Sr Ashwena Apao SSC

‘PLANTED AND BUILT UP IN JESUS CHRIST, FIRM IN THE FAITH’ (cf Col 2:7)

By Sr Ashwena Apao SSC

Sister Ashwena is a Columban Sister from Jimenez, Misamis Occidental, which has one of the oldest Spanish churches in Mindanao and was a Columban parish for many years. She gets her name from the fact that she was born on Ash Wednesday. Sister Ashwena is based in Myitkyina, northern Myanmar.

Myanmar WYD

This was the theme of World Youth Day (WYD) 2011, held recently in Madrid, Spain, in which 1.2 million persons participated. WYD was a time when young and not so young people from all over the world gathered together to pray and share experiences coming from within the cultural richness of each one. Everybody went with their own agenda, searching for truth, longing for a deeper meaning in their lives. Everybody wanted to encounter the truth of Jesus Christ, which they believed would set them free.

A Dream Come True

By Sr Ashwena Apao SSC

The author is from Jimenez, Misamis Oriental, Archdiocese of Ozamiz. The town is named after a Recoleto friar and is one of the oldest parishes in Mindanao. For many years it was staffed by Columban priests. Sister Wennie, as she is known, has been in Myanmar (Burma) since 2003.

Have faith! With God nothing is impossible . . . These are the words that I hang on to when I start to dream and hope for something that is way beyond me. 8 May 2009 was a day of joy, a day of wonder, a day of celebration of a dream come true. On that day many youth from the different parishes came to celebrate the official opening of our new Diocesan Youth Centre in Myitkyina Diocese, Kachin State, Myanmar. Priests, Sisters and neighbors also joined us. Bishop Francis Daw Tang of Myitkyina blessed the Centre and we celebrated the Eucharist. Afterwards we were entertained by the youth who sang their own musical compositions before partaking in the traditional meal that followed.

We call our building the Centre for Learning Alternatives for Youth (CLAY). The purpose of this Centre is the advancement of the youth. We want to help and support them in their human development so that they will realize their gifts, deepen their self-worth and, in time, reach their full potential. We have taken the first steps to make this dream a reality.

Looking back, I asked myself how this dream started. When I was a novice in the Philippines, I visited a campus where I met young students who were warmly welcomed, accommodated and facilitated in their educational, emotional and spiritual needs. I was very impressed by the effective program. I kept that experience in my heart as I continued my missionary journey.