Archive for February, 2009

A Homecoming, a Heart-warming

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

By: Sr. Norma Samar, O.L.M.

It was a blessing to return to my homeland, the Philippines, for a time of family and celebration and a long-awaited respite from my work here in Canada. My three months there was an experience that I will never forget. First, I visited my brother, Cris, his wife, Rosie, and their family in Bataan Province on the island of Luzon. I enjoyed getting to know the younger members of our family, some of whom I had not yet met because they were born since my last visit. Since Cris is my only immediate family, seeing him again was especially important to me. I also value the wonderful time of bonding I had with my nieces and nephews, including Minda, Boy, Paul, DJ, Carlo, Normin Joy and Krisly. My time with them was fun, very challenging and enjoyable.

Cris and I also reached out to our extended family, the Samar-Cocharo clan with a festive grand reunion of family and friends. Our relatives came to Dinalupihan, Bataan, from as far away as Manila, Pangasinan, Pampanga, Cavite and Olongapo. It was during this reunion that I realized that my brother and I are the eldest members of our clan. We began the gathering with a meaningful liturgy and continued by feasting on good food and having a fun time. Some of the younger generation entertained the elders with songs and dance numbers. One young cousin in particular brought much warmth to the hearts of listeners with her beautifully skilled voice.

I also spent a week in Southern Leyte, my home province. Here I met more relatives and old friends, many of whom had been my co-workers at the parish of San Juan. We had good sharing about their past experiences and about how they are doing now. Then I went on to Holy Rosary Academy in the town of Hinunangan. Many of my old friends there are now retired. Together, we too shared stories about the “good old days.”

Finally, I reached the island of Mindanao to visit our OLM sisters in Cagayan de Oro. To welcome me there were Sisters Mary Gauthier, Margaret Walsh, Lorie Nuñez and Anie Montejo. I arrived at quite a busy time. First, the sisters joined a farmers’ rally to protest the aerial spraying of toxic substances on pineapple plantations in the province of Davao. A few days later they also participated in a Muslim-Christian Walk for Peace.

All these activities made my time in the Philippines very special and meaningful. My visit to my home country was time well spent. Now I feel refreshed for my next adventure of continuing on in ministry wherever God directs me. It was not only a homecoming; it was also a warming of my heart, an experience I will forever remember.


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Farmer’s Rally…

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

By: Anie Montejo

On December 3rd, 2008, thousands of farmers from Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental (two provinces) gathered at the city’s central street, the Divisoria, in Cagayan de Oro. The purpose of the gathering was to ask the government for an extension of the CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program). We began with a Eucharistic Celebration. Fr. Joe Cabantan, Social Action Center Director of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro was the presider. Further activities held on that day included a vigil and fasting as the farmers demonstrated their hope that the government will hear their cry..

Simplicity means…

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

By: Mary Gauthier

Audrey Gibson and Kieran Kneaves suggested that, “Simplicity means that we live close enough to the limits of our resources so that we can rely on God’s providence and appreciate the beauty of life.” These words resonate within me when the door bell rings on a Saturday morning and I see my spunky friends coming to collect our garbage. This is their livelihood. They used to go out at night roaming the streets looking for garbage but now a law has been passed stopping this practice.

There are garbage pickup trucks in the city but my friends have no other way to make a living. They sell what they can and sometimes find other uses for what they are able to collect. When I visited their home I saw that they had made curtains from the plastic bags that our coffee is sold in. “Woo!” I said as I appreciated their gift of creativity. These women do laundry and other jobs if they are available. The mother of the children is not able to read so relies on her mother-in-law to help her. Her daughter is 10 years old and was treated for T.B. She also lives with deformities in her arms and legs as she has arthritis.

These visits help me to question myself on how I live my commitment to simplicity, remembering Jesus’ words “Blessed are the poor in Spirit.”

An Experience of Hope and Joy

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

By: Margaret Walsh

The Mindanao week of Peace for the year 2008 was celebrated here in our city of Cagayan de Oro during the first week of December. This week’s celebration is an activity involving Government Organizations, Non-Government Organizations and People’s Organizations seeking to promote the culture of Peace on our island of Mindanao, Southern Philippines. It is promoted as an annual observation through a Presidential Decree in 2001. This past year Sr. Norma Samar, OLM was visiting us at this time of celebrating so I was privileged to accompany her during the Walk for Peace and the Peace Rally Gathering which followed.

During the walk for peace, I was impressed by the youth of today as they hopefully and joyfully sang their song ‘Kalinaw Mindanao’ (Peace in Mindanao) and kept repeating the refrain as they walked along together and kept hoping for a better future. For me it was a joyful event which expressed hope and desire for peace among different age groups. When we arrived at the center of our city’s Divisoria many people had gathered. In this group again we experienced the joy of being in the Inter-faith setting of Muslims, Christians and Lumads (indigenous people in Mindanao). Here we sang songs together, listened to various speakers and prayed to our loving God for ourselves, our country, and our world.

We ended with a verse of the Harmony Prayer:

Give me O Lord
the courage to live in dialog
in the midst of divisions and conflicts
and to build peace with all people
of sincere hearts who believe
in your love and compassion.