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Solo Parents Encounter #16 Pastoral, Graduates & Auxiliaries

The Valley of the Mother of God, Orangeville, Ontario

April 28-30, 2017

About the Solo Parents Ministry


We are a community of solo parents celebrating our dignity and wholeness in Christ.


We encounter the incarnate Christ in one another by freely and fully committing to grow in a loving relationship with God, our family and community, renewed and strengthened by the Holy Spirit.


We are called to proclaim our faith and witness to the power of the cross and the resurrection of Christ, rooted as we are in His Word, nourished and purified by His teachings and Sacraments, and cultivated by our service to God and fellowship with our neighbours.


The SOLO PARENTS MINISTRY commits to restore families in Christ by serving as a support group to solo parents, within and outside the Bukas-Loob Sa Diyos Covenant Community, here and abroad, through our ministry of loving presence, understanding, guidance and a process of reconciliation, spiritual renewal and growth.


We aim to accompany solo parents and their children in their brokenness and struggles by providing opportunities of restoring themselves in God’s plan such as through a continuous process of renewal of faith [i.e., encounters, retreats/ recollections, spiritual formation programs], pastoral care, teachings [vis a vis, the particular needs and concerns of solo parents] and service [within the Community and through outreach programs].


We seek to assist in the healing and transformation of solo parents and their families towards being fruitful and triumphant Christians by encouraging the following discipline: daily prayer, use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, study and meditation of the Word, reception of the sacraments, and regular fellowship and service.




We are a lampstand not to be kept under a bushel basket but one that provides light for all those who may be lost, confused and in doubt, and life to all who may be mourning, despairing and hopeless. Our personal witness to the saving, healing, liberating, transforming and sustaining love of God in Christ springs from knowing, understanding and living God’s Word “…a lamp unto our feet, and the light unto our path…”

This is what 1COR7 stands for: belief in 1 God, Commitment to make time for one another as one treats the other as a brother or sister, accountable for each other’s lives in order to grow together for service; Obedience to God, first and foremost, as we adhere to the doctrines and traditions of our Christian faith, the Magisterium of the Church and to the covenant of communion of the Community; Relationship as it refers to acknowledging and accepting our intimate relation to God as His children and expressing our love to God through our relationship with others. This is the fulfillment of God’s plan for His family that “all may be one.” The Solo Parents Ministry, thus, is guided by the four calls of covenantal relationship: the calls to intimacy, to fidelity, to sacrifice and to freedom. In our pursuit to find wholeness as depicted numerically in the Bible as 7, this will be achieved not only in communion and solidarity but in mission and service.


Organizational Chart

What is a Solo Parents Encounter?


The Solo Parents Encounter Weekend of the BLD Catholic Covenant Community* is a spiritual renewal program for individuals who are:


  • Widowed
  • Separated
  • Divorced
  • Single Parents


It is a live-in retreat weekend that allows the participant to experience God in a personal way. It is not a parenting workshop or a counselling session. The atmosphere is one of joyful praise & worship done as a community combined with quiet, prayerful reflection done privately.



• To know the love of God and recognize His workings in our lives
• To receive the Lord’s grace, healing, and restoration
• To have a fresh awareness of our ‘solo’ role at home, in the workplace, community, and society
• To realize our need for growth in faith and evangelization
• To have a conversion of heart, a renewal of mind and a transformation of life that will ultimately lead us to bring God’s message of love to others


A priest presides over the weekend aided by several individuals who will share their lived ‘solo’ experiences. With songs, prayers, and the empowering of the Holy Spirit, the participants will be led through a series of:

• Inspirational teachings
• Personal testimonies and witnessing
• Private reflections
• Group dialogue and activities




  • Linda Canaria (416) 562-6518
  • Nilda Villa (905) 896-1790
  • Cora Montilla (416) 662-9725




Solo Parents Encounters Throughout the Years


Solo Parents Encounter # 16

By: Willie Hernandez


Just about the break of sunlit days and the migratory birds have come back, the Solo Parents Ministry have once again sponsored a weekend encounter last April 28 – 30, 2017 at The Valley of the Mother of God Conference Center in Mono, Ontario. As it had been in the past years, the preparation for the encounter weekend included the Solo Parents Recollection on April 1, 2017 with Fr. Bobby Cena. This year, there were three vigil prayers done by the Ministry for the prospective candidates and the prayers were answered as sixteen (16) candidates attended the weekend retreat facilitated by Fr. Matthias. For the first time, the praise team of the Solo Parents Ministry led the singing and playing of the musical instruments all weekend. Although the Friday schedule was a little bit tiring, it did not dampen the lighter side of the evening as the candidates were requested to introduce themselves and were asked to say something as to how each one of them will want to be remembered.


We were blessed by the presence of members from the Intercessory Ministry who came and prayed with Solo Parents Intercessory teams early Saturday morning and to the late evening hours to intercede for the candidates . . . our hats off to the powerhouse of the Community! We express our thanks to Gus and Nila Soriano for helping our praise team. We acknowledge the presence of Cris and Beth Rejano, DCS for the Pastoral Apostolate. We thank the different auxiliaries who had sponsored candidates from Barrie and Guelph, and made their presence known in the celebration of the Sunday Eucharistic Mass, as well as the Liturgy, Service and Treasury Ministries who assisted. Our gratitude also goes to the Teaching and the Life in the Spirit Ministries who came on Sunday to invite the candidates to the forthcoming Life in the Spirit Seminar and to the Witness Development Ministry and their volunteers who helped guide and coach the sharers. Our heartfelt gratitude to Linda Canaria, Josie Pabalinas, Belen Rueles and Willie Hernandez for their powerful testimonies on God’s workings in their lives. To the Solo Parents Ministry members who had given much of their time in the preparation of the venue, the food preparation and the constant but joyful servitude in obedience to the needs of the weekend, our sincerest thank you. The weekend was in accordance to God’s appointed time – a time to harvest 16 good people for the glory of God!




SPE Class #15 - "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step"

By: Cora Montilla, SPE #4

Fourteen women and a man began their journey to the Valley of the Mother of God in Orangeville Ontario last April 22, 2016 to attend the Solo Parents Encounter #15 Weekend. Some participants came with Solo Auxiliaries as early as 3:00 PM. Others walked in at 5:00 and 8:00 PM, tired from the day’s work and the long trip made longer by the Friday traffic. The last group arrived early Saturday morning straight from their graveyard shift work. They came; all 15 of them, having committed their first step towards a journey they hope will change their lives.


The Friday evening icebreaker activity “How do I want to be remembered” brought out the child in the participants as they rendered their ideas and concepts into colorful drawings. The emotional and deep-seated yearnings and aspirations expressed by the participants as they explained the meanings behind their drawings touched many hearts.


Throughout the weekend, the participants listened avidly to Fr. Matthias, charmed by his booming voice and his jaunty walkabouts as he engaged the participants during his talks. The provocative questions in the 1st talk “who are you”, “what are you” and "what have you gone through” laid the groundwork for the beginning of self-understanding. Through the various talks, he guided them as they journeyed through their various encounters with self - as a person, as a solo parent and with God’s love. His admonition to the participants was to bury all the hurts, fears and unforgiveness in the holy ground of the Valley of the Mother of God so they can have an opportunity for a fresh start. Joann Pettitt, SPE #15, aptly summarized her experience: “It was a very unforgettable weekend of my life. This Encounter lifted up my soul and spirit to our Almighty GOD. All my worries, trials, difficulties & problems were gone coz I surrendered everything to the LORD. It was almost the same as the LSS that I attended last October 2016 in Guelph”.


The journey for the 15 class members of SPE #15 has begun. The first single step has been taken. Only God knows and only time will tell when, where and how their journey will end.


We, the members of the Solo Parents Ministry will journey with them and together we will patiently and courageously tread the path to a better understanding of ourselves as a person, as a solo parent and as a member of a community.



SPE Class # 14

By: Cora Montilla, SPE #4

Let me find Your grace in the valley

Let me find Your life in my death

Let me find Your joy in my sorrow

Your wealth in my need

That You’re near with every breath

In the valley*

Adapted from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions


24 candidates - 16 women and 8 men came to The Valley of the Mother of God in Orangeville, ON last June 19-21 not sure what to expect from the weekend. They asked, what would “a weekend experience of God’s healing love” mean for me? But the tentative candidates quickly found themselves drawn in through the opening activity of “How do I want to be remembered”. The ice breaker activity set the tone for the rest of the weekend – awareness and acceptance of pain, joy and laughter, hope and peace. Through the very end and last activity of community singing on Sunday, the graduates who came seeking to experience God in a personal way left the Valley deeply touched by their encounter with God through the various talks delivered by Fr. Ben St. Croix; the time spent in personal reflection; the life sharing within their care circles; the life witnessing of the sharers – Brennie Galace, Odette Maralit, Josie Pabalinas and Sylvia Taton and the care and attention provided by the sponsoring class, SPE#13 and other Solos.


To the class of SPE #14, may the grace, joy and healing you found in the Valley remain with you as you return to your respective world. Armed with a fresh awareness of your ‘solo’ role at home, in your workplace, community and society may you be ‘fearless’, knowing that you’ll never walk alone for He who started a good work in you will complete it.



SPE Class #10 - On Its Own Emmaus Journey

By: Menchu N. Ealdama  (St. Catharines DIP)

Twenty-two candidates, including 3 from St. Catharines DIP, joined the Solo Parents Encounter (SPE) #10 which was held on May 21-22 at the La Consolata Missionaries Centre.  Fr. Dominick Mbah presided over the weekend.  The reflections and teachings he gave were complemented by the powerful testimonies given by Vicky Nisce (“Masks”), Theo Ly (“Change of Status: Parenting”) and Leonie Dolleton (“God’s Love”). The St. Catharines’ connection came in the person of our own Tellie Ferrenbach who shared on “Sharing, Caring, Bearing:  Gift of Community”.

Fr. Dominick likened the SPE experience as the candidates’ own road to Emmaus, on which they trudged, like the two disciples, feeling defeated, discouraged, perhaps depressed, even despondent, weighed down by the “baggage” brought on by the guilt or unresolved issues stemming from a divorce or separation, or the death of a loved one.  But much like their walk on the road to Emmaus would transform the lives of the disciples, the lesson they take away from the SPE weekend can bring the candidates the peace, hope and joy which they desire.  To discover healing, Fr. Dominick exhorted them to be patient and to pray always because, like the stranger the disciples met, they are not alone.  Jesus’ abiding presence is always with them.

A big component which brought so much power to the SPE weekend was the sharing the candidates did and as they shared, the “resurrection” that happened in their lives during the weekend became evident.  As Fr. Dominick happily pronounced, out of “chaos and confusion”, the weekend showed a way back to “order” because now they have come to learn that in their life’s journey, Jesus makes the same journey with them. It is as they open their hearts to Jesus that He will point them to His Word of promise in scripture that tells them that He will always stand by them, turning their despair into hope, their defeat into victory.  As they keep walking with Jesus, the road opens up to a great highway of companionship, conversation, belief and hope.  Praise be to God!




Solo Parents Encounter # 7

…and twenty-one more were added to their numbers...


“Look around you and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting…
One sows and another reaps.” John 4:35b, 37

SPE7ClassPicture.jpg image by bldtoronto

Click here for SPE # 7 Photos


Even at the outset, it was evident that this Solo Parents Encounter Class #7 will be somewhat different from the past SPE’s. We see in this class the fruits of the various BLD Missions.  From St. Barnabas in Scarborough, we have four graduates; from St. Margaret Mary in Hamilton, we have four graduates; and from BLD St. Catharines, we have two graduates – that’s almost half of those who attended.  Indeed, the Holy Spirit blows where He chooses and all we can do is respond in awe!


Solo Parents News & Featured Articles

Solo Parents' Day of Fellowship

August 12, 2017 @ Pauline Book Store & Media Center

August 12, 2017 marked a day of change in the Solo Parents’ history of summer activities. The Ministry’s Annual Summer Picnic had given way to a Day of Fellowship, an indoor event planned to foster better fellowship and camaraderie among the Solos. It was an event that headlined fun, food, prizes and DANCING. It was also a well-attended activity that belie the number of Solos in the above photo. By the time the photo was taken, a number of Solos had earlier left the party due to other commitments. We look forward to another Day of Fellowship in 2018.









God's Garden of Courage

By: Cora Montilla, SPE # 4


“COURAGE is not the absence of fear; but the acquired ability to move beyond fear.” I have often come across this and other similar quoted sayings but I have never come face to face with raw courage all at once, in the same room until August 14, 2016. I saw it in the person of the 10 participants of the Detroit Solo Parents Encounter #3 – 5 widows, 2 widowers, 1 separated, 1 divorced and a mature single.


While this is the smallest Encounter that I have served, it will stand out in my Encounter scrapbook as one of the memorable one. It was heartbreaking to listen to the participants as they read their love letters to God and to their loved ones. One could feel the palpable pain, the rendered broken heart, the struggle to understand and finally accept their respective crosses. Some were bold to come forward to share; some with hesitancy but all stood up courageously to open their hearts and life stories to compassionate strangers. At the end of their readings, one could feel the taste of victory as they expressed their gratitude for God’s presence and faithfulness throughout the difficult periods in their lives.


Fr. Phil Paxton’s talks were short but concise, always hitting the mark, the heart of the topic. I was touched to the core when the topic “Encounter with Self as a Person” was discussed. I once again experienced healing and a re-affirmation of God’s love – THEN, where I was, when He met at the lowest point in my life and NOW, where I am, as He continues to guide, prune and use me according to His purpose.

The Toronto Solo Parents Ministry Pastoral team was composed of the Pastoral Apostolate DCS, Cris & Beth Rejano; Solo Parents Ministry Coordinators Eric & Pat Lazaro; Solo Parents Ministry Tricord Linda Canaria, Nilda Villa, Cora Montilla; and Theo Ly, a Solo Parents member. Among the 8 of us, we multi-tasked and managed the Encounter Weekend from providing Prayer Leaders and Sharers to conducting every activity of the Program. The Detroit Solo Parents Encounter #3 Pastoral Team headed by Tony & Dita Alojipan gave their full support through the provision of a wonderful venue, the St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Centre and the various administrative needs of the Program. It was truly a manifestation of a community at work helping others toward a realization and re-evaluation of their lives in their new calling and vocation – that of a solo parent in the service of God.


To the Detroit Solo Parents #3 graduates: Let your light shine . . . be a source of strength and courage . . . share your wisdom . . . radiate love . . . and most of all ascribe God’s power and love in your life and in everything that you do.




"The Beginning of My Journey to Freedom at The Valley of the Mother of God"

By: Ucelta Velinor-Avril, SPE # 15


On Friday April 22, 2016 I said goodbye to my mother to attend the Solo Encounter No. 15 retreat for the weekend at The Valley of the Mother of God in Orangeville. We the candidates were all individuals who were single parents, divorced, widowed, or separated like myself and were shepherded by Solo individuals and Fr. Matthias.


What an amazing weekend this was. It was powerful, awesome, spiritual and vibrant. This is an unforgettable weekend which I will share with friends and families. Although I was aware of the objectives for the retreat, yet it was way more than my expectation. As every minute went by I got to realized that my invitation was from our Lord, to be with Him. I also realized that I had been called by God to be restored and refreshed in Faith through the Holy Spirit, who has been providing me with strength to carry on with my life from November 14, 2015 the day I separated from my husband.


After intense praise and worship from the Music Ministry, personal reflection activities, talks and scripture readings from Fr. Matthias I was able to open myself up and express my emotions. As a candidate, my heart was touched deeply and I began to feel the love of God entering my heart pushing out the hate I had been holding on for years.


What a transformation this was. I began to feel clean; it was the beginning of a new relationship with the Father. He touched me through my encounter with Him. There were moments when my pain were unbearable I then realized that I needed to seek God’s grace and forgiveness not only for some of my sins but for “ALL” my sins, and also for the grace to forgive all those who had hurt me. I embraced this special opportunity as a moment of grace to get closer to my Lord. I asked him to set me free from all kind of bondage that I was experiencing; to heal my woundedness and brokenness. In addition I asked for the Lord’s grace to purify me and to heal me physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. I also asked him to forgive those who along the way had humiliated me or caused me any harm.

I was able to grab my mask which I had been wearing for all these years and throw it away in the trash and to be myself. I asked God to grant me the grace to encounter with Him deeper and to experience His love and mercy in this new relationship He is establishing with me.


May His name be praised now and forever. Amen.




A Day of Reflection

By: Willie Hernandez, SPE 14


What a wonderful way to start the month of April for the Solo Parents Ministry. Aside from attending the Corporate First Friday Mass, ministry members who will be serving during the Solo Parents Encounter Weekend on April 22-24, 2016 attended the First Saturday Mass at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish prior to the start of their Pre-Encounter Recollection held at the OLA Hall.


Indeed, the Lord is good!! There was a good turn-out of 42 participants who responded to the call for personal and spiritual preparedness for the Encounter Weekend. Fr. Matthias Yaw Kotoka Amuzu who facilitated the Recollection spoke on Self-discovery and Self-examination among other topics. The reflection questions were probing like, “How wounded are you” and “How have you healed”. I had to look inward and examine my attitude in the context of my woundedness before I could answer the reflection questions posed during the entire day. But this I know - I can only walk through my life’s journey with the help of God’s grace and the sustaining knowledge that He accepts and loves me for who I am.


In three weeks’ time, the Solos will be serving during the SPE weekend. Each of us will be carrying our vessels of self-worth and hopefully only a small baggage of our fears and insecurities. We will welcome the candidates and open our hearts to them. During the weekend we hope that they will see in us a faint mirror of their own journey, a journey punctuated by anxieties and pockets of loneliness. Hopefully, we can lessen their fears when they see how the Lord has touched our lives, making each one of us wounded healers.


Finally, we would like to acknowledge the presence and guidance of our Ministry DCS, DLC and Tricord. To the faithful couples who form the core of the Solo Praise, we thank you for your tireless support before and during our Encounter Programs. To Fr. Matthias, our heartfelt thanks for the talks and the lively way he engaged us and for the quality time he gave to some of us. Most of all, to all ministry members who attended the Recollection, a BIG THANK YOU. TO GOD BE THE GLORY.


The Evolution of the Solo Parents Ministry

From Class Reunions to Ministry Gatherings to Full-Fledged Assemblies

It is hard to believe that seven years have passed since the inception of the Solo Parents Ministry in Toronto.  Like a mustard seed, it was small, obscure and hardly noticeable but its enormous growth over the past few years is hard to ignore.  With every Solo Parents Encounter that passed, it became increasingly obvious that the Solo Parents Ministry was called to a ministry that is unique to the ones currently addressed by our community.


Solo Parents Photo Gallery

Here's a collection of class photos from previous Solo Parents Encounters. Click on an image to view an enlarged photo.


More Photos

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