“Love and Fidelity of the Good Shepherd... Gratitude!”

Article by the Province of Philippines–Japan
 

It was one festive day after another as Good Shepherd Sunday fell on April 25 – the day after the Feast of Saint Mary Euphrasia. Despite missing the presence of other sisters, family, and friends, the two days brought life and joy to the community – and even beyond – after some time of relative quiet, given the absence of live Masses and gatherings in our Good Shepherd compound in Quezon City in the Philippines.
 

Mass for Saint Mary Euphrasia’s Feast was presided by Fr. Robert Leus, CJM. In his homily, Fr. Robert emphasized how the same love that motivated Mary Euphrasia to establish the Generalate in Rome continues to connect all sisters and partners around the world, keeping alive the mission to women and children. We witnessed this love in the excitement of four children from our programs who had the joy of receiving Jesus in the Eucharistic bread for the first time at Mass, having completed their catechism with Sr. Carmelita Medenilla. In the afternoon, the sisters enjoyed (and cried!) watching ‘Euphrasia the Musical’. It was truly a day of rekindling the spirit of our Mother Foundress. The turn of our lay partners came the following days.
 


On April 24, Sr. Euphrasia Katoh belatedly celebrated her Golden Jubilee
with the Toyonaka Community, Japan, at a mass presided by Fr. Noda.

 

The following day, on Good Shepherd Sunday, Mass was celebrated in thanksgiving for our 16 sisters celebrating their Jubilees this year with the theme: “Love and Fidelity of the Good Shepherd… Gratitude!” Ten of them were present while some of the others joined simultaneously through live-streamed mass. All were virtually and spiritually united! In her message, Sr. Susan Montano, Province Leader, thanked all the Jubilarians for their passionate and generous sharing of selves through the years. She affirmed their continued witnessing whether in active involvements or quiet ministry of presence and prayer.
 

Over the weekend of festivities and in the days that followed the love and fidelity of the Good Shepherd was also concretely felt in the Good Shepherd’s Community Pantries that opened in various mission areas of the Good Shepherd. The “community pantry” is a lay initiative by Ms. Ana Patricia Non to address increasing food shortages among those most impacted by the pandemic. Like the Gospel’s multiplication of the loaves, what started from a small cart in a street corner in Quezon City where people could “get what they need and give what they can” soon spread to many parts of the Philippines. Tables full of blessings speak of the promised life in abundance offered by the Good Shepherd – a sure source of hope amidst the dim reality we are living in. To this “divine extravagance”, our resounding response: “Gratitude!”
 


In partnership with generous friends, families, and benefactors, five community pantries
were opened in Cebu, Quezon City, Catanduanes, Batangas City, and Alitagtag.

 

We would like to finish by sharing with you a personal reflection by Sr. Gemma Dinglasan who celebrated her Silver Jubilee this year…
 

“To celebrate during this time of great fear and anxiety is seemingly paradoxical. How can we celebrate when the rest of the world is agonizing? Thousands are dying, millions are starving. When our group was planning for this event last December, we were hoping that things would have changed by now. Yes, they did, but not for the better as we face yet another COVID surge. We then decided to hold a private celebration without guests, with food distributed in bento boxes to avoid any gathering.  There was danger and fear; yet, we decided – we will celebrate! Just like our years in religious life, joys and sorrows, triumphs and crosses always come together. In my 25 years, I noticed this trend of God’s presence. God is more conspicuous after every crisis, but also more recognized in daily events, when life is simply lived. This is the very reason why we have to celebrate – to celebrate God’s fidelity and love. Truly, the celebration is not for us but for this faithful God who remains.”
 


Sr. Gemma Dinglasan, who celebrated her Silver Jubilee this year at a mass presided by Fr. Noel Rosas, O’Carm,
along with the other Silver Jubilarian Sr. Juliet Abrigo, Golden Jubilarians Srs. Carmelita Arenas, Celine Cajanding,
Antonia Lopez, Henedina Mananzan, Milagros Santos, Christina Sevilla, Aurora Tan, Olga Malou Cristobal, Diamond Jubilarians
Srs. Josephine Bacaltos, Carmela Cruz, Bernard Derayunan, and Platinum Jubilarians Srs. Irene Lat, Herminia Mendoza, and Amabilis Oliva.