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Grateful Fidelity of RGS Jubilarians 2019

Submitted by: rgsphil
On: 05/05/2019

 

"GRATEFUL FIDELITY. You could have put together two nouns: gratitude and fidelity, but you chose to put an adjective and a noun together instead: GRATEFUL FIDELITY. The adjective “grateful” qualifies the noun “fidelity”. I take that to mean that your fidelity is motivated by gratitude. “I am faithful because I am thankful.” 

Thus did Bishop Ambo David, presider of the May 5 Eucharistic Celebration for the Jubilee of Good Shepherd Sisters, begin his homily before the Sunday gathering of sisters, family members, friends, benefactors, mission partners, religious men and women. Five silver, five golden and five diamond Jubilarians came together to mark this milestone in their religious life. Thirteen are from the Province of Philippines-Japan while the two are from the Northeast Asia Province. (See related story

"I think if a thief were to break into this chapel of the RGS Provincialate today, he would come out with a big loot. We have a whole collection of diamond, gold, & silver with us today," Bishop Ambo said at the beginning of his homily.

He expounded on the Gospel of John on this Third Sunday of Easter, ...The stranger in the lakeshore whom Peter failed to recognize, the man who, he thought, was begging for food turns out to be the one who will feed him. It is only after he is fed like a lamb that the Shepherd asks him to “feed his lambs, tend his sheep, feed his sheep,” meaning—to grow into a Shepherd. Only the one who is ready to become a lamb can be called to participate in the Shepherding of the Lamb of God." (Full text of  Homily is below.)




At the beginning of the Mass, Sr. Patricia Perez RGS, read the introduction prepared by Sr. Lourdes Fabia RGS who could not be present during the celebration.

Atty. Jun Chipeco read First Reading while the Responsorial Psalm, was sung and led by Sr. Erline and Sr. Teresita. The  Second Reading was read by Ms. Tacardon and the Gospel of St. John was proclaimed by Fr. Ronald Macale, parish priest of St. Joseph's in Quezon City. After the homily of Bishop Ambo and the Profession of Faith, the Jubilarians renewed their vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and zeal.

The Diamond Jubilarians : Sr. Mary Fidelis Atienza RGS (Good Shepherd Community GSC- Quezon City), Sr. Mary Catherine Medalla RGS (GSC), Sr. Mary Pia del Rosario RGS (Villa Maria-Cebu), Sr. Louise Kam RGS (Hong Kong) and Sr. Mary James Wilson RGS (GSC).

The Golden Jubilarians: Sr. Mary Constancia Buenviaje RGS (St. Bridget College- Batangas), Sr. Marion Chipeco RGS (GSC), Sr. Mary Joseph Olaguer (Maryridge-Bahay Pastulan, Tagaytay City), Sr. Myrna Tacardon (Heart of Mary Villa- QC), Sr. Mary Rosalina Wee (Taipei, Taiwan).

The Silver Jubilarians: SR. Mary Erline Gertrudes Bacol RGS (Euphrasian Community, Quezon City), Sr. Mary Yolanda Borbon RGS (Good Shepherd Generalate -Rome), Sr. Mary Teresita Cordova RGS (Maayong Magbalantay-Pagadian City), Sr. Maria Carmen Diane Cabasagan RGS (Heart of Mary Villa) and Sr. Ma. Magdalena Saavedra (Good Shepherd Home-Naga City).

After the renewal of vows, the rest of the Good Shepherd Sisters present joined the Jubilarians in singing, Mithiin, the aspirations of St. Mary Euphrasia, set to music by Sr. Pia del Rosario, one of the Diamond Jubilarians.

Relatives and friends of the Jubilarians read the Prayers of the Faithful that included guiding the work of God's Church today, for the safety of our leaders, in particular Bishop Ambo, for the families, especially women and children served and for the peaceful and honest national elections.

(Photos by Jim Marpa)

Sr. Regina Kuizon RGS, province leader of Philippines-Japan, gave a Message. She said, "In looking at our Jubilarians and remembering the people they have journeyed with the past decades--- families, urban and rural poor, indigenous peoples, students in our schools, the overseas Filipino workers, victims of human trafficking and many forms of abuses, the refugees—we can only feel gratitude for these occasions to serve them. Our Jubilarians learned from them too. Our Jubilarians will not fully know how grateful they have been to them. "

Sr.  Regina also shared about the change of date of the Jubilee: 

"This Jubilee celebration should have been next Sunday, May 12, Good Shepherd Sunday. Several years ago the Province Leadership Team suggested that Jubilee celebrations be held on Good Shepherd Sunday to make one common occasion for sisters whose first profession of vows could have been any of the dates April 24, June 12, August 22 or September 8. St. Mary Euphrasia in her Conferences, was reminding us, that Jesus the Good Shepherd is the true model whom we must imitate in our whole conduct. Instead of May 12 Good Shepherd Sunday, this year, we moved it forward to give way to our participation in the May 13 national elections, so that sisters and families, all of us can exercise our duties to choose the leaders that will lead our country, and will safeguard the democracy that we have, threatened at this time, as we are losing the checks and balances in governance that are necessary for a country to be sovereign and to be able to maintain the respect our people deserve." (Full Text of Message is below.)

On behalf of the Jubilarians, Sr. Mary James Wilson RGS, thanked Bishop Ambo for presiding the Eucharistic Celebration, the priest-concelebrants, family, lay mission partners and friends who came, and the Good Shepherd Sisters who in various ways made the occasion possible.


                           

 

GRATEFUL FIDELITY
Homily delivered by Bishop Pablo Virgilio David, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of Kalookan on the occasion of the Jubilee of Good Shepherd Sisters, May 5, 2019 at the Good Shepherd Chapel, Quezon City, Philippines)

Dear sisters and brothers in the Lord, happy Easter season to all of you. I think if a thief were to break into this chapel of the RGS Provincialate today, he would come out with a big loot. We have a whole collection of diamond, gold, & silver with us today. Let us give a big round of applause to our precious jubilarians. 

If you have a copy of this liturgical guide for our Eucharistic Celebration, let me call your attention to its cover page. 1) Our jubilarians have put together two words to express what this day means for them: “Grateful Fidelity”. Why these two words, and how do they understand the relationship between these two words? 2) They supported this theme with the cover design of a lamb with a shepherd’s staff next to it, where is the Shepherd? Let me attempt in this homily to answer these two questions for them. 

GRATEFUL FIDELITY You could have put together two nouns: gratitude and fidelity, but you chose to put an adjective and a noun together instead: GRATEFUL FIDELITY. The adjective “grateful” qualifies the noun “fidelity”. I take that to mean that your fidelity is motivated by gratitude. “I am faithful because I am thankful.” 

The root of fidelity is “fides,” faith: which is understood by Pope Benedict XVI as “the human response of love to the God who loved us first.” That definition is very humbling. Faith is but a response to God’s love. How can we even learn to respond if we are not first of all awakened to the fundamental reality that God loves us? The Jesuits are right in making God’s Love, the very “first principle and foundation” of all spiritual exercises. 

Perhaps that is why you qualified your fidelity with “grateful.” Of course we know that grateful means thankful. But lest we forget, the root word in Latin is “gratia”, which means grace, and which when pluralized as in “Deo Gratias,” means Thanks be to God. The Spaniards & Italians have preserved this Latin meaning in their expression of thankfulness “Muchas Gracias.” Meaning, gratitude is possible only when we are able to recognize that we are graced. And the response is fidelity. Remember what Jesus said about the sinful woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair? In Luke 7:47 Jesus says to his host who is scandalized by this woman, “I tell you, she has been forgiven of her many sins; that is why she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 

This is exactly the kind of situation that we have in our Gospel. Peter who has denied Jesus three times is given the opportunity to express his love for Christ three times. One word of love for every word of denial—in response to the undeserved grace of being loved in spite of his infidelity, of being chosen in spite of his wretchedness. Like Peter, in the context of our wretchedness, we are often moved to say, “Depart from me, Lord, I am a sinner.” We know that our commitments are breakable. But here’s the good news, they are renewable. 

It makes sense why Jesus summed up his new commandment with “Love one another as I have loved you.” To love as we have been loved, that is how I understand your motto “Grateful Fidelity.” Let me now move to the second question about: the lamb with a Shepherd’s staff. 

The question is:  WHERE IS THE SHEPHERD? My answer to that is: The Shepherd is the Lamb. Is not the same Jesus who is called the Good Shepherd and also called The Lamb of God in the same Gospel of John? This is precisely the core of the Paschal Mystery: the Shepherd, who for love of his sheep becomes one of them. Paul calls it the self-emptying act of God who becomes human, the master who becomes a servant. 

The Shepherd becomes himself the Passover Lamb so that all who belong to him would also experience their Exodus, their crossing over: from slavery to freedom, from sin to grace, from death to life, from our old humanity as sons and daughters of Adam to our new humanity in Christ, the new Adam. Like the first born who had been saved from the angel of death by the blood of the lamb, we discover the “amazing grace” of our redemption in the Shepherd who becomes a Lamb, who totally empties himself for love of us. And since we’re supposed to be his image and likeness, we’re called to do no less. You see why Peter and his fellow apostles are able to stand up fearlessly before the authorities in spite of all the vilification, all the threats of imprisonment, torture and death? 

The stranger in the lakeshore whom Peter failed to recognize, the man who, he thought, was begging for food turns out to be the one who will feed him. It is only after he is fed like a lamb that the Shepherd asks him to “feed his lambs, tend his sheep, feed his sheep,” meaning—to grow into a Shepherd. Only the one who is ready to become a lamb can be called to participate in the Shepherding of the Lamb of God. 

But please take note, we are being asked to take part in his shepherding for no other reason than FOR LOVE OF THE ONE SHEPHERD. The implication is clear: like Peter, we are asked to promise to feed his lambs and take care of his sheep only if we love the Shepherd. If we don’t, perhaps we should not even bother to come near his sheep. 

Pope Francis has every reason, as successor of Peter, to feel very strongly about the Shepherds abusing the lambs, instead of protecting them. If there is one serious crisis that the Church has ever been through in all her two thousand years of existence, this will go down in history and be remembered as the most most serious one we’ve ever had to deal with, so far. 

Thank you, dear Sisters of the Good Shepherd, for inviting us to break the bread of the Eucharist with you on the occasion of your renewal of vows. I ask you to imagine this day as a repetition of the Gospel scene. Like the apostles, today you have returned to the same place where it all began, the same scene of the empty boat and empty nets, the same scene of that first encounter that filled up your emptiness with his overwhelming grace —to renew your vows not just to feed his lambs, but to become lambs yourselves, for love of the Good Shepherd who became the Lamb of God.

 

CAPABLE OF WORKING WONDERS
Message of Sr. M. Regina Kuizon RGS, Province Leader of the Religious of the Good Shepherd, Province of Philippines-Japan


Congratulations to our Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilarians 2019!

St. Mary Euphrasia, foundress of the Religious of the Good Shepherd, whose feast we celebrate on April 24, and whose anniversary of canonization falls on May 2, said: If you always love another, if you always uphold one another, you will be capable of working wonders.” (Conference 68)

Surely, there are wonders revealed, and, experienced by our Jubilarians during the past 25, 50, 60 or 65 years as RGS. Each responded to God’s call before Vatican II, during and 25 years after it.

Today is a gathering of Good Shepherd sisters—apostolic and contemplative, families of our jubilarians, friends, lay mission partners, priests and religious men and women. Grateful Fidelity to God. It is also a celebration of your fidelity to God and to our Jubilarians.

Today is a gathering that celebrates diversity of our Jubilarians, of our communities. In our Good Shepherd Constitutions, 34, we read, “ We have need of one another to arrive at the fulfillment in Christ. Because our gifts differ according to the grace given to us, our unity is expressed in diversity. Reverencing the individuality of every sister, we acknowledge with gratitude that each has been chosen by the Lord and she enriches the whole.”

In looking at our Jubilarians and remembering the people they have journeyed with the past decades--- families, urban and rural poor, indigenous peoples, students in our schools, the overseas Filipino workers, victims of human trafficking and many forms of abuses, the refugees—we can only feel gratitude for these occasions to serve them. Our Jubilarians learned from them too. Our Jubilarians will not fully know how grateful they have been to them.

Last night, I was reading about the role of religious women in the Church and found these words of Sr. Carmen Sammut, president of the UISG, International Union of Superiors General. Our congregational leader Sr. Ellen Kelly is a member of the UISG. Sr. Carmen, said, “Sowers of prophetic hope, we are called to be bridge-builders among people of different cultures and religions. This demands that we become more ready to live with difference, creating unity while sharing the richness of diversity. Our world, our religious communities themselves have become very multicultural, and we are called in our community to be intercultural, not just sisters of various cultures living next to each other but enriching each other, making room for the different cultures.”

Very true. Today, how many countries are we representing in this gathering? We come from the Philippines, Myanmar, Vietnam, South Korea, Taiwan, Hongkong, United States of America and Japan.
What Sr. Carmen said, was witnessed in word and deed by St. Mary Euphrasia centuries ago when she said: I am no longer, French, I am Spanish, German, American, I belong to all nations where there are souls, persons to save.

This Jubilee celebration should have been next Sunday, May 12, Good Shepherd Sunday. Several years ago the Province Leadership Team suggested that Jubilee celebrations be held on Good Shepherd Sunday to make one common occasion for sisters whose first profession of vows could have been any of the dates April 24, June 12, August 22 or September 8. St. Mary Euphrasia in her Conferences, was reminding us, that Jesus the Good Shepherd is the true model whom we must imitate in our whole conduct. Instead of May 12 Good Shepherd Sunday, this year, we moved it forward to give way to our participation in the May 13 national elections, so that sisters and families, all of us can exercise our duties to choose the leaders that will lead our country, and will safeguard the democracy that we have, threatened at this time, as we are losing the checks and balances in governance that are necessary for a country to be sovereign and to be able to maintain the respect our people deserve.

This reminds of Pope Francis, Message on World Day of Peace 2019, with the theme, Good Politics at the Service of Peace, “Pope Benedict XVI noted that “every Christian is called to practise charity in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis… When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have… Man’s earthly activity, when inspired and sustained by charity, contributes to the building of the universal city of God, which is the goal of the history of the human family”.[4] This is a programme on which all politicians, whatever their culture or religion, can agree, if they wish to work together for the good of the human family and to practise those human virtues that sustain all sound political activity: justice, equality, mutual respect, sincerity, honesty, fidelity.”

Pope Francis continues, “Every election and re-election, and every stage of public life, is an opportunity to return to the original points of reference that inspire justice and law. One thing is certain: good politics is at the service of peace. It respects and promotes fundamental human rights, which are at the same time mutual obligations, enabling a bond of trust and gratitude to be forged between present and future generations.”

Let me end this Message, with text from the Magnificat, that Song of Mary. Mary is the model of our following of Christ. Our Jubilarians sing this Magnificat everyday:

“He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm; he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly; …for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever” (Lk 1:50-55).

To us, who are here, the Jubilee is not just for our Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilarians, but for us who have shared in the many victories they have received. This Jubilee celebration calls us to plunge and to be prophetic as we move forward to face the challenges before us.

Congratulations to all.