We have just celebrated our one hundred years as a Congregation. The insurmountable challenges that our Founders have confronted in its beginning together with the other sisters who accompanied them in their first was indeed something to emulate on, as we look forward to the years ahead of us.
The Province of San Luis Beltran has its own story to share and to cherish and to be proud of as sisters who responded to the call of our Lord, to do mission in the southern part of the Philippines. It was a humble beginning for our Spanish sisters, to adapt to new conditions in life such as the people, climate, environment, language, food, etc., but due to their desire to spread the Good News of Christ, they were able to overcome all the challenges and difficulties.
The first mission of the sisters at that time was to attend to the needs of the hansenites people, the lepers in the Leprosarium, considered as the outcast of society just like the time of Jesus. To attend to their physical and spiritual needs. To provide education and training to enhance their skills in sewing and carpentry etc. for their livelihood, to earn a living for their family. To care for their children upon birth, to separate them from their mothers to prevent contamination of the disease.
But time have changed, new ministries were offered to the sisters just as vocation flourish and the novitiate was constructed to prepare sisters who wanted to respond to the call of JESUS through this congregation. Therefore, catechism classes in the nearby schools was the first task of the young sisters. Gradually the mission of the sisters developed and expanded according to the needs of the local Church. We were given the responsibility in the supervision and administration of the schools in the city and nearby islands such as: Basilan, Olutanga. Christian formation, guidance and counselling in schools we are present till today. We worked also in partnership with the Claretian Fathers in Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC) patterned after Latin America under the leadership of Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez. We, the Dominicans, were and still are, involved also with Justice and Peace to assist to the needs of those people who are unjustly accused with no one to help them in their circumstances.
After more than 50 years of our mission in the Philippines, we have assessed and renewed ourselves to better serve the people under our care. Our younger sisters are given the opportunity to study, to update themselves in line with the apostolate that they are involved.
The advancement of technology made us aware of the need to search for a new paradigm shift in our missionary work in order not to be left behind but to respond more effectively to the signs f the time. All these changes in our ministries awaken in us to be more fervent in our spiritual life the source of our strength and faith, trusting always that we are never alone in our journey with the people but God is always with us as the “Footprints in the sand,” says. And so, with renewed vigor we strive to follow and live the Ideals of our Mo. Foundress Ascension Nicol Goñi, to spread joy to the people whom we meet and work, to radiate Christ’s light and love in this world.
* Sister Ma. Cecilia L. Pagador