by: Frances Laraine Andrade, TC
Studying away from home is a common experience of young people. For me, remembering that moment when I needed to leave home in order to pursue my studies in BS Nursing, in Cebu City, was not easy. Thanks to my mother who accompanied me for a week while I get to know the place, my school, church, etc. She was the one who helped me look for a place to stay, a “boarding house” that is clean, safe and is near to my school. She also helped me to feel at home though I’ll be far from them – far from my comfort zones. Even though by boarding house was good, I was not really contented and comfortable. I was constantly looking for a place to stay where I can feel better – for my studies as well as for my personal needs and preference. After a year of staying in a boarding house, I transferred from one place to another until I found what I consider “my home”.
I could not forget the first time I entered the dormitory which was still under construction. There were men working, no dormers yet, but there was a strong feeling of serenity and comfort when Sr. Luz Maria Buitrago brought us inside the chapel. There was an inner voice telling me “this is your home”, “this is the place you’re looking for”… For that reason, I told my parents my desire to stay there and thanks God they agreed.
I am truly grateful to God for leading and guiding me to find Luis Amigò Ladies Dormitory (LALD), “A HOME AWAY FROM HOME”. It was there that I have come to know God more and be convinced that He really exists. My prayer life and relationship with Jesus was also nourished and strengthened. The sisters whom I encountered were very friendly, simple, caring, and joyful. They were so available to accompany and journey with us in our life as students and as Catholics. There were different activities that I have found helpful in my growth such as the Orientation program, monthly talks, recollections, sport fests, Christmas party, etc. They also included us in celebrating the important feasts of the Congregation and of the Church. This ambiance of familiarity and friendship also changed my “bias” regarding religious sisters. They used to talk with us during mealtime, welcomed us when we arrive from school/outside, and they also corrected and encouraged us to be good and responsible young women not only with our studies but also with our lives. For all these experiences, I am also grateful and happy for the testimony of the sisters who were significant in my journey in the dormitory – for Srs, Elena S. Echavarren, Luz Ma. Buitrago, Mapin Pineda, Emma Bawag, Juliet Mantos, Rowena Abulencia, and other sisters. I would also like to give thanks for the providential presence of Sr. Adela Paternina whom I believe was God’s instrument for me to reflect in a deeper way my vocation.
In this moment, upon reflecting and looking back on my experience in LALD, I come to realize that I have been searching for “my home” many times and for many years. But it is Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who was searching and looking for me like a lost sheep. I believe that He is the One who found me, led me, and brought me to “my home” – the home where I truly discovered Him in my life, that He is “My God and My All” and at the same time myself, my calling, my mission in life. Now, I have discovered the deeper meaning of “HOME”, it is not only my parental home or LALD which is made of structure or the people whom I have lived with but “my home” is the place where God is, where I am now and where He is continually leading me. I am grateful to my parents, siblings, and family for being God’s instruments in my life – it is where I experience God’s unconditional love and abiding presence and for LALD [with the sisters, formandees, dormmates, etc.] where I was able to be more convinced of God’s love for me and of the mission He is inviting me – to share this love to others whom I will encounter in my life. It is He who has given His life for me and continues to invite me as well to give my life for Him through others.
As it was written in the Scriptures “I know my sheep and my sheep know me, they hear my voice and they follow me”. To follow Jesus is a very challenging mission however, with His grace, love, and mercy I believe everything is possible. He, who is the Good Shepherd is my way, my truth, and my life.