By Sister Angelica Cruz ICM
How does one define the meaning of being a missionary? Not in the number of ‘converts’ made or the baptisms performed. Certainly not in the amount of money spent on projects, nor the size of the buildings constructed. For me it is from the stories they tell.
I’ve heard some of these stories from Sr Marieke, a fellow ICM sister. She is a native of Belgium and has been a missionary to the Philippines since the 1960s, with years in between out of the country for temporary assignments to Rome and Belguim. She has been involved in several ministries. Currently she is involved in Tahanang Walang Hagdan. Sr Marieke is a quiet person in the community. But with a little prodding, she comes alive when she talks of the people who have touched her life.
To be free like a bird
She told me of a little boy in Tahanang Walang Hagdan who, at the age of 8, was abandoned by his parents. One day, while they were sitting in the balcony, the boy remarked, ‘I wish I were a bird like that big bird over there. He’s not stuck in a chair like me.’ The boy has muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease characterized by progressive weakness and degeneration of the skeletal or voluntary muscles which control movement. She quietly carried him up from his wheelchair and placed him on her lap. Together they sat in silence.