08/22/2009, 00.00
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Society of the Divine Word marks one hundred years of mission in the Philippines

by Santosh Digal
Present in the Philippines since 15 August 1909 the Society of the Divine word is now the largest religious community in the country. For superiors the anniversary is an occasion to appreciate the fruits of their work and through the Word of God enrich the land of their mission.

Manila (AsiaNews) - On August 15 the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) celebrated 100 years of mission in the Philippines. On the Feast of the Assumption 1909 the first two missionaries, Father Louis Beckert and Father Jhon Scheirmann, landed in the port of San Isidro.

In the course of a century, the Filipino SVD community has become the largest congregation of men in the country. Its 460 members are located in three provinces that comprise the whole of the archipelago. In addition to helping the cities street children and the poor, the missionaries bring the Word of God to the indigenous people who still do not know the Gospel.

Father Antonio M. Perna, superior general of the order, of Filipino origin, says that "with the centenary of the Society of the Divine Word, our three provinces have the privilege of collecting what the early missionaries had sown with great difficulties and sacrifice." He adds that "in order to continue to sow in good and bad circumstances, we must have the same generosity and wisdom of the early missionaries”.

The centenary celebrations began August 13 with a concert in the city of San Juan, and will conclude later this month in the port of San Isidro with a mass celebrated by Fr Pernia. As Fr. Niel Cantilado, head of the Central province confirms “celebrations serve mainly to render the land fertile for mission”.

  The Society of the Divine Word was founded in 1875 by St. Arnold Janssen. After the first house opened in Steyl (Netherlands) the order has now spread to 67 countries and counts more than 6 thousand religious. Asia is the main basin of vocations. In recent years, the Philippines alone have provided the congregation well with 537 members of whom 170 are committed abroad.

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“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”