The Philippines is a paradise. One look at the horizon from the entrance of the Savior’s house… and you feel the whole creation beating: the light, the sea, the sound of the “tuko”… There is no need to go to the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy, just a few meters away. And, if you do, also in the silence of the crypt you can grasp how His presence in the Bread and in the heart encourage the best of life.
The Superior General concludes her canonical visit to this region, which began during Easter week. On this occasion, the first days were dedicated to Tahanan Cándida Mª de Jesús, the infirmary, and the home for the elderly. Being sick or losing strength due to age is also natural, as is the aforementioned paradise. But this reality is neither so attractive nor so easy to accept.
In this way, it is a grace to visit any of these houses and to perceive, generally, the gratitude expressed by the sisters for what they have lived, for the health that was not lost, for the care, for the Congregation… It is a precious atmosphere that one breathes in Tahanan, as we say familiarly.
In El Salvador, much emotion and gratitude were shared. The cause is a social project. Some twenty-five women, mothers of families, hard-working but with limited resources, who, thanks to the help of the Congregation, have a very simple house that allows them to live a more dignified and peaceful life, especially when typhoons strike. Some young people speak with joy that they are JóvenesFI. The Sisters pastorally accompany pilgrims going to the shrine, encourage young people when studies become more difficult, and support women…
From there to Cebu: a Chinese-Filipino village. In the room we found a solemn invitation from Sacred Heart School-Daughters of Jesus for the following day: prayer; National Anthem; welcome from the students and the General Director; demonstration of Chinese-Philippine culture, “Sinulog” (with the Holy Child of Cebu). The Mother General thanked them for their welcome and encouraged them in their mission. Finally, the President of the Parents’ Association spoke. The ceremony ended with the school hymn. Interviews with the HHs and a thousand details in the community… make the visit very special. In Cebu, there is a mixture of cultures and languages. Perhaps we can learn, from a place like this, to integrate the differences, the diversity of gifts, living together in peace, education in solidarity… In Cebu, we celebrated the Eucharist and feast of M. Candida.
And from Cebu to Davao. Stella Maris Academy of Davao also gives its welcome with great solemnity. The scheme of the visit is practically the same as that of Cebu, but each place has its peculiarities. The cultural exhibition is entitled “Tribal and Moro dances”. It is unnecessary to explain further. That gesture of children, and also of older people, to take your hand and bring it to their forehead as a sign of respect and consideration, of blessing, impresses even if it is simple and repeated.
After so many interviews and meetings, as in other visits, the meeting with the community takes place.
And finally, the meeting with the local superiors of the region, the sisters who, in the Nazareth of every day, in the “short distances”, help us to discover what the Lord may be asking or maybe offering…
The Philippines is undoubtedly a paradise, where we thank God for His creation, redemption and so many other gifts.
Maria Teresa Pinto, FI