Sr. Arlyne commits to human rights work

Setting forth

“One’s entire being must be apostolic! this is of primary importance to Fr Theodore.” 5:175

After our 1st temporary commitment last January 20, 2016, Joey and I went back to Philippines. Our community in Manila welcome us with joy. We had celebration together with our friends and family. Before setting out for my apostolate I went home to be with my family and friends. I was happy to be home after two years. I enjoyed my time with my family, friends and relatives.

I begun my ministry by attending Congress of Agricultural Workers in Malaybalay Bukidnon, Mindanao and National Bible Workshop in Marbel, Mindanao. I stayed in Mindanao for almost three weeks, after attending the conference, I had the opportunity to visit my friends in Catabato and in Sultan Kudarat. It was my first time to be in Mindanao traveling by myself. My experience in Mindanao was very enriching, the people were very kind and hospitable. After the conference I started working as a part-time librarian in the Institute of Spirituality in Asia (ISA). The Institute of Spirituality in Asia (ISA) is a special school for those studying Asian Spirituality. ISA is run by the Order of Carmelites. I worked for three days in the library and at the same time helped in the registration of their activities.. And then the other days I worked as a volunteer researcher for Ecumenical Resource Center. (ERC). The Ecumenical Resource Center is composed of different Christian Denominations who are involved in social justice. As a researcher I helped in gathering data about how the different Christian Churches responded in social issues. In addition, I gave a monthly biblical formation in a group of parish leaders in Bulacan.

Towards the end of 2016 I had discerned that it would be better to have a focus in my ministry. Because it was very challenging to balance my schedules in ISA and ERC, although it was only part-time however it demands a full-time work. For that reason I had decided to leave and focused to get involved with the plight of the workers. I joined with a group called Church People-Workers Solidarity (CWS). “The Church People – Workers Solidarity (CWS) is a non -profit organization. It is an ecumenical body composed of bishops, clergy, the religious men and women, lay leaders and workers that shall spearhead in harnessing the church people’s initiatives towards solidarity with the workers. It shall further engage in activities that truly reflect the oneness of the church with the workers’ life and aspirations” (taken from CWS website: http://churchfortheworkers.weebly.com). We network with Religious Priests and Sisters, Parishes and Schools in advocating workers rights for a dignified employment.We organized forums on labor issues, workers rights, immersion to the workers and advocate catechism on labor. Our program in CWS are education and training, campaign and advocacy, welfare and support services and networking.

Last Christmas for my holiday, I went to visit my friends in Negros and Siquior (in Visayas Region). I stayed there for two weeks. Negros and Siquior are beautiful places to visit, rest and just to be with the nature. It is far from the city and very close to the mountains and sea. At night you would only hear the crickets and other creeping animals. The people in Negros and Siqiuor are very hospitable and live a very simple life. I enjoyed the lovely breeze, the mountains, simplicity of life and fresh food. The challenging part though was the people in Visaya speaks Visayan language. I don’t speak neither understand the language, however I manage through asking for translations from my friends.

Additionally, I am a member of Religious Discernment Group (RDG) and Congress of Educators and Teachers for National Democracy (CONTEND). My membership in these groups are not demanding, occasionally I attended the forums and recollection that the group are giving.

Almost 1 year and 4 months since I did my first commitment as Sion Sisters. Looking back I am grateful for all the experiences and people I met along the way. It was an amazing Emmaus journey filled with adventure, challenges, joy, learnings, gratitude for God’s providential help and encounter with different people. My involvement in justice and peace and biblical formation had taught me that in doing my ministry I am not journeying alone. We are not threading that path by ourself, although there are times that we felt we are alone (Luke 24:29). “. . . Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us” (Luke 24:32). Jesus is walking with us on our Emmaus Journey through the various people we meet on our journey.

Lastly, the quote from Fr. Theodore, “Don’t rush into anything; move quietly and wisely; maintain the spirit of Our Lady of Sion and strive to do as well as possible what God asks us at every minute” (2:154) summarized my learnings in my apostolate as a Sister of Sion in the Philippines.

Finally, I am grateful for all the support I received and continuously receiving from our Congregation and my community. I am thankful for all the opportunity that I had and for the enriching experiences. I enjoyed my life as a sister of Sion a midst the challenges of community living and discerning for my apostolate.

Sr. Arlyne NDS