January 10, 2017, Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines – The Adrian Dominican Sisters are starting the new year with an eye to the future - specifically, to the future of more than 200 students and their future classmates at Dominican School of Angeles City.
The school, located in the impoverished Barangay (village) of Mining, Angeles City, opened six years ago with three kindergarten students. Today, the need and desire for a Catholic school in the area is evident as the enrollment now stands at 238 students in grades kindergarten through 10.
With its rapidly growing enrollment and the need to add 11th and 12th grades, an additional three-story building is being constructed to house six more classrooms and spaces large enough for school Masses and physical education.
The estimated cost of the project is $1.2 million.
Situated near the Clark Freeport Zone – the area surrounding the former U.S. Clark Airforce Base – the school was opened by the Dominican Sisters of Our Lady of Remedies, based in San Fernando, Pampanga, shortly before they merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters in November 2011. The area has been dubbed as the “entertainment capital” of the Philippines, and its children are at risk of becoming involved in the sex trade or worse, human trafficking.
“The school aims not only to provide the children with an excellent, affordable, faith-filled education, but also to instill in them the social justice values of the Catholic Church,” explained Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, Chapter Prioress of the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter. With their education at Dominican School of Angeles City, the students can become “bearers of a faith tradition that, as Pope Francis reminds us, upholds the dignity of every person, recognizes our integral connectedness to the whole Earth community, and seeks the common good for all God’s people.”
Sister Arsenia Marie Puno, OP, guidance counselor at the school, spoke with wonder at the ability of the children’s parents to pay the minimal tuition that the school charges. The children come from low-income families, with parents who hold down humble jobs: carpenters, welders, marketplace vendors, and public transportation drivers. In addition, there is a lack of resources such as clean water.
“They are happy families in the midst of a difficult situation,” Sister Arsenia said. “It is amazing how, with their deep faith in God, they are able to send their children to school with so many challenges in life.”
These challenges make the Dominican School of Angeles City even more vital for the future of the children and their community. Along with academic training, high school students receive vocational training in areas such as eco-farming, care-giving to the elderly and to children, and computer technology.
Part of the school’s land has also been dedicated as an ecologically sustainable farm. Local farmers are hired to work the land, and school parents can buy the produce at a reduced price. In addition, a windmill provides energy to pump water from a well to irrigate the farm and to power a filtration system so water can be bottled and sold to community members.
“We have great hopes for the Dominican School of Angeles City and the impact it can have in helping the people of Mining to build a resilient and sustainable community for generations to come,” Sister Zenaida said.
In spite of their strong faith in God, their dedication, and their resiliency, the families of the Dominican School of Angeles City still need help from their neighbors in the United States. “We are with high hope that you are able to lend us your helping hands,” said Sister Arsenia. “Please help us build a school where more students will be able to attain their dream of a Catholic education in the K-12 program. Please help us with your financial gifts from God for this sacred endeavor.”
To make a donation, visit www.wonderwe.com/ADSDomSchool or www.adriandominicans.org/waystogive or contact the Adrian Dominican Sisters Office of Development at 517-266-3480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sister Theresa Mayrand, OP
Sister Theresa Mayrand wrote the following article for the newsletter of Gianna House Pregnancy and Parenting Residence, whose mission is to serve as “a sacred sanctuary for its residents, each of whom deserve to continue the life of her unborn child in an environment imbued with spiritual grace, emotional and social support, and knowledge.”
January 9, 2017, Detroit – As Gianna House prepared to host a holiday shower for 25 expectant and new mothers on December 19, untold people showered us with gifts of their time, talent, and treasure!
Their incredible goodness enabled us to offer a wonderful evening of enrichment for the mothers, who enjoyed a meal, beautiful raffle gifts, a large infant gift bag, a gift bag for themselves, a presentation on the importance of reading to infants, and a tote bag with children’s books.
To prepare a festive Christmas environment, 20 teens belonging to Students for Life at Grosse Pointe South came on December 4 to decorate, make name tags for the infant gift bags, fill the moms’ gift bags, and sanitize donated used plastic toys. In addition, they contributed $310, which they used to purchase new toys.
Gianna House Partners Donna Neuman, Patti Ralko, and Sister Helen Susalla, CSJ, spent much time on the phone taking and confirming reservations. The infant gift bags were all filled by Gianna House Partner Christie Burley-Lietzow, who took great time to ensure that each infant would receive clothing and other gifts of appropriate sex and size. Each infant received four outfits, blankets, hooded towel, bibs, hats, diapers, wipes, baby wash and shampoo, and a stuffed animal. All items were new and most had been contributed from parish giving trees and showers hosted by Daughters of Isabella and other organizations. When the supply of baby soap and shampoo had run low, several Adrian Dominican Sisters contributed more of these items.
Gianna House Partner Bonnie Garofalo sent out a Facebook SOS for toys and collected four boxes of new stuffed animals and other toys. Others also contributed toys. Several Gianna House Partners, as well as the visiting teens, had spent many hours sanitizing all used toys.
Many unique gift items, which had come in during the year were beautifully wrapped in bows and sprigs by Gianna House Partner Sister Helen Susalla, CSJ. Each mom received a gift of her choice during the evening’s raffle.
Toiletries donated by many individuals and groups over the year and were used to fill the mothers’ gift bags. Christmas footies brought unexpectedly by four individuals the week before the shower were added to each bag. Also added to each bag was a $15 gift certificate donated by a group of women gathered together via Facebook by Dominican High alum Katy Walsh, a former student of Sr. Theresa.
Michelle Block Garr, organizer of the Slippers for Mom project, brought 30 pairs of new slippers. These and many crocheted scarves, hats, and headbands made by numerous women were special treats for the guest.
The evening began with an icebreaker, followed by a presentation on the importance of reading to infants by Cathy Rostoni, a reading specialist from St. Clair Shores Lakeview Schools, who also contributed a book to each of the 25 reading tote bags donated by Macomb Intermediate School District.
After prayers for both infants and mothers, all enjoyed a meal prepared by 12 Gianna House partners and served by five others. Eight partners served as elves in the family room, helping with the raffle and gifting, and four others set up an amazing toy shop in the dining room after the meal. Board member Tom Masson was on hand again this year to take portrait photos of each mom and her infant.
Our holiday event was truly a feat of amazing gifting!
To read an article about this event, published in the Macomb Daily, please click here. Also please note that, while this article refers to students of Dominican High School, the women involved in Gianna House are actually alumnae of Dominican; the school closed several years ago.