March 15, 2019, Manila, Philippines – Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter were among 179 participants in the 2019 gathering of the Dominican Sisters International-Philippines (DSI-P) meeting in February at the University of Santo Thomas Seminary. The Adrian Dominican Sisters were one of 15 Congregations of Dominican Sisters that participated in the event.
The theme of the Day of Recollection was “Dominican Style of Holiness: A Glimpse to the Genius of a Woman.” Father Rolando de La Rosa, OP, guided the Sisters in their reflection, focusing on the Beatitudes as the sure way to holiness.
In his introduction, Father de La Rosa reminded the Sisters of the current state of the world: suffering, violence, and leaders who attempt to solve problems like illegal drugs with more violence. Consumerism and materialism drive people to work hard to get what they want. Father de La Rosa noted that this materialism is creeping into the lives of religious, as evidenced by convents filled with consumeristic goods.
Religious are so active that they become less attractive, Father de La Rosa said, encouraging the Sisters to lead an orderly life and to align their lives with the will of God, as guided by the Beatitudes.
Father de La Rosa interpreted the Beatitudes in these ways:
Father Jeffry Aytona, Director of the Dominican Networks for the Youth, spoke to the Sisters on how they can influence the youth in their ministry to become partners in the mission. He called to mind the message of Pope John Paul II on his second visit to the Philippines during the 1995 World Youth Day. “The Dominican commitment is to educate, to catechize the youth. The youth are not only seeking knowledge to fill their minds but formation in the faith to strengthen their soul.”
Father Aytona attributed the vocation crisis to the lack of pastoral programs for the young in schools. He challenged schools to give youth not only academic formation but most of all value formation, which can be manifested in their desire to follow Christ and participate in the mission of the Church.
The representatives of DOMNET Youth expressed the needs of youth today: proper guidance and wisdom from elderly, not from the Internet. Generally the youth of today are connected with the whole world through the Internet, but they still feel left out and in the end they are not happy. They need to experience the care and guidance of true mentors, not virtual mentors.
“The young people must be empowered with veritas (truth),” Father Aytona said. “We religious should be role models to the youth, who are witnesses to the joy of the Gospel.”
A highlight of the Day of Recollection was the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, presided over by Father Quirico Pedregosa, OP, Rector of University of Santo Thomas Central Seminary.
Feature photo (top): Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, Chapter Prioress of Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, participates in the closing Liturgy of the Day of Reflection for Dominican Sisters International-Philippines.
Sister Myra Dalisay, OP, participates in an ice breaker with Dominican Sisters from other congregations.
January 3, 2019, San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines – The street children of San Fernando are gaining the literacy and numeracy skills that they need for a better life, thanks to the Adrian Dominican Sisters' (ADS) School on Wheels program. The program, established in 2017, meets the specific needs of street children who, with other children, had benefited from the Sisters’ religious education and feeding program.
The ADS School on Wheels was established to develop a culture of acceptance and equality among children from disadvantaged environments, strengthen their social functioning potentials through basic education, and change the negative impressions of society toward street children. Basic literacy and numeracy are a priority of the program.
The School on Wheels transport van was named Esperanza, or HOPE (Help Overcome Poverty through Education) in honor of the late Sister Esperanza Bonifacio, OP, who initiated the first feeding and catechetical program for street children around the San Fernando marketplace.
Sister Zenaida S. Nacpil, OP, Director, and Sister Jolyn L. (Jules) Dungo, OP, a registered social worker, meet the children in the marketplace. “They have time for reading, writing, art appreciation and some basic catechetical instructions” as well as a hot lunch, Sister Jules said. On Saturdays, the Sisters and volunteers travel to the disadvantaged community to teach literacy and numeracy to the street children and other interested school children.
“The daily struggles of street children are challenging and really serious,” Sister Jules explained. The street children try to work through socially acceptable ways, such as selling eco-bags, flower garlands, fruit, and fish; working in parking lots; and washing cars. “Young as they are – 6 to 13 years old – they are forced to earn in order to survive.”
Sister Zenaida said that the street children have already learned the value of responsibility to their families, bringing to them the money that they have earned on the streets. They eat some of the food that they receive through the feeding program or other means, “but most of them will bring home half for a younger sibling or parents,” Sister Zenaida said. “What a beautiful attitude!”
Sister Jules added that ministering to the street children is very demanding. “It takes a lot of patience and endurance to survive the day-to-day encounter with them,” she said. At the same time, “living one’s passion for mission makes this ministry enjoyable.”
She also spoke of the vulnerability of the street children. “Many of them are emotionally broken but project a tough front as a means to survive,” Sister Jules said. “But they easily respond to acts of kindness and love. We want to protect lives from all forms of abuse: human trafficking, sexual and domestic violence … It is our responsibility as Christian adults to guide these children to discover what God has in store for them.”
Listening to the street children is easy and “could actually make them feel visible and accepted,” Sister Jules said. “Praising their little good deeds makes them believe in themselves and builds their self-confidence. They need to receive a lot of encouragement to enable them to pursue their dreams.”
Submitted by Sister Jules L. Dungo, OP
Feature photo: Sister Jolyn “Jules” Dungo, OP, stops to talk to street children in San Fernando.