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Beginnings

Into a great tree

It was December 3rd 1960, feast of St. Francis Xavier, Patron of the Missions. In the community room of our Quezon City convent, the sisters listened in hushed expectancy as our dear Mother Provincial, Mother Mary of St. John of the Cross, began to make an announcement. Then the words were out, greeted with jubilation by everyone present: “The Philippines has been made a province and Quezon City, is the Provincial House. We are going to have a Novitiate here.”

It was indeed wonderful news to the Sisters, some of whom had been in this faraway Philippine mission since its earlier days. For thirty three years, the only two houses in the country, that of Batangas founded in 1912, and that of Manila, founded in 1921, were directly under the Motherhouse. Then in 1945, Los Angeles, California, was crated a mission province and the Philippines and Shanghai were placed under its jurisdiction.

There was a babble of happy voices as questions poured out after Mother Provincial’s announcement. But foremost of course was, “What about Los Angeles? A sigh of relief escaped from everyone at Mother’s assurance that Los Angeles would remain in the province, and that its novitiate would continue to be a training ground for foreign mission vocations. For a double bond of deep affection and great gratitude has existed between the former Provincial House and all the Houses in the Philippines and Hong Kong since 1945.

Now fifteen years later, as a new provincial house is born, the rapid growth and development of Good Shepherd work in the Philippines reminds us forcefully of Our Lord’s parable about the “great tree, sheltering many birds in its branches” that had sprung from a little mustard seed.

(Taken from “Into a Great Tree” article published in “The Good Shepherd of Angers” Quarterly Bulletin No. 1- 1962. 66th Year.)