BISHOP RAMÓN ZUBIETA

Missionary in the Philippines “Woe to me if I will not evangelize…”

Ramon Zubieta was eager to preach, lived his first missionary experience in the Philippines, was an open-minded missionary. He combined faith and the promotion of human life. He desired to embody himself and know the culture of the communities with which he has confronted, learned their language and customs. He dedicated long hours in dialogue with them, in the promotion of health, education, and the improvement in crop production.  He was a product of the independence movement that existed in the region and was taken prisoner together with fellow missionaries who suffered hunger, tortures and was released.

Missionary in the Jungles of the Amazon

 “There is a different kind of wealth in this región which is very significant for a missionary: the innumerable tribes who inhabit the valleys”

Ramón Zubieta began his misión by knowing the reality of the jungle, faced with its impressive, unknown and dangerous geography with its  few and rudimentary means which did not facilitate transport nor communication. His creativity and love of the people drew him to approach as a friend.  This process reveals his great humanity and respect for people.

A Missionary and a Prophet

“The natives knew that the missionary will not be their landlord, or their master, but was a loving father, who will protect them against all the abuses that are in many places, where there are no greater authority that the brute force”

Ramon, thanks to his deep spirituality and compassion as a Dominican, was able to perceive injustice and abuses because of the exploitation of rubber in which the victims were the natives. They were captured by and taken to the camps to work.  He denounced these facts and reported it to the authorities demanding protection for the natives who are treated like beasts resulting to death of some and other slaves.

A missionary who values the feminine contribution to the mission

” I am deeply touched by the situation of the women in the jungle. From that moment the idea to remedy such vileness has stuck me in my mind and in the heart, and I didn’t see any other way to it than the collaboration of religious women in the apostolate of The Mountain”.

Ramon perceived the decisive role of women in evangelization and formation of women of the forest, only the religious missionaries could reach them. It was by this idea, that he was directed to Huesca to seek religious missionaries for this daring project, whose presence who would assume the difficult conditions to enter and live in the jungle.

A missionary, creator of communion

Ramón Zubieta is a man deeply communitarian, capable of summoning, accompany, to awaken enthusiasm and thus, encourage creativity and common efforts.  It resulted in fraternal life, he strove hard to unite the community of missionaries to have a common outlook of the missionary project.

A missionary with an Incarnated Spirituality

“I do not speak of prayer of stillness, of union, that is for good for the contemplative spirits, quiet and subdued; my soul is warmed by the sufferings of all kinds, of tribulations which finds satisfaction in uniting with God in the fulfillment His divine will.”

Ramón Zubieta nourished his spirituality by living his missionary experiences, the difficulties, sorrows and joys. His encounter with the natives is a reason for thanksgiving, he learned to discover the constant and loving presence of God in things, situations and people he dealt.

A missionary with future visión 

“I think of such transcendental importance this work has, which we have in our care, which seems to me as the only good thing I’ve done in my whole life,”

Ramon Zubieta founded the Congregation along with Ascension Nicol, was a common task created with love, accompanied with care and prompted with optimism and hope. His faith in the women missionaries was a bright beacon which gave him the certainty that the formation and evangelization of the woman of the jungle was the basis of the transformation of the family and society. This dream of Monsignor Zubieta was ensured when this the missionary congregation was establised.

 

MOTHER ASCENSIÓN NICOL GOÑI

A Woman who left her country and securities

“I felt no great enthusiasms… only an irresistible force led me to offer myself…”

Ascensión Nicol was forty-five when welcomed the missionary challenge posed by Monsignor Zubieta to go to missions in the Peruvian jungle and thus, be able to contribute the gifts and vast experience for the education and training of women and girls in the jungle. The context in which she has lived in the jungle would be totally different from the the school of Huesca. However, her deep loyalty, restless spirit and attentive to what God wanted drove her to offer her life to the cause of the Kingdom.

A woman who dared to enter in the Peruvian Jungle

“We have experienced consolations during the long  trips, especially to the consider that we were the first group of women who walked in that region…” Ascension Nicol with Aurora Ardanaz and some Dominican brothers, after multiple difficulties, initiated the crossing of the Amazon that would last for nearly a month and led them to the most- awaiting mission. Neither the difficult and dangerous roads, nor the height and the cold of the mountains, or the travel by the Amazon River in fragile canoes terrified them. On the contrary, these strengthened the desire to get to the destination. Ascension has transformed the missionary route as an opportunity to contemplate the presence of God in the beauty of nature, the landscapes and the heart warming experience of the first encounters with the inhabitants of the place.

A woman who shares her life with natives of the land

“On the 24th October, a woman of the tribe of the Machiguengas died in our midst, mother of a little girl in the dormitory for girls.

Ascension Nicol with her companions in the community are gradually embraced the missionary life in the jungle, visiting families, bring remedies to the sick, instructed women in dealing with house keeping and urged them to send their daughters to school. They have had a deep compassion for the poverty the natives suffered and the incredible abandonment of the authorities over their concerns. The Dominican missionaries were in solidarity with the natives on their complaints, denounced the abuses and injustices done to the victims in those communities by the rubber gatherers.

A woman who experiences God in the mission lived among the people

“I’ve never felt so close to God as in the sixteen months in the jungle, and it’s when I have clearly known that the Lord is never outdone in generosity”

Ascension opened up to a new spirituality, an experience which set a basis to her choices, dreams and sacrifices. Experienced God very deeply in this missionary life, was capable of discovering God present in all the events, in the Cross and in the Resurrection. Her life founded deeply on Jesus nourished her preaching, her fidelity to the Word. Her trust in God kept her strong and patient to deal with storms and crosses which were found on the roads, adversities and the “beyond understanding” experience of the mission.

 

A woman who believes in women, and educating them

“Today, a girl of Río Piedras has just been brought to us and told me and had been told of another one, considered already to be form as a good one though of variegated class”. Ascension educator by vocation, want girls in the jungle to receive a good education by which they manage to adapt a boarding school. Started the classes with 23 girls from of the neighboring farms and communities. The “Mother” displayed all her knowledge and talents to form her students well because she has the certainty that education is the road of the transformation. She has witnessed the marginalization of women and the lack of consciousness on formation for women.

A woman who projects a new task

Ascension together with Monsignor Zubieta, decided to found a new congregation, whose name would be Missionary Dominican Sisters of the Holy Rosary. Thus, the charism prompted by the Spirit, to evangelize to those who are most abandoned and needy of Christian teachings would have a continuity.

A woman that goes beyond borders

“… despite of it all, I have no idea what good it would be, how comforting it would be to be a missionary in China that one would not want to go from it”

Ascension had a wide vision and her missionary horizon knew no limits, by which she assumed the challenge to found a community of missionaries in China. She accompanied the two sisters who would be responsible of such mission and transmitted her experience and fortitude in facing them adversities.

A woman who is fully human, communitarian and fraternal

 “I aspire to bring happiness to those who have to live with me in mutual union”

Ascension is distinguished by her friendly, her patience and tenderness with the sisters with whom she lived with. Was the in-charge of a community in which there was the atmosphere of unity and simplicity. These fundamental attitudes transpired her coherence and urgency to build mature relations which encouraged her commitment to  mission.

 

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