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.
July 13, 2018, San Fernando, Philippines – Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in San Fernando, the Philippines, gathered June 30 to celebrate the Transfer of Leadership of Chapter Prioress to Sister Rosita Yaya, OP. Sister Rosita was elected in April 2018 to that position, succeeding Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, the first Chapter Prioress of the Remedies Chapter.
The Our Lady of Remedies Chapter had at one time been a separate congregation of Dominican Sisters. At the request of Bishop Emilio Cinense, the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 1961 took on the formation of the first members of the Congregation based in the Philippines. The community became an independent congregation in 1972. In 2011, at the request of the Filipino Sisters, Our Lady of Remedies merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters and became a Mission Chapter within the Adrian Dominican Congregation. Sister Zenaida was elected as the first Chapter Prioress in 2012.
Sister Rosita saw her election as a “graced moment,” particularly because it had taken place on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018. “Jesus is assuring me, ‘Do not be afraid. I am here with you. I am alive,’” she said. “With this assurance, we continue to live out our preaching mission, guided by the 2016 General Chapter Enactments, centered in the context of our Philippine situation.”
Sister Rosita hopes that the Sisters in her Chapter will remain “centered in the risen Christ” as they continue their pastoral ministry, “empowering our poor brothers and sisters, in becoming self-reliant communities, especially those we serve: the Aetas, the indigenous peoples; the street children; the families of victims of extra-judicial killings; those in family and life ministry; the people on the move; and migrant workers in Norway.”
As Chapter Prioress, she hopes to “explore possibilities of deepening our relationship with our North American Sisters,” and to work closely with the Prioress, General Council, and Leadership Council in implementing the General Chapter Enactments.
Sister Rosita was involved in leadership for the Remedies Congregation several times. She served on the Council from 1994 to 2000 and from 2004 to 2007. No stranger to Adrian, Michigan, she traveled there with her Congregation’s Council to discuss the possibility of the merger between the two Dominican Congregations. She also served as the Remedies Congregation’s Vocation Director and a Formator of Novices and Postulants.
At the time of her election in April, she was School Head of the Dominican School of Apalit. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in education with a major in guidance and counseling, both from the University of the Assumption in San Fernando, and a doctorate in education management from the University of St. Tomas in Manila.
From left, Sisters Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor; Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, newly elected Chapter Prioress; Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, outgoing Chapter Prioress; and Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor after the April 1, 2018, election of Sister Rosita.