Sisters of Providence add the Philippines to Mother Joseph Province
On May 17, at the close of the General Leadership Conference in Edmonton, Alberta, Mother Joseph Province welcomed the Philippines and its three sisters to its membership.
The following afternoon, Sisters Julia (Julie) Macasieb, SP, Dalisay (Beth) Rayray, SP, and Lucila (Lucy) Vasquez, SP, came to Seattle for a joyous welcoming celebration at St. Joseph Residence.
The change is a result of a lengthy discernment process begun in 2013 regarding the future of the Sisters of Providence in the Philippines. As outlined by General Superior Karin Dufault in a communication to the members of the religious community, factors taken into consideration included the small number of sisters in the Philippines, the ministry needs that exist there, and the sisters’ passion and commitment to being a Providence presence through collaboration and networking. There also is a desire for continued promotion of vocations in the region.
A local community of Mother Joseph Province
The outcome is that the three sisters in the Philippines will become a local community of Mother Joseph Province, “while at the same time maintaining the long-standing supportive relationship with Holy Angels Province (in Edmonton),” Sister Karin wrote. “They want to retain the ‘Philippine-ness’ of mission, that is, inculturation of the mission through Filipino eyes, setting realistic priorities for ministry.”
MJP Provincial Superior Judith Desmarais sent a letter of invitation to the sisters in the Philippines at the end of 2013. “We are most happy to welcome you to our province,” she said. “Your presence among us, first experienced at the Providence Retreat in Spokane in 2010, was a blessing for us as all of us shared our Providence life together. We know your presence will enrich our life as a province.” At the welcoming reception in Seattle, all three sisters joining Mother Joseph Province from the Philippines expressed the difficulty of the decision, but also their optimism for the future. Sister Lucy recalled how she came to love the sisters in Yakima, Wash., while living with them during a cross-cultural experience.
While suppression of the vice province is not a joyful experience, “we have to go on and face reality,” she explained. “My life is brimming with happiness. It is nice to be home.”
A hard decision
Sister Julie also spoke of the difficulty of this journey and of grieving the loss of identity as a vice province. Still, she said, she is not afraid because she is not alone. “God goes with me. He has faithfully sent people to accompany me. God is doing something new.”
She added that being part of Mother Joseph Province, her “second home,” brings her peace and joy.
Sister Beth, who began a cross-cultural experience in Holy Angels Province at the end of January, said she, too, feels at home in Mother Joseph Province. The decision was a hard one, she said, but she praised the sisters of Mother Joseph Province because they “journeyed with us from the very beginning as we made the decision.”
Sister Julie lives in Diliman, Quezon City, and serves in campus ministry, Christian Formation for Youth, and vocation direction/accompaniment. Sister Beth lives in Punta Sta. Ana, Manila, and is currently on a cross-cultural experience in Holy Angels Province in Edmonton. Sister Lucy lives in Diliman, Quezon City, and is executive trustee and coordinator for the Office of Women and Gender Concerns, and a mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines.
Sisters first arrived in Philippines in 1989
The history of the Sisters of Providence mission in the Philippines began with the arrival of five Sisters of Providence in Manila on October 14, 1989, after the sector was established on August 1, 1989.
The location was unique in that it was in an urban area, rather than the traditional rural setting where the sisters served in foreign countries. It also was unique because the invitation to come there came not from church authorities but from a group of Filipina sisters who belonged to one of the three Western provinces of the Sisters of Providence: Holy Angels, Sacred Heart or St. Ignatius.
Those Filipina sisters shared “painful experiences of a double integration” of American culture and of Sisters of Providence culture. They invited sisters to come to the Philippines to work with children, youth and families, to do pastoral work and to do nursing.
The five Sisters of Providence who responded to that call represented all three provinces. Their names, and the roles they later assumed, were: Sisters Renate Hayum, treasurer; Linda Jo Reynolds, formation director; Clarella Fink, superior; Fidela Adriano, assistant and secretary; and Lina Afinidad, councilor.
To say those early years were not easy is an understatement. The sisters survived volcanoes, typhoons and government coups, opening the first house for aspirants in 1990. The first candidate was Julia Macasieb, in 1993. The Philippine Sector became a vice-province in February 2007.
Two Chilean sisters transfer into Mother Joseph Province
Two other Sisters of Providence also joined Mother Joseph Province this month, receiving approval of a transfer of membership from Bernarda Morin Province in Chile.
Sisters Marcia Gatica and Marisol Avila professed perpetual vows in a liturgical celebration at St. Joseph Residence, Seattle, last November 24.
Since late in 2011 they had been continuing their formation and discernment in Mother Joseph Province while remaining members of the province in Chile.
Sister Marcia is attending the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador, finishing her degree program in psychology. Sister Marisol is in Yakima, taking courses to increase her English language proficiency and doing volunteer ministry at St. Joseph Parish and with the sisters.
We welcome these five sisters to Mother Joseph Province! With their addition, Mother Joseph Province has 137 professed sisters and one novice. The province encompasses Alaska, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana, Washington, El Salvador and now the Philippines. Providence of God, we thank You for all!