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Sr. Mary Assumption Ocampo RGS: Her story

Submitted by: regina
On: 13/12/2009

Sr. Mary Assumption Ocampo RGS, the first Filipina Good Shepherd Sister, passed away on  December 10, 2009 at the age of 102. She made her first profession of Vows at the Mother House in Angers, France in 1938. She was 72 years in religious life. In 2002, when the Sisters of the Philippine Province were asked to write their vocation stories, she was willing to participate in that effort. This is her story.

 

Life in Abundance


By Sr. Mary Assumption Ocampo RGS

As told to Sr. Regina Kuizon RGS

 

I was in first year college when  the thought of entering the convent dawned on me. At that time I was pursuing a degree in Mathematics from the University of Santo Tomas and it was important for me and the family that I finish my college education.

During the early years of my life at UST, Fr. Silvestre Sancho OP was my confessor, until he was missioned in Rome.

Some interesting twists came. I have a devotion to Mary, and one day, on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I went for confession at Lourdes Church. Father James Moran SJ was at the confessional box and after hearing my confession he said that I meet him in the afternoon in the convent. So, in the absence of Fr. Sancho, I went to see Fr. Moran. I should say, from being a Dominican I became a Jesuit.  Father Moran became my confessor and it was from him that I learned how to pray and the desire to enter the convent grew stronger.

Life after college was spent teaching at the University of Santo Tomas, and I had time to discern about my vocation. With Fr. Moran’s accompaniment, I was led to the Good Shepherd Sisters which at the time had the novitiate in the Mother House in Angers, France.

My parents, Basilio Ocampo and Leoncia Hizon had no objections about my entrance to the convent, as our family was very Catholic. I had two cousins who also joined religious life, Maring Hizon who joined the Pink Sisters and Naty Dizon who became a Carmelite.

When I was about to go to Angers, my entire family brought me to the pier.

Times were different then and the voyage by ship from the
Philippines to France took weeks. Yet at every port there were Good Shepherd Sisters waiting for me. There were about four or five ports to reach the Mother House. In Marseille, a tourière sister came to see me, and from Marseille, I  took a train to Paris and then to Angers. 

On
September 12, 1935, I was one of those who entered the Novitiate in Angers, France. I was the only Filipina in the Novitiate, the novices came from various countries in the world. Our common formation was that we were formed to be Religious of the Good Shepherd who would reach out with compassion to the women and children in need. The second Filipina, Elena Tantoco fell ill and died in the Novitiate.

While in Angers, there was rumor of war but our formation continued. I got to know sisters from various parts of the world and I wanted so much to follow the footsteps of Mother Foundress, St. Mary Euphrasia.

For my clothing ceremonies in 1936, my family sent me a Filipina dress. My mother wanted me to wear that for my clothing. I had a picture wearing that Filipina dress and sent that picture to my mother. But I did not want to be different from the others during the ceremonies, I wanted to be in the Bridal dress and be like the rest of the sisters in the group. I made my first profession of vows on May 31, 1938.

Two or three times I passed by the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes.

I returned to the Philippines and stayed in Batangas as teacher and principal of St. Bridget School.  We started the College Department in St. Bridget and Sr. Veronica Mondoñedo continued it.  I had a feeling that the work was done well, people were simple.

 

Sr. Assumption, seated, with her niece Sr. Teresita Feliciano RGS and nephew Bishop Federico Escaler SJ.In the 60s, I volunteered to be a missionary in Caracas, Venezuela where I helped minister to women in prison.  I did not find language a barrier in being a missionary. The Philippines had Spanish influences and at home we also spoke the language. I believe that when one reaches out to people, language is not a barrier. For me the moment I begin to know the people, right away they are already in my heart.

A good part of my life is also spent in Baguio. I feel very much at home here. I like being with the people, they are simple, and I respect them.  Here I spend the days in quiet prayer, thanking God for all the blessings received and for enjoying life in abundance as Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has promised.

 

Visit the page: http://www.goodshepherdsisters.org.ph/baguio

Other Readings: Sr. Assumption Ocampo, ube maker

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 Sr. Mary Assumption