It was with heavy hearts that people gathered on April 21st to farewell Srs Torika Wong and Veronica Lum before their departure to Fiji on 23rd April. Eighteen years ago Torika and Veronica were the first Marist Sisters to go to the Philippines. Marist Fathers, Marist Missionary Sisters, Marist Brothers and postulants, Marist Laity, Partners in Marist Mission, SAMIN representatives, a host of friends and of course the Marist Sisters in Davao gathered for the farewell function that began with Mass at 6:00 pm. Fr Pat Devlin sm, District Superior of the Marist Fathers in Davao, was the main celebrant at the Mass. The backyard was well lit up with over 80 chairs in place. The sudden shower of rain at the beginning of Mass did not dampen any spirits with everyone able to shelter in the house or on the porches.
After the Mass Sr Sheila, Unit Leader of the Marist Sisters in the Philippines, welcomed and thanked all who came. Many more speeches followed with various groups expressing their appreciation of Torika and Vero. Torika and Vero then voiced their gratitude for the richness of life they had experienced in the Philippines and for the love they received during their time here.
Entertainment from various cultural groups followed before all partook of a delicious meal. It was an evening to remember and one that was a fitting tribute to the contribution Torika and Vero had made during their eighteen years in the Philippines.
My Chosen One in Whom I Delight was the theme of Sr April Acero’s Perpetual Profession Mass held recently in the Philippines. On the cover of her Profession booklet was an illustration of Jesus standing in the river and the dove/Spirit descending on him. The ceremony of profession was integrated into the anticipated parish Mass of the Baptism of Christ on the evening of Saturday 9th January. Eight Marist Fathers concelebrated with Archbishop Romulo de Valles DD, Archbishop of Davao, and his Vicar for Religious, Fr. Bill Larouse (Maryknoll Fathers). The ceremony was simple, filled with love and joy. April’s family, Marist Sisters in the Philippines, members of the Marist family, friends and parishioners were present to celebrate with April.
The theme of gracious choice and April’s joyful response permeated the atmosphere of the Profession ritual and the entire Eucharistic Liturgy. It was truly a celebration of God’s love for his Son, the Beloved, and for His graciously chosen daughter, April, in whom He delights. By the creativity of the Spirit, in his homily, the Archbishop focused on this theme as he very simply expounded the Scripture readings and noted that whatever God was saying to Jesus, his Son, He was also saying to April. April was overflowing with joy in the fact of being so loved. Following the profession ceremony guests were entertained by items prepared by the Postulants of the Marist Brothers, the Novices of the Marist Fathers and a beautiful Kiribati dance performed by Sr. Terube, SM and Sr. Katea an SMSM Sister.
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On the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 12th December 2015, Sr. Edna B. Gado, SM, publicly make her Perpetual Profession of the vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience in the Congregation of Mary. Present to witness Edna’s Perpetual Profession were her Marist Sisters, Edna’s family, members of the Marist Family and many other friends and invited guests. The Solemn Mass was celebrated at the Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Tagum.and was officiated by Most Rev. Wilfredo D.Manlapaz, D.D., STD., Bishop of Tagum. A number of Marist Fathers and Diocesan Priests also concelebrated. Sr. Sheila B. Manalo, SM the new Unit Leader of the Marist Sisters Philippines, received the vows of Sr. Edna in behalf of Sr. Grace Ellul, SM, Superior General of the Marist Sisters.
For several years now, Sr. Edna has been with the Talikala Foundation passionately ministering to Prostituted and Trafficked Women and Girls. We thank God for the gift of Sr. Edna and we continue to pray for her. We pray also for special blessings for her Mom and Dad as have they generously “given” their only daughter Sr. Edna to the Church and to the MaristsSisters.
Marist Sisters in the Philippines came together in Matina house on December 8 to celebrate and begin our life as the Unit of the Philippines. Sr. Sheila B. Manalo, our new unit leader, received the special candle marking our beginning as a unit. Sheila is the first Filipino born sister to be called to leadership in the Philippines. (Photo: L-R Srs Sheila & Torika)
Sr Torika Wong handed over the leadership to Sheila and assured her of the support of the sisters. Sr Veronica Lum handed over the Bursars ‘burden’ to Sr Lilibeth Cajes with words of encouragement. Sr Monica Lum handed on the leadership role in Matina to Sr Sheila Manalo reminding her to keep hold of Mary’s hand! We all enjoyed the special prayer sent to us from the General Team. April led us in this prayer. After a simple and delicious dinner Sheila held a short meeting to look at the calendar of activities for December and January.
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Marist Sisters in the Philippines recently took part in the Archdiocese of Davao Vocation Jamboree. Their message for young people is: Maybe this is where God is calling you. If you would like to know more about being a Marist Sister contact a Vocation Contact Sister through the Marist Sisters in Asia-Pacific website.
Marist Sisters in the Philippines gathered for their Sector Assembly 24-26 July during which they reflected on the theme of the coming General Chapter for the Marist Sisters – Women of the Word, Embracing Life. Fr. Pat Devlin, SM, the District Superior of the Marist Fathers, facilitated the assembly.
During the assembly it was beautiful to hear the fruits of each sister’s reflection on this theme. There was time to share on what will threats prevent them from becoming Women of the Word Embracing Life and on what will help improve their lives so as to be true to their call to be the presence of Mary in our world and to be a woman of the Word.
At the end of the assembly, an Affirmation Ritual took place. Each sister named and wrote down the giftedness she can contribute to the sector. This was placed under Mary’s and Mother Foundress’ image. Then as a sign of their appreciation for each other, they affirmed each other’s giftedness. The sisters give thanks to God for the grace-filled experience of this assembly.
On 2nd December, two teachers and three students from Marist Sister’s College, Woolwich have spent a 2 week immersion period in the Marist Sisters’ and Marist Fathers’ communities and ministries in Davao, Philippines. The students have just completed Yr 12 and chose this immersion experience instead of attending schoolies week. While in Davao they visited the Bajao school, the Balay Pasilungal Boys Centre, the Davao City Prison and the Mental Hospital.
It has been a joy for the Marist Sisters in the Philippines to host the students and their teachers and to share with them a little of the ministry they do to bring the compassion of Jesus and Mary to those who are vulnerable and neglected.
On 14 September in Davao, Marist Sisters in the Philippines joined with other members of the Marist Family to celebrate the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Prior to the celebration, a 9-day novena was held to prepare for the fiesta with different Marist themes reflected in each mass.
After the mass, some fun games were initiated as well as a simple entertainment where Marists presented their talents and skills. A lovely dinner ended the celebration.
On 12 September, Archbishop Romulo Valles, DD, the Archbishop of Davao celebrated mass at Davao City Jail Chapel. He was very happy to be invited to say mass for the Marists and the inmates. He thanked the Marists for the work in the prison ministry.
On Friday 23rd March Sr Sheila made her Perpetual Profession as a Marist Sister. The main celebrant for the Profession Mass was her uncle, Archbishop from Cotabato City. He was joined by Archbishop Capalla (Davao) and his Auxiliary Bishop from the Matina Parish, where the Eucharist was celebrated. A number of Priests, including Marist Fathers, concelebrated.
Sr Jane Frances O’Carroll, Congregational Leader of the Marist Sisters, received Sheila’s vows. Sr Julie Brand, Regional Leader of Marist Sisters in Asia-Pacific was present along with religious from all branches of our Marist Family and other religious from near and far.
Sheila’s parents, her two sisters, her brother and their families were present, together with many friends and parishioners. It was a joyful, prayerful Eucharist with beautiful music and an excellent homily. Sheila pronounced her Vows with confidence. The Church was decorated with lovely greenery and pretty white flowers.
Afterwards everyone joined us for lunch in the nearby Parish pavilion, where caterers had prepared a delicious meal. During the meal we were entertained with items, including a Fijian meke presented by Srs Val and Biri, and a Kiribati dance presented by Sr Terube.
All the Marist Sisters of the Sector of the Philippines had been involved in helping Sheila to organise this special day, and of course Sr Torika, Sector Leader of the Philippines, expressed the joy of all Marist Sisters when she welcomed everyone at the beginning of Mass. Sheila expressed her own words of thanks at the end of the Eucharist. In particular she mentioned the Sisters of each part of our Region – New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and the Philippines – who had been so significant in her journey towards Perpetual Profession.
Srs Lilibeth and April, both from the Philippines, made their first profession as Marist Sisters two years ago. During the last two years they have engaged in further theological study and participated in the mission of the Marist Sisters in the Phillipines.
Recently they reaffirmed their desire to be Marist Sisters when they renewed their vows of Chastity, Poverty and Obedience in the Congregation of Mary. Their vows were accepted by Sr Veronic Lum on behalf of the Congregational Leader of the Marist Sisters.