr. Marie-Eugene founded Notre Dame de Vie Institute, a secular institute of laypersons and priests who live the Carmelite spirituality. Its members are present in more than a dozen countries spread throughout five continents.
Ms. Ma. Teresita Giron, member of the women’s branch of NDV, described the lasting influence of the three Carmelite Doctors of the Church—Saints Teresa of Jesus, John of the Cross, and Therese of the Child Jesus—on Fr. Marie-Eugene. She explained how the Carmelite ideal of “action and contemplation well integrated” convinced the NDV founder to form a group of laypersons who would live this ideal in the secular professions and thus give witness to God. At the same time, Fr. Marie-Eugene saw how an intense life of prayer was indispensable for all priests as they carry out their ministry. Hence, the priestly branch of NDV Institute also came into being.
According to Ms. Giron, Ven. Fr. Marie-Eugene came to the Philippines twice. The first time was in 1954 when he visited several Carmelite monasteries as Vicar-General of the Order, and implanted the NDV Institute upon the invitation of then Msgr. Patrick Shanley, bishop of the Prelature of Infanta. On that occasion Fr. Marie-Eugene also set foot in Lipa City to see the Carmelite nuns.
Ven. Fr. Marie-Eugene returned to the Philippines in 1964 to encourage the increasing number of NDVs. Today, NDV Filipino members are in Bulacan, Zambales, Manila, Quezon, Laguna, Bicol and Davao. Other Filipino members work in Taiwan, Canada, Mexico and Benin.
Ms. Giron pointed out the centrality of baptismal grace in the teachings of Ven. Fr. Marie-Eugene. She said that the future blessed (or “Beato”) untiringly preached on the crucial role of daily silent prayer and frequent reception of the sacraments in order to develop intimacy with God. At the same time, Fr. Marie-Eugene taught that a life of prayer necessarily flows into the apostolate in all its forms.
The basic teachings of Ven. Fr. Marie-Eugene can be found in his major book, Je Veux Voir Dieu, a synthesis of the Carmelite doctrine on prayer and action as expounded by Saints John of the Cross, Teresa de Jesus, and Therese of the Child Jesus. It has been translated into six languages. In English it appears in two volumes as I Want to See God and I am a Daughter of the Church.