In Love and Gratitude

by Arlenne Villahermosa, CLM

It all started with a dream.  The attraction from mission work remained in my heart as a desire and in my mind as a dream ... for so long.  I tried listening to it and responded in my own way, trying to fulfill that dream and satisfy that desire.  Thus, aside from my full time job in the bank and my part time teaching in the university, I made myself available, with much joy and "gusto", to be involved in the local church through apostolic work and in the formation work by giving retreats, recollections and seminars, and recently, spiritual direction.  I was happy with my life, but something deep within never stopped stirring.

Korea, 2003, Arlenne with an elderly woman
It was back in 1984 when I first met Fr. Sean Coyle, a Columban priest assigned in Cebu who paved the way for me to the Columban Lay Mission Program. More than anything else, his presence gave a good witness to the Columban way of life for me.  Then, I started reading the MISYON magazine and other related magazine on mission.  so in 2001, after searning for mission program to join, I finally decided on the Columban Lay Mission Program. (I'm happy with the decision I made). God's hand was very operative in the events unfolding in my life leading to my decision.  In the orientation / discernment stage of the program for nine (9) months, I found affirmations of my decisions. It was a very good formation stage as well for the four (4) of us, individually and as a group.  The journey was beautiful, as the different modules, courses and immersions brought about varying degrees of psychological, emotional, spiritual, social, sexuality, theological and mission awareness. It molded me for the mission.  But ultimately, I saw myself prepared to be always open and discerning to God's will for me as manifested and to be manifested in the daily events of my life, in the diversity and uniqueness of each experience.

Myanmar, 2010, Columban Jubilee Celebration  
On March 16, 2002 at 10 am, I was sent off by the parish of Sta. Teresa de Avila in Talisay City, Cebu to
work on mission with the Columban Society. It was a day of commitment, prayer, assurance, awareness and hope not only for me but also for my family, relatives, friends and the local church of Talisay City, Cebu.  The outpouring of graces and the generous support of my family, friends, relatives, parishioners and the Columban family made God's love truly present and alive. A good number of people present, solemn liturgy, strong presence of the Columban family, beautiful songs beautifully sang, bountiful food, full support of family, happy faces, I could not ask for more.  I felt it was a day of God's affirmation to my missionary life.  The pain of detachment was very real to me.  But there was something more than the pain that made me go beyond ... and it was LOVE.  The unconditional and mysterious ways of love I've experienced and received from God through my family, friends and the Columban Society and all the opportunities for living and growing in life have pushed me to share to others what I have generously and abundantly received, whatever circumstances, and whoever I will be with.

What has been freely given to me, i try to freely and wholly share to others, in love and gratitude.


Arlenne Villahermosa was assigned in Korea from 2002 to 2006.  She was recalled to the Philippines in 2006 until 2008 to coordinate the  Columban Lay Mission here.  In  November 2008, Arlenne , together with  two Korean LMs   were  assigned to Myanmar.    She is  back in the Philippines since May 2012.   

1 comment:

Christian Simple said...

I remember that I used to dance that same dance while I'm in the Philippines.TheFamily was of the field that time. God Bless! Mabuhay!!