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A life lived for others

“Who among you could make a good housewife?”
“Who of you can make a good mother?” 
“Who of you can make a good home or make a husband happy?”

These, Sr. Marcia Y. Antigua recalled,  were the questions asked of her and a group of ladies during their encounter with a Good Shepherd Sister.

She and the other lady, Rose Tapia from the Central Bank raised their hands after each question  that prompted Sr. Christine Tan who was facilitating the session to declare that the two were very  normal ladies and could begin their aspirancy in Baguio while the rest of them (16 ladies)  were "potential old maids."

The two ladies, Marcia and Rose, like “crazy women” as their officemates at the Central Bank called them, spent the days that followed rushing to clear up their desks and head for their aspirancy. It was a ‘risk’, Sr. Marcia admitted, that she and Sr. Rose enjoyed.

After the Aspirancy in Baguio, where the two shared happy moments during the transition, the two left for the United States and on August 15, 1963, feast of the Assumption, Sr. Marcia was accepted to the novitiate in the Los Angeles Province to formally begin her  life as religious.

Born on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1928, Sr. Marcia was given the name Anunciacion by her parents Marcial Antigua and Pacencia Ycong of Lapu-Lapu City. The fourth of seven children, Anunciacion,  finished Bachelor of Science in Education, major in Literature  at the San Carlos University in Cebu City. She was a school teacher at the Opon Elementary School and later worked at the Central Bank of the Philippines from 1951-1958 before her entrance to the Good Shepherd Congregation.

At the Los Angeles Novitiate, where she was accepted on August 15, 1962, and had her clothing on April 24, 1963, she was given the name Sr. Mary Marcia, after her father Marcial. Years at the novitiate passed quickly and she made her first profession of vows on June 21, 1965. She returned to the Philippines and was assigned as group mother of the girls at the St. Domitilla’s Residence in Quezon City (1965-1966); went to St. Ursula’s in Cebu where she was both group mother and classroom teacher ( 1967-1969) to teenagers under the care of the Good Shepherd Sisters. Her juniorate year ws spent teaching catechesis to students in public school (1969-1970) until she made her vows final on June 28, 1970.

After her perpetual profession of Vows as a Good Shepherd Sister, Sr. Marcia was reassigned at the St. Domitilla’s Residence in Quezon City (1970-1971), Cebu Girls’s Center as vocational school directress and community worker (1971-1973). She was at the Reception Center (1973-1974) as group mother but the situations of the time impelled her to work closely with the poor, particularly the squatters, and detainees.

During the summer of 1974, she went to  Maragusan, Davao del Norte where the Good Shepherd Sisters were invited by Bishop Joseph Regan to help the Mansakas tribal community, and to help in parish work until she was transferred to Davao’s Reach Out Center in where she was involved in wider community apostolate and engaged in peer counselling.  She was also with the Task Force on Political Detainees in 1979.

Echavez, Cebu beckoned her from 1979-1980 to minister to street children frequenting Carbon Market. The Good Shepherd Sisters opened Kadasig Community in Jakosalem.  Sr. Marcia also helped  at the Carmel Parish in Recoletos, Cebu from 1982-1989. She was Family Life Coordinator, community organizer and coordinator programs for women and children—roles which she handled with passion seeing these as her contribution to the local church.

Kadasig was her base from 1990 where she and Good Shepherd Sisters in Cebu launched projects and services in urban poor areas, in particular to give hope to street children through education and to build projects and cooperatives for women so they could support their families.

Her zeal to help build the lives of women enabled her to engage in networking with various groups and international organizations. She went to Guatemala in July 1991 to attend the International Conference on Prostituted Girls and Women, to Romania in August 1996 for the International Meeting of “End Prostitution,” and to Sweden in August 1997 to participate in the International Conference  on Sexually  Abused Children.

Selfless, untiring,  Sr. Marcia also participated in the DOLE –Quick Action Team on Child Labor, the Cebu City Task Force on Street Children and was a member of the City Planning Board of the Cebu City Day Care Services.

Her love for the children, as the Shepherd cared for the flock, was great.  Her participation in the renewal program at the Mother House in Angers, France in 2002 enabled her to visit the very seat of the Good Shepherd Congregation that St. Mary Euphrasia founded.  It was a spiritual renewal,  “A Heart for the World,” spoke of St. Mary Euphrasia’s vision to help bring fullness of life to the marginalized especially women and children.

Sr. Marcia’s 49 years as a Religious of the Good  Shepherd spoke so well of how she loved and cared for the marginalized children of the world. Her wit and sense of humor were generously shared in community and with the girls. She was a mother to the girls, her sisters in community saw how much she loved the children and worked so they could all experience fullness of life.  She followed Jesus. She was faithful in living out the mission of Jesus the Good Shepherd, our compassionate God.