The Philippine Novitiate marked its
60th year last June 21, 2021. Mass was held at the Good Shepherd Chapel in Quezon City in the morning with Fr Hartono Budi, SJ as presider. In the afternoon, a simple program was held at Heart of Mary Hall in
QC, with video presentation, testimonials and prayer to honor and reminisce
with gratitude all those who had been part of the past six decades of the
Introduction At Mass (by Sr Lulu Fabia, one of the first novices):
"Sixty years… 60 years ago, by
any reckoning, is a long time ago. What do we remember of '60 years ago'? We
realize that the heart remembers! It remembers persons, events, life unfoldings
– and this is a grace because to remember is to cherish, to hold what all we
remember in love and gratitude. So we have this celebration of the Eucharist
today, to thank God for what started on June 21, 1961 and continues up to this
other June 21, 2021.
When the Philippines was made in to a
Province on December 3, 1960, the Provincial Mother John of the Cross Kroner,
transferred from Los Angeles to Quezon City to guide the young Province in its
founding years. After only six months, they announced the opening of a GS
Novitiate in the Philippines. It must have taken a lot of love and zeal – and
daring – to make a decision like that. They had a Team – Sr. Mary Veronica, Sr.
Mary Rosalie and Sr. Mary Immaculata. But they did not have a novitiate
building. So the 1st Bond, actually even the 2nd Bond in 1962, were housed in
the Contemplative Sisters’ “Bethany”. The Magdalens started their community a
month earlier May 11, 1961. The Apostolic Novitiate had a big all-purpose room:
for Instructions, Conference, Study, Library, Recreation, a sewing corner,
liturgy and song practices. There was no piano, no organ, no tape recorder in
the beginning. Everything was a capella. Another big room served as dormitory
with cubicles separated by curtains. There was a kitchenette for merienda and
simple cooking/baking lesson. Meals and prayers were shared with the Professed
in their refectory and Chapel, a good walk from the CGS building! Although
there was no communication between the Professed and the novices except on
feasts and BBG (Blessed be God) days, the care and solicitude of the Sisters for
the young ones was palpable and felt.
The LA Community was generous – with
books, household effects, food stuff (including cans and boxes of the famous
See’s Chocolates). Jesuits from the China Province (Kwang Chi Community) came
for classes – Scripture, Theology, Moral Theology, Liturgy. Fr. Mc Caan, novice
master in Novaliches, came regularly for Spirituality, Prayer, Vows.
After two years, the Novitiate
building was finished so the novices transferred to the 4-storey structure,
ready for the influx of aspirants in the years to come. After nine years, Sr.
Veronica finished her term. And a succession of Novitiate Directress/Formators
followed for the next 60 years – Srs. France Therese, Angelita, Guada,
Marietta, Olga Malou, Marion, Sansu, Tess Figueroa, Terry, Lea.
The Philippine Novitiate from its
earliest years has been a formation place for the “foreign missions.” Mother
Foundress’ “I belong to all nations where there are souls to save” became an
inspiration and a special call to many. When Hong Kong, Macau and Korea were
still part of the Philippine Province, young professed even before final
profession were missioned or volunteered to go there. Later when China and
Korea were attached to the North East Asia Provinces, Sisters continued to
volunteer to do mission work there, especially for Filipino OFWs. The
Philippine Novitiate has prepared missionaries for Hongkong, Macau, Korea,
Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Tahiti, Madagascar, Kenya, Senegal, Burkina Faso,
USA, Guam, Canada, Malta, Bolivia, Rome.
The story and history of the
Philippine Novitiate can be captioned by the theme of the Congregational
Chapters in the 2020’s – “Drawn by Love, Passionate for Justice” So much love,
so much zeal all these 60 years. May it also try to live the Philippine Church’s
500 Years of Christianity “Gifted to Give.” Blessed be God!"