The Sisters, their lay Associates, friends and co-workers have had a very subdued celebration of the 61stFoundation Day of the Presentation Sisters in the Philippines on 19 February 2021. The day was the Friday after Ash Wednesday and so the liturgy resounded with the hymn “Come Back to me With all Your Heart” and with the sung responsorial psalm “A Contrite and Humbled Heart the Lord will not Scorn.”
The Parish Priest, Fr L. Toong, who is very hospitable and supportive of the Sisters, recalled how the first four Irish Sisters came to the Philippines, what they must have given up generously for the sake of the mission and their mission accomplishments. The four Sisters were Sisters Baptist Kearn, Carmel Claxton, Annunciata Hayes and Regina Keyes. Three of these are now gone to the Lord. Thankfully, Sr Regina Keyes and many of those who came after them in a span of fifty-nine years are still alive to tell the beautiful story.
This beautiful story, to me, is about Religious Life: a demanding life, a Community committed to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, a radical choice, and a beautiful experience of prayer and action. As part of the celebration the Binalbagan Community went to a rest house located at the foot of a mountain in Salvador Benedicto not too far from the PBVM project given up for security reasons.
Since the place was near the given-up PBVM project, due to militarization, it was very inviting to visit them and so we did. The people we met were very welcoming – “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. It was amazing that they shared no story of any COVID virus infection in the place.
The mountains seem unaware of COVID. The combination of the greens and the fogs in the early morning was mystifying – the minimized travels, less use of fuels and manufactured goods – did the wonders? Encouraged by the early morning beauty, the stillness and calm around we engaged in the Shibashi movement believed to be refreshing and invigorating while stimulating positive and healing energy.
Submitted by: Sr Aquila Sy, pbvm, Binalbagan Community