After patiently waiting, Renante and Christine Alejo-Uy are finally blessed with Kiefer Thomas, their first born. They are active members of Couples for Christ in Bacolod City.
Tony McAvoy, a layman, is AOS (Apostleship of the Sea) port chaplain in Teesport, in the northeast of England. He reports on the efforts of his pastoral team to bring some Christmas cheer to seafarers. www.stellmaris.net is the website of the AOS worldwide and that of Great Britain.
Sr Minerva Marcelino ICM
As Christmas comes nearer I remember an experience two years ago that was painful yet meaningful and challenging. I wish to share this with you as my Christmas greetings of hope and love.
‘Akana Yesu Kavutse’ ‘The Child Jesus is born’, was our song on the eve of 15 December 2005.
That same night, an old woman came to AKAMURI, a center for mentally handicapped children, bringing Adidji, a four-year-old boy who looked more like a two-year-old, whom we took to be her grandson. I took the boy and started to diagnose him. Like many other children I encounter here, he suffered from cerebral palsy. He couldn’t sit by himself, having some contractions in the upper and lower extremities. I started to give him a simple massage to put him at ease with me. Most of the children are afraid of me, because I am a Musungu, a foreigner, a ‘white’ person, which I’m not.
Cossette with another paraplegic child
Poem by Sister M. Madaleva Wolff CSC
You quiet, wise,
wondering-men who know and love
you who can make a jet, a satellite
with formulas to guide you and
compel you, make me a star
greater than all the
world’s piled up
Put in it all these things that I
shall tell you.
Put in a sorry innkeeper’s gruff
a small, straw bed
against the winter night;
a shepherd’s crook, and
since you once were little as I am,
put in a lamb,
three crowns for three great kings,
some homely simple things,
toys for our small world’s
girls and boys.
You have not made a star
like this before,
but there is nothing, nothing that all
men are seeking more.
make the best star you can make
for a Child’s sake.
By Sister Ignatius Aquino OSB
Sister Ignatius wrote in May-June about her experiences in Africa and South America. She’s now back in her native Asia, but in a country very different from the Philippines, Korea. You can learn more about the Church in Korea and the persecutions there on www.cbck.or.kr, the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea. Click on ‘English’ at the top of the page and ignore anything about a ‘Language Pack Installation’.
My first twenty days at Daegu Priory, Korea, were wonderfully blessed with special events and celebrations: a Silver Jubilee, final and temporary professions, initiation into the novitiate and reception of candidates into postulancy. These monastic festivities gave me a glimpse of the quality of Benedictine life our sisters have over here. I am deeply impressed by the solemnity of their Divine Office, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, all in Korean, and their fidelity to Lectio Divina. (Editor’s note: Richard McCambly OCSO, a Cistercian monk, describes Lectio Divinaas ‘ordinarily confined to the slow perusal of Sacred Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments; it is undertaken not with the intention of gaining information but of using the texts as an aide to contact the living God’ <www.lectio-divina.org/>).
By Christopher Ong
The author contrasts Christmas in Australia, where he spent his early childhood, and in the Philippines, where he grew up, before moving back 'Down Under' with his family last year.
Nothing captures the beauty of the human heart more than the season of Christmas. Its days are imbued with love, unlike ordinary days. Its theme is the joie de vivre of being part of a family. As we remember the Holy Family, which shaped us and the rest of the world, we become brothers and sisters in faith.
LEO P. DIVINAGRACIA, from Pototan, Iloilo, is a Mill Hill Missionary theology student studying in Tangaza College (www.tangaza.org) in Nairobi, Kenya. You can learn more about Kibera, where the author does pastoral work at www.cuea.edu, atnews.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2297279.stm and aten.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kibera. The main website of the Mill Hill Missionaries, whose official name is St Joseph’s Missionary Society, is www.millhillmissionaries.com
I left the Philippines for my theological studies here in Nairobi, Kenya, on 11 August 2006. To leave our families and friends and stay in a place where we are total strangers is indeed very difficult. This is the life of being a missionary: as we journey we must learn to let go even if it is very difficult.
Kuya, it has been a heart-rending decision to write this, not just to open my heart and let you know the turmoil going on inside, but because of love. So out of the cry of my spirit I bring it into the open, my heart imploring, readers empathizing, and my pen testifying. I thank the Holy Spirit for giving me this venue provided by Misyon where I can open up, since you shut your door to us.
There is this struggle on where and how to begin, compounded by a welling-up inside of me, that my pen must patiently write down, notwithstanding the premature tears that have already formed in the corner of my eyes.
By: Violeta Villaraiz
Violie had an article in Misyon before about her experience as an Assumption Volunteer in Cameroon. She went to Korea in April as a Columban lay missionary.
Part of my Mission Orientation Program as a trainee Columban lay missionary was the ‘Mindanao Exposure’ when our team, ‘RP 16’, experienced different programs and activities of the Church there. These included Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs) and the involvement of Columbans in different areas. This is my reflection on our Interfaith Dialogue of Life in Marawi with our Maranao Muslim brothers and sisters.
Sister Tammy Saberon SSC
Columban Sister Tammy, from Molave, Zamboanga del Sur, shares another story from Myitkyina in the north of Myanmar.
In other countries, Christmas decorations are usually up long before Advent begins, especially in commercial centers. But for us here in Myitkyina, Myanmar, where 89 percent of the people are Buddhists, there are no Christmas decorations around except in churches, convents and priests’ houses. Christmas 2004 was the first time we, the Columban Sisters, celebrated Christmas as a community in Myitkyina. It happened that Sr Kathleen Geaney, our then Congregational Leader, was with us for Christmas.
When Sister Nida was home on vacation earlier this year, Mitzi Ramos interviewed her. Here she shares about her love for the young people of Tanzania.
‘Rais wa Tanzania ni nani?’ (‘Who is the current President of Tanzania?’) bluntly asked one student at Mslowa St Gaspar Bertoni Secondary School of his high school religion teacher who had just recently arrived and found herself in what was for her a completely new context. Drawing a blank, the student continued, ‘Kama hujui, wewe hufai kukaa hapa’ (‘If you don’t know, you don’t deserve to be here’.)