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By May Cano, OP
Executive Secretary, Caritas Kalookan, Inc.

January 16, 2021, Caloocan, Philippines – We celebrated Christmas 2020 in a different way in the Philippines. We used to celebrate in a festive, joyful atmosphere. As December approached, we started to decorate our houses and offices for Christmas and to sing Christmas carols.

In my ministry at Caritas Kalookan, Inc. – serving the Diocese of Kalookan, one of the Metro Manila dioceses – I used to plan and prepare Christmas gatherings, especially for our poor brothers and sisters, people with disabilities, the families of victims of extra-judicial killings (EJK), the sick, the aged, vendors, workers, and other groups in need. We sent letters to our friends, benefactors, and relatives abroad and here in the Philippines, asking them to share their blessings with us. We took the time to visit people on the peripheries. 

This Christmas was different. I did not organize a Christmas gathering because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to practice social distancing. Still, our Lord sent generous people who shared their blessings with us. They delivered food such as corned beef, spaghetti, packs of noodles and sauce, macaroni and cheese, coffee, rice, and candies, as well as hygiene kits. The Assisi Foundation gave us 500 packs of goods such as fruit cocktail, spaghetti sauce and noodles, macaroni and cheese, and mayonnaise, which we distributed to families who are poor in local parishes. With cash donations, we purchased eggs, rice, and spaghetti noodles and sauce.

Many followers of the live streamed Mass celebrated by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, DD, Bishop of Kalookan, donated cash into our account or shared their blessings in response to the needs of our brothers and sisters who are poor. His homilies inspired many people to become involved in our mission.

All Sisters in Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter were busy in their own ministries, distributing food to people with disabilities, our indigenous Aeta people, drivers, vendors, janitors, senior citizens, homeless people, rural settlers, and other people in need. 

Sister May Cano, OP, watches as boxes of instant noodles are taken out of a truck for distribution to people in need in mission areas of Pampanga, the Philippines.

On December 22, Sister Victoria Changcoco, OP, and I made the two-hour trip to our convent in Pampanga to accept a truckload of 1,445 boxes of instant noodles. I called up the Sisters in the area, who helped distribute them to people in various mission areas. Sisters also distributed food to the poor on December 29.
 
The gift-giving continues in January. The National Secretariat of Social Action (NASSA)-Caritas Filipinas Foundation will distribute 1,600 “bags of blessing” to the poor families whose names Caritas Kalookan submitted. NASSA will also donate vouchers, which families will use to purchase groceries. 

We celebrated Christmas in unique, simple, and unexpected ways, making it more creative and meaningful. Christmas was an opportunity for new experiences and solidarity with a great part of our human family and for a deeper faith. 

It is good to remember and cultivate the following attitudes: 

  • Serve others.

  • Count your blessings.

  • Identify positive ways of coping.

  • Thank God for His boundless mercy and love! 

 
Feature photo: Two young women pick up gifts of food and supplies during a Christmas distribution in the Philippines in December.

January 8, 2021, Adrian, MichiganThe General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters issued the following statement in response to President Donald Trump’s incitement of his followers to violence at the U.S. Capitol:

As leaders of a Catholic congregation of more than 500 Dominican Sisters whose lives are committed through public vows to following the Way of Jesus, our involvement in the political discourse of our nation has always been focused on advancing the common good of God’s people and planet through issue advocacy, aligned with our Gospel values. 

Today, with heavy hearts, we depart from our accustomed role of issue advocacy to take the unprecedented step of adding our voice, as religious leaders, to those of others in the civic life of our nation who call for the immediate removal of the sitting President of the United States.

The alarming, heart-sickening and treacherous insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 not only endangered our elected leaders and their staffs but also held hostage our democratic process of ratifying the election of the President of the United States. The attack on the Capitol left five persons dead and caused grave injury to others. Carried out by Confederate-flag waving white supremacists, conspiracy theorists, and anti-Semitic extremists, among others, the riot was incited by President Donald J. Trump who exhorted his supporters at a rally near the White House to march to the Capitol, crying, “You will never take back our country with weakness.”  

Rev. Bryan N. Massingale, a Black Catholic priest and professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University, characterized the insurrection as “a racist attack on the nation’s capital” in a January 6 opinion piece in America bearing that title. He wrote:

We cannot feign surprise, because for years, the core of Mr. Trump’s appeal has been stoking white resentment at the changing face of America. What we saw today is a clear declaration that many white people would rather live in a white dictatorship than in a multiracial democracy. If democracy means sharing power with people of color, especially Black people, then they want no part of it. Today is the inevitable consequence of the nation’s tolerance of white racism.

The insurrectionists who subjected the Capitol and the nation to this harrowing assault must be sought out, apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And the President who incited this insurrection must be held accountable for his seditious acts. But, as Rev. Massingale added: 

… Trump is not solely responsible for this debacle. Here is where the wisdom of the Catholic moral tradition is achingly relevant. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that one shares in the evil of another “by omitting the counsel that would have hindered the wrongdoing” and by “silence, by not preventing, by not denouncing.”

After prayerful discernment, we feel compelled to call on our elected leaders – Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and Representative Tim Walberg, in particular – to act to remove President Trump from office, as the constitution provides, preventing him, at once, from any further exercise of the fearsome powers he holds. 

Our nation must make clear to all present and future elected leaders, to our children and generations to come, and to the rest of the world that no person is above the law; that ours is a nation of liberty and justice for all, not only “for those who are white and angry,” as Rev. Massingale writes. Impunity must end.

We pray for the renewal of our democracy and its foundational nonpartisan values of freedom, equality, and justice for all. We pray that the deep love of family and friends we each hold in our hearts will enkindle a wider love of neighbor that stretches across all divides – political, social, racial – beckoning us to act for the common good of all God’s people.

Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ General Council are Sisters Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress; Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor; Frances Nadolny, OP, Administrator and General Councilor; Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor; and Elise D. García, OP, General Councilor. 


 

 

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