By Sister Liberty Mendoza, OP
Principal, Dominican School of Apalit
June 14, 2017, Pampanga, the Philippines – As the Dominican School of Apalit, located in the region of Pampanga in the Philippines, anticipates its 20th anniversary in 2018, Sister Liberty Mendoza, OP, reflects on how faculty members and staff have worked to form the students as young Dominicans.
The Dominican School of Apalit (DSA) will turn 20 in 2018. One of the lessons we have been impressing upon the hearts of our young pupils is “compatior” or compassion. The learning community, from the youngest 4-year-olds to those in the 12th grade, in collaboration with the parents and local government units, has been engaged in the process of learning what it means to give compassionate care for all of creation. It is presumed, however, that the seed of compassion was first seen, sown, and nurtured in the homes of our pupils.
To be a Dominican stakeholder means not just to acquire profitable competencies that prepare an individual for the “university of life,” but also to walk an extra mile, to be other-oriented. It means to share not just canned goods or a bowl of hot soup during disaster relief operations or peak sharing seasons, but to see, smell, and feel the holy presence of God in the people who are poor, in the faces of the indigenous Aetas, the indigent pupils in nearby government-run schools, or the out-of-school children residing at a nearby public cemetery.
The hope of the school staff is that these encounters would strike a chord in the hearts of our young Dominicans, urging them to forget themselves and change the small space where they stand. Compassion for all of creation is translated into concrete actions.
How has Dominican School of Apalit preached in terms of living out its stance on compassion for all of creation? Teatro Dominiko, the school club for students who have inclination and passion for stage-acting, has mounted well-attended plays dealing with social and ecological themes: Mommy Ko Nature in 2011, Balik-bayan Box in 2014, and Luzviminda in January 2017.
Mommy Ko Nature exhorts spectators to suffer with, weep, and even bleed for Mother Earth as she continues to experience wanton destruction. Every child of nature is awakened from its slumber caused by indifference and must pledge to nurse his Mother, named Nature.
Balik-bayan Box is a tribute to our Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), in particular to the many Filipino parents who saw the heart-wrenching need to leave children behind, risk working on foreign shores, and remit crisp foreign currencies back to their families, with the hope that this will ensure a more secure and stable future for their loved ones.
Luzviminda, a contracted name for the three major islands in the Philippines – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao – aims to remind the audience about the current ecological state of the country. The play advocates respect for the dignity of all life forms – the marginalized tribal groups, plants, animals, fish, and everything else that breathes and lives.
Providentially, this preaching medium – theater – has been helping us to send the message about the urgency of taking part in rehabilitating and healing the planet Pope Francis calls “our common home” and of being more conscious of the social ills besetting the country and the world.
In partnership with Caritas Manila, DSA – and the other schools in which the Sisters in Our Lady of Remedies Chapter serve – recently drafted an Eco-Ministry Plan. We are acting on that plan in many ways.
DSA is situated near the Pampanga River and numerous coastal spots, which have been clogged by thriving water lilies that cause flooding during rains. Our School Head, Sister Rosita M. Yaya, OP, and the Parents-Teachers Association are working with the local government of Apalit, and Senator Cynthia Villar’s Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance Foundation to solve the problem by removing water lilies and turning them into materials for handicraft weaving.
We at DSA hope to care for the legacy of the Pampanga River and other local coastal bodies so our students will understand that the river has its own life. It is our duty to keep that life flowing.
Feature photo (top): Prep students from Dominican School of Apalit perform a welcoming dance.
Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, a member of the Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter based in Pampanga, the Philippines, recently attended the Congress for the Mission of the Order, held January 17-21, 2017, in Bologna, Italy. She was appointed to serve on the Synthesis Committee for this Congress, and gave a presentation. As the conclusion to the Dominican family’s 800th Jubilee Year, the Congress aimed to “bring together Dominicans from various regions of the world and from different cultural and ecclesial contexts to reflect and spare experiences around the mission of preaching of the Order today."
The following is Sister Rosita’s presentation at the Congress.
By Sister Rosita Yaya, OP
February 3, 2017, Bologna, Italy – The different presentations and sharing in the workshops gave life to the theme: “Sent to Preach.” They portrayed how the Gospel became human and how our humanity became Gospel to the people the Dominican Sisters and Brothers encountered in their ministry.
Through the centuries, the Sisters and Brothers continued to drink from the rich well of Scriptures, Tradition and the teachings of the Church. They listened and responded to the needs of the humans of their own time. The Holy Preaching, offered in varied ways, gave flesh to the Gospel in the Church, in schools and hospitals, on the streets, at the farms, and with the migrants, refugees, women and children, and with care of creation.
In the process, the preachers – like Jesus and Dominic – suffered with the people they serve. This was concretely experienced by our Sisters and Brothers in Iraq and other war torn countries. They did not give up in the face of persecutions. They stayed with their people and gave hope.
The splendor and beauty of God’s word in creation was incarnated in preaching through art, music and the media.
As I listened to the discussions and sharing, I felt that the fire of preaching is enveloping us present in this stadium. I got new perspective, new learning, and most of all, my encounter with each Sister and Brother present in this Congress made me aware of the immensity of the Mission of the Order. Now I have the courage to face the challenges ahead of me.
As we are sent today, we need to continue to drink from the well of Scriptures, charism and values that St. Dominic, St. Catherine, and all the Dominican saints handed on to us. We are hopeful that we can make a difference. The Holy Spirit will strengthen us to discover new ways of preaching, to have fruitful encounter with people of different beliefs, with displaced persons, the victims of human rights violations and trafficking, people living in abject poverty. We know that what we will do is not our own mission. It is the Mission of Jesus, as He promised he will be with us until the end.
Feature photo: Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, gives a presentation during the Congress for the Mission of the Order.