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This summer, July 31 to August 4, 2019, the Adrian Dominican Sisters held a congregational gathering, Embracing the Future / Encuentro con el Futuro / Pagyakap sa Hinaharap, during which Sisters, Associates, Co-workers, and Partners in Mission from sponsored institutions gathered to celebrate the present and look together toward the future. The Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in the Philippines, hosted its own Pagyakap sa Hinaharap October 5-6, 2019, with 300 Partners in Mission. Following is a reflection on the event by Sister Liberty Mendoza, OP.
October 17, 2019, San Fernando, the Philippines – Pagyakap sa Hinaharap has been a gift graciously given to us, a gift that, when unwrapped, reveals countless gems of wisdom and gives us essential take-aways as we aspire to prayerfully and intentionally embrace the future.
We appreciate the words of the Archbishop of San Fernanco Florentino Lavarias, who reminded us of our identity as children of God, an identity that speaks of our unconditional worth against the market value that the secular world wrongly impresses on us to put premium on.
We affirm the wisdom of our esteemed Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, who pointed out to us the common purpose that binds us together – the mission of Jesus and our participation in it. Thank you, Sister Pat, for reminding us that each of us here is a charism carrier, and that we must embrace our future using the compass of our charism and to preach by the way we live our lives.
You challenged us to assume a stance of mindfulness so we can have the time for quiet listening. We say ‘Yes’ to what prophetic imagination calls us to be and do – to walk our society into the crisis where it does not want to go and to walk our society out of that crisis.
Left: Youth work together on a project during their separate part of the Gathering. Right: Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, Chapter Prioress of Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, at one of the sessions of Pagyakap sa Hinaharap.
We appreciate how attorney Alex Lacson pointed out to us radical reforms for a more Christian Philippines, a country which for decades has been plagued by poverty due to corruption, problematic leadership, and greed. While the realities are just too grim and leave us with enraged hearts, we hold on to the hope that a renewed and more Christian Philippines will spring forth to life if and when radical reforms are taken. These could include re-engineering the economy, overhauling the political system, eliminating corruption, re-orienting education, modernizing the military, re-training the police, and enabling an expeditious justice system.
We appreciate the presence as well as the shared faith and life experiences of our panelists. The sacred spaces they shared let us see into how God has been walking with and working through them. God hears the cry of the poor. Dear members of the panel of sharers, thank you for challenging us not just to see and judge, but even more, to act for justice and to come in solidarity with you.
Participants share their joy during the Gathering with dancing.
We appreciate the scholarly manner by which Bishop Ambo David opened our hearts and kept them burning as he guided us through the biblical foundation of embracing the future. We keep in our memory that the future we await can only come to fruition if we courageously embrace our past; see the future as God designed it for us; live in the now; and embrace the future with the eternal now.
We appreciate Father Quirico Pedregosa for recommending to us a strategic Dominican perspective of responding to the changing conditions of our time. Walking through the birthing moments of the Dominican Order propelled by the missionary impulse to preach the Gospel, we are challenged to go to the peripheries, where the Order started its life and flourished through time, and with a sense of urgency, imbibe attitudes of going to where people are, to engage in dialogue with them, and to collaborate with them. It is only through collaboration that we can become a family of preachers – a family of Dominicans.
Local school children perform a dance.
Embracing the future from a Dominican perspective necessitates embracing itinerancy – the freedom to move on and to choose to do things differently. Jesus went to the peripheries when he walked on the Earth. We who passionately follow him have to tread in the same direction.
We appreciate Father Jeff Aytona for awakening the Spirit of Mission in the hearts and minds of the youth; for letting them see that owning a sense of the future is to see who they are at the present moment — treasures of the Church; priceless pearls of God’s kingdom. To the youth, we appreciate the ways you preached to us these days of our gathering through your songs and dances, through your positive energy and creativity that animates us right now
We appreciate Miss Bel Katigbak for guiding us through our planning workshop – a planning in the context of the Adrian Dominican Sisters General Chapter Enactments of 2016, a planning which gives us greater opportunity to participate in the Mission of Jesus.
We appreciate each one of you for taking time and letting your voice be heard so that there are more sets of arms outstretched, embracing together boldly and confidently the future.
As a grace of this gathering, Pagyakap sa Hinaharap, let us ask ourselves the following yes or no questions:
September 23, 2019, Kalookan City, Philippines – “We still have 11 years to recover our Mother Earth.”
That was the message and the sense of urgency that Adrian Dominican Sister Maria May Cano, OP, gained from her participation in the National Convention on Laudato Si’ and Climate Change, held September 3-5, 2019, at Layforce, San Carlos Seminary, Guadalupe, Makati, in the Philippines.
Sister May was one of 140 participants who learned more about the environmental crisis from the convention’s study of Laudato Si’ (Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment) and An Urgent Call for Ecological Conversion, Hope in the Face of Climate Emergency, a pastoral letter by the Bishops of the Philippines.
Both documents – as well as a Unity Statement issued by participants of the National Convention – outline practices and attitudes that can turn the world around from ecological disaster:
In their July 2019 pastoral letter, the Bishops committed themselves to live the spirit and principles of Laudato Si’ through 13 action points to restore the health of the environment.
In an interview, Sister May outlined the various ways that she and the other Sisters in the Adrian Dominican Congregation’s Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter have learned to live with the health of the environment in mind – and have taught students, co-workers, parishioners, and family members to do so as well. “We involve ourselves and immerse ourselves in ecological issues,” Sister May said.
The Adrian Dominican Sisters have long advocated for environmentally friendly practices – and against any abuses of Earth or of natural resources. For years, Sisters in the Our Lady of Remedies Chapter have stood with the indigenous peoples in the Philippines against foreign multinational corporations that have sought to seize their land and plunder it for its natural resources. Along with other religious participating in the recent convention, they advocate against large-scale and open-pit mining, large dams, and other practices that threaten the environment.
Sister May has already begun the process of teaching the documents’ recommended sound environmental practices closer to home – at the Diocese of Kalookan Caloocan, where she ministers.
“I proposed the ecological policy to the different departments that we need to reduce our use of plastic,” she said. Her instructions have been as simple as suggesting that plastic banners for diocesan celebrations be switched to cloth banners and that people who attend meetings bring their own meal kits – plates, silverware, and glasses. Understanding the need to set a good example, Sister May said the Sisters have also started using stainless steel straws to cut down on the one-use plastic straws.
One initiative promoted by the convention is to reduce by half the current carbon emission in the Philippines and to work for the ecological conversion of families toward a carbon-free Philippines. Sister May has been very aware of the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels such as carbon. “When we arrive in the office we switch on the air conditioning,” rather than leaving it on overnight, she said. “I ask my co-workers to turn it on in the morning – a little sacrifice not to turn the air conditioning on early, so the carbon use is reduced.”
The bishops in the Philippines have also recommended the use of healthy, clean energy rather than energy produced by fossil fuels. “Making energy through solar power is expensive, but in a few years we will save a lot of money,” Sister May said.
The Sisters in the Remedies Chapter have also been teaching children, teachers, and parents in their schools how to live in a way that respects the environment. “The Dominican Schools of Angeles City and Apalit will not use bottled water,” Sister May said. “We have a water station so the schools ask the children to bring their own water tumblers.”
The Sisters also encourage people to adopt practices that bring them closer to Earth: planting trees, planting gardens, eating of the produce of their gardens, avoiding junk food, and adopting a balanced diet. The Sisters use compost on their gardens to enrich the soil and save seedlings from plants so that they can grow more the next year. “In our own little way we should set an example,” Sister May said.
Feature photo: Sister Maria May Cano, OP; Planting trees is one of the many ways that the Sisters and communities in the Philippines address the threat of climate change.