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December 13, 2018, San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines – A visit to the Philippines brought two Adrian Dominican Sisters the opportunity to explore the many ministries of Sisters in the Congregation’s Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, time to cherish the renewal of friendships, and to bid farewell to a Sister who passed to the next life. The visit was hosted by Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, Chapter Prioress of Our Lady of Remedies, and by the Sisters of the Chapter.
Sister Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor, was accompanied on the trip by Sister Marcine Klemm, OP, who lived and ministered with the Sisters from 1968 to 1973 when their mission was first taking root in the Philippines. At the request of Bishop Emilio Cinense, Bishop of the then Diocese of San Fernando, Mother Gerald Barry in 1961 agreed to help in the formation of a group of Filipina women into religious life. Four young women completed the formation process in Adrian, Michigan, and in 1965 returned to their country to begin a new life. Sister Marcine later ministered and lived with the Sisters of the Dominican Congregation of Our Lady of Remedies.
In December 1972, the Remedies Sisters became an independent Congregation. At their request, the relationship of the two Dominican Congregations came full circle, when in November 2011, the Remedies Congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters.
Sister Marcine, always revered by the Sisters in the Philippines, was fêted on November 30 with a surprise 90th birthday party, about six months early, at the San Fernando Motherhouse of the Our Lady of Remedies Chapter. The celebration included the Sisters from the Chapter, as well as people whom Sister Marcine had known from the 1960s and 1970s: Archbishop Emeritus Paciano Aniceto, former students, and friends.
But the focus for much of the visit was on the present – on collaboration with the Dominican family in the Philippines and on the ministries in which the Sisters are engaged. The Sisters offer ministry, support, and presence to people who live in impoverished areas.
On December 1, Sister Elise participated with a number of the Sisters in the annual Dominican Family day in Manila, attended by more than 300 Dominican women and men from throughout the Philippines. “The focus was on strengthening collaboration and the two examples given of strong collaborative efforts involved our Sisters,” she said.
On the way back to San Fernando, the Sisters dropped off Sister May Cano, OP, who is now living in the Diocese of Caloocan in northern Manila, working closely with Bishop Pablo Virgilio S. David in coordinating a diocesan-wide program to assist families of victims of extrajudicial killings. “While we were there, the bishop, who has publicly criticized the government’s war on drugs, was in the news as the subject of slanderous accusations by President Duterte,” Sister Elise recalled.
From left, Sister Lourdes Pamintuan, OP, addresses the children at Dominican School of Apalit. Students at Dominican School of Apalit welcome their visitors with dance.
In the two schools that the Sisters visited, they were welcomed with “song, dance, recitals, and gifts,” Sister Elise said. At Dominican School of Angeles City – which recently celebrated the addition of a new building to accommodate its growing enrollment of more than 200 students – Sisters shared lunch and toured the water purification site. Ministering at Dominican School of Angeles City are Sisters Meliza Arquillano, OP, Victoria Changcoco, OP, Liberty Mendoza, OP, Arsenia Puno, OP, and Michelle Salalila, OP.
Sisters Elise and Marcine also received a warm welcome from the Sisters ministering at Dominican School of Apalit, an elementary and high school founded by the Sisters more than 20 years ago. Administrators of the school are Sisters Rowena M. Cruz, OP, Ruby Lumanlan, OP, and Lourdes Pamintuan, OP.
Sisters Liza David, OP, Gudelia Kabigting, OP, and Ines Evangelista Manuel, OP, welcomed the North American Sisters to the rural communities of Villa Maria and Diaz. There, they minister with the indigenous Aeta people who have been displaced to the mountains from their farming homes since the 1992 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Ministries at Villa Maria include a school and a feeding program for 300 people.
Many other ministries also focus on serving people in need. At the Shrine of the Holy Sepulchre, Sister Maria Socorro Garcia, OP, focuses on the needs of people living in poverty. Sisters Jules Dungo, OP, Zenaida Nacpil, OP, and Marifi Lugtu minister to street children with the aid of a School on Wheels and on the patio of their community house in San Fernando.
Sisters Elise and Marcine were also given a tour of the University of the Assumption in San Fernando by the Sisters who minister there: Sisters Marissa Figueroa, OP, Yolanda Manapsal, OP, and Abegail Santos, OP.
Even with touring the various ministries in the Philippines, Sister Elise said, “I also had time to visit with the women in formation – Sisters Michelle Salalila, Marifi Lugtu, Meliza Arquillano, and Novice Leizel Tiedra – as well as to meet with the Remedies Mission Council.”
On the last day of their stay, a scheduled visit to another community of Sisters was canceled with the tragic death of Sister Amelia Sarmiento, OP, who had been ill. “We participated in a sacred time of mourning with the Sisters, joining them in the first day of the three-day waking of the body before the funeral Mass and burial on December 8,” Sister Elise said.
From left, Street children from the Dolores community pose with, from left, Sisters Rosita Yaya, OP, Chapter Prioress; Elise Garcia, OP; and Marcine Klemm, OP. Sisters Elise García, OP, and Marcine Klemm, OP, toured the water purification system at Dominican School of Angeles City. Shown in the photo are Sisters Victoria Changcoco, OP, on the right and in the background, from left, Sisters Meliza Arquillano, OP, Rosita Yaya, OP, and Liberty Mendoza, OP.
Please enjoy this video created by our Sisters in the Philippines in honor of Sister Marcine Klemm's 90th birthday.
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.