My Profession, My Vocation

by: Dr. Richelle H. Verdeprado, RSW, JD

I am usually being introduced by stating my academic background, that I have just recently completed my academic requirements for Juris Doctor degree at the University of Negros Occidental- Recoletos School of Law and that I finished my Doctor of Philosophy in Development Management last 2017 with Outstanding Dissertation Award and Academic Excellence Award.

 I earned my Master’s degree in Social Work at Asian Social Institute in Manila and Bachelor of Science in Social Work in UNO-R as summa cum laude, and was top 2 in the Board Examination for Social Workers last 2011. Presently, I am the head of the Social Work program for both BS and MS programs in UNO-R and the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of Sowing Legacy Movement Inc., an organization I myself founded with friends that offer scholarship program and conducts outreach and developmental activities for the youth and partner communities. I am also the author of ‘Love and Learning’ Book for a Cause and main author of “Leadership and Legacies. I am a Regional Finalist in the Pinay Power and was awarded by the Philippine Association of Social Workers, Inc. (PASWI) as outstanding social worker in the Philippines in the field of academe last 2020.

Currently, I am a fellow in the Youth Leadership Development Program in its Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) Fellowship. Leadership engagement has a special place in my heart. Back in my college years, I was among the Ayala Young Leaders delegate, The Outstanding Students (THOS) and the Outstanding Students of the Philippines (TOSP) finalist. Through the years, I had been invited as a speaker and facilitator in various camps and seminars about leadership, social work, gender equality, volunteerism, psycho-social support, and community service. I was also a delegate in the Philippine Young Leaders last September 3-12, 2017 in Beijing, Henan and Shanghai in China, and was also among those trained by the Climate Reality Project last 2018 at Los Angeles, California.

But taking away these achievements, I am still the Richelle who has been and will always be full of dreams, and who share those dreams not only for myself but for others. By listening to those introductions, I know that those could be achieved by others too, but what makes them symbolical for me is the fact that I did not live with privileges. I had to go through a lot of challenges, and each milestone remind me of people who believed in me and journeyed with me.

I could not imagine how my life would be if I did not meet the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family. I had sad stories of how I had found myself on its doorsteps but I think those things happened because God is leading me to somewhere beautiful. I went through poverty, loss, rejection, and struggles. When the idea of living in an institution came to me, I was full of misgivings. It was because I had a traumatic experience of living in a center before. But I have nowhere to go that time, and I convinced myself that such an opportunity was worth the try. And I was not wrong! It was the sisters who opened their doors for me, with love and joy. I can still clearly remember how I was struck by the words printed in the gate of the Holy Family Home, “A child redeemed is a generation saved.” I had lived with the sisters from the second semester of my first year of college until I graduated with my Social Work degree.

I came from a poor family and both of my parents did not finish schooling. We cannot afford to buy all our needs and many things and experiences that were denied to us. Despite the lack of comfort, I can say that I had developed trust in my parents and in myself. I can see how they had been working hard for us. The reasons that made me feel powerless are the same reasons that made me feel capable enough.

I had a different childhood. While others are playing and running in the fields, I was studying in the library for a quiz bee contest. While others are having vacation with their family, I was with my mother selling bananas in the market. While other teenage girls were having fun with their peers, I was looking after my younger brother. I knew that I have to exert more effort because I wanted to achieve more. My sacrifices reaped good result. I delivered the valedictory address in behalf of my high school batch.

              I then had to make another major decision. What course will I take up? The missionaries suggested to me that I take BS Social Work. I have no idea what that course was actually. When I took the entrance exam, I had even forgotten the name of the course. But when I attended my first Social work class at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, it was though I was meeting my first love. And there I am, falling in love with it every day even up to now. “Embrace your profession, the profession you have worked hard for several years, the profession you have fought for and will live for, the profession you will die for.” Such words were so strong, so powerful and so passionate: just like love. The moment we began to feel that we wanted to spend our time and our talents in knowing more about our profession and in acquiring skills so that we know how to practice it better, we do so not because we have to but because we have already fallen in love with it. Our profession becomes our vocation. It is not just like love anymore; it is already love. It is love in its truest form.

Things did not just go as simple as that when I was institutionalized at the same time. New beginning required much change- and those changes don’t simply come as fast as what others would require them to be. I have deepened my faith while I was there but sometimes, I have also shaken it. I am not a devout catholic since birth and that I only went to church once in a blue moon. But I had felt that I have to defend what I believe- not because I am being stubborn or worshiping something or somebody else- but because I have never placed a doubt in my relationship with Him ever since and that it is that relationship that has delivered me through.

I’m glad that the Holy Family Home of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters welcomed me in the middle of the school year and accepted me even though they don’t know me. I also met Father Sean Coyle of the Columban Missionaries who gave me an opportunity to work part-time in Misyon magazine where he is the editor. I continue to study with the support of the sisters, with the university academic scholarship I maintained and with the part time work.

      I enjoyed my college life. I was active in many organizations and in our university publication. In this part of the narrative, I wanted to write something about my college graduation and board examination. But there is not much to write about marching as one of the summa cum laude of the university and the one who delivered the speech in behalf of the graduates or about being the second placer in the National Board Examination of Social Workers.  Those achievements could be acquired by anyone and then be forgotten. What is more inspiring and thrilling to write are the struggles and joy before and after. Awards, medals, and certificates do not speak of who we are. We can go on attaining them and gain something for ourselves but they will only have meaning if those awards will be of impact to others too.  They will only have meaning if out of the knowledge we had gained; we will significantly create change to help others find hope in their lives.  Such is the beauty of social work. Such is the beauty I had discovered more outside the classroom, a beauty beyond what books had expressed and theorist had explained.

The instrument that social workers used a lot are our own selves and so we must be aware of who we are and what process we are going through so that we will be able to help more our clients.  When I started working in Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific, I was remembering the passion of my fellow youth especially young women in pursuing their limitless dreams. Until now, I am remembering how the dire economic situation of our country obliged them to start working young or to give up their schooling. How many of them were deceived by traffickers who take advantage of their vulnerability. They find themselves trapped into modern forms of human slavery, forced labor, debt bondage, and prostitution.

Now, I am also running our organization together with other volunteers. We have recently opened the Legacy Home and Legacy Cafe to support our scholars. We are excited to explore various innovative approaches that will enhance all the projects of Sowing Legacy Movement, Inc. while providing our scholars and volunteers with a comprehensive program that will hone their leadership skills and allow them to experience the best and ‘challenging yet worth it’ happiness of being community leaders. This will be our concrete way of showing our gratitude to our supporters whose dedication and love to SLMi are priceless.

Home is not a ‘what’ for me, or the ‘where. It is the ‘who.’ We are building this home with and for the people who are immortalizing their ‘legacies’ not just for the ‘future’ but for today. And I will forever be grateful of the sisters for allowing me to experience what a true home really is, and from that I am inspired and guided in ensuring that the homes we are building are founded in love to humanity and service to God.

Lay Amigonians: Bearers of the God News

The Vice Provincial Team of the Lay Amigonian Movement conducted the 4th MLA National Encounter (Online) with the theme “ Lay Amigonians: Bearers of the Good News in the Family and in all of Creation”.

The theme is inspired by the celebration of the 500 Years of the Arrival of Christianity in the Philippines, the celebration of the Amoris Laetitia Family, and the 7 Years of Laudato Si. Present in this event are the MLA groups in each of the communities in the Philippines and the special participation of the MLA group of Korea. During the celebration, consecrated MLA members, as well as those in formation, were presented, presentation on Amoris Laetitia Family, sharing about being bearers of the Good News in the family, presentation on the care of creation, and the showcase of talents inspired by the encounter’s theme.

The Secret of Strength in the Community

by: Marierose Mamigo,tc

Community is, first of all, a quality of the heart, it grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another. Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interest of others more important than our own. The question is not how we can make a community? But, how can we develop and nurture giving hearts? (HENRI NOUWEN)

     To maintain the joy, the unity within the community is a source of strength to whatever the mission and the journey entails.

         We are emerged in a world of multi-tasking as we respond to the needs and the demands of our Congregational mission in the Church. To remain united as a community will make the missionary journey more harmonious that leads to productivity.

             This is how we are here in Holy Family Home Community. To maintain the unity among us sisters entails positive mental health and emotional maturity where there is always room for mutual respect and understanding; love, care, and support, sincere acceptance and appreciation of each one’s strengths and limitations, light and shadows, beauty and wickedness. More so, a healthy environment where forgiveness is freely and generously offered and given to everyone, wherever there is room for forgiveness, leads the person to her personal growth and fruitfulness.

       We try our best daily to be faithful observers of our community project of life that guides and animates us. We become more united at the same time we are so much happy to give testimony to our Charism in the field of reeducation and rehabilitation here with the Holy Family Home Girls. And we carry this task as a community wherein each one has the collaboration.

Time and again, the words of Fr. Luis Amigó resonates in us:

“You must try to have among you a close unity since in it is the secret of strength…You must be the support of each other, bearing each other and overlooking the natural defects of others.”

            More than the words that we preach, our good, harmonious, healthy, and Christ-centered community stands out as a LIVING TESTIMONY before others; that in spite of our personal and communal imperfections, we strive to live as true disciples of the Lord, a community of “ONE in mind and in heart”…

Christ-centered
working together
fraternal joy
forgiveness

CAPUCHINAS WATER STATION

Today, 27th of October, at 11:30 a.m., was the blessing of the CAPUCHINAS WATER STATION, presided by Fr. Elvin Miraflor. The water station, managed by the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family- Cebu Community, is not only for an economic purpose but more so for the solidary economy with the poor as expressed in the vision and mission.

Vision:
Capuchinas Water Station envisions an auto-sustainability project that reflects a fraternal and solidary economy with the poor.

Mission:
We produce affordable, healthy, safe, and quality drinking water and offer possibilities of auto-sustainability for underprivileged families.

CAPUCHINAS WATER STATION is now open to serve you!

The station is located at #235 Pelaez St., Brgy. San Antonio, Cebu City.

First Religious Profession

The First Religious Profession of Srs. Maribeth Ocho and Tran Thi Minh, “Maria” was a beautiful gift to the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family and was sure a great gift for Venerable Luis Amigo, the founder of the Congregation on his 167th Birthday. The Mass was presided by Fr. Don Besena, OAR, the spiritual director and confessor of the two newly professed TC Sisters, and Fr. Mark Orven, TC was the concelebrant, at 5:00 pm in Mater Dolorosa Novitiate House, Talisay City, Negros Occidental.

Despite the pandemic, everyone felt blessed to be able to celebrate this beautiful event of the First Religious Profession of Vows. The celebration was joyously joined in by the Vice Provincial Superior  Sr. Angela Maria Martinez who received their Profession, and sisters from other communities, and three of the family members of Sr. Maribeth Ocho who came all the way from Agusan.

The Capuchin Tertiary Brothers of Our Lady of Sorrows, some scholars of the Congregation, few of the staff of the Congregation and the Holy Family Home girls who filled the air with their melodious songs for the Lord that had made the event even more solemn and heartwarming. It was also a delight for the family of Sr. Minh from Vietnam and for all the Sisters in different places in the Philippines and even abroad, because the Mass was covered in Facebook Live. After the Mass, a lively and a very familial dinner and program was shared by everyone: greetings from other Communities were expressed, songs and dances from the girls, brothers and sisters were enjoyed, and hearts filled with thanksgiving were etched in all of those present.

Forever Grateful

by: Sr. Luz Maria Buitrago,tc 

The first article of the Nazareth Community Sri Lanka, desires to render a tribute to all the persons who contributed to our first convent in Sri Lanka.

It is impossible not to proclaim the Miracles of God, His love, and never-ending care for us.

We, the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters arrived in Sri Lanka on December 2011 and marvelled over God’s work every day in our lives. Our congregation wanted to establish in Sri Lanka, therefore we started looking for the land. The land itself was a miracle, it was not even for sale, but God always shows the way. Finally, the congregation purchased the land in 2015, with the help of some benefactors.

And here the realization of the dream begins. With Zero Cash balance, but with 100% FAITH, we started the construction of the First Convent for the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters in Sri Lanka that will be used for the house of the sisters and for the formation of the young girls who would like to be a Capuchin Tertiary Sister to continue our mission.

We can recount so many instances when the money was not enough and there God appears to the rescue. From nowhere and we don’t know how, unknown persons just call or send a message saying “Sisters we have something for you”. Many times, the tears come, with our hearts filled with awe, and with the gratefulness of having so many people who reached out to us.

There are several cases and here the Gospel applies, it is not how much you give, it is the love that we feel from each one of you, helping us to realize our dreams.

There was a little boy who donated $17 dollars. For him, it was everything he has. One day he came with his family to visit us, and when he saw our land he shouted: “Dad! Is this the land the sisters bought with the money I sent?” Without any doubt and with tears I said, “Yes. This is the land that we bought with your money but also with the help of others. The joy that I saw in the eyes of this little boy was enough to be proud of all of you that like him do your best for us.

Another person didn’t want to help for construction purposes, but I still ask him to help us for the tiles in the chapel (we always want our chapels to be special, giving the best for God). He did not answer but after a week, he sent 4 times more than the cost of the tiles. And like this we can go on, but each one has the stories and experiences than later they themselves will share with us. The words of the staff in the bank, calling us saying, “Sister, you received another Miracle”. This is the word that we use for this project, “Miracle” because there is no other word or way to explain how God made this house for us.

There is another “Miracle” that is impossible not to mention. One time, in the middle of the construction, we have less than a million rupees in the bank. As usual, WE PRAY AND TRUST, and after a week, two very important donations arrived that we were not expecting. Many times, tears just come out of joy and gratitude. Therefore, this is our tribute to each one of you, who made possible this Miracle convent.

We are forever grateful to those who help us to clean the land, those who gave food, those who help us to build the house, our sisters in Rome, our sisters in the Philippines, our benefactors and friends and those who constructed it – the architect, the engineers, electrician, plumber, labourers, painters, carpenters, suppliers:

This will be a House of blessing for everyone who comes to us.  You are always WELCOME.

Our ONLY WAY FOR US TO SHOW OUR GRATITUDE to each one of you, is the assurance of our prayers.  Dearest friends, you are always in our prayers.  Certainly, God will reward you in due time, here we are like little candles lighted for you and your families every day.

Here in Sri Lanka you are also building history being part of our Family of the Capuchin tertiary sisters, THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS.  May the Lord bless you and your families.

Encounter and Experience

Postulants, San Damiano Community

When it comes to the word “Community”, what pops up in your mind first?

FAMILY. Family is the first community, the cradle where we belong, live, care, open, and love; where our hearts can feel and experience true joy and happiness, eternal peace, and forgiveness. Our heart still desires and longs for it. God is gracious and merciful that He grants each one of us a beautiful family but He has called us to search, experience, and build up a greater family. It is in San Damiano community where we belong right now. We are truly happy and glad to be here.

We are called to be one by Jesus Himself who is truly our motivation, our inspiration, who constantly calls and invites us to establish the true Pentecost community which speaks of love, strives to understand, and shares with one another. The first impression in our hearts is when we experienced the warm welcome of the community when we just arrived. We received tender care from the community and the care when we were in quarantine. It has shown us the true meaning of fraternity. We have been experiencing the support, teachings, and understanding of the sisters. We have received the accompaniment not only from our formator but also from all the sisters in the community.  They truly care what we need or in the way they teach us by giving fraternal correction which helps us to grow more in many aspects of life.

Not only that, we truly feel joy, happiness, and closeness when we are together in meal time-sharing when we participate in recreation or in any activity that we do together. Moreover, among ourselves, we are free and willing to give a hand, offer support, and stand with one another, or even simply give a word of encouragement. In the same way, we learned how to open up ourselves, be more courageous to ask for having a dialogue where we can express ourselves, and listen more to each other in patience and understanding.

With all of these experiences, we come to realize that community life gives us inner joy and peace. But it is so challenging because each one of us is a note in a music piece: different backgrounds, personalities, and cultures. That is why there are moments of conflict and misunderstandings. We fail to listen and understand others but from that, the invitation to each of us is to grow more in mutual understanding, listening skills, and especially patience. Though it is challenging, it speaks accurately the uniqueness of each one, it also shows the amazing beauty of community life which is in God. In faith sharing, we all have the deepest desire to follow Him more closely and do His will in our lives which is to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth. He has called and placed us together and that is the first motivation and supportive wheels for our journey.

Therefore, we are all invited to treasure the gift of community life by appreciating and acknowledging the presence of each member. Together, we will strive to exert our effort in building up a fruitful and beautiful community.

We are not connected by blood but connected by heart in Christ Jesus”.

True Love at 55

by: Sr. Antonieta Napone,tc

 

When God calls you, He also provides everything you need if you only open yourself, be available, and willingly entrust your life to Him with the certainty of being loved in return.

I have worked for almost 27 years and have a house of my own, and comfortably lived alone. During summer, I used to travel to beautiful places with my friends as part of my vacation. But still, I find myself lacking something. I have some longing which I didn’t know what it was.

One day, a friend of mine who is a member of the YOS (Year of Service) program, invited me to visit a place wherein the description aroused my interest, and wanted to be there.

I arrived in a place away from the city but still part of Bacolod City. A sister named Sr. Letty of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family met me and brought me to Holy Family Home, Bacolod, a Protection and Rehabilitation Center that they are managing.

My experience during that visit awakened me and changed my life forever. It reminded me of my dream long ago, to work in an orphanage. It also brought me back to all my experiences with scholars I was in charged of. They were young students of the different Universities of Cagayan de Oro.

I prayed for my decision and had a three-day retreat at the Jesuit Retreat House in Bukidnon. I told my mother and my siblings about my decision to go to Bacolod and work with the Sisters as a volunteer. All of them disagreed and did not like the idea of leaving my place and my home. The more that they stopped me, the more I wanted to go for my heart at that time was so restless as if I was so much in love that nobody can stop me. I left my house to a friend but later my Sister-in-law stayed there together with my nieces who were in College.

I finally arrived in Bacolod and was assigned as an Educator (House Parent) of the College students. I worked with them for four years until I joined the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters. I had an interview with the General Superior who luckily attended the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the presence of the Congregation in the Philippines (Asia). I was accepted and my formation began.

I had my Postulancy in Cebu City, so I had to ask Gina, a friend of mine, to replace me as Educator of the College Girls. It was in the formation that I fully and strongly experienced the love of God. It was the love and mercy of God that strengthened me during the difficult moments. He showed His guidance and direction through my Formators and the support of my companions. The prayers of the Sisters made it all possible for me to overcome all those hardships since I entered in my advance age. I entered at 55 years old. Yes! God will do the rest and it’s only for me to do my best despite of so many limitations.

After 2 years, I had my first profession, which was witnessed by my mother and my siblings. I thank the Lord for the great favor He has done to me. Most of all, I can truly say – Lord I am yours and He can say “You are mine; you did not choose me, I chose you. His love endures and is forever, it never ends.”

Real Happiness

by: Sr. Juliet V. Mantos,tc

“Real happiness doesn’t come from getting everything you want. It comes from sharing what you have with people who matter.”

 Sharing with others becomes more meaningful when we share from our poverty that leads us to experience deep joy in our hearts. For more than a year now, we have been experiencing in this time of pandemic the powerlessness – feeling poor and limited but we also see how the  people respond to this. Some people with genuine and generous hearts share their blessings with others.

This is also what we experience in our community. The great manifestation of God’s providence comes in various ways. One of these is through generous individuals, families, communities/institutions, NGO’S who share their blessings through donations for the center (Holy Family Home), and from these blessings, we also share to others especially to the families of the girls, staff, scholars, certain individuals or families in the neighborhood and most importantly to our sisters in the Novitiate community. Sharing to them the blessings we received is one way of helping the Vice-Province since the dormitory doesn’t have income this time of the pandemic, so the formation houses were also affected. We really felt the sense of fraternity that in the midst of scarcity we are there for our sisters. It is beyond material things, the spirit of love and compassion is the real motive of our charity.

Moreover, it is to constantly pray that the Lord will continue to shower His blessings to these generous people and their respective families as our way of recognizing their kindness to us.

Anne Frank once said, “No one gets poor in helping others”. 

It is not only helping with material things but also giving your valuable time, presence, support, encouragement, prayers, we can be “good Samaritans” to others.

Because certainly, the ripple effect of kindness is still present among us and the Lord will bless us all the more with His abundant blessings.

A Grace to be Part of the Lay Amigonian Movement

by: Gina H. Lavides

Being part of the family of the Lay Amigonian is indeed a GRACE. I have valuable experiences of growth as a person and most importantly as a friend, a mother, and a wife. Prior to being a member of the Lay Amigonian, I was unaware of a lot of things. I knew the Bible but I didn’t know and care that much about it. Only then when I became a member of the group that I started to open the Bible, read the verses, reflect on them, and even relate them to my daily life. Sometimes, it made me wonder how God had blessed me and continuously pouring His graces from the beginning of my life until now. I also learned to put attention and have more understanding about the Eucharist and its meaning. The group helped me see that my faith is not boring but a stepping stone for joy and communion.

Thanks to the Lay Amigonian Adult that gave me a chance to enjoy those recollections that help me encounter and confront myself and allowed me also to seek and give forgiveness. It gave me a lot of opportunities to visit places that help me grow more in my faith and in my conviction as a believer and a Catholic. Being part of the group helps me grow in my relationship with God and allows me to see and be part of God’s mission through the sisters.

I am forever grateful for the opportunity that was given to me and thanks to Father Luis Amigo for his initiative and for helping us to continue his mission here on earth.