September 18, 2018, Kalookan, Philippines – Almost two years after President Rodrigo Duterte was installed as President of the Philippines and declared his intention to initiate a war on drugs, Adrian Dominican Sister May Cano, OP, came to the Diocese of Kalookan to minister to families suffering because of this war.
Since President Duterte’s war on drugs began in July 2016, thousands of suspected drug dealers and users have been imprisoned, and approximately 20,000 have been killed. Most of the victims came from poor urban families and many were the bread-winners for their families.
Bishop Pablo David, of the Diocese of Kalookan, denounced the evil that is happening in his diocese and reached out to his people by organizing programs for the victims of extrajudicial killings and their families. The Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter responded to Bishop David’s call for Sisters to serve in these programs and sent Sister May Cano, OP, to the diocese in June 2018.
Sister May spent her first week listening to the sufferings of drug users and of the families of victims of extrajudicial killings. “Our diocese responds to different needs of the families of the victims of extrajudicial killings, like widows and orphans,” she said.
Among the people she encountered was Reymart, 19, whose mother was a domestic helper in Dubai. Reymart was falsely listed by a para-military police officer as a drug user and was shot to death while trying to escape the local paramilitary police.
Jennifer, whose husband was a victim of the extrajudicial killings, helped to organize the families of other victims. In July, men came to her house and killed her, leaving behind her two grade-school children. The children were adopted by the parish, which now provides for their needs. They were given scholarships through the help of the Archdiocese of Manila.
The diocese offers a scholarship program, burial assistance, small-scale livelihood assistance, and shelter assistance. The diocese also ministers to drug users, collaborating with lawyers to offer plea-bargaining for those who are undergoing community-assisted rehabilitation to save the addicts’ lives and help them start anew.
Sister May is in charge of the scholarship program, distributes basic material aid to various mission stations, and conducts a nutrition seminar for mothers and those who are served by the feeding program.
In early September, Sister May was sent with other missionaries to a mission station in an area that had recently suffered from a fire. “Since their houses are shanties and built close together, the fire spread quickly,” she explained. “The fire trucks could not come in because the roads were very narrow.”
Those who lost their homes were given shelter assistance to help them rebuild. Deacons and priests organized the people into basic ecclesial communities and celebrated the sacraments with them. “Since these people don’t go to church, now the pastors are going to their midst,” Sister May said. “We are going to the un-churched on the peripheries. The people are happy and excited to be part of the Church.”
Sister May said she thanks God for the strength to serve in this ministry. “May our Lord continue bless me with more strength and the enthusiasm and zeal to remain full of joy in serving God and our poor brothers and sisters. … To be part of their struggles, dreams and aspirations and to live with dignity is the greatest fulfillment here on earth.”
Feature photo at top: Sister May Cano, OP, is ministering in the Diocese of Kalookan, the Philippines, in a variety of ways, including at the Shelter Assistance Project for people whose homes were damaged in a recent fire.
September 19, 2018, Adrian, Mich. – The Adrian Dominican Sisters will celebrate Indigenous People’s Day on Monday, October 8, 2018, with a special 10:30 a.m. Mass incorporating some aspects of Native American spirituality, such as smudging and drumming. Sisters who have some Native American blood or who have at one time ministered with Native Americans will be recognized.
Sister Susan Gardner, OP, Director of the Native American Apostolate for the Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan, will offer a presentation at 1:30 p.m., “Effects of the Doctrine of Discovery Today and the Boarding School Era.” Sister Susan will also bring staff members of the parish where she ministers, St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Suttons Bay, Michigan.
The Mass and presentation are free and open to the public. If you plan to attend either, please contact Sister Kathleen Nolan, OP, at 517-266-3403 to help in the planning of the event.
In celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the Adrian Dominican Sisters will join 55 cities and five states that celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day. Five cities in Michigan celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Alpena, Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Traverse City, and Ypsilanti.
Sister Kathleen, Director of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation, said Indigenous Peoples’ Day honors those who were already in the Americas when Christopher Columbus first came to the Western Hemisphere. The Spanish Conquistadores who followed Columbus brought great suffering to the native peoples of the Americas, she noted.
In a September 18 presentation to Adrian Dominican Sisters at the Motherhouse Campus, Sister Kathleen further explained the rationale for celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day rather than Columbus Day.
Columbus Day began in 1869 as a celebration of the people of Italian-American heritage and ultimately, in 1972, became a public holiday celebrated on the second Monday of October. In 1992, however, the 500th anniversary of the date that Columbus arrived in the Western Hemisphere (most likely the Bahamas) people began to celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead, Sister Kathleeen explained.
“What we celebrate as Americans reveals the character of our country,” she said. “It’s time to set the record straight. Long before 1492, millions of people were living in thriving societies with complex governments and cultures across the entire American continent.” Sister Kathleen showed a nine-minute video, “Seven Reasons Why Columbus Did Not Discover America,” outlining the civilizations living in the Americas and the other mariners who, centuries earlier, had landed in the Americas.
“Columbus Day represents the violent history of the colonization of the Western Hemisphere,” Sister Kathleen said. “Indigenous peoples have suffered tremendously from attempt after attempt and policy after policy to eradicate native cultures and way of life.” She added that it is “more fitting” to acknowledge and recognize the indigenous peoples “who were here first and persevered and continue to share so much of their knowledge, culture, and understanding of our relationship to Earth and land.”
Feature photo at top: Members of the Dishshii' Bikoh' Apache Group from Cibecue, Arizona demonstrate the Apache Crown Dance at Grand Canyon National Park in November of 2010 as part of Native American Heritage Month. (CC BY 2.0)