Three celebrations took place in the first two weeks of the Advent Season in the Provincial Custody of the Immaculate Conception and Bl. Bonaventure of Potenza in the Philippines. Two of the celebrations were unrelated to the liturgy, but nonetheless shared the spirit of Advent, namely, the coming of the Lord.

On the evening of November 30, the Catholic Church around the world lit the first candle in the advent wreath to signify the coming of the Lord. The day also marked the start of a two-day “Second Homecoming” for twenty-eight former Conventual Franciscans who gathered at St. Maximilian Seminary in Paranaque City. The former friars actively participated in the liturgy, meals, took part in manual labor, and talked about their experiences. On December 1, the former friars heard a lecture by Friar John Vianney ACOSTA on the Role of the Laity in the Church and Society. Afterwards, Friar Gerard LOFRANCO presided over Mass and the participants renewed their consecration to the Immaculate Virgin Mary. In the afternoon, the former friars scheduled their next homecoming and devised some practical ways to extend financial aid to the Custody. Before they departed, they played sports with the student-friars.
On the evening of December 7, the second candle in the advent wreath was lit. This marked the start of a two-day “Common Family Day” celebration, which took place at the St. Maximilian Seminary in Paranaque City. This was the first time that all the postulants, novices, and student-friars gathered together, along with their friar-formators to share some camaraderie with their respective immediate families and close relatives. There were around a hundred and fifty participants. The activities on the first day included a lecture by Father Dennis Antonio Y. PAEZ, SDB, on the family and some time spent sharing experiences. On December 8, the participants took part in a common celebration Morning Prayers and Mass, presided over by the Provincial Custos, Friar Victor MATEO. The event ended with parlor games, various song and dance presentations and a special meal in honor of the families.
On December 12, the memorial of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the secondary patroness of the Philippines, forty-eight friars and young men in formation gathered for the annual, end-of-the-year Custodial Gathering. The event took place at the St. Joseph Friary in Tagaytay City.  This simple gathering began with a Marian lecture by Friar Roberto SAN DIEGO, OFM Cap. Afterward, Friar Roberto presided over Mass, which was concelebrated with the friars. The entire afternoon was devoted to recreation. The day ended with Evening Prayer and a special dinner.
It is hoped these celebrations have helped everyone to be truly prepared for the coming of the Lord in the flesh. The whole Custody of the Philippines wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Grace-Filled New Year.

Custodial Communications Office
Photos: Friar Uriel SANTOS and Amado VALENCIA