Moving with the Spirit in Serving the Wider Church
BUILDING COMMUNITY & RELATIONSHIPS
MOVING WHERE THE SPIRIT
Fr. Herb Schneider and the Charismatic Renewal in the Philippines
By Victorino and Agnes Gutierrez
Taken from Led by the Spirit, Locker, 2001
Fr. Herbert Schneider shares that his love affair with the Holy Spirit started on a Valentine’s Day in Innsbruck, Austria, where he was prayed over for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He was then in Innsbruck for his doctoral studies in theology and Sacred Scriptures. Providentially, he became a part of a small charismatic prayer group where he experienced a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a deep personal relationship with God. He learned to be more sensitive and obedient to the prodding of the Spirit. That was 1973. Then, and up to now, he continues to move where the Spirit blows...
MOVING WITH THE SPIRIT IN THE CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL
Leading the Assumption Prayer Group
The Spirit did move him to get involved in the Catholic charismatic renewal in the Philippines in 1974. He had just returned from Innsbruck when Thielma Martinez, a leader of the Assumption prayer group, got in touch with him. Apparently, Thielma was trying to seek help from a prayer group in the US when she was advised to get in touch with a certain Fr. Herbert Schneider. And she did. Fr. Herb agreed to join the core group (as the leadership of the prayer group was then called) and before long, he was designated leader of the group. Under his leadership, the Assumption prayer group grew in number and in spiritual maturity.
The Assumption prayer group was started in 1973 by a group of Assumption nuns and lay men and women. The nuns first encountered the charismatic renewal movement in Paris while on assignment in their Mother House. Interestingly, the lay people were introduced to the renewal through some Pentecost groups who were then actively involved in the movement. Some came through an Anglican prayer group led by a woman from Hongkong and others were baptized in the Spirit in a revival camp called “Camp Farthest Out” which was held in Los Banos in 1969.
In the 1970’s, the charismatic renewal was virtually unknown. It was thus very reassuring for us who got introduced to the renewal to know that a Jesuit New Testament professor was actively involved. It added credibility to the New Pentecost experiences that we were so unused to. It allowed us to relax and to savor our newfound ways of praise and worship, knowing that somebody knowledgeable in spiritual matters was worshipping in the same way. “If he is doing it, then it must be all right,” we thought.
In October 1974 when we attended our first-ever prayer meeting in Assumption, we met Fr. Herb. He impressed us with his voice – rich baritone – as he taught the group some worship songs. The songs were lively, so unlike what we sang in church. Then he picked up his guitar and started to accompany himself.
As if his musical talents were not enough to impress us, he gave a short teaching before the prayer meeting got into full gear. Then, he orchestrated (so it seemed to us then) the rest of the meeting – some personal sharing, more singing and loud praising, a lot of raising of the hands and strange sounds – all done with gusto and great abandon.
Agnes came out of that prayer meeting completely taken in by these people who seemed to genuinely enjoy praying, singing and sharing. Unbelievable! Are they for real? At the “first night-ers” talk that followed, she commented that the meeting was well orchestrated. Much to her surprise, she was told that there was no script, that the meeting was Spirit-led. Agnes asked: “What Spirit?” “The Holy Spirit,” the said.
Indeed, the Holy Spirit was actively moving hearts and minds in the Assumption prayer group. The core group under Fr. Herb took on the task of faithfully and punctually holding a prayer meeting ever Friday night. Those prayer meetings were fun and Spirit-filled. Their tone was casual, the sharing informal and the music often touched the hearts of those present. But whenever prophecies were uttered or teachings were given, the tone shifted to formal. One could almost hear the hush as the people quieted down to listen to what God wanted to say to His people.
The weekly prayer meeting was the charismatic experience’s centrepiece. It was the most visible manifestation of the workings of the Holy Spirit through the exercise of the different spiritual gifts. Many were attracted to the lively singing, to the spontaneous praise and worship, and to the spiritual gifts: healing, wisdom, prophecy, etc.
But the leaders hoped that the charismatic experience would lead the participants to inner conversion, character formation and a deep, personal relationship with God. They realized though that these might not happen if their experience were limited to simply going to prayer meetings. They had to provide the group with teachings and instructions that would ground them in solid Catholic doctrine.
Thus, the core group initiated the “first night-ers” talk. This was an orientation to the charismatic renewal and to the prayer meeting. It was given to help the first timers, to acquaint them with the prayer meeting and to enable them to participate properly in worship.
At the heart of the charismatic renewal was – and continues to be – the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This baptism was understood to be renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit in an individual. It empowered such person to be open to the workings and manifestation of the Spirit. While aware that one cannot put the Spirit in a “box,” the core group nevertheless decided that a seven-week Life in the Spirit Seminar (LSS) program would help people become more ready for this renewed outpouring of the Spirit. Thus, it used the LSS manual developed by Steve Clark and his team at the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. This manual eventually became standard fare in other prayer groups.
One of the popular charismatic gifts at that time was the gift of healing. Many came to be prayed over for healing. To accommodate those who asked for healing prayers, the core group set up healing prayer teams who prayed for people after the prayer meeting. Sometimes there were so many people asking for prayers that the healing sessions would last close to midnight.
Recognizing the importance of music in the prayer meetings, Fr. Herb organized a music ministry that he personally headed. He also “published” a booklet of charismatic songs using a photocopier. It was crudely done but very much appreciated. Soon it became the “official” songbook of the renewal.
Fr. Herb was a key person in the early days of the emerging charismatic renewal. He was sort of a “complete gospel man.” He led the prayer meeting, taught charismatic songs, played the guitar, gave teachings to help people understand and exercise the spiritual gifts and to help them appreciate the charismatic renewal. Fr. Herb became known as a charismatic priest at a time when it was not fashionable to be identified as such.
Providing the Catholic Orientation to the “Pentecostal” Experience
The charismatics experienced a deep personal relationship with God. He ceased to be a “God at a distance” and became “God here present.” The charismatics hungered to hear the Word of God and longed to be connected with others who shared the same experience. As a result, Bibles became best sellers and prayer groups started to sprout.
The prayer meeting was proving to be an effective venue for spiritual renewal. People from all over Metro Manila came to the Assumption prayer meetings, some individually, others in small groups. They came to experience the charismatic renewal. Invariably, some of those who came to the prayer meeting formed their own prayer groups. But they all turned to the Assumption prayer group, particularly to Fr. Herb, for guidance and direction.
Fr. Herb contributed a lot in setting the charismatic renewal on solid footing. In a significant way, he provided the Catholic orientation to the local “Pentecostal” experience. Take note that the “Pentecostal movement” started among the Protestant churches. Understandably at that time, many of the available books and materials on the Pentecostal experience were by Protestant authors. To counter this lack of Catholic materials, Fr. Herb set up a book table at the Assumption prayer group and made available photocopied articles from magazines in the US, booklets and audio tapes regarding the charismatic renewal and spiritual gifts viewed from a Catholic perspective.
He personally took on the responsibility of teaching. He was concerned about certain misunderstandings about the charismatic renewal. The early critics of the renewal frowned on giving too much focus on the believer’s personal experience of the Holy Spirit. They feared the excesses that could result from such subjective interpretation of Scripture or spiritual experience. Fr. Herb approached the situation differently. Instead of simply giving out warnings about excesses, he taught the leaders and members of the prayer groups how to process their spiritual experiences within the theological parameters of the Catholic faith.
MOVING WITH THES SPIRIT IN COMMUNITY BUILDING
Early Attempts at Community Building
The Assumption prayer meeting on Friday nights was open to anybody who cared to go. And people went. From a group of about 30 at the beginning of 1973, the Assumption prayer group grew to nearly a thousand by the end of the following year. The core group found itself faced with a good problem. How do you get the 1000 or so people to continue receiving personal faith and life support? Form them into smaller sharing groups! This seemed to be a bright idea.
Independently of the core group, some members of the Assumption prayer group came together regularly on their own and, quite successfully, for some Bible study. Drawing from the success of this group, the core ventured to expand the effort.
Fr. Herb and other leaders organized the people who by then came from different areas of Metro Manila. Different colored nametags were used to identify the geographic area where the members resided. Those with the same color were asked to get together for Bible study. Unfortunately, nobody did! The core group had to rethink its strategy.
Undaunted by the no-response, the core group continued to pray and to seek God’s direction. They felt a call to community, but they were unsure how to go about it. They decided to attend a retreat together in Matabungkay, Batangas in February 1975.
As a result of this retreat, they resolved to take the first steps toward becoming a community. They made a commitment to meet every Sunday to listen to the Foundations of Christian Living Course I talks on cassettes, which Larry and Priscy Gamboa brought from the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The group also committed to serve the Assumption prayer group faithfully. They experienced growth in fellowship and unity. It was then that they felt confident enough to invite others who might have the same yearning for community.
The Birth of Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon
In June 1975, the core group made a general announcement in the Assumption prayer meeting, inviting anyone interested to attend a community weekend retreat scheduled for 19-20 July 1975, at the East Asian Pastoral Institute in the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Quezon City.
Fr. Herb was the moving force of the community. He actively campaigned for the retreat. We remember joining other members of the prayer group for lunch where Fr. Herb was invited as guest. He patiently answered our questions and clarified our doubts about community. Vic asked whether being in community would help us be Christians 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He simply said “yes.” That was all Vic needed to be hear – an assurance that were moving in the right direction. “Count us in,” he said.
About 44 men and women came for the weekend retreat. They were a motley group: married couples, singled men and women, professionals, students, priests, nuns, widows, young and old alike. There only common denominator was their renewed experience of the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit. But it was enough.
All of them were searching for something more than what their charismatic prayer meetings could offer them. They had experienced a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit in their lives and they were hungering for more.
During the prayer meeting on the evening of July 19, the Lord spoke in prophecy.
“You have asked to see my face. I will show it you. As you grow in love for one another and service towards one another, you will see me. For I will be in your midst acting among you, working in you. You will see my face in the love you have for one another.
And I will give you a name. It will be a special name, for it is I, the Lord your God, who will give it to you. It will be the name by which you will be known and by which I will be proclaimed. I, the Lord your God promise this to you.”
The group rose to their feet, asking God to give them the name. The prophetic word continued.
“Kayo ang aking Ligaya. Ang aking Ligaya ay makikilala ng buong bayan, dito sa Pilipinas at sa lahat ng aking mga tao. Lumigaya kayo, sapagkat ako ang inyong Panginoon at minamahal ko kayo.
[You are my Ligaya. My Ligaya will become known to the whole world, here in the Philippines and to all of my people. Be happy because I am the Lord and I love you.]
Another significant prophecy was spoken that evening.
“My people, I want you know that you will proclaim my name not only in Manila, not only in Pasay, not only in one or two cities, not only in the Philippines, but all throughout Asia.”
When the prophecies were spoken, the group listened and took the word seriously. But the group was unsure whether it was the Lord who spoke. At this point, Fr. Herb’s input and explanation became critical.
Agnes remembers Fr. Herb gathering us together to explain the prophecies. He said that when God speaks, things happen: “Let there be light” and there was light. In the same way, we would know whether it was the Lord who spoke only after the prophecy had come to pass. He also continued to explain that another way of testing the prophecy would be to check it out with Scripture. Was the prophecy consistent with what Scripture taught?
He then explained the prophecies in the light of Jn 15:9-12 where Jesus states the one law of the New Covenant: “Love one another as I have loved you.” The Lord has called the Ligaya pioneers to love and serve one another.
Under the leadership of Fr. Herb, the Ligaya pioneers initially made the following decisions:
Learning Together to be Ligaya
Without doubt, the Lord called Ligaya to be a community. But how does one go about becoming a community?
Except for Larry and Priscy Gamboa who used to be members of the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Fr. Herb, who spent some days visiting the same community, nobody among the pioneers had any experience in community life. There were as many expectations and ideas as there were members!
Deep in their hearts, the members knew they wanted community. They held on to the prophetic word that they would see God’s face as they grew in love and service for one another. They knew that a lot of learning still needed to happen.
They made some initial commitments to make community happen. They committed to attend: the community assembly every Sunday afternoon, the community courses that preceded the assembly, and the open prayer meeting in Assumption every Friday night.
Learning to be a community was not easy. We recall that we almost gave up on the community. By October 1975, we were starting to doubt whether community was worth the pain and frustrations. Were we not better off staying in the prayer group? There, we did not have to relate so closely to brothers and sisters. We could choose when to attend.
But God’s call for community was very strong. So, we decided to go on a private retreat. During that retreat, the Lord’s call to community became even clearer. We decided to stay and continue to be part of this community this day. Again, Fr. Herb’s leadership was a significant factor in that decision.
Formation in “Community Way of Life”
One of the first commitments made by the pioneer Ligaya members was to faithfully attend the community courses. Why was this so important? Fr. Herb clarified a few basic points for us.
In Rom 12:2, St. Paul says: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then, you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
The pioneers realized that if they wanted to be a community, they needed to be of one mind regarding different aspects of community life such as basic Christian beliefs, handling their service, their emotions, their relationships, their marriages and families and growing in virtues. They were willing to be formed. They did not mind the inconvenience of going to a teaching every Sunday at two o’clock in the afternoon.
This same schedule was followed for many years until the late eighties when life in Manila became even more complex. Then the courses were given at a more convenient schedule.
Formation came not only through teachings but also through the way life in Ligaya was lived. One area that Fr. Herb was bent on transforming was punctuality. Perhaps, his German mind and upbringing did not go well with our Filipino concept of time. During the community courses, he would require a clock at the registration table and would close the doors of the lecture room at exactly two o’clock.
One funny anecdote was about a couple that came for the community course. The wife went straight to the lecture room while the husband went to park the car. By the time the husband reached the lecture room, the doors were closed. The wife made it, but the husband missed the talk by a split second.
A major breakthrough int he formation of Ligaya happened in 1977 when the community entered into a discipleship relationship with the Word of God Community in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Coming home from a trip to Australia in November 1976, Steve Clark and John Keating stopped by Manila to visit Ligaya. They had heard about this budding community and they wanted to have a look-see. They must have been impressed because soon after, they issued an invitation to the Ligaya leaders to go to Ann Arbor for pastoral training in July 1977.
Funding that trip for four leaders – Fr. Herb, Vic Gutierrez, Mike Joseph, Jr. and Larry Gamboa – was an exercise in faith. Somehow, the Lord brought in the funds including airline discounts that enabled these brothers to go for their first-ever exposure to international leadership training in covenant communities.
Soon after that particular trip, the Ligaya leaders entered into a discipleship relationship with the Word of God Community, a pioneer in covenant communities. This relationship meant that Word of God committed to help Ligaya become a community by sharing her teaching programs and by sending their leaders to train our local leaders. Ligaya, in turn, committed to receive the formation given to her.
Through Word of God, Ligaya became a member of an international association of covenant communities around the world. This association has evolved over the years into what it is now: The Sword of the Spirit and the Christ the King Association. In 1984, Ligaya took her place in the Sword of the Spirit as a fully formed community. The discipleship period had ended.
Sharing the Leadership Responsibilities in Ligaya
In the beginning, Fr. Herb carried the brunt of leadership. He was practically all over everything that happened in community, from forming cell groups to assigning leaders and speakers. At the first Community Christmas Mass, he even trained the choir.
Then, sometime in 1976, he had to go for his tertianship at Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, Quezon City. This meant that he could no longer be personally involved in the day-to-day operations of the community. He had to pass on the responsibility for leadership to other men. After consultations with the community, he installed a triad, consisting of Vic Gutierrez, Larry Gamboa and Mike Joseph, Jr., to serve the community as leaders.
This started what eventually evolved as the mode of Ligaya leadership: collegial responsibility. Since then, many other men and women have shared the responsibility of leading and caring for members of the community.
After his tertianship, Fr. Herb resumed his service as overall leader. He served in this capacity until March 2001. Today, he continues to serve in Ligaya as Spiritual Director.
Moving on to Mission
Fr. Herb may not have been personally involved in all the mission work that Ligaya undertook but he encouraged and supported this work. Moreover, his guidance and theological oversight were invaluable.
Partners in Mission
In response to the prophecy on mission that the community received during the first community weekend in 1975, Ligaya started different outreaches that would strategically cover different segments of society. Ligaya founded the following:
Over the years, these groups have matured and have taken their place alongside Ligaya in the service of the church. Whereas before they were referred to as outreaches, they are now called Partners in Mission. This is a significant development in the relationship that Ligaya has with the groups she has formed and developed.
Helping Build Covenant Communities
Fr. Herb led Ligaya to act responsibly to the call to mission. In various ways and at various times, doors were opened for Ligaya to help various groups become covenant communities. It was as if the Lord was urging Ligaya to use a charism that he had gifted her with: building covenant communities.
In 1978, during the Second National Leaders Conference of the Charismatic Renewal organized by Ligaya, the community received various requests to help other communities in different parts of the country. Among the communities who asked for assistance was the Kahayag sa Diyos community in Cagayan de Oro City which entered into a discipleship arrangement with Ligaya for many years.
In 1980, after the First Asian Leaders Conference of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal sponsored by Ligaya and the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Office (ICCRO), some leaders from Bombay asked Ligaya leaders for help in starting a covenant community. This community – called Jesus, Light of the World – continues to exist and serve the church in India.
In 1985, after a dialogue with Bishop Gaudencio Rosales of Malaybalay, Bukidnon, Ligaya sent a missionary team to live and serve in the diocese through the charismatic renewal. The team was composed of the family of Arben and Armi Visenio, the family of Raul and Hedy Sarceda, Svahn Rivas, Ray Rodriguez, Norma Plata and Fe Warque. When the covenant community that they helped to start and form had stabilized after a few years, they returned to Manila. The community, Buhing Pulong, continues to evangelize and serve in the diocese.
In 1997, these three communities, Jesus, Light of the World in Mumbai (formerly called Bombay), Kahayag sa Diyos in Cagayan de Oro, and Buhing Pulong in Malaybalay, took their places alongside Ligaya as fully-formed communities in The Sword of the Spirit and Christ the King Association.
In 1990, former members of Ligaya who had migrated to the United States got in touch with the community leaders requesting assistance in forming communities in their particular areas. Providentially, at about that time, Vic Gutierrez was elected to the Service Team of Sword of the Spirit and Christ the King. That service required Vic to go to the US at least twice a year. It worked then for Vic to extend his US trip include visits to the following groups that have developed into communities:
• City on the Hill Community in Los Angeles, California
• Families for Christ in Dallas, Texas, and Vancouver, Canada
• Family of Faith in New Jersey
• Familia in Seattle, Washington
In 1993, at the invitation of Bishop Lobo of Karachi, Pakistan, Ligaya sent the family of Charlie and Georgia Gamboa to live as missionaries in Karachi. Charlie and Georgia taught in a local school for two years and established a community of families called Familia, which they continued to support even when they re-established residence in Manila.
In 1994, at the invitation of Bishop George of Udon Thani, Thailand, the family of Raul and Hedy Sarceda went to serve as missionaries in that city. The Sarcedas are still in Udon Thani. Menchie Rojas joined them in 1997, while Norma Plata and Noyette Magno joined them in 1999.
In 1996, at the invitation of Genesis Community, a community in Jakarta, Indonesia, the family of Omy and Rosanne Romero went to Jakarta to serve that community. They stayed in Jakarta until May 1998
MOVING WITH THE SPIRIT IN SERVING THE WIDER CHURCH
Early on the in the life of Ligaya, Fr. Herb and the other leaders responded to the needs of the charismatic renewal and the church in general. The service of Fr. Herb in the wider church is closely linked with the service of the Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon community.
In September 1975, the Word of Joy Foundation was formed by Ligaya to make available good and affordable charismatic literature. The leaders put a lot of value on formation. They considered the book ministry an important enough undertaking to warrant hiring full-time workers.
As its service to the wider church, Ligaya:
In addition, Ligaya has conducted numerous training programs and workshops for various charismatic groups and conferences in the Philippines and in other parts of Asia.
In 1982, when Cardinal Sin established the Archdiocesan Charismatic Renewal Secretariat, he appointed Fr. Herb as its first Executive Secretary. When the National Service Committee of the Charismatic Renewal was set up, Fr. Herb also served as its first Executive Secretary.
Ligaya continues to make its presence felt in the charismatic renewal by making itself available for consultations and by participating in charismatic conferences and events. At present, Ligaya is a member of the Council of the Laity of the Philippines and of the Federation of Transparochial Communities, an association of covenant communities in Metro Manila.
Ligaya, through its leaders, participated in both the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines in 1991, and the Provincial Council of Manila in 1995.
Since 1980, Ligaya has also been formally recognized and established by the Archdiocese of Manila as a private association of the faithful. This means that the Archdiocese recognizes Ligaya as a legitimate lay organization under its jurisdiction.
Through Sword of the Spirit and Christ the King Association, the Ligaya community that Fr. Herb started is able to serve many communities in the Philippines and around the world. Fr. Herb continues to make significant contributions to these international associations as president for the Asian Region and member of the International Executive Committee.
Fr. Herb’s love affair with the Holy Spirit has borne much fruit and keeps on growing as Fr. Herb continues to move where the Spirit blows...
A DEEP SPIRITUAL MAN
By Mike Joseph
I guess I'm the one whose known Fr. Herb longest and been with him since the Assumption prayer meeting days. Fr. Herb is a deeply spiritual man with a deep love for God's word. In the midst of unfaithfulness and sinfulness among the clergy he has remained steadfast, faithful and committed to his vows.
I have had the privilege of learning Scriptures from him and also benefited from his gift of discernment (as a true Jesuit). He has always had his feet firmly on the ground (not common in charismatic groups) but at the same time totally open to the ways of the Spirit.
He has weathered many storms and remained standing - a man of faith, trust and confidence in God,
I thank God for his guidance, wisdom and friendship.
A LIFE TOTALLY GIVEN TO JESUS
By Beth Melchor
Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon Community would not be where it is today without Fr. Herb. I believe Fr. Herb was hand-picked by God to be sent to the Philippines from his home country to help breathe the life of the Holy Spirit into the Philippine Church, the Church of Asia, and the international Catholic Charismatic renewal. Being in a Catholic country, it was important for the Assumption Prayer Meeting and the community to have a priest take the lead. Fr. Herb's gifts and expertise, coupled with his humility and generosity, were just what was needed.
Fr. Herb had the wisdom and vision:
• to establish the community as a lay association of the faithful in the archdiocese
• to gather leaders from all over Asia for regional charismatic leaders' conferences
• to lead the community in its ecumenical efforts
• to take bold, but needed initiatives, like BCBP, Scripture Ventures and IPD, Word of Joy Publications, ...to name just a few
In addition to all these major contributions, Fr. Herb is most appreciated for his quiet acts of love and service in cooking up an excellent meal, sharing his musical talents, living with the brothers in the initial years of Emmanuel House, patiently accompanying community in its growing pains, and being an excellent teacher of how to live the Gospel not only by his words, but more so by his life example. Truly Fr. Herb exemplifies what it means to "love one another" as Jesus has loved us.
Thank you, Fr. Herb for your life totally given to Jesus and the way you have embraced God's call for your life in the Philippines.
Beth Melchor, CDD
A MAN GENEROUS WITH HIS ABILITIES AND TALENTS
By Ken Noecker
In Honor of Fr. Herb Schneider, S.J.
I do not recall when I first met Fr. Herb. It was likely in Ann Arbor, Michigan sometime in the early 1980’s. His reputation, however, had certainly preceded our first meeting—of German birth, a priest, a Jesuit, a Scripture Scholar, linguist, and teacher of bible study methods to lay people, Senior Coordinator of one of the largest communities in our association, and a gourmet cook.
I got to know the man behind the reputation when Fr. Herb spent a year in Ann Arbor to work with other leaders of our association in laying the foundations for what would become the Sword of the Spirit as we now know it. During that year I was privileged to be part of a weekly cell group with Fr. Herb along with a few other members of the Servants of the Word brotherhood of which I am a member. During that time I discovered two things about Fr. Herb that impresses me to this day—first, he has a “prophetic” ability to find and adapt things that will be beneficial for God’s people, and second, that he is happiest when he can share his many interests and talents with others, especially with those to whom God has linked him.
I will describe just a few things to illustrate my first observation. Many years ago Fr. Herb ran across Oleta Walds Joy of Discovery bible study method. He immediately saw something that could be of use for lay people to learn the art of successful bible study without years of academic training. He, along with others, turned this simple course into the Institute of Pastoral Development which has trained people from across Asia in bible study and leadership skills. Before it became the rage in business management circles Fr. Herb discovered Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He went on to adapt and meld this with other material to develop what we now know as the course on “Servant Leadership” which again has touched the lives of countless people across Asia and elsewhere. Finally, Fr. Herb has been on the cutting edge of discovering and using technology for his own work and his teaching. From the use of computers—I inherited my first real laptop from Fr. Herb—to the development of online education Fr. Herb has been able to see and courageously use technology for advancing the Kingdom of God.
As an illustration of my second observation I will cite a recent conversation with Fr. Herb. As I was speculating on how challenging it must have been to him as an academic and a Jesuit to be involved in the early days of the charismatic renewal he shared his experience. It was not his charismatic spirituality that his Jesuit confreres most questioned. It was rather his deep commitment to, what at that time was such a small group of people that made up the Ligaya ng Panginoon community. Why would he limit himself to such an apparently insignificant group? In hearing that, my perceptions of Fr. Herb were confirmed. He is most fulfilled when he is sharing who he is with those to whom God has united him. So much so that he has invested his life in the Ligaya and in the Sword of the Spirit, the international association of which Ligaya is part.
I want to thank and honor Fr. Herb as a beneficiary of both of the traits I mention. Even more so I want to thank and honor him for his unselfish faithfulness to the Lord and His people that have allowed thousands more to benefit from these traits! Thank you, Fr. Herb!
A MAN SENSITIVE TO GOD'S WORD AND LEADING
By Apples Meer
Fr. Herb has touched my life in so many ways....as the Senior Coordinator of the community, as spiritual adviser, as a priest in the baptism of some of my kids and eventually in their weddings, as friend, and on many, many occasions as food lover, cook and connoisseur. However, recently, I had the privilege of attending the 30th anniversary of Couples for Christ and Fr. Herb was a concelebrant and honored guest. It was a sight to behold seeing the thousands of CFC members in the Luneta. It was only then that I realized the most admirable trait of Fr.Herb...and that is he was and still is very sensitive to God's word and leading. As a young priest in Ann Arbor when the charismatic movement began, Fr. heard the Lord and obeyed. He brought community to Manila and with that YES, LNP was born and subsequently, CFC came to be. His YES to God, has brought thousands upon thousands (including BCBP) of people to a relationship with their Lord and Savior! And for that obedience, I will be always grateful!
Apples Meer, SDB
A MAN USED BY GOD TO BRING US CLOSER TO HIM
By Spanky Meer
When I think of Fr. Herb…
I remember my high school days. He was my professor and my friend. I found it easy opening up my personal life to him, then then.
I remember my 1st BCBP breakfast at Makati Sports Club. I had not seen him since my campus days. He sat beside me. I thought he was also a guest like me.
I remember our Ligaya 25th Anniversary where he declared his dream/vision that in the next 25 years, some of our brethren from Tahanan ng Panginoon, would also become members of Ligaya.
I remember the weddings of my children where he celebrated the Mass and officiated.
I remember our trip to Nepal & Bhutan, seeing Mr. Everest from the airplane & admiring together the many awe-inspiring sites declaring the majesty of our God.
I remember our annual New Year cozy dinners in our home, where he would cook gourmet dishes for our Tender Bob’s family.
I give thanks to our God for having used Fr. Herb to teach me about Him & bring me closer to Him.
Be well, Fr. Herb, & stay blessed always!
Spanky Meer, LNP SHC
A MAN WITH A MISSION
By Tony Panajon
The Man has found his mission here in Ligaya ng Panginoon and continues to be the “light” to many leaders of community.
He could have easily faded and rested from doing his work in Community, what with the many demands for his time from his fellow Jesuits and the academe. But no, Fr Herb chose to continue to share his prime time with Community.
I therefore, honor Fr. Herb for the way he gives. Generously, sincerely, and joyfully.
There have been many instances during my tenure as SHC when I had to call on his help for advice; to complete a project; to defend a decision; to reaffirm leadership ; or simply to be reassured. He will always make himself available. I had ready access to guidance and wisdom.
He was there to encourage me to stand by the decisions I have taken; whether popular or unpopular. That had given me courage and confidence to lead. He understood how organizations work and shared his learning with many of us through his training programs.
More importantly, he knows how to unwind, renew, and enjoy breaking bread with friends. On occasions my family would invite him for dinners, not only would he accept, he would engage everybody to good conversation and exchange recipes with Sarah and my daughter, Nikki.
Indeed, many lives have been touched by his generosity and wisdom.
As Winston Churchill said, “ We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Tony Panajon, SDA
A MENTOR AND SPIRITUAL ADVISER
By Randy & Mags Ang
Fr. Herb will always be our MENTOR and SPRITUAL ADVISER.
Through our Community teachings in Ligaya, Fr. Herb has molded Mags and I to be that person who continues to put good order in our family lives, be an effective servant of the Lord and strive to live out a full life in Christ.
Fr. Herb would always find time to take care of our spiritual needs, both individual and as a body, having been our retreat master for 3 of our District retreats in the past years. Fr. Herb concelebrated our silver wedding anniversary back in 2007 with all our friends and family members present.
Fr. Herb is a true GOURMET. He is not only a connoisseur in matter of taste for food and drinks but is also a wonderful chef. As someone who delights in eating and drinking, we would always share each other’s recipe and try it out. We enjoy eating out a lot, looking out for good review and trying out the latest good restaurants in town. Fr. Herb introduced us to a drink called "Feuerzangenbowie" which is combination of red wine, rhum, imported coned sugar, lemon cinnamon stick and others slowly brewed through fire...sip it with cup and WOW...what a fine drink!!!
Thank you Fr. Herb for being such a GOOD FRIEND and looking forward to our next Feuerzangenbowie session.
We love you Fr. Herb,
Randy and Mags Ang
A TRANSGENERATIONAL HEIRLOOM
By Tony & Letty Umali
I thank GOD for Fr. Herb. I thank Fr. Herb for being the man of GOD who obeyed His leadings to volunteer to come to the Philippines and started a Christian Community without a name. He trained and led the 2 Coordinators and some members to listen to The LORD gave "Ligaya Ng Panginoon" as our Community's name. Ever since, we always listened to The Lord, as Fr. Herb trained us.
Lety and I grew in our faith and service through the Assumption Prayer Group, a "Ligaya" outreach. We brought our young children with us and they grew up with The LORD in "Ligaya" as we became members.
Our son, Jun, who remained here in the Philippines, his wife, Mimi and our grand children, Gio and Clara are all members now.
GOD bless you always, Fr. Herb, for our transgenerational heirloom we shall all cherish always and pass on to future generations.
With our PRAYERS and LOVE,
Tony & Lety Umali
Jun & Mimi Umali
Gio & Clara Umali
IT'S A BRAND NEW DAY
By Ricky Dagelet
It was a Sunday afternoon in 1977 when we just finished the very first YA weekend retreat at the house of Mac and Rhoda Bradshaw. Imagine how small our group was that we could all fit in one house.
Right after the retreat, the YAs were all invited to attend the LNP community gathering at the High School Library of La Salle Greenhills. Yes, the community was small enough to fit in a library!
That was the first time I met Fr Herb Schneider. He was so excited to meet us that he went outside the library to welcome us in the corridor. He probably was worried we might not fit in the library. I still remember when we entered the library with Fr Herb, the assembly was singing this old but popular song “It’s a Brand New Day”. Indeed it was a brand new day for me, now it’s been almost 35 years since that time, and Fr Herb is always there for the community, celebrating mass, giving talks, and even joining the music ministry playing the flute back then.
It’s really a great honor to have met and known a true servant of God in Fr Herb.
Ricky Dagelet, SDE
LIFE BEGINS AT 75
By Bob & Betso Tenchaves
Abram was 75 years old when Yahweh told him to leave his country to set out for the land where Yahweh will bless him and make him great. Fr. Herb is 75 years old this year, but unlike Abram, the Lord called him more than 25 years ago to lead a community – the Ligaya ng Panginoon – where the Lord blessed him and made him a blessing to all its members.
Personally, Fr. Herb is God’s gift to me and Betsy. He has been the harbor light in our quest for a meaningful life with the Lord. Through the Ligaya ngPanginoon, we have been recipients of his wisdom on many occasions. He is God sent as he happens to be around during our challenging moments where we consulted him and he came through with practical solutions every time. He is part of our family celebrations like baptism of our children, birthday masses, wedding anniversary, blessing of our businesses, and office building.
Together with our partners in Tender Bob, our fellowships and even travel, became more memorable with his interesting insights about the Christian life and the art of fine cuisine.
We thank you, Father, for your love. May the Lord continue to use you to touch our lives and draw us closer to Him. May these latter years of your life be time for bearing greater fruits.
All the best, Fr. Herb. God bless you always!
BOB and BETSY
LIVING OUT A GENEROUS LIFE
By Ali & Nanique Leong
Dear Fr. Herb,
I have said this before when we had the opportunity to honor you during one of the birthday honorings we had in our fraternal group, and would like to express this again: Nanique and I feel so privileged and blessed that we have you in our fraternal group. We have always looked up to you with great respect and admiration, as one who bravely and faithfully led community for many years. I never imagined that we will be given this opportunity to get to interact with you this closely and come to know you more as a brother and friend.
If there is one word that stands out when I think about the big difference you have made in our lives - it will have to be "generosity".
Thank you for generously dedicating much of the best years of your life to build Ligaya. Because of all your efforts and sacrifices, you have opened the door for me and many others to know the Lord personally and experience the fullness of life that He offers to those who strive to follow Him. Amidst my own share of struggles and challenges, I am very happy where the Lord has brought me and my family in community. I honestly cannot imagine what my life would be like, had the Lord not brought me into Ligaya. I most likely would not have met Nanique, not have the beautiful marriage (21 years already and getting stronger with every passing year) and the wonderful children that we have now, not have the deep personal relationship with the Lord and the rich friendships that I have with many brothers & sisters, not have the opportunity to serve the Lord thru community-building, and much more. Truly, the Christian life is the best life there is.
Thank you for being generous in sharing with us your wisdom and vast knowledge of Scriptures. I always enjoy listening to your stories, to your insights on Scriptures, particularly during our men's group meetings. Thank you for your keen sense of humor which has made our meetings even more life-giving.Your homilies during our Sector masses are always crisp and inspiring, never boring and dull. Thank you for not tiring to serve us in whatever way you can, up to this day. I was struck by what you said many years ago that you would like "to die with your boots on." I see you live this out with my very own eyes. Your example inspires me to also take on this same attitude in my own life.
Thank you for always making each of us feel that we are very special. Personally, I have experienced this in the way you generously and painstakingly share your culinary gifts with us, and prepare gourmet dishes for us whenever it was your turn to host. Who can forget the delicious cookies you gave to us last Christmas, which we (our kids included) really enjoyed! You didn't have to do these for us but you nevertheless did.
Thank you Fr. Herb for giving us the opportunity not just to experience you as a leader but more importantly, as a great brother and friend.
We love you!
Ali and Nanique
LIVING THE VISION & MISSION
By Sep Romero
1999, 17 years in Community, serving as a District Coordinator and I was ready to call it quits. Burnout, they call it.
“A Community of Disciples on Mission”, our “Vision and Mission Statement”, or so they called it. I was faithful to all the things asked of me, but I never really understood what it was all about.
Going thru some documents, I stumbled upon this:
1999 ANNUAL REPORT MESSAGE
Fr.Herb Schneider-Senior Head Coordinator
1. . . Going beyond Personal Conversion to Christ (DISCIPLESHIP)
2. . . Going through a Conversion to Christian Community Living (COMMUNITY)
3. . . Expressing our holiness in a third conversion, that of Conversion to Social Responsibility (MISSION)
• Our community structures, teachings, pastoral care, etc. have for their purpose that the members of the community will have to the fullest the life that Jesus came to bring.
• Wholeness of life in all dimensions.
• The same holds true for our ministry & apostolate. The goal is that the recipients of this service have life & have it to the full.
“We Live, Work and Strive, by the power of the Holy Spirit,
That Others may Experience FULLNESS OF LIFE IN CHRIST
now and forever.”
This started my journey to a real understanding of Vision and Mission, all things leading to fullness of life which Jesus came to bring.
Thank you Fr. Herb!
PERFECT EXAMPLE OF HUMILITY
By Charlie & Peggy Lasa
We honor Fr. Herb for his zeal and openness to serve. Even after he had served as our Senior Head Coordinator, he said yes to serving as our group’s Pastoral Leader. And what an honor and blessing to have Fr. Herb as a pastoral leader! He told us stories of the early days of Ligaya, making us appreciate even more our heritage as a community. He led us in studying the bible (and even Greek lessons!) making us appreciate even more how rich are the lessons and wisdom we can get from it. What a joy for us to listen to him explain the hidden meanings and historical background to the familiar bible stories. Even when he was no longer officially our Pastoral Leader, he came to our Men’s and Women’s Group meetings when we told him we were doing a video bible study.
We had known and admired Fr. Herb as a gifted leader of community for so long, but when he became a part of our group, we began to get to know more of him as a brother and friend. How blessed we are to have had this time with Fr. Herb as our pastoral leader, not just to study the bible with him and get his theological insights, but also to laugh at his jokes and stories, enjoy his cooking (he even shared recipes with us), borrow his DVDs, learn about his favorite operas, share German beer with him and get to know him on a more personal level.
Charlie and Peggy Lasa
THE BEST TEACHER AND STORY TELLER
By Andy Juan
I will always remember Fr. Herb declaring: "I wish to die with my boots on!" (Context was his exhortation to serve till the end, as long as his health and capabilities will allow it).
My most memorable moment with Fr. Herb was:
Back in October of 1986, Fr. Herb asked that I and the late Rogel Plata accompany him for a week-long planning that he intends to do for IPD. While he alone was involved, he needed both a driver and some company. He did this near a Beach house that he has borrowed in Bataan, very close to Montemar Beach Club.
After our morning prayers and with not much to do, our whole day was spent reading, eating and/or sleeping leaving Fr. Herb by his lonesome preparing for his conference. From time to time, we would go to the beach but since it was still rainy season, we could hardly enjoy any sunshine.
The highlight though was dinnertime, when Fr. Herb would cook a selection of very fine meals for the 3 of us.
After dinner, it was time for the 4 Cs. Fr. Herb would serve excellently brewed coffee, and bring out some Swiss Chocolates. And over a fine glass of Cognac, we would play various Card games, much to our delight. This was really a great and informal time to get to know our SHC then, Fr. Herb, up close and personal, and to discover how much of a warm and friendly individual he is.
Since this was a week-long activity, you could imagine how much weight (and wisdom!) was gained by both Rogel and myself being with one of the best teacher, story-teller, chef, brother and friend that we have all been privileged to meet!
Andy Juan, SDB
TRANSFORMING COUNTLESS LIVES
By Toto & Florie Serrato
Fr Herb is God sent to us whose vision of a covenanted community has helped transformed countless of lives including ourselves.
We would normally associate Fr Herb as the founder of Ligaya ng Panginoon more than an expert theologian and Jesuit priest every time we speak of the community. In other words, to our mind Ligaya is Fr Herb and Fr Herb is Ligaya. Sometimes, it leads us to think where Ligaya would be without Fr Herb especially during its formative years… and come to think about it even until now. Better still, had there been be a Ligaya community and the other later communities that sprang out of Ligaya without Fr Herb?
We would like to honor you Fr Herb as our source of Help who readily lends a listening ear and an understanding heart in times of problems and difficulties. You are an Encourager whose wisdom and guidance have touch and continue to touch our lives and of many others. You are our Resource for profound spiritual wisdom that helped transform lives in and out of LNP. In short, Fr Herb you are a great Blessing from God for all of us.
Fr Herb, you are the epitome’ of the person described in Psalm 1:1-3 “ Happy the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked, nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of insolent, but delights in the law of the Lord and meditates on his law day and night. He is like a tree planted near running water that yields fruit in due season and whose leaves never fade (whatever he does prosper.)”
Fr Herb, Congratulations on your 50th year of faithful service to the Philippines and the blessed 36 years to LNP!
Toto and Florie Serrato SDC
Moving Where the Spirit Moves
A Deep Spiritual
A Life Totally Given
A Man Generous with his
Abilities & Talents
A Man Sensitive to God's
Word and Leading
A Man Used by God to Bring Us Closer to Him
A Man with a
A Mentor and
It's a Brand New
Living Out a Generous
Living the Vision and
Perfect Example of
The Best Teacher and