“We were invited to be on the radio . . . It was a great opportunity to talk about our charism and our ministry.”
Pace e bene a tutti!
We have been here almost two months and our communications have been primarily about practical things, such as the bank, the budget, etc. Obviously, the rest of life is quite intense and always filled with surprises. We are trying daily (not without difficulties) to build our life in the Community and outside day by day.
Thank you again for everything. We are also putting our energies into learning the language. So far we have not been able to work with a real teacher though Ms. Sally has volunteered and is trying her best to help us. We hope to find a real teacher of Cebuan language. We’ll see!
In the meantime, we have begun to speak a few words. We are almost all settled in our bedrooms and in the other rooms. We would like for them to be blessed and to invite some friends and acquaintances. However, the Chapel is not ready yet so we don’t know when the blessing will take place. We will let you know as soon as we find out.
Next week will be devoted to complete the 2010 Budget and shop to begin our ministry with the poor. We already have some volunteers and hope to soon have an orientation meeting, where we will tell them more about who we are and give some formation on our lifestyle and charism. We ask you to pray especially for this.
We are trying to get by and wish that everything would go well, but we also need to find a house or a property where we can settle. We are doing fine, but could use some stability and a place of our own. We trust in the Lord: He will help us at the right time and will provide what we need.
And now some specific realities about our first days in Dumaguete:
1. Unbelievable but true -- on Sunday, August 30, we were invited to be on the radio.
2. The Dawn Celebration on September 8 - Something completely new to us. As Community, we had decided to participate in this Dawn Celebration, which is celebrated here by praying every morning at 4:30 am. When we woke up at 4 am, we realized that people were already in Church. We quickly went downstairs and found that the town square was filled with people, candles and the choir, accompanied by several guitars. Everyone was singing and looking at a beautiful statue of our Lady, all lit up, surrounded by balloons and a banner saying: “Happy Birthday, Mamma Mary.” Some of the balloons carried the message, “Happy Feast Day.”
3. On September 22, we were invited to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Father Joseph Grosko. Father had come from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the US. After being a military chaplain during the Vietnam War, Fr. Grosko served in Dumaguete for nine years as a volunteer missionary. His ministry was Hospital Chaplain at Baby Jesus Hospital. The gratitude of the Diocese and the whole city for all he has done and especially for his life witness was evident. This appreciation was also visible through the crowd who participated with songs and all kinds of celebrations.
4. On October 3rd, we celebrated the Transitus in a very simple way, wishing that by next year we will be able to do more. Our first Feast of St. Francis here has truly been special. St. Francis and Franciscan spirituality are not well known here. We have a big task ahead of us. For the feast day of our Father, we planned to invite some young women to visit us in the afternoon and spend several hours with us. We were thrilled when in the morning, after the 8:30 am Liturgy, six young women arrived to wish us a happy feast day and spend some time with us. This gave us the opportunity to come to know each other and to say something about St. Francis. In the afternoon, eight more young women came. We introduced ourselves, shared our stories, prayed together and finally had a simple festive dinner in a joyful Franciscan atmosphere.
We wonder what God’s plans are for these young women. We are praying for them and ask you to entrust them to Mary and Mother Frances. We have truly experienced the hundredfold blessing and are grateful to our Father Francis.
We are sharing these beautiful experiences because we know for sure that everyone knows the mystery of Christian life, which is a mystery of death and resurrection. Challenges are not lacking. However, in spite of our perplexities and doubts, we want to believe that these are the true roots of life and of this new mission.
Even the weather, at times impossibly hot, with the various typhoons that have struck so many of our brothers and sisters in the Philippines and the thought that they may sooner or later also hit our island, keep us always in that “holy tension” to live well each present moment and be ready for anything.
Then there are those packages with our personal items which were mailed from the US and Italy and have not yet arrived. This is another opportunity to pray to St. Anthony, but at the same time it makes us feel united with those who have lost everything because of the floods. Could it be that our boxes are floating in some river?
To Mary, “Our Lady of Hope,” we entrust everything and everyone, certain that she walks alongside us, leads us and protects us.
We greet everyone, Sisters, Associates, friends and benefactors and assure you all of our prayers.
Thanks for everything!
Sisters Armi, Maria, and Cristina, sfp