Fhilippine. Sr. Lucy Rose Ozhukayil, Visiting Councilor, concluded her short visit to the Philippines which lasted from August 7 to 23, 2018. She was able to visit all the 17 FMA communities in Metro Manila, Pampanga, Laguna, Oriental Mindoro, Cebu, Negros Occidental, and Palawan via land transportation, airplane, and watercraft — just a few of the islands out of 7,100 islands of the Philippine archipelago!
Due to time constraint, she was not able to visit the three communities in Papua New Guinea which also belong to St. Mary Mazzarello Province (FIL). She will return in 2020 for the canonical visit which usually last for more than two months.
During her visit, two big events coincided: the general assembly of the Provincial Educating Community and the Past Pupils’ Congress. In her message to the Educating Community, she said, “Your presence here speaks to me that you are persons who believe that education is possible when we work together. Don Bosco and Mary Mazzarello believed that alone we can do little but together we can. Thank you for making it possible for us to accomplish our educative mission.” There were 105 persons who attended composed of young people, parents, teachers, and Sisters who represented all the FMA communities.
To the past pupils, Sr. Lucy Rose said: “It is always great to have the past pupils by our side and this I say especially to those who collaborate with the Sisters in their educative mission and in accompanying the needy children and young people today. I know that even those past pupils who are far away, still continue to reach out to the mission of the Sisters.” More than a hundred past pupils attended and among them many are religious educators, are engaged in works of solidarity with the poor, and are witnessing to faith and values even in places where this is difficult to do like those who work in executive positions in business and government.
Sr. Lucy Rose had the chance to meet the board members of the Laura Vicuña Foundation, which was established in 1990 for children and young people at risk like the street children, sexually abused girls, out-of-school youths, and child laborers. It is a partnership between the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians and some distinguished lay professionals.
Not too far away, south of Manila, Sr. Lucy Rose was very pleased to meet the Asian formands: 13 aspirants, 14 postulants, and 9 novices, from the Philippines, Myanmar, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and China. They held a cultural night showcasing the songs and dances of their respective countries. At that time, there was a Japanese aspirant who spent a month for an experience of being in an intercultural formation house.
While Sr. Lucy met the Sisters per community, she devoted separate encounters with the Provincial Council and the Community Animators in the beginning of her visit. On her last day, she met with the Provincial Council again for a short conference that concluded her visit. She said: “You welcomed me to the Province and I did feel welcomed… There are some points I would highlight as positive:
- The joy and spontaneity of the Family Spirit that I experienced among the Sisters.
- The Salesian educative atmosphere that reigns in our schools and Institutions.
- The devotion to Mother Mary in our children and people which is an asset to your educative mission.
- The formands from the various Asian countries… I found a serene and formative climate in both the Aspirantate/Postulancy and the Novitiate…You are doing a great service to the various Provinces and I would say to the Institute.”