I come from Manila, with my roots in the province of Cavite, Southern Luzon. The context of my vocation is the social climate of the 60s and 70s. The 60s were filled with political and cultural upheaval. Trained by the Benedictine Sisters, I heard them speak of Vatican II and how it opened the church to the needs of the world. After college, the mission area I chose was to be catechist in the public high schools in the Archdiocese of Manila for 4 years.
I soaked in the spirituality of St Mary Euphrasia and St. John Eudes in 1966, attracted by one picture of St Mary Euphrasia embracing a young grieving girl. Martial Law struck the country in 1972. As young sisters, we were sent to the hinterlands of Mindanao, where we saw the pristine beauty of the countryside, the mountains, the seas, the rivers, the lakes. Most of all we fell in love with the people, where the indigenous tribes shared their beliefs of oneness with the land, where the Christian poor survived priestless, but with much devotion to the Blessed Mother and her Child in the small chapels they built and worshipped in.
We saw also the impunity of loggers to destroy rainforests and denude mountains as well as the military atrocities instilling fear in the simple farmers and fisher folks. The Church was most dynamic in the South, with the outspoken Bishops, decrying human and religious rights violations. Our small communities were not isolated although far apart. We were part of the Sisters Association of Mindanao, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and Mindanao Sulu Pastoral Council.
Early on, in the mission fields, I discovered the role of the laity who welcomed us, supported our small beginnings, worked in partnership to realize the goals of service to the wider community, open and eager to learn, ready to embark and risk life against odds and difficulties and ever so grateful to whatever training/formation the Sisters would share. They were the living Church. Many lay and some religious /priests died/disappeared for us to regain our freedom as a nation. The people were our teachers in our cultural integration, beginning with language. In spirituality, they made us understand deeper our Asian-Filipino religiosity beneath our Westernized Christian faith. I have received so much more than what I thought I gave.
Due to family migration, I asked to be missioned in the United States, where I helped in the Los Angeles and San Francisco communities and ministries with women and children. It was also an exposure to work with people who were homeless, the survivors of family violence, the foster youth. The zeal implanted in formation made me unafraid to enter unknown grounds and see the struggles of those in chemical dependency, in hiding as undocumented migrants, women suffering abuse, or very angry neglected/abandoned youth. I admired the great volunteerism/commitment among the young, the professionals and many lay people to serve those weakest in the affluent society of the United States to make new paths.
Back in the Philippines, I am now missioned in Isabela, Northern Philippines to assist in the women desk ministry of the Ilagan Diocese and in the Literacy-numeracy project among the Agta adult (indigenous tribe). I am also a member of the Philippine Province Leadership Team with specific focus on the Good Shepherd Mission Partnership. It is a privilege to recognize and affirm the role of lay people in the mission of the Good Shepherd and it is with excitement that I walk this journey with them.
Historic first Formation and Partnership Session in Asia Pacific creates a distinct shift in the understanding of Partnership for Mission
Comprehensive overview from the GSAPP team - how Good Shepherd Partnership for Mission is developing in this region