As members of a Religious Institute, we are pledged to life a life in common and in community. “Fraternal life truly shows that we are united in Christ: You are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28), as a distinct Religious Family. Fraternal life must exist so as to become a mutual help in fulfilling each member’s personal vocation.

These words, from the IVE Constitutions, are lived out in what is known as the Convivencia. In living-together in a more relaxed environment where, through “constant practice of the virtues and control of passions, … we are seeking and choosing only the greater good, always and everywhere.”

In another place, the Constitutions state: “We regard the practice of sports, camping, community vacations, etc, to be of great importance in this formation of the will.” With these ends in mind, a part of the Seminary community spent 3 weeks in the mountains of Sagada in the northern part of the Philippines.

Our time together was spent climbing the various mountains such as Mt. Ampacao, Mt. Polis, Mt. Demang, Mt. Malvoro. Anima sana in corpore sano, a healthy soul in a healthy body. This ancient phrase has much practical wisdom and the rigours of the long hikes indeed make for healthy bodies after the relatively sedentary life in the seminary.

Part of the Mountain Province, Sagada attracts tourists from all over the Philippines and the world. But Sagada is most famous for it’s beautiful pine forests.The landscape is also dotted with many beautiful waterfalls, some of which are very tall.

There are also lakes such as Danum, which has a beautiful grassy field beside it where we were able to play some sports. Smaller pools also abound, giving ample opportunity for swimming. Many rivers flow from the mountains.

While we are on a vacation from the seminary, nevertheless we are always and everywhere still religious and therefore Mass and Holy Hour was still a normal part of our day.

We had the privilege of assisting in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the summit of various mountains, recalling the example of the men of old who ascended mountains like Sinai and Horeb in a foreshadowing of the Communion which really takes place in each Mass.

We also spent time visiting nearby towns such as Bontoc where the Catholic Cathedral is located. We also visited the Bontoc museum which highlights the culture of the local Igorot people and their funerary practices such as mummification and the practice of hanging their coffins.

Our Convivencia ended at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag, raised to the status of a Minor Basilica in 2015 by Pope Francis.

We give thanks to Our Lord Jesus Christ through the intercession of His Most Blessed Mother, for a fruitful and joyous Convivencia and a safe journey back home.