Michael Bugeja SJ writes from Manila

 

Michael Bugeja - Loyola Hall of Studies, Manila - Philippines

Time, while flying out to Manila, was not an issue since in total I had more than 17 hours in the air.... which gave me ample time to dream about what I was due to live for the next 7 months. 

I had mixed feelings as in truth I did not know what to expect, except very hot sticky weather!.. and I was soon to find that this was the reality. The minute I got out of immigration and collected my suitcase I can say that the intense heat welcomed me to the Philippines.

I had someone pick me up to take me to what was to become home. As we reached the gates of this massive institution in Metro Manila as it is known, I was lost for words. I was once again on Campus! I thought I had left university life behind only to find it waiting for me on the other end!

The community I am currently part of is on the Ateneo de Manila University campus which is massive. We have about 6 mini vans going round the ring road from 7am until 7pm, a continuous free service provided by the university to get students and staff around. Tiny motor bikes with side carriages offer lifts at a small fee, as well as taxi services - all this on campus.

At the very far end stands the Loyola Hall of Studies which hosts the Jesuit formation community and priests lecturing in Theology and Philosophy. It’s a community of approximately 70 Jesuits of all ages since it hosts the infirmary also. A truly lovely Jesuit spirit looms around the house. Of course upon being welcomed to this new home I was shown to my room, right at the far end of the top floor, number 506. The fifth floor is where all 10 tertians will be hosted. We have our own chapel and refectory. A truly quiet spot in the place. 

The tertians come from 7 different countries including Indonesia, Croatia, America, Philippines, Malta, Korea and Vietnam. A vibrant group of young(ish) Jesuits who come with a variety of experiences, all eager to calm down after these initial years of apostolate after ordination. The spirit between us is one of true friendship in The Lord seeking to be as open as possible and sharing our different cultures and realities. 

In a way we are all leaving behind busy lives and trying to embrace some stillness within and around. Therefore we are still in the winding down phase before embarking on this intensive inner journey of the heart where we will once again live the 30 day silent retreat in November. In the mean time it’s classes from 9 - 12 everyday and workshops in the afternoon, all based on our spirituality in order to prepare us better for what lies ahead. 

I’ll keep you posted on our journey as we go along. In the mean time please pray for us as we promise you all our prayers.

Slideshow captions:
1. This is the group and the place where we hold our daily meetings/lectures as well as have all our meals. 
2. Tertians having fun on our 5th floor and sharing mobile numbers.
3. A view of our corridor and my room... from the ouside!
4. Our snack room on the 5th floor which I take care of... :)

Michael Bugeja SJ

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