Vol. I, No. 2
“Our deep desire is to become more and more a sign and witness of the Hope that does not disappoint and that many, especially the poorest and neediest are waiting for.”
Dear Sisters, Associates, Relatives and Friends,
Time flys here in Dumaguete . . . life is filled each day with many great realities – and sometimes not so great ones. Today we heard that Rowena, who was 20 years of age (though she looked as if she were nine years of age), has died. She lived on the streets with her mother and little brothers. Rowena came to the soup kitchen to eat on Sundays and in the evenings. When we realized she was sick, Sr. Maria took her to the hospital, but by then she was too ill. She died 15 days later. We hope that Rowena smiles at us from heaven and that she may protect all those who, like her, live on the streets -- especially her family.
What should we tell you about this time here?
On November 3, Sr. Armi began teaching full time at St. Paul University, which has been run by the Sisters of St. Paul (originally from France) for 105 years. With Sr. Armi we were able to participate in the opening of the new semester and in the anniversary celebrations of their foundation. Everything was impressive, beautiful, rich in spiritual, religious, and cultural messages. We hope that Sr. Armi’s presence in this environment may bring a breath of fresh air and a healing presence.
After three months of life in this city, we now call it:
Unfortunately, they often go on until two or three in the morning! The other side of the apartment faces the large outdoor market, which opens with much excitement and noise daily between three and four in the morning. When are we and the other people who live at the Marian Center going to be able to sleep? Celebrations here are huge and include parades and processions that are no less than the Feast of St. Anthony in Padua.
Then there are the schools, from the daycare center to the various universities. Each has its feast days and public events. Celebrations begin with a blessing and Eucharistic celebration or with a prayer. People in local costumes march with various bands and always wind up at our town square. Do you realize how lucky we are, as we can enjoy and participate in the social life with all the people in Dumaguete and in the surrounding Province? However, we may wind up being hospitalized because it is really impossible to get enough sleep. Well, that was a joke. Just to say that sometimes things are difficult. Fortunately, we recognize in this too a great opportunity to offer, with love, something to the Lord.
Honoring the Patron Saints of Dumaguete
This gave us the opportunity to get to know the hard work these people do; they are often underpaid and undervalued. We realized more how difficult the conditions are for thousands of families and how this causes immigration and the exodus to the larger cities.
The Patron Saints of Dumaguete are St. Joseph, whose feast is in March, and St. Catherine of Alexandria, whose feast is celebrated on November 25. It is impossible to give you an idea of the wonders, devotions and expressions of faith of our people toward St. Catherine. A solemn Novena, combined with the 5 am Liturgy and the 5 pm Liturgy, accompanied the faithful at the beginning of the feast. The Liturgies were well prepared and were centered around themes presented by people who live what they preach. Various choirs, all music professionals, animated and enlivened the celebrations. We participated as well, and enjoyed everything.
Serving the Poorest Ones
As for our direct ministry to the poor, we are happy to inform you that the ministry began on December 14, the feast day of our Blessed Mother Frances. It was especially meaningful to us that this date was chosen by people who were unfamiliar with its significance for us.
We wish you good health and much joy and peace. Know that we always remember you in prayer and count on your prayerful support. We carry you all in our hearts with love and gratitude.
Sr. Cristina, Maria and Armi, sfp