I look back to close to a hundred years past… another land… far across the seas… another clime… another people…
Five young Sisters of a
new missionary congregation are "missioned” to the
Philippines, a land in the Far East, a land they only heard of, a place where
they would have to speak and teach in English, not their native German; a place
they would have to reach by sea; a place where many uncertainties awaited them –
but where God would surely be with them.
Those thrilling years have flown
fast. There were uncertainties and risks of beginnings – but there were
surprises from God too: additional Sisters, new fields of work, widening
concerns of God’s poor to help in and with. And joys small and big: a prospect
of a larger school; government recognition of good work in school very early in
its beginnings; promise of introducing formal music education in the Islands,
with people so full of music in their souls! God never failed to remind them
that He was there, right there! Growth in numbers came. From an enrolment of
8, to almost 20, and on and on… so that now, a hundred years later, there are
about 30,000 students formally enrolled in 12 schools! And there is a hospital
to take care of the sick; and community development centers.
But there were disasters too: the War that took so much toll in lives even among the sisters themselves; and
destroyed almost the entire St. Scholastica’s College in Manila and St. Agnes
Academy in Legazpi; then the lahar that buried St. Mary’s Academy in Bacolor,
and the fire that razed Holy Cross Academy in Carigara… and more. Still we knew
God was there. And from the ashes they rose.
There were other dimensions and areas of
growth. Wherever there was a need, a response would come
up: a new venture to regain the rights of women; a new
community to be developed; refugees to be helped. There
seems to be no end to problems and needs. But God shows
that He is always there – to be called on and to help.
Now, a hundred years later the 5 have grown to
more than 200-- no longer just Germans, but mostly Filipinos,
with Germans, Chinese, African. The workers have grown.
But so has the work in the field. God said, "The harvest
is great, but the laborers are few; Pray to the Lord… for
laborers in His harvest.