Centennial Staff visits Welcome House, Alay Kapwa
By Sr. Pilar Verzosa RGS
Oct 28 - The Good Shepherd Staff was delivered to Welcome House from Good Shepherd Community by Srs. James Wilson, Tita Ante, Rosario Battung, Lilia Flores and Aurora Tan. When they arrived at 3 pm, the guests had already gathered in the porch:- neighbors, parishioners, the lay affiliates who used to volunteer in pro-life counseling and met in WH regularly, Marissa Chikiamco and friends, WH volunteers who teach self defense and human rights, our staff and girls.
We sang "Sandaang Taong Paglalakbay" that we and the girls practiced for a week under the guidance of Sr. Evelyn Coronel as the Staff was being brought in by Lilia and Tita and set on the stand. Background posted on the wall were colored names of the different outreaches of the sisters who were in WH this past 41 years.
After Sr. Pilar welcome the guests, she called Bob Garon (who came with his daughter Vanessa and her American fiance) to relate to us how he convinced our Provincial (Sr. Mary John of the Cross Kroner) she give could send RGS to help him set up WH, the first crisis shelter in the Philippines. He was at that time handling a counseling on the air program (the first also int he Phil) and he did not have any shelter to send the callers who were in crisis and needing emergency shelter) the Provincial said NO, but he was able to influence Sr. Dominica Long, a "retired nun" to say YES… and so, Mother Provincial could no longer deny him. Sr. Dominica and Sr James were the first to be assigned to help him set up Welcome House. And with his network of business people, he got funds to help us pay for rent, maintain the house, etc.
Sr. James continued his story, and both of them related very interesting cases such as a gun-wielding father who wanted his daughter back, a woman with four kids and her yaya all waiting to stay there for the night, etc. When he finished his stories, we asked him to hang the shepherd's pouch on the staff as Sr. Pilar put a tiny stone with Welcome House label inside the pouch.
Sr. Pilar then updated the audience on how WH is now, and related one by one the different outreaches through the years and who the sisters were who were involved - from the time of the Bahay Tuluyan (ZOTO Tondo) to the Sariyaya Alay Kapwa and WHARF Cabuyao. Thanksgiving song was sung, followed by Intercessory prayers, mostly read by our girls and ending with the song, "Mabuting Pastol", (the Good Shepherd). Refreshments were served - party sandwiches lovingly prepared by Srs. Joan Salamanca, Clare Leones and our girls.
The next day, we brought the Staff to Penafrancia Parish and set it up in the sanctuary. Sr. Pilar gave a short talk after Holy Communion at every Mass that Saturday and Sunday. She explained about the arrival of the RGS from Burma to Batangas, how many houses we now have including WH on Zamora St. and our work, what the staff means to the shepherd and the pouch of stones and ended with inviting them to praise the Lord for the graces of these one hundred years. the faithful always gave a good round of applause after her talk. After the last Mass at 8:30 pm, the girls helped Sr. Pilar to return the staff to WH.
Nov 5 - Transfer to Alay Kapwa Malate area. The3 sisters and girls gathered at 8 am to sing once more the ‘Sandaang Taong Paglalakbay" as our good-bye to the Staff, then we sang the "Ang Mabuting Pastol" as we loaded the staff into the van. Sr. Evelyn, Clare, Maria Droste of Myanmar, Angeline of Sudan and myself delivered the Staff to Assumption Parish, Malate where over two hundred members of Alay Kapwa gathered. We processed into the Church at 9 am and set it in front of the altar. Sr. Evelyn explained the significance of our Centennial, our presence specially in Malate, and the choice of the Staff as our symbol. the parish priest, Fr. Benjie Ledesma, read the Gospel of the Good Shepherd and gave a homily, appreciating mainly the presence of the RGS in Malate. Intercessory prayers followed and the celebration that morning ended with a word of thanks by Bro Rod, President of Alay Kapwa. On Tues, Nov 8, the Staff will be transferred to Tahanan, San Andres Bukid.