One of the active Lay Missionary partners is the Lay Society of Saint Arnold Janssen (LSSAJ). It is mostly composed of XVDs (former seminarians/former priests) who strive to live out the ideals of Saint Arnold Janssen. They have collaborated in JPIC activities of the SVD all over the Philippines as well as conducting spiritual activities for the spiritual growth of the members.
In August 2009, during the Centennial celebrations of the SVD in the Philippines, then SVD Superior General Fr. Antonio Pernia SVD, addressed the XVDs (ex-seminarians and ex-priests). "Our founder St. Arnold Janssen had considered to establish another order to express the lay charism among his congregations, but the plan did not materialize in his lifetime. Perhaps St. Arnold's plan could somehow be actualized." Several mission-oriented men and women in the Philippines took the challenge and organized among themselves to form a lay society, the Lay Society of Saint Arnold Janssen (LSSAJ).
The founding chairman and president were Mr. Joseph Pernia and Mr. Eli Segundo, respectively. The latter was succeeded by Atty. Tyrone Cimafranca following his demise in 2012. In September 2010, the Constitutions and By-Laws of LSSAJ were ratified by a General Assembly. Fr. Restituto Lumanlan SVD is the Spiritual Director. This association was recognized as the official lay association by the SVD Philippines Central Province in January 2014.
Unique message: Faith Life disconnect
The fundamental insight behind the creation of LSSAJ is the disconnect between faith and life is the root cause of the failure of personal spirituality and of the social problems in Philippine Society. faith has become a set of devotions and rituals rather than a way of life. Thus, contradictions abound in Philippine society and the bases of our Christian faith and the rampant acts of corruption, social injustice, oppression of the weak and the poor, environmental abuse and criminality.
Should not a predominantly Christian country in Asia have more righteous citizens behaving in accordance with their Christiaan beliefs? Surely, Christian values provide a more encompassing and deeper foundation for righteous living than mere human values. Christ became man to show us the way to righteous living not only in theory but also in practice in all his humanity. Thus, LSSAJ finds meaning in responding to some of these challenges in society.
A. Collaboration with the SVD
The following are some of the activities done in collaboration with the SVD:
- doing mission work for indigenous peoples together with the SVDs, like Mangyans in Mindoro, Aetas in Pampanga, and Dumagats in Rizal.
- active member of Vivat Philippines ( National executive Team)
- gives legal assistance to SVDs via lawyer-members.
- Active in Education, Value Formation, Skills and Capacity Building and ALS (Alternative Learning System)
- Yearly participation in the 4 CD camp in Divine Word College Calapan.
- Monetary assistance to Divine Word Seminary Tagaytay
- attended Jubilee celebrations of SVDs in the Philippines
- membership in school boards of Divine Word Colleges
- Assistance/Consultancy in Divine Word College Vigan to increase enrolment
- Collaboration/ coordination with the SVD Mission Secretary and other coordinators of the Four Characteristic Dimensions
B. Spirituality exercises
- Spiritual Formation for members
- gave retreat to teaching and non-teaching personnel of Divine Word College of Vigan.
- facilitated community reflection: "The Love of Jesus impels us
C. Conducted feeding programs
- active in the PHC JPIC Kalinga apostolate for the homeless of Manila
D. Conducted Faith Transforming Life sessions
- sessions were conducted in SVD educational institutions in Bangued, Calapan, Laoag, Legazpi, San Jose, Semirara, Urdaneta, Vigan, and Tagbilaran City.
E. Social Issues
- conducted symposium on Mining, Good governance and Poverty
- involved in Pilipino movement for Transformational Leadership in preparation for the 2016 national/local elections
- networking with Church, Government, and NGOs in the rehabilitation of drug dependents
- providing assistance to dependents of drug victims
-formation of LSSAJ to strengthen families and protect life
- formation of LSSAJ youth
G. Disaster Relief
- disaster relief for earthquake victims in Bohol
- disaster relief for Yolanda victims in Eastern Visayas in collaboration with the SVD Philippines Southern Province
- disaster relief for Mangyans in Mindoro
- Caring of Mother Earth, clean air, water and land, tree planting
I. Poverty Alleviation Projects
- some of our members provided employment directly or by referral
- giving skills training to poor members of LSSAJ chapters
- micro financing in Manila and Cavite
- established cooperatives in Dasmarinas, Manila, and Cavite
Leveraging on Arnoldian connection
- we collaborate with the Arnoldian congregations, especially the SVD, with their schools, parishes, and missions nationwide; they offer LSSAJ a national platform for effectively carrying out its advocacies. Collaboration is naturally synergistic with their religious and spiritual inputs complemented by our lay and secular perspectives in development work.
The 17th General Chapter in Rome has boosted collaboration between the SVD and LSSAJ, being now an explicit SVD collaboration with the laity. We have created a committee for collaboration that will work with a counterpart committee in the SVD Central Province.
--article written by former president Roy Dizon