Program Details

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A Sacred Space to

Stop—Take Time—Move On

Foundational Principle:

 “A Sabbatical is for relating in the God of life and bringing more to life as a result.  Sabbath days are when we allow ourselves time out to look at life in fresh and penetrating way.”   Joan Chittister, OSB


The East Asian Pastoral Institute (EAPI) is located inside the Ateneo de Manila University Campus, an 84-hectare sprawling land area surrounded with huge acacia, narra and other tropical trees that serve as home to birds of various kinds and haven to students who live in the metropolitan area and participants who come from various parts of the world.  The Ateneo campus is one of the prominent academic centers in Manila that is very dynamic on weekdays but quiet and serene on weekends.  The Catholic atmosphere permeates the place and is an oasis for those who come from backgrounds wherein Catholics are a minority.

One of the gifts of EAPI is its multicultural setting.  The participants come from various countries, mostly in Asia, some in Oceania, a few from North and South America, Africa, and Europe.  It is therefore a rich community of people having different cultures, backgrounds, languages.  It is a challenge too. 

Since there is a lot of interaction, group and individual sharing and processing in the Sabbatical as integral part of the program itself, the participants need to be, at least, conversant if not proficient in the English language.  One has to be open and comfortable enough to live and mingle with persons having different beliefs and principles from one’s own and be enriched in the process as one’s horizon is broadened.


The Sabbatical Program at EAPI is a holistic program which caters to the laity, religious and ordained ministers who are in transition or in need of a change of space away from their typical environment and a busy life of ministry.  It’s unique feature is its community-based orientation that capitalizes on forming a community of participants whose common desire is to have time for Sabbath to discover the depth and richness of one’s being and to appreciate more profoundly the graciousness and beauty of God.  It is also a flexible program that aims to respond to the individual needs of each participant.



In addition, the following are the special features of the Sabbatical at EAPI:

  • The focus of the Sabbatical is inner journey, inner work.
  • It creates a space that facilitates personal transition in a non-judgmental atmosphere giving the participants the chance to try new behavior, make mistakes and learn in the process by bringing such concern/s with one’s spiritual companion or counselor for guidance. 
  • It fosters a relaxed atmosphere wherein the participants become more aware of rest and reflection as integral part of recreating and renewing oneself.
  • It engages in a process of integrating body, mind, emotions  and spirit through experiential classes, sharing and monthly integration sessions.
  • It provides a safe place to do some of life’s work in the context of communion with co-journeyers.
  • It offers participants opportunities to visit some beautiful places in the Philippines as part of the Sabbatical retreats and vacations.


Program Description

EAPI offers a 4-month Sabbatical Renewal Experience [SRE] program from August - November, focusing on psycho-spiritual integration and a 4-month program Sabbatical Renewal Experience [SRE] from January - May with a particular focus on pastoral leadership and management.  The 4 months SRE is independent and complete in its own, covering all the features of the program mentioned earlier.  A  person can choose to continue  and to stay for more than 4 months and join the 6 months PLMM from January - June. However, the group dynamics will change.

The underlying objective of each SRE is to create a positive change or transformation in the participants in terms of outlook, perception, and eventually behavior, in a span of their time here at EAPI. As such, the programs are designed to bring these changes about.


August - November: Sabbatical Renewal Experience

The thrust is Psycho-Spiritual Integration and Healing—this is in response to the expressed needs of the participants through the years for personal healing since many of them come from contexts that are painful and wounding (like relationships in the religious communities, unresolved childhood issues due to dysfunctional family dynamics, oppressive political or religious structures, etc.).  Sabbath, above all, is a time to be heal and be restored.  This can, hopefully take place as one integrates both the light and the dark aspects of one’s personality and experiences. The participants will focus on the stage that they are in and the issues that confront them. The SRE group will also have the opportunity to do some theological and biblical updating while keeping the spirit and atmosphere of the Sabbath.


January - Early May: Sabbatical Renewal Experience

The thrust is Leadership Experience and Reflection—this program is very relevant now since most people who come for the sabbatical have been leaders and are wounded by their experience. Many will return to these contexts, so reflecting on their experience will allow for healing. SRE is also designed especially for those participants who need flexibility during their time of rest. The participants will be invited to join the Pastoral Leadership and Management for Mission program, yet have a group that would allow for depth in sharing and spirituality. The group can also request for a particular module if they feel that this would allow them to address issues not offered in the PLMM, e.g Midlife Crisis and Leadership.   


Description of the Modules and Possible Resource Persons

  • Personal Salvation Story; Opening Retreat: The Sabbatical Renewal Experience is launched with a retreat at the beginning of the journey to help the participants enter into their Sabbath experience.  When the participants arrive, they bring with them their “baggage” which needs to be recognized and set aside for the time being, so that they can travel more lightly without so many encumbrances.  Also, it is important for the one taking the sabbatical to be mindful that this is a sacred and precious time spent with God and not just any touristic activity of going to different places.

           Facilitator:  Mr. Francisco Machado/ Sr. Amelia Vasquez, RSCJ


  • Ecospirituality—teaches a way of life that embraces the entire creation and discovers God’s presence reflected in each and every element of the cosmos.  Sabbath is viewed from this broad and profound perspective of noticing the Divine in both the minutest and vastest, the visible and non-visible reality.  

           Facilitator:  Sr. Ana Malapitan, RC


  • Shibashi--through Shibashi, the participants learn to harmonize with nature harnessing  its healing energy through 18 body movements. It is also a way of praying and connecting with the Divine.

           Facilitators: Sr. Concepta Bellosillo, RGS and team


  • Christian Spiritual Journey—explores the elements and stages of one’s journey giving special attention to the concept of liminality as one enters into the Sabbath and looks at the entire experience from the perspective of “pilgrimage” as it is understood in the Christian and other religious traditions.

           Facilitator:  Sr. Amelia Vasquez, RSCJ


  • Managing Emotions—is designed to help the participants handle emotions like anger and depression, fear and anxiety, loneliness and isolation that can beset anyone especially those who are in positions of power/authority and those in the mission areas.  Understanding the dynamics of these emotions and seeking ways to manage them can lead to a healthier and fuller life in the personal, communal and ministerial levels.

           Facilitator:  Dr. Tita Go


  • Healing in Four Stages—will lead the participants to 4 levels of healing (physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual) as they are helped to get in-touch with their “wound” and its source with the end-goal of embracing one’s wound and liberating one’s self in the process.   

           Facilitator:  Dr. Dido Villasor


  • Midlife Experience—looks at this crucial stage of one’s development with reverence exploring its gifts lurking behind its challenges as one deals with sudden shifts of moods, perspectives & even careers.  As the participants learn about their polarities and archetypes, they begin to see that midlife is nature’s way of helping us to make the most of God’s precious gift to us: LIFE.

           Facilitator:  Mr. Earnest Tan


  • Pottery-making/Painting—arts like pottery-making or painting have a way of healing one’s soul like no other.  Hence, the participants will be given both time and space to go back to that stage of their lives when they were free to express themselves and celebrate one’s ability to create.

           Facilitator:  Ms. An Alcantara


  • Aging: Medical & Spiritual Perspectives—oftentimes those who are midlifing are also caring for their aging parents/relatives or members of their religious communities; hence, this is a helpful module for them aside from the fact that we are all moving towards this stage.  The module aims to give  balanced presentation of aging with its physiological dimension as well as the meaning that one can discover both as a caregiver and as someone going through the stage itself.

           Facilitator: Dr. Jun Alejandro, M.D.


  • Healing Mudras—called the yoga of the hands, a mudra is a specific hand gesture or position that helps in releasing the energy locked within our body and directing its flow and reflexes to the brain.  This module is another attempt to equip the participants with skills and means to help themselves maintain their well-being as they go back to their respective places and posts.

           Facilitator:  Mr. Jay Batoon


  • Bibliodrama: Life Transitions—this is a creative way of using Scripture texts for prayer and reflection.  As the name implies, it uses drama or role play, singing and dancing, as well as processing as a way of “personalizing” a particular text from the Bible.  Since most of the participants in the SPE are going through some form of life transition, this will be the focus of this module. 

           Facilitators:  Ms. Rachel Hauser and Team


  • Themes from the Hebrew Scriptures—presents anew the various themes from the Old Testament that can be used for personal and communal prayer.  Significant Old Testament characters will also be discussed in relation to the themes.  This module gives testimony to the truth that the Word of God is alive and very much connected with our lives and times.

           Facilitator:  Ms. Menchie Rojas


  • Themes from the Christian Scriptures—an attempt to revisit the New Testament and rediscover the wealth of wisdom that speaks to us and our people in the 21st century: the old, the young, those in the secular setting; how Jesus and his parables will address issues that beset us today should be central in our study of the Scriptures.  

           Facilitator:  Sr. Nicet Vargas, OSA


  • Journey towards Wholeness—aims to give the participants an opportunity to look into themselves, deepen their self-awareness, heal their memories and acquire skills and knowledge to further their growth towards integration and wholeness. 

           Facilitator:  Mr. Earnest Tan


  • Contextual Theology: Focus on Asia—features the various ways the people of Asia reflect on and articulate their faith in a continent that is home to many ancient religions, replete with contradictions, vibrant and dynamic, full of struggles and challenges in the midst of a rapid changing social, political and economic structures.

           Facilitator:  Fr. Jojo Fung, SJ


  • Emerging Theologies in Oceania—delves into the colorful life and challenges of the peoples of Oceania  (the island-states that make up this vast continent in the Pacific)  and the theologies that emerge from their own struggle to live out their faith amid climate change that can be really threatening to many of these islands, the effects of globalization and many other issues.  The facilitator brings the participants to Oceania and makes it very alive and real through the use of media:  interesting video clips, interviews, etc.

           Facilitator:  Fr. Arthur Leger, SJ


  • The New Cosmology Story—enables the participants to experience the story of cosmology that brings about radical amazement with God’s presence in the cosmos, in its beauty and intricate processes.  In the same breath, it will also bring into consciousness the alarming and critical condition of our home planet.  The module will be held in Villasis, Pangasinan, an ecological center where communing with nature comes so easily. 

           Facilitator:  Sr. Anne Bellosillo, MMS


  • Christian Art Meditation—is a 2-day module that explores the richness of Christian art in the different stages of our Christian history as a way of meditation.

           Facilitator:  Fr. Felipe Gomez, SJ


  • Soulwork: Exploring Ways of Caring for the Soul—is a 3-day module that will provide the participants a rare opportunity to share about ways of tending the soul; something that is almost always taken for granted yet very important if one is to minister effectively to other people.

           Facilitator:  Ms. Gem Yecla


  • Mission:  Following the Way of Jesus—culminates this particular season of the Sabbatical Pilgrimage Experience as the participants are brought back to reflect on the reason why they are doing their mission and what their life is all about in the first place.  This module gives both the theological and biblical perspectives of mission focusing on the person of Jesus as its foundation.

           Facilitator:  Fr. Luc Mees, MJ


Structure of the Sabbatical Renewal Experience


Daily Schedule

Sessions in the morning:     10:00 am-12:00 noon

Sessions in the afternoon:   2:30-4:30 pm

Sports and other recreation activities in the afternoon after class

Sabbatical Group Mass at 9:00 am

The SRE Group joins the Community Mass on Fridays at 5:30 pm starting the month of August when the Pastoral Education and Renewal Group begins their program.


Saturdays and Sundays are Sabbath days: 

  • can be used for silence, personal reflection and prayer
  • one can also devote time for individual hobbies and other self-nurturing activities


Integration Days

Since Sabbath is really allowing oneself time and space to slow down to be able to look at life events more intently and to notice God’s extraordinary presence in the ordinary, so to speak, Fridays are designated as integration days.  This is a graced time during the week, aside from Saturdays and Sundays,  to stop, reflect and share in the hope that integration begins to take place and will continue on even beyond the sabbatical journey at EAPI. 

Every 3rd Friday of the month will be an integration day.  The entire morning will be spent in silence by the Sabbatical Group after breakfast to reflect on the month’s modular classes/topics and other events.  In the afternoon, the group comes together and share the fruits of their reflection.  This will culminate in a Eucharistic celebration meaningfully designed and prepared by the sponsoring group for the week.  At other times, the sharing can also be incorporated in the Mass depending on the inspiration of the Spirit and the creativity of the group.

Modular Classes 

Usually the sessions in the Sabbatical begin at 10:00 am to give the participants space in the morning for spiritual accompaniment or simply for one to have time for oneself. There is also time for a short nap or “siesta” in the afternoon after lunch that’s why the session starts at 2:30.

The facilitators or resource persons are expected to present their material creatively taking into account that they are dealing with an adult group having a multicultural background and diverse and wide range of experience in their respective fields of expertise and apostolates.

It is recommended that the morning session can be used by facilitators for input-giving (using powerpoint presentations) and the afternoon sessions can be more experiential and interactive allowing the participants to ask questions, share in small or big groups.

Various teaching methods can be used like story-telling, role-play, video clips, movies, case studies, field trips, etc.  Since the Sabbatical is a small group (16 is usually the maximum number), the facilitator has a lot of space for exploration and creativity.  The important thing to remember is that the modular class aims at creating an impact for positive change and transformation to happen in each of the participants given a short period of time. 

Spiritual Accompaniment 

One important and unique feature of the Sabbatical Renewal Experience provided for the participants is the spiritual accompaniment which comes in the form of either spiritual direction or counseling.  This is to facilitate the inner work or inner journey that one is going through during the Sabbath time.  It is recommended for the participant to see his/her spiritual companion at least twice a month or more often if there is a need.


Set-up of the SRE Community

As mentioned earlier, the community-based SRE is a unique feature of the sabbatical program offered at EAPI with the premise that a supportive and healthy community is vital in the growth and healing process of the members.  Therefore, time and effort are invested at the start to form and build this SRE community and nurtured all throughout the sabbatical journey.

It is important to note that the Sabbatical Renewal Experience is not designed to minister to recovering alcoholics and other forms of addictions, as well as individuals with excessive authority issues, depression, aggression and a strong tendency for isolation.


Reading Program

Participants in the Sabbatical are highly encouraged to have a self-initiated reading program.  This is the time that one can engage in reading topics or materials that one is deeply interested in but never had the opportunity or time in the past to do so because of a busy life of ministry.  The EAPI library has a rich collection of books and periodicals on theology, spirituality, and psychology, among others. 

Personal Expenses

The SRE participants are asked to bring extra money for expenses not covered in the regular fees like medications and healthcare, transportation around Metro Manila, postage, overseas telephone calls, and other personal needs and wants.  The amount will be at the discretion of the participant.


For fees, please contact the Secretariat office: or

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