About San Damiano Philippines
“Every small San Damiano prayer group is like a grain of wheat thrown down. It grows in humility. They are places to pray and to be converted through a very simple and direct formation. Through these groups we are helping other young people to discover the treasures of the Church”. (Brother Marc, founder of Tiberiade community).
There are already several San Damiano prayer groups in Philippines where young people come together to pray the Lord. The prayer group of Sapang is special one, because it forms a small community which carries out several social and spiritual projects and recently has achieved status of nongovernmental organization and is called “Tiberiade Community Foundation, Incorporated”.
How did it start…
“Follow me!” (Jn 1: 43).
In 1995 some brothers of Tiberiade community from Belgium came to Philippines for World Youth day. They liked very much their stay in Philippines and one year later they returned there invited by a parish to start a youthprayergoup in their spirituality and to keep contacts with this country. During their one month mission, they met Nick who was searching for a spiritual support. Indeed, after more than ten years of social work in the squatters communities of Navotas (North of Manila), he was spiritually exhausted and was longing for a deeper prayer-life. He found in the missionary spirituality of Tiberiade community was he was longing for : a balance between action and contemplation. The brothers encouraged him to run the first San Damiano prayer group in Philippines. It started at the top of All the time Nick kept contacts with community of Tiberiade by e-mails and letters to share their experiences and to strengthen their friendship.
Some months later Nick decided to give up his job in Manila and to return to his native place Sapang to help his parents who needed a medical assistance. It was quite surprisingly for all the villagers because all the young people were trying to escape from Talim, to find a good job in Manila or even abroad.
Nick installed himself in some abandoned house and he had a desire to profound his spiritual life. It was very special time for him. He was trying to discern his vocation and to understand what God really wanted him to do. Every day he prayed and played games with children. (He noticed that sometimes the children were left without special attention of parents and they are just playing all the days, and it is very important to teach them catechism and to help them with their studies in school.).
The first steps
“Come after me and I will make you into fishers of people” (Mk 1, 17)
Nick spent their days in praying, helping to his parents and organizing activities for children. He decided to make in his house a small altar, corner of prayer out of stones and bamboo. Some people from village were really astonished to see him carrying the stones. They were interested in why he was doing that.
“I will make a place for Lord, I feel that Lord is here and I want to make it more visible!”
So Nick invited them to join in his prayer once a week, but little by little they started to pray together even every day. Finally Nick and five other friends of him commit themselves to pray and it was the beginning of larger project what they could not imagine in that time.
In the same year, 1997, Nick received an invitation from Tiberiade Community to join them for a while in Belgium and then to participate in World Youth Days in Paris, France. It was his first visit in Europe. He was very touched by spirituality of Tiberiade. There were so many brothers and sisters who came from well situated families but who refused welfare of world to give their lives for Christ and to live in poverty and simplicity. Nick wanted to do something like that in Philippines – to show people that they can’t escape their reality but they can find God’s presence in every moment and situation of their life. Before he returned back in Philippines, he consecrated his life to God and became a lay missionary of Tiberiade.