Forming New Ministers to Serve New Friends in the Philippines

by Lucila Mamales Vasquez, SP

“Many are called but few are chosen.”

That describes our situation in the Philippine Mission.  We are in dire need of people to help but thank God our Providence Associates are there to assist.  Together with Vincentian priests and other religious sisters, we are proclaiming Providence to people in the Philippines.

Small gestures make a huge difference for people in need.

In Manila and Quezon City, we’re teaming with the Conference of Major Superiors in the Philippines (CMSP); the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan, under Archbishop Socrates Villegas; and the Association of Religious Men and Women of the Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan (ARMWALD).

After the pandemic, I took over Sister Julie Macasieb’s ministry at the Archdiocese.  We are supporting Archbishop Villegas in working with the newly established Ministry for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.  The ministry serves 54 Parishes in 9 Vicariates. 

Since parishioners are overwhelmed by other projects and parishes constantly call on  the same volunteers, starting a new ministry is like passing through the eye of the needle.  I’m also challenged since I only know  Filipino and English and not the local dialect – Pangasinanse.  Though my ear is grasping, my heart is wide open.  Thus, I encourage them to continue communicating from their heart and I just ask the person next to me to share with me the gist of what was said.

Volunteers in the Migrant ministry know that the legal and counselling needs of the migrants are  taken care of by our network partners.  Our focus then is to facilitate family prayer. 

In our group Taizé prayer time, we read the Gospel, then reflect on its message in silence with soft instrumental music.  We then ask the migrants to release their heart’s longing by writing a letter to Providence.  Lastly, we pray the Holy Rosary together while burning their love letter to our Provident God.  In so doing, God’s grace is the focus of our encounter.

Our volunteer leaders will continue their formation by meeting every other month during this year and next.  The meetings will be facilitated by a former religious sister now engaged in Pastoral Formation and Counselling.  She received her training from the Jesuits. 

We are still growing as a team.  Our newly formed group pursue the ministry together.  Agreeing to respect each other, enjoy each moment, respond appropriately on whatever will come and continue doing small things with great love.

Occasionally, I meet with our Providence Associates from Bataan, Dagupan and Manila.  They have more Associates than we do in the Philippine mission. 

Thank God we are united to be the human face of Providence in our country.