By Sister Leizel V. Tedria, OP
March 4, 2019, San Fernando, Philippines – Sister Leizel V. Tedria, OP, professed her First Vows on February 23, 2019, during Mass in the Virgin de los Remedios Repository Chapel at the chancery of the Archdiocese of San Fernando, the Philippines. A native of Camarines Sur of Bicol Region, in the southern part of the northern island of Luzon, Sister Leizel holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Our Lady of Fatima University in Pampanga, the Philippines. She was received into the novitiate on December 3, 2016, and currently ministers in the Diocese of San Jose Nueva Ecija. Watch a video of Sister Leizel’s profession here.
This is Sister Leizel’s reflection on her First Profession.
Last February 23, 2019, on the Memorial of St. Polycarp, inside the Repository Chapel of Virgin de los Remedios, I took my First Profession of Vows. The main celebrant of the Mass was the Most Reverend Florentino G. Lavarias, and concelebrants were Archbishop Emeritus Paciano B. Ancieto and Father Herwyn T. Bulaun. What added to my happiness that day was the presence of my family – my parents and my three sisters.
I felt like I was dreaming as I walked toward the altar before Mass with my parents at my side, and the Sisters, priests, and altar servers behind us. Celebrating with us were some of my closest friends, Leony, Aizalonica, and Rowena; two aspirants, Raychelle and Princess; and our partners in mission, the Dominican Laity of San Fernando and Mabalacat Chapters.
Giving my “yes” to our Mother Church through our Congregation was possible because of God’s help and the many people who have been part of my journey. I especially extend my gratitude to the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters and to Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress of the Congregation, who approved my application upon the recommendation of my Chapter Prioress, Sister Rosita M. Yaya, OP. Thank you, Sisters, for journeying with me all these four years. I extend my deepest appreciation to my former formators: Sisters Marissa Figueroa, OP, Rosita Yaya, OP, Amelia Sarmiento, OP, Maria May Cano, OP, and Antonette Lumbang, OP.
While I do not forget that I am still a human, and that profession of vows does not make me an instantly holy person, I thank God for this, another transfiguration event in my journey. God takes the initiative and it is through His grace that I responded out of faith and love, and through the faith, mercy, and loving support shown by my family, friends, and the Sisters in the Congregation.
My vocation has no meaning at all if it is not for Jesus reflected in the presence of the people whom I serve. It is my hope that as I continue to develop an intimate relationship with our beloved Jesus through community and ministry as a professed Sister, I will also keep moving forward in my faith and active charity for the community and the Church. I must not forget to welcome the ordinariness and realities of daily life with God’s people.
January 3, 2019, San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines – The street children of San Fernando are gaining the literacy and numeracy skills that they need for a better life, thanks to the Adrian Dominican Sisters' (ADS) School on Wheels program. The program, established in 2017, meets the specific needs of street children who, with other children, had benefited from the Sisters’ religious education and feeding program.
The ADS School on Wheels was established to develop a culture of acceptance and equality among children from disadvantaged environments, strengthen their social functioning potentials through basic education, and change the negative impressions of society toward street children. Basic literacy and numeracy are a priority of the program.
The School on Wheels transport van was named Esperanza, or HOPE (Help Overcome Poverty through Education) in honor of the late Sister Esperanza Bonifacio, OP, who initiated the first feeding and catechetical program for street children around the San Fernando marketplace.
Sister Zenaida S. Nacpil, OP, Director, and Sister Jolyn L. (Jules) Dungo, OP, a registered social worker, meet the children in the marketplace. “They have time for reading, writing, art appreciation and some basic catechetical instructions” as well as a hot lunch, Sister Jules said. On Saturdays, the Sisters and volunteers travel to the disadvantaged community to teach literacy and numeracy to the street children and other interested school children.
“The daily struggles of street children are challenging and really serious,” Sister Jules explained. The street children try to work through socially acceptable ways, such as selling eco-bags, flower garlands, fruit, and fish; working in parking lots; and washing cars. “Young as they are – 6 to 13 years old – they are forced to earn in order to survive.”
Sister Zenaida said that the street children have already learned the value of responsibility to their families, bringing to them the money that they have earned on the streets. They eat some of the food that they receive through the feeding program or other means, “but most of them will bring home half for a younger sibling or parents,” Sister Zenaida said. “What a beautiful attitude!”
Sister Jules added that ministering to the street children is very demanding. “It takes a lot of patience and endurance to survive the day-to-day encounter with them,” she said. At the same time, “living one’s passion for mission makes this ministry enjoyable.”
She also spoke of the vulnerability of the street children. “Many of them are emotionally broken but project a tough front as a means to survive,” Sister Jules said. “But they easily respond to acts of kindness and love. We want to protect lives from all forms of abuse: human trafficking, sexual and domestic violence … It is our responsibility as Christian adults to guide these children to discover what God has in store for them.”
Listening to the street children is easy and “could actually make them feel visible and accepted,” Sister Jules said. “Praising their little good deeds makes them believe in themselves and builds their self-confidence. They need to receive a lot of encouragement to enable them to pursue their dreams.”
Submitted by Sister Jules L. Dungo, OP
Feature photo: Sister Jolyn “Jules” Dungo, OP, stops to talk to street children in San Fernando.