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 the 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”.
A simple start…
“Follow me!”Jn 1: 43
Nick Arambulo, who was responsible for San Damiano in Philippines, came from the village of Sapang on Talim Island. He finished his elementary and high school on this island and he moved to Manila to study a Bachelor of Science in elementary education. After his studies, he worked as project coordinator in a Japanese / Filipino foundation called “Pagaalay ng Puso” in Malabon – Navotas, one of the squatters’ areas of Manila.
In 1995, some brothers of the Tiberiade Community from Belgium came to the Philippines to attend the World Youth Days. They liked their stay in the Philippines very much, and one year later they returned as they were invited by a parish to start a prayergoup in their spirituality. Since then, they kept 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 (Northern Manila), he was spiritually exhausted and was longing for a deeper prayer-life. He found in the missionary spirituality of the Tiberiade Community what he was longing for: a balance between action and contemplation. The brothers encouraged him to run the first San Damiano prayer group in the Philippines. During that time Nick kept contacts with the Tiberiade Community 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 surprising 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. He started to teach them catechism and to help them with their studies in school.
Small steps to greater love
“Come after me and I will make you into fishers of people”.Mk 1, 17
Nick spent days in prayer, helping his parents and organizing activities for children. He decided to build a small altar in his house, a 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!”Nick Arambulo
So Nick invited them to join in his prayer once a week, but little by little they started to pray together 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.
The same year, in 1997, Nick received an invitation from the Tiberiade Community to join them for a while in Belgium and to participate in World Youth Days in Paris, France. It was his first visit in Europe. He was very touched by the spirituality of the Community. 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 the 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 the Philippines, he consecrated his life to God and became a lay missionary of the Tiberiade Community.