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Conclusion of Joint Intensification Program: Nuggets of Wisdom and the Vows

Submitted by: regina
On: 21/03/2010

The joint intensification program before final vows participated in by 10 temporary professed sisters from South Korea, South Africa and the Philippinesm concluded last March 15. The sisters include: Sr. Loreen Granada, Sr. Leah Ann Espina, Sr. Diana Madulara, Sr. Angelita Clemen (Philippines);  Sr. Yacobo Lim, Sr. Hyoju Park, Sr. Theresa Kim, Sr. Adriana Kim, Sr. Clara An, (Northeast Asia, South Korea) and Sr. Laurine Rennick (South Africa).  Below are the reflections written  by Sr. Leah Ann Espina and Sr. Laurine Rennick).


Nuggets on the Vows

By Sr. Leah Ann Espina RGS


“To love unboundedly and yet to choose what to love or who and how one chooses to love….” This statement may appear at first as conflicting. Yet, this is the challenge I was able to ponder deeply during our session on the Vow of Chastity. It is quite providential to start on this vow for our last full week of the series of Intensification sessions because indeed it is the Vow of Chastity which is the heart of Religious life. At the end of the day, after a very rich sharing of experiences, I have become truly convinced that to love beyond borders, to be the heart of the “world” which has no heart, one has to really know oneself and has to strive to seek union with Christ, the One who has chosen us, through prayer and contemplation. Only then will we always be reminded to Whom we truly belong.

“What do I own and who owns me” these words by Daniel Conway captures my reflection on our session on the Vow of Poverty and Stewardship. Knowing our identity that God loves us and that our life is a gift lent only to me together with creation, for which I am just a steward, is the core message of the session. Constant awareness of the real Owner of the gift received, being grateful for the gift, not misusing or abusing it, could be reason enough so that everyone will have life in abundance. Inspired by this message, I was challenged to make some changes on the poem we recited after our session keeping in mind how to make this ideal image become a reality…

            Only to a handful – life is a painful pilgrimage

            To millions  - life is a tourist’s paradise

            Only to a handful  - it is an exodus with an ever receding goal

            To millions – life is a promised land

“Wishing you to obey only from love,” SME’s words from her conferences challenged me to live out our life of consecration for mission. The morning had been a bit dramatic for me as I looked back on my childhood days and how I struggled to live in two environments – one that is quite free and the other strict and rigid – which manifested on how I am in community life and how this influenced me on the vow of obedience. We ended the day in jubilation as we tried to experience being delegates of a provincial chapter, electing our own provincial and councilors. And yet, the greater challenge that I carried with me throughout the day is that, “our fundamental task in obedience is to become who we are, finding the appropriate niche where the potential that lies within us can be placed at the service of life by God’s holy work.”

“Communion gives rise to mission and mission is accomplished in Communion” as stated in Christifidelis Laici. A consecrated person who is so absorbed in his or her ministry that he or she has no time for his or her community possesses an ambiguous identity. The realities I’ve seen in community life gave me a deeper realization on the reflections we shared during our session on the vow of zeal. What matters most is not what we do, no matter how small or big these things are, it is really how much love we put into all of these especially in our relationships that makes a lot of difference.

Finally, the greatest challenge faced by each of us, with all the formation we received in all these sessions as we prepare for our Perpetual vows, is how to live out our reflections so that those who share life with us would say, “Oh, they are truly God’s shepherdesses!” And Mother Foundress would proudly acclaim, “Yes, indeed, they are my daughters!”

Looking Forward Together

By Sr. Laurine Rennick RGS 

For St. Mary Euphrasia shepherding meant going beyond borders and breaking traditional structures that restricted and limited the mission.  During our session on Lay Partnership we began our talk by changing our vocabulary from Lay Associates/Partners to Mission Partners.  This changing in vocabulary gave enough grounding to emphasize that our relationship is not just functional, but indeed a gift from God.  Madame Tess Barsaga, a Mission Partner,  shared her experiences with us in a deep and honest way.

 As Sisters of the Good Shepherd together with our Mission Partners we are bringing the Good Shepherd presence in the world, shepherding the poor, the oppressed, and the unjust. Young people are searching for meaning in their lives and are often bogged down by uncertainty and worthlessness.  Our Mission Partners with their varied experiences and expertise can contribute and assist in those areas in the mission.  Can we as Sisters of the Good Shepherd build on a mutual trust with our Mission Partners and adopt a role of sharing our giftedness with each other respectfully?

Our visit to Tahanan community brought us to the reality that authentic partnership is possible.  We visited the houses in the urban poor area and personally met the Mission Partners.  The Sisters of the community and the Mission Partners share their experiences on a weekly basis and through Basic Ecclesial Communities relationships are formed to widen scope of evangelization.  Our greatest challenge today is to be like St. Mary Euphrasia, in taking the risk to trust in the power of the Spirit by creating authentic partnership in terms of involvement in deepening our Good Shepherd Spirituality and continuing God’s saving work.

Travelling to Tagaytay and visiting our apostolic and contemplative communities were indeed welcome experiences.  The inspiring talk on the spirituality of St. John Eudes by Fr. Ron Bagley (Eudist Priest) deepened our understanding of the heart of Jesus and Mary.  The heart according to St. John Eudes is the deepest core of the person.  It is a symbol of love and this love is manifested in the heart of Mary.  Jesus is present in the heart of Mary.  Jesus is the heart of Mary.  Thus one can say that as heirs oft that love we reflect on Jesus’ incarnation in our own hearts. When we do this reflection, we let Jesus be reborn in our hearts again.  Our call is to be transformed so that we become more apostolic, more practical in our relationship with God and others rather then just merely devotional.  It is evident that SJE in his writings on the heart of Jesus and Mary wanted to reveal the merciful love of God so that the world can be transformed totally to God.  Our vocation is to become one with the heart of Mary and Jesus.  It is a call towards transformation.

Our visit to Bukid Kabataan, a residential home for girls and boys was indeed a memorable occasion for all of us. We could sense that there were much pain on these little faces, yet the care and concern of our Sisters and Mission Partners are never lacking. This is an expression of God’s merciful love.  A love which knows no boundaries.  The children entertained us with performances in song and dance.  Can they rock! 

Facing the challenge of being a religious today, we were reminded that God’s merciful love is not isolated from the critical situations in which we find ourselves, and it cannot go unnoticed.  We strive to be authentic, believing in the power of truth and to trust in the creativity of the Spirit.  Our yes means that we are committed to a cause.  The cause is to follow Jesus, and to participate in the prophetic mission through our involvement in the local and global activities beginning from where we are.  We proclaim ourselves to be weavers of compassion and reconciliation witnessing to God’s merciful love for all people. 

The integration and ending of the sessions took place in Baguio.  We reflected on a article called “Barefoot before God and Barefoot with People - New Generation of Religious”, compiled by 600 religious from around the world who met together in Rome. The reflection was based on the scripture text: Ex.3:1-8; 13-15. Can we like Moses take off our shoes, going barefoot before God and identify ourselves as beggars of Grace?  The mission demands of us to put on another’s shoes, and to get involved in the daily struggles of the people around us, giving our full attention and abandoning our set plans.  As a means of integrating the experience of the whole month, each of us created a mandala to depict our learnings.   This enabled us to accept with humility our own barefoot experiences before our loving Shepherd God.