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May 9, 2016, San Fernando, Pampanga, the Philippines – Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Director of Formation for the Adrian Dominican Congregation, shared some key moments in late March and early April with Adrian Dominican Sisters in the Philippines, members of the Congregation’s Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter.
The Remedies Chapter recently celebrated the 50-year Jubilee of its founding. The Adrian Dominican Congregation helped with the formation of the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies, and, in November 2011, the Remedies Congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Congregation.
Sister Lorraine had the opportunity to accompany the Remedies Chapter during some key moments: a Holy Week retreat at the Provincial House in San Fernando; the Easter Triduum, a three-day Liturgy that spans the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Good Friday service, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. In addition, Sister Lorraine was present for the final profession of vows of Sisters Salvacion Valenzuela, OP, and Alma Zapanta, OP. She also had the opportunity to take part in another key moment in the Philippines: the closing of the school year and graduations.
“The highlight of the Philippines trip for me was getting to know our Sisters,” Sister Lorraine said, noting that they had all gathered together for the Holy Week retreat. “I was very struck by our Sisters’ commitment to the poor and their immersion with the poor, and their awareness and involvement in issues affecting the people.”
Sister Lorraine noted the poverty that she saw in the Philippines, and the way that people live in corrugated tin houses and in polluted areas. But, after praying to see the situation through Jesus’ eyes, she said, she also saw the hope, joy, and energy of the people. “In the midst of some real poverty and chaos, I noticed all the lovely human interactions. …I thought, ‘What a drive for life!” In spite of the hardship that they faced daily, she said, the people “worked so hard in such heat and difficult conditions to survive, and I was really quite impressed by their enterprising nature and their energy.”
In spite of their work with people in poverty – and their efforts to bring relief to those suffering from natural disasters, such as the recent typhoon that struck in 2014 – Sister Lorraine saw joy in the Remedies Sisters as well. “I was struck by how much they enjoy life,” she said. “They laugh easily and have fun easily – and there’s a real gift in that.”
The Remedies Sisters share that joy with the people around them. Sister Lorraine noted the large crowds of people from the greater community who came to celebrate the final profession of Sisters Salvacion and Alma. “It was a huge celebration, with many guests, many friends, seminarians, family – just lots of people there, joyously celebrating. It felt like a real community celebration in the broad sense of community.”
Some of the cultural experiences also impressed Sister Lorraine. For example, after the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the people maintain the tradition of visiting seven churches. Sister Lorraine was impressed by the number of people who participated in this custom – and by the traffic, which limited to five the number of churches they could visit in five hours. “At every church we went to, there were hundreds and hundreds of people. It was the strength of their faith – how much that devotion meant to the people.”
Sister Lorraine was also impressed by the family values that shone through the four graduation ceremonies she attended – each different. “The parents actually go on stage with the graduate,” she said, and each graduating class sings a particular song that captures their class spirit.
Finally, Sister Lorraine came away from the experience with a greater appreciation for the Asian culture of the Philippines. She had believed that the Filipinos had adopted some of the Hispanic heritage. While the Spanish conquerors gave them Spanish last names, she said, they never took on that culture. “They took on the Catholic faith, because that fit, but they never took on the culture,” she said, adding that the Filipino culture is truly Asian.
April 6, 2016, San Fernando, Pampanga, the Philippines – Sisters Salvacion (Salve) B. Valenzuela, OP, and Alma D. Zapanta, OP, professed their perpetual vows April 3 during a special Liturgy at the chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel Seminary, on the same grounds as the Chapter House in San Fernando, Pampanga, the Philippines.
Sisters Salve and Alma are members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter. They had both entered the Dominican Congregation of Our Lady of Remedies before that Congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters in November 2011.
Attending the joyous event were Sister Zenaida S. Nacpil, OP, Chapter Prioress of Our Lady of Remedies; Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Formation Director for the Adrian Dominican Sisters; Sisters from the Chapter; and family members and friends.
Sister Salve is the oldest of three siblings, who include her sister Ilyn and her brother Joel. She attended South Villazar Elementary School in Sipcot, Camarines Sur, and graduate in 1997 from her high school, Bicol Institute of Science and Technology.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of the Assumption in San Fernando.
Sister Salve entered the Our Lady of Remedies Congregation in 2007 and professed her first vows on September 18, 2010. While preparing for her final vows, she ministered at Mother of Good Counsel Center for Abused Children/Women. She is also analyzing data for her thesis for her master’s degree in educational management from University of the Assumption.
Sister Salve’s past ministries have included serving as canteen manager at Holy Rosary Academy in Lubao, 2010-2011; teaching preschool at Dominican School of Angeles City, 2011-2012; teaching at Dominican School of Apalit, 2012-2013; serving as a canteen worker at Holy Rosary Academy, Lubao and as assistant administrator/teacher at Holy Trinity Special Education Foundation, 2013-2014; and teaching part-time while working at the treasurer’s office at Dominican School of Angeles City, 2014-2015.
Making her perpetual profession of vows means “to love and serve selflessly now and forever,” Sister Salve said. “My final vows are a manifestation of God’s mercy and compassion.”
The fifth of seven children, Sister Alma was born in San Carlos, San Luis, in Pampanga. She attended San Carlos Elementary School and, in 2000, graduated from San Carlos High School, both in her native San Luis.
While preparing for her final vows, Sister Alma ministered part-time as canteen coordinator at Holy Rosary Academy, Lubao. She graduated from high school in 2000, entered the Our Lady of Remedies Congregation in June 2006, and professed her first vows on April 24, 2010.
Since entering religious life, Sister Alma has ministered in a variety of ways: as a catechist in San Fernando from 2006 to 2008; as secretary for the Office of the Archbishop, 2009; as assistant canteen worker at University of the Assumption, 2010; as a student from 2010 to 2013 at University of the Assumption, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in education; as pastoral worker at the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, 2013-2014; and as pastoral worker and head of the Formation Desk at Holy Rosary Parish, Angeles City, 2014-2015.
The vowed life is a “covenant with God,” Sister Alma said. “It is a commitment to serve God and the people of God with joy. My yes to God is always now and forever.”
Featured photo: Sisters Salvacion (Salve) B. Valenzuela, OP, left, and Alma D. Zapanta, OP, professed their final vows on April 3.