This summer, July 31 to August 4, 2019, the Adrian Dominican Sisters held a congregational gathering, Embracing the Future / Encuentro con el Futuro / Pagyakap sa Hinaharap, during which Sisters, Associates, Co-workers, and Partners in Mission from sponsored institutions gathered to celebrate the present and look together toward the future. The Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, based in the Philippines, hosted its own Pagyakap sa Hinaharap October 5-6, 2019, with 300 Partners in Mission. Following is a reflection on the event by Sister Liberty Mendoza, OP.
October 17, 2019, San Fernando, the Philippines – Pagyakap sa Hinaharap has been a gift graciously given to us, a gift that, when unwrapped, reveals countless gems of wisdom and gives us essential take-aways as we aspire to prayerfully and intentionally embrace the future.
We appreciate the words of the Archbishop of San Fernanco Florentino Lavarias, who reminded us of our identity as children of God, an identity that speaks of our unconditional worth against the market value that the secular world wrongly impresses on us to put premium on.
We affirm the wisdom of our esteemed Sister Patricia Siemen, OP, Prioress, who pointed out to us the common purpose that binds us together – the mission of Jesus and our participation in it. Thank you, Sister Pat, for reminding us that each of us here is a charism carrier, and that we must embrace our future using the compass of our charism and to preach by the way we live our lives.
You challenged us to assume a stance of mindfulness so we can have the time for quiet listening. We say ‘Yes’ to what prophetic imagination calls us to be and do – to walk our society into the crisis where it does not want to go and to walk our society out of that crisis.
Left: Youth work together on a project during their separate part of the Gathering. Right: Sister Rosita Yaya, OP, Chapter Prioress of Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter, at one of the sessions of Pagyakap sa Hinaharap.
We appreciate how attorney Alex Lacson pointed out to us radical reforms for a more Christian Philippines, a country which for decades has been plagued by poverty due to corruption, problematic leadership, and greed. While the realities are just too grim and leave us with enraged hearts, we hold on to the hope that a renewed and more Christian Philippines will spring forth to life if and when radical reforms are taken. These could include re-engineering the economy, overhauling the political system, eliminating corruption, re-orienting education, modernizing the military, re-training the police, and enabling an expeditious justice system.
We appreciate the presence as well as the shared faith and life experiences of our panelists. The sacred spaces they shared let us see into how God has been walking with and working through them. God hears the cry of the poor. Dear members of the panel of sharers, thank you for challenging us not just to see and judge, but even more, to act for justice and to come in solidarity with you.
Participants share their joy during the Gathering with dancing.
We appreciate the scholarly manner by which Bishop Ambo David opened our hearts and kept them burning as he guided us through the biblical foundation of embracing the future. We keep in our memory that the future we await can only come to fruition if we courageously embrace our past; see the future as God designed it for us; live in the now; and embrace the future with the eternal now.
We appreciate Father Quirico Pedregosa for recommending to us a strategic Dominican perspective of responding to the changing conditions of our time. Walking through the birthing moments of the Dominican Order propelled by the missionary impulse to preach the Gospel, we are challenged to go to the peripheries, where the Order started its life and flourished through time, and with a sense of urgency, imbibe attitudes of going to where people are, to engage in dialogue with them, and to collaborate with them. It is only through collaboration that we can become a family of preachers – a family of Dominicans.
Local school children perform a dance.
Embracing the future from a Dominican perspective necessitates embracing itinerancy – the freedom to move on and to choose to do things differently. Jesus went to the peripheries when he walked on the Earth. We who passionately follow him have to tread in the same direction.
We appreciate Father Jeff Aytona for awakening the Spirit of Mission in the hearts and minds of the youth; for letting them see that owning a sense of the future is to see who they are at the present moment — treasures of the Church; priceless pearls of God’s kingdom. To the youth, we appreciate the ways you preached to us these days of our gathering through your songs and dances, through your positive energy and creativity that animates us right now
We appreciate Miss Bel Katigbak for guiding us through our planning workshop – a planning in the context of the Adrian Dominican Sisters General Chapter Enactments of 2016, a planning which gives us greater opportunity to participate in the Mission of Jesus.
We appreciate each one of you for taking time and letting your voice be heard so that there are more sets of arms outstretched, embracing together boldly and confidently the future.
As a grace of this gathering, Pagyakap sa Hinaharap, let us ask ourselves the following yes or no questions:
By Sister Barbara Cervenka, OP
October 17, 2019, Detroit – Sister Nancyann Turner, OP, was given a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2019 70 Over Seventy Awards, in recognition of her outstanding work at the Rosa Parks Children’s Program at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen. Sister Nancyann created and led this program for the children of Detroit’s east side for the past 20 years.
The 70 Over Seventy Awards are presented by the Hannan Center in Detroit and represent the human potential that continues and, in many cases, increases with age. Awardees represent the many interests, accomplishments, and lifestyles of older people in Michigan. They include artists and art professors, business owners, entrepreneurs, travel agents, and university and state employees who became active in areas such as outreach to seniors, literacy, community service, and human rights and social justice advocacy.
In its published description of the Lifetime Achievement Award, the Hannan Center says: “Awardees will have lived interesting and fulfilling lives as well as continued to contribute to their communities, allowing them to have aged and continued aging well. The person will have made outstanding contributions of significance in their lifetimes and exemplify aging that others aspire to experience.”
This year the awards were presented during a ceremony at the Dearborn Inn on October 5, 2019. Awards were also given to people who made outstanding contributions to the Detroit area in the categories of Art, Community and Civic Engagement, Entrepreneurship, Lifelong Learning, Change-making, and Unsung Heroes.
“I felt just so blessed – I felt so grateful that I have the health to continue serving in that capacity,” Sister Nancyann said later in an interview. She said she was inspired by the other award recipients. “Despite how bad the world seems at times, it was great to hear about all the people who are making a difference. … It was awesome to be surrounded by people who work so hard for the betterment of humankind.”
Sister Nancyann said she loved her 20 years of ministry at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, where she directed the Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program. The program offers a number of projects – such as art therapy, a summer peace camp, and seasonal craft projects. But Sister Nancyann said one of her favorite programs is the peace garden. The children “learn to plant and nurture and cook food,” she said. “I think for years they thought all food came from gas stations.” The peace garden helps them to understand the source of food – and inspires them to share the produce with senior citizens nearby.
Her experience at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen has given Sister Nancyann a better understanding of the “devastating effects of racism – both personal and structural.” She said she has also come to understand how poverty impacts the physical, mental, and spiritual capacities of the children who grow up poor. But through her program, “we keep on building them up,” she said. “We keep giving them a safe place to express their feelings and to learn to deal with violence.” She said a volunteer recently described her program best: “You didn’t create just a program or a project. You created a safe place where children can be safe and loved and empowered.”
Sister Nancyann said she has fond memories of the work she has done with volunteers – about 30 each evening. “The volunteers come from city and suburbs [and are] old and young, black and white, but they share the bread of life. They witness to God’s love,” she said.
Recently retired from her formal ministry at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Sister Nancyann said that ministry never stops. Even when Sisters and other dedicated people no longer receive a paycheck for their service, “we’re still called to be about the mission. … The bonus is if you love what you’re doing in the mission. I always have.”