The foremost Catholic apologetics group in the country, Defensores Fidei Foundation, launched in 2006 its Basic Apologetics Seminar. The seminar aims to equip participants (called “seminarians”) with the basic tools to defend their holy Catholic Faith. The seminar is a complete course on basic Catholic apologetics. The topic includes the Church and Magisterium, Bible and Tradition, Sacraments, Christology, Mariology, among others.
The 1st and 2nd seminar were held at the 2nd Floor of Red Ribbon Building in Connecticut Street, Greenhills, San Juan. Last year, the 3rd seminar was held at the St. Ignatius Chapel of Mary the Queen Parish, San Juan.
The first-ever seminar was like a guinea pig project. Although the DFF had some lecture series in the past, however, it had no prior experience of sponsoring a complete apologetics course that would span four months of intensive training. Thus, everything was trial and error. By God’s grace, there were few misses and more hits. The hits include the souls of the participants.
We learned much from our experience. We fine-tuned the curriculum and prepared lecture materials to be used for future seminars. We identified the strengths and weaknesses of the speakers. We pushed for specialization in various fields of apologetics. Hence, home-grown talents were honed. The 1st seminar was made memorable by the presence of two of the most popular American apologists – Steve Ray and Tim Staples. Steve Ray was a Baptist preacher while Time Staples was a minister of the Assemblies of God. These big names in the American apologetics scene answered questions and shared some tips on how to respond to questions from Protestants. Steve Ray, the authto of Crossing the Tiber, Upon this Rock and the Footprints of God series is very close to the heart of DFF. He is a member of Defensores Fidei honoris causa. He came to the Philippines thrice already and his speaking tours all over the country were big hits. I was with him in January 2005 as guest speakers during the 1st Evangelization weekend in Davao.
The 2nd seminar was more successful than the first. We had such illustrious speakers as Msgr. Gerry Tapiador (Sacred Scripture), Fr. Carlos Estrada (Christology), Fr. Abe Arganiosa (Sacraments) Msgr. Chito Amante (Papacy) and Archbishop Pedro Dian (Moral Issues). The harvest for the 2nd seminar was plenty. From its alumni, God raised new active defenders of the Faith. They are, among others, Kristoffer Lumingkit (Kit), Shirley Monreal, Claire Navarro, Malou Dominguiano, Mariz Florentino and PV Beley. These budding apologists are relatively young (except perhaps for Mariz and PV who are admittedly younger). The alumni of this batch have been very much involved in the activities of the DFF. Foremost of them is PV who is this year’s prime mover for the Apologetics Convention.
The 3rd seminar followed the curriculum of the past seminars, except that we offered a new topic on non-Catholic sects and their common objections to the Catholic Faith. This seminar was held exclusively at Mary the Queen Parish. It culminated in an ad orientem Novus Ordo Latin Mass celebrated by our very own Fr. Abe Arganiosa. The great additions to the Church’s army of faithful defenders from the 3rd batch include Mon Suncoya and Rudolf Camaclang.
The 4th seminar was like the Diaspora of the Jews. Participants were like wandering Jews in a sense that the venue changed frequently – from St. Ignatius Chapel to the Vatican Room of Mary the Queen Parish, to LAYFORCE in San Carlos Seminary in Guadalupe and back to Mary the Queen, and then to Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary in Makati until finally in San Juan Bautista Parish in Pinaglabanan, San Juan. Even in San Juan, we have had two venues!
Despite the rollercoaster ride, our participants never decreased in number. In fact, every Saturday broke the record in attendance of the last Saturday. We posted a record high of nearly 100 participants. If you want proof that this is the work of the Holy Spirit, this is it!
Indeed, it is humbling to see the enthusiasm and faith of our participants. We can only praise the Lord for this bountiful harvest of souls. What accounts for the increase of participants, I believe, are the following factors: (1) this is the first time that the seminar is offered free of charge, (2) it was widely publicized especially in Mr. Cenon Bibe’s Tumbukin Natin (Tumbok newspaper), and (3) it was the 4th time that we offered the course. More importantly, I believe that God’s grace supplied whatever is lacking in our admittedly limited human means. I also attribute the success of the seminar to the motherly intercession of Mama Mary. The glorious outcome of this annual event shattered our modest expectations! Siksik, liglig at umaapaw.
This year’s participants were a delightful combination of different kinds of people from all walks of life. We have people from type A and B class who came from exclusive neighborhoods. Most of all, we had the masa courtesy of Cenon Bibe’s Tumbok. This points to the Catholicity of the Church!
The recently-concluded seminar was our first seminar where the Pilgrim Image of Our Lady of Fatima presided every session and accompanied us wherever we went. I led the opening prayer on September 6 for the first session (I was the speaker on Introduction to Apologetics). I recall that I consecrated the seminar to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I renewed this consecration on October 25 when I led the closing prayer for that day (I gave the talk on Mariology at Mary’s turf – Our Lady of Guadalupe Minor Seminary). I am certain that the Blessed Mother accepted our consecration to her. She obtained from our dear Lord the success of the 4th Basic Apologetics Seminar.
The recently-concluded seminar had so many firsts. We offered a session on Introduction to Apologetics during the commencement of the seminar. It ended with an Apologetics Convention which launched the national umbrella of all Filipino Catholic apologists – the Academy of Catholic Apologists of the Philippines. We had such illustrious guests as the phenomenal Mayor Soc Fernandez, the Philippines’ best Catholic debater. The highlight was of course a Pontifical Mass presided by Bishop Angel Hobayan, Bishop Emeritus of Catarman, Samar.
I hope and pray that the seminar has not only made good Catholics better Catholics – but saints in the process of becoming.
Laus tibi Domini.
Bro. Marwil Llasos