By Sister Antonette Lumbang, OP
November 29, 2018, Negombo, Sri Lanka – The Justice Promoters of the Dominican Family from Asia and the Pacific gathered November 3-7 at Negombo, Sri Lanka, to discuss their efforts about bringing about justice and peace in the region. The countries of Taiwan, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, East Timor, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, China, and the Philippines were represented.
Each congregation/province reported on their justice and peace initiatives, both the triumphs and the challenges in their respective countries for the past two years. The reports by the justice promoters provided the group with a comprehensive picture of the situation in the region.
Common justice and peace issues that surfaced from the country reports were poverty, government corruption, religious extremism, and environmental degradation. The group spent time reflecting on the challenges and opportunities for Dominican family collaboration.
The conference was an eye-opener, with rich input. Sister Christine Fernando and Ruki Fernando, Human Rights defenders from the host country, shared the situation of justice and peace in Sri Lanka. Sister Cecilia Espenilla, OP, from Dominican Sisters International, talked about human trafficking and touched on the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Father Mike Deeb, OP, the Order's permanent delegate to the United Nations, shared on Dominican work at the United Nations and expounded on the role of the Dominican Justice and Peace Promoters.
When the delegation broke into small groups, meeting by country, the promoters – invigorated by what they had seen and heard from each other and from the speakers – were eager to brainstorm toward common goals.
The Philippines Justice Promoters identified four areas where collaboration is promising: the annual Dominican Month for Peace; being in solidarity with the families of the War on Drugs casualties; the Human Trafficking Awareness Campaign; and the ongoing formation of Dominicans committed to justice and peace.
The Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter in particular has committed to facilitate and oversee the assistance program for selected families of extra-judicial killing victims in the Diocese of Kalookan. Selected families will be mainly from the San Lorenzo in Dagat-Dagat, Navotas, a parish administered by Dominican Friars. The modules for psycho-social and spiritual healing that will be used in the assistance program were developed by the University of St. Tomas, Simbahayan, Community Development Office.
The extra-judicial killing of more than 4,000 people suspected of drug dealing or drug use is the result of the war of drugs initiated by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, elected in 2016.
By the end of the conference, delegates had completed drafts of strategic plans for each country and for the region, with the hope that these will be followed through to strengthen justice and peace promotion in Asia and the Pacific. It was indeed a fruitful conference.
Coming together and sharing with one another the work we do among marginalized people in our own countries, we justice promoters found renewed hope and encouragement to continue our efforts. To quote from the conference statement, we say, “Thus we continue the journey, step by step, confident in the knowledge that even in small actions, we can contribute to the in-breaking Reign of God.”
July 13, 2018, San Fernando, Philippines – Members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in San Fernando, the Philippines, gathered June 30 to celebrate the Transfer of Leadership of Chapter Prioress to Sister Rosita Yaya, OP. Sister Rosita was elected in April 2018 to that position, succeeding Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, the first Chapter Prioress of the Remedies Chapter.
The Our Lady of Remedies Chapter had at one time been a separate congregation of Dominican Sisters. At the request of Bishop Emilio Cinense, the Adrian Dominican Sisters in 1961 took on the formation of the first members of the Congregation based in the Philippines. The community became an independent congregation in 1972. In 2011, at the request of the Filipino Sisters, Our Lady of Remedies merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters and became a Mission Chapter within the Adrian Dominican Congregation. Sister Zenaida was elected as the first Chapter Prioress in 2012.
Sister Rosita saw her election as a “graced moment,” particularly because it had taken place on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018. “Jesus is assuring me, ‘Do not be afraid. I am here with you. I am alive,’” she said. “With this assurance, we continue to live out our preaching mission, guided by the 2016 General Chapter Enactments, centered in the context of our Philippine situation.”
Sister Rosita hopes that the Sisters in her Chapter will remain “centered in the risen Christ” as they continue their pastoral ministry, “empowering our poor brothers and sisters, in becoming self-reliant communities, especially those we serve: the Aetas, the indigenous peoples; the street children; the families of victims of extra-judicial killings; those in family and life ministry; the people on the move; and migrant workers in Norway.”
As Chapter Prioress, she hopes to “explore possibilities of deepening our relationship with our North American Sisters,” and to work closely with the Prioress, General Council, and Leadership Council in implementing the General Chapter Enactments.
Sister Rosita was involved in leadership for the Remedies Congregation several times. She served on the Council from 1994 to 2000 and from 2004 to 2007. No stranger to Adrian, Michigan, she traveled there with her Congregation’s Council to discuss the possibility of the merger between the two Dominican Congregations. She also served as the Remedies Congregation’s Vocation Director and a Formator of Novices and Postulants.
At the time of her election in April, she was School Head of the Dominican School of Apalit. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in education with a major in guidance and counseling, both from the University of the Assumption in San Fernando, and a doctorate in education management from the University of St. Tomas in Manila.
From left, Sisters Patricia Harvat, OP, General Councilor; Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, newly elected Chapter Prioress; Sister Zenaida Nacpil, OP, outgoing Chapter Prioress; and Mary Margaret Pachucki, OP, Vicaress and General Councilor after the April 1, 2018, election of Sister Rosita.