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Good Shepherd Sisters, contemplative and apostolic in Virac

Submitted by: regina
On: 17/08/2010

(Sr. Mercy Ang RGS, an apostolic Good Shepherd Sister, stayed with the contemplative sisters in Virac, Catanduanes from February 15 to May 20, 2010, while studying the possibilities of Good Shepherd mission in the area. The apostolic and contemplative sisters, led by Sr. Goretti Bool CGS, share here their experiences.)

 LOOKING INTO …

My experience of living with the contemplative community is an experience of living with the real persons. It is an experience of life!

BEING more than DOING is the value I caught as I flow through the current of daily life in Virac. For me, this community has created a very freeing community … nothing to be discreet about, nothing to be uneasy or fussy about. Virac community is a community of human beings… a world of humanity where no one expects perfection, no one pretends to be perfect and good, nothing superficial… no one hides in the ego boundary of self. There were some human dynamics that challenged me to see through each one’s needs and better understand them. I am very much enriched by this experience to broaden my perspective of the reality of community living. I can’t help but repeat always in my heart the famous excerpts from the Velveteen Rabbit which speaks so much of what I experience in living with the contemplative sisters who are all in their late 70s except Boots who is 65.

“When you are REAL – you don’t mind being hurt. It takes a long time to be REAL. It does not often happen to people who break so easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are REAL, most of your hair has been loved off, your eyes dropped out and you get loose in the joints and shabby (Senior Citizens!) But these things don’t matter at all because you are REAL. YOU CAN ONLY BE UGLY TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T UNDERSTAND…” The Velveteen Rabbit.

Because it is a freeing community, there was no apprehension for me to express freely my opinions and feedback to which I found the Sisters very open to and appreciative of.

My daily interaction with each sister developed in me an attitude of seeing what is positive in every person and event, giving excuses – thus becoming more compassionate.

I loved the experience of positive silence at certain mealtime and during work time. It added to an atmosphere of peace and harmony within the contemplative community. It is a time when we accept each other for what we are rather than for what we say. Fun and humor, specially when confronted by the different limitations of each one, was a source of relaxation and bonding.

Their hospitality and generosity was very inspiring and “contaminating”. I’ve never seen such in the other communities even with the RGS. I really admire and appreciate this beautiful community practice. It is witnessing to Psalm 23.

Four months living with the contemplative sisters in Virac made me understand and appreciate better our contemplative sisters with the life-style of that in Virac. Their life-style is very distinct from our other contemplative communities.

I an very grateful for Sr. Mar’s concern and generosity of time to connect me to the different people who could be of help in this exploratory mission. I am grateful to each sister for their support and interest in this exploratory mission.

GLEANING . . . from the reflections of the Contemplative Sisters community – Virac:


GLEANING . . .

The cause of our joy is the presence of an RGS in the person of Sr. Mercy. From the start, integration was so natural. We had many learning experiences from her informal sharing during our mealtime. Her personal opinion and comments (which were simple, non-imposing and always truthful) were very enlightening to us. With her positive presence, we caught her spirit of peace and harmony that radiates from within her. We caught her value of being focused in everything. Her presence gave us a true sense of complementarities and mutuality in the spirit of the Good Shepherd. We experienced a sense of oneness with her active participation in prayers, work and leisure. We were enriched with her authentic relationship with each one of us … giving us more than enough space and freedom as CGS; while she enjoyed her own freedom as RGS. We experienced respect and her understanding of the needs of each one of us. We were both clear with our identity as RGS and CGS. Hers and our sense of humor made our bonding even better.

We were very much inspired by her love for the mission (beyond frontiers); sharing with us her life experiences in the foreign mission and the challenge toward inculturation. Her sense of detachment made integration very easy for us.

We considered her biggest contribution to the Virac contemplative community the empowerment of the sisters for our IGP (Income Generating Project). Her concern for our livelihood was very much felt by the community; teaching us business strategies on production and marketing. Our IGP of Semper Gelato (ice-cream) and special candies was her initiative … patiently teaching us tips for good production and presentation of products (including our oatmeal cookies and brownies).

We were very fortunate to experience living with an RGS whose skills and talents made many things easy for us including troubleshooting of mechanical and electronic devices.

Our dreams and hope in the future is that more CGS communities will also experience the beauty and enrichment in living out the Article 1. We hope more CGS communities to be open to this kind of living experience. We are encouraged and hope for more friendly dialogue with RGS sisters.