This article starts from the World War ll Pacific lsland Hopping where this is described as a military offense strategy used by the allies in the Pacific war involving seizing island. Mostly in or before world war ll -1943 shows the military war strategy in bringing out their mission to bring peace in warring countries. The strategy for moving across the Central Pacific is known as “lsland hopping”. US forces moved from island to island, using each as a base for capturing the next.
ln late nineties to this 21st century island hopping is mostly known as touring activities in search of adventures, exploration and happy experiences. One must go from one island to the next in search for joy, leisure, discovery and challenging adventures.
ln missionary works, this is also a kind of effective and purposeful strategy l can say, for we do lsland hopping as well. Basically, Philippines is composed of 7,107 islands and islets -though l do not mean that l have to cross these number of islands to bring about our mission to make God known, spreading Jesus love and His designs as our personal Savior.
Somehow, I will be sharing to you the islands l hopped and hoping to do more as time, age, opportunities in my missionary life will provide me so to continue telling the islanders of God’s love and salvific gift to humankind. As Jesus once said, inviting His disciples “Let us go to the other side of the lake, for l also have to preach there.”
The first island inhabited is the Zamboanga Peninsula. It is where l had my years of Formation and my first missionary assignment; teaching at St. Joseph School. Having three years here, l hopped to the most mentioned Olutanga island. There is a different taste of mission here which is more challenging than the one in the city. This island is less inhabited and a remote place. The school where we are till this day, is the first secondary school to serve the inhabitants of this island.
A Jesuit missionary priest founded two catholic private schools in 2 municipalities of this island. We were then invited by this Basque priest to come and share the ministry for he used to have a good relationship with our pioneer Spanish Sisters many years ago. Their good relation gave birth to our presence in this island. The invitation was firstly to manage the school, yet, the sisters also shared in the pastoral work of the parish. But, as years went by, the field of education demands many other responsibilities, we are more confined in education apostolate. As this is a Jesuit territory, the school is named after its Founder: Loyola High School and the sister school in the next municipality, Xavier High School.
l spent 13 consecutive and fruitful years in this island! l would not say they were all pleasant years, for it had given me happiness, joy, fulfillment and contentment yet, they were years coupled with it were struggles, pain, failures. Nevertheless, one thing sure all those years were blessed by the One who called each of us, to a certain place where Jesus had been ahead of us. Indeed, l could compare this island as my novitiate in forming me as a missionary.
From here l was called to the next island up north of the Philippines. A new community in Teresa to take care of a private school in this municipality. We are the only missionary community of sisters both in Olutanga island and in this new community in the north of Luzon (Philippines). See the challenge that we are faced with! Teaching is not only complying the Education Department requirements, we believe it to be a way of taking care of our students and staff’s spiritual life, a missionary task entrusted, our work to take care.
As l end my sharing l would like to have the correlation of the 3 activities involved in lsland hopping first as the military strategy using this to bring peace, second the tour activity in providing joy, pleasant experiences leading to happiness and lastly, as a missionary; doing island hopping to bring all those two mentioned above to a transcending level of Peace, Joy, Fulfillment.
– Sr. Ma. Virginia B. Benito