June 18, 2014

Exactly three years ago today, Reins Mosqueda , Joan Yap and Sherryl Lou Capili, better known as RP19 signed their first mission agreement with the Missionary Society of St. Columban. They were sent to Taiwan. Today, we welcome them back. Today is also a welcome for Arlenne Villahermosa for another term as Regional Lay Mission Coordinator for the Philippines.  She held the same post between 2006-2008 prior to her assignment to Myanmar. We also welcome Michael, JIb Braux, Gilda and Lorna, better known as PH22 for the orientation  or the preparation to mission program.

WE also thank John Din for his music, jokes and laughter, friendship and for his work as Regional Lay Mission Coordinator for the past three years.

Sherryl Lou Capili, Joan Yap, and Reins Mosqueda

Obituary of Serafina Ranadi Vuda, Columban Lay Missionary

Born to Esira Vuda and Makarita Dicakau, Serafina was baptized by Columban Fr Arthur Tierney, in Navala, Ba. After elementary school, she attended Xavier College in Ba and St John's College in Levuka, Ovalau. In 1984 she graduated from Corpus Christi Primary Teachers’ College in Suva and taught in Navala, St Theresa, Ba and Stella Maris, Suva, during the following 12 years. Born to Esira Vuda and Makarita Dicakau, Serafina was baptized by Columban Fr Arthur Tierney, in Navala, Ba. After elementary school, she attended Xavier College in Ba and St John's College in Levuka, Ovalau. In 1984 she graduated from Corpus Christi Primary Teachers’ College in Suva and taught in Navala, St Theresa, Ba and Stella Maris, Suva, during the following 12 years
Serafina Vuda (24 August 1972 - 31 May 2014)
During these years Serafina was an avid netball player, and traveled to Europe as a member of the Fiji National Netball Team.
In 1996 Serafina joined Columban Lay Mission and did her orientation program in Suva. After studying Spanish in Bolivia, her first mission assignment was to Chile (1997 - 2000). There she lived and worked among the indigenous Mapuche people, promoting the formation of lay leaders. After a vacation back home she was assigned to Peru where she spent the following nine years (2001 - 2010). There she was engaged in parish ministry, the formation of lay leaders, and the accompaniment of others in their discernment regarding a lay mission vocation. From 2008 to 2011 she served as the Coordinator of the Central Leadership Team of Columban Lay Mission, while from 2011 to 2014 she continued as a member of that Leadership Team.
During those years that she was in leadership positions, Serafina lived in Dublin, Suva and Los Angeles. While living in Dublin she joined outreach endeavors to migrants and homeless people. After arriving in Los Angeles 20 months ago, she began to learn to drive, and succeeded in obtaining her license a year ago. She had also initiated outreach to parishes in that city as well as to the South Pacifican community across California, particularly in the San Francisco area.
Two weeks ago Serafina was unexpectedly hospitalized in LA and found to be suffering from a number of serious ailments. Since then it seemed that she had only fleeting moments of consciousness. Columban priests in LA, fellow Fijian lay missionaries, Monika Lewatikana and Sainiana Tamatawale, as well as several friends visited her daily. Then, on Saturday evening, 31 May, just after having been commended by them to God, she returned to her Creator,and joined her parents and brothers, Villame and Petero, who had gone ahead of her.
Serafina (back row, right) with other LMs during the 2011 International Meeting in Tagaytay

As she had lived in several countries and visited several others as a Columban lay missionary leader, Serafina's passing is grieved by Columban Missionaries and the various peoples to whom she ministered.
Serafina's death is also a cause of great sadness to her sister, Udite, her brother Paulo Ramasima, another brother, Sipriano Ranuko, and his wife Sisilia, her sister-in-law, Mere, as well as nephews, nieces and extended family.
Messages of sympathy may be sent to: Mr Sipriano Ranuko, PO Box 1141, Ba, Fiji. Tel: + 679-667.8026
Please remember to pray for the eternal repose of Serafina, as well as consolation for her grieving family and friends.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace, Amen.

The above was issued by the US Region of the Columbans on 4 June. You may read more about Serafina and how she saw herself as a lay missionary here

PH22: Orientation 2014 - 2015

We welcome PH22 composed of two men and two women to the 2014-2015 orientation program of the Columban Lay Missionaries.  We wish each and everyone of you a fruitful and enriching ten months ahead, and beyond. 

PH22, from left, Jib Braux Raña, Gilda Comayas, Lorna Cañete, Michael Javier

Jib Braux Raña – 40 years old, from Buug, Zamboanga Sibugay, is a BS Psychology and BS Nursing graduate. He passed the nursing board exam given in December 2013. He worked as a college teacher for 11 years in Zamboanga del Sur and served as choir master in his own Parish. He also had the opportunity to teach in Mozambique. He has a talent in conducting and teaching. His friends describe him as loving, supportive and dedicated.

Gilda Comayas – 42 years old, originally from Cagayan de Oro, is a graduate of BS Biology from Xavier University, CDO. She was a former lay missionary of the Assumption and spent two years in UK. She left the Assumption because they have a policy of maximum two years for overseas lay missionaries. She has worked for more than 9 years as a teacher. She is also a graduate of Mother of Life.  She now lives in Novaliches, Quezon City. Her friends describe her as hard working, strong willed and responsible.

Lorna Cañete -  37 years old, from Alegria, Bacolod, Lanao del Norte, is  a graduate of Geodetic Engineering.  She was a Claretian sister for 11 years until she left the convent in 2009. While with the Claretians, Lorna had the chance to travel to Rome and Indonesia. She learned about the CLM through the Columban Misyon magazine when she was still a student in La Salle, Ozamiz City. She has established herself in the last three years after leaving the Claretians by starting a business of her own. Her friends and family describe her as a leader, outspoken and sincere. She is actively involved in her own parish.

Michael Javier – 33 years old, originally from Surigao, is a graduate of Chemical Engineering.  He is a member of the Singles for Christ. He worked as an overseas foreign worker in Taiwan where he met Columban Lay Missionaries Beth Sabado and Joan Yap who invited and encouraged him to apply to the CLM.  He was very much involved with the church while working in Taiwan. He is described by his friends as a happy and encouraging person. He now calls Iriga City, Camarines Sur his home.

Faith Guiding Course

by Jonah Jane (Jayjay) Enterina, Columban Lay Missionary in Britain, during the award ceremony for new Faith Guides

Good evening friends, families and fellow faith guides.
I have been asked to say a few words on the feedback from the students who completed this course. Initial thoughts were of heartfelt gratitude to our almighty God & Spiritual Divine teachers, for providing this wonderful opportunity, without which none of us would have been able to journey together through this spiritual experience.
We would also like to thank Ruth Tetlow and the Faith Encounter Program, for organising this course which has provided a priceless opportunity for strangers to come together, become friends and share their spiritual heritage.
The course has deeply helped me in nourishing my own faith as I continue to witness the faith of my friends. They are my example to truly live life according to what our God (through our spiritual teachers) has taught us to do. I believe that hope, love and faith bring us all together in peace. Our identity as a multi-faith group on this course is indeed an authentic witness that we can work and pray together- that there is HOPE especially in our world today filled with so much division and gap. I will be forever grateful for the privilege to walk and journey with all of you’
This course has been running for so many years, and all over the city we now have Faith Guides who are not only able to confidently explain their faith to others, but who have also, now become ambassadors of interfaith,  promoting harmony, understanding and cooperation between different communities.
This is hugely important in today’s modern times. Birmingham is such a beautifully diverse, multicultural city. We are privileged to coexist amongst so many different faiths, religions and cultures. Building friendships between these communities is what these ambassadors are now doing.
We have all realised that the way to break down barriers is to build personal relationships and to grow in understanding – and the course has not only enabled us to do this with each other, but also gave us the skills to continue doing this when we welcome visitors at our respective places of faith.
But even though understanding about and between people and communities in the UK has increased in recent years, inter religious misunderstanding still exists and can bring discord and conflict.
Jayjay (2nd from left) with fellow graduates of Faith Guiding Course
Nelson Mandela was a great believer in breaking down barriers and building friendships – especially in times of discord. He once said: “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Inter religious understanding should never be taken for granted; it has to be taught and worked for in each community and each generation.  To this vital work, this interfaith project makes an important contribution.

Thank you.

My Journey to the Columban Lay Mission

by Jenanydel Nola
Columban Lay Missionary

Before joining the Columban Lay Mission (CLM) I was working at the Notre Dame Business Resource Center (NDBRC) - Maitum as Daycare Worker and Community Organizer. I had a beautiful, inspiring, caring, understanding and loving family there.

It has always been my desire to serve God but in the other part of me I thought too about giving priority to the needs of my family, to be with my community and to be of help to my tribe because here in Maitum I am the first T’boli scholar of Bro. Robert B. McGovern to finish college. Yes, it has been my dream to finish my studies and to be with my people.  When my dream of finishing college was granted, I thought it was the end of my journey and I could already be with my family, community and my tribe. But I realized that there was a part of me which hinders me to laugh, talk about and face challenges freely and naturally.

My Heart's Journey

By Luda Egbalic
Columban Lay Missionary
May 17, 2014

Today, I will be sent off to mission by the Columbans. I will be one of  the Columban Lay Missionaries.  My heart is filled with thanksgiving, peace and joy for it has found her rest.
I am Luda L. Egbalic, 2nd child among the 10 children of Mrs. Lucresia Luminhay Egbalic ( Talaandig tribe ) and Mr. David Fabre Egbalic ( Boholano ). I got my name from the 1st 2 letters of my parents’ names.
When I was a child, my mother would remind me to study hard so I can finish college and find a job because I was never content with what was served on the table. Life was easier when we were only four in the family but when we became ten, it became a suffering for me and my siblings. I dreamt of becoming rich so I could buy anything that I wanted, go to many places and live independently and at the same time be able to help my younger siblings too.   

I went to church every Saturday afternoon when my household chores were finished just to read lives of saints and Sunday to attend mass celebration alone. Once, I heard my father say “Magmadre man siguro ni akong anak.“ I only smiled at him after being permitted to go.  I talked to our God since my parents though provided almost everything I needed had no time for me and talk about my problems. Silently sitting on the bench and just gazing at the cross gave me comfort, strength and peace.  I owed this to our Catechist who prepared us for our first confession and communion, invited us to go to church for Sunday mass and  attend Flores de Mayo. My parents were not church-goers. My father graduated his high school from a Catholic school but he disliked going to church. I hoped that one day my family will together worship our loving God. I longed for my parents’ love, a peaceful and happy family.  I was comforted by our God and our Mother of Perpetual Help whenever I visited the church. There, when I gazed at the cross, I silently told the crucified Jesus, “When I grow up, I will help you carry your cross. I will serve you.” My relationship with my God had grown that whenever I made decisions, I consulted Him even if I couldn’t hear His voice but I had known that God had been with me in my journey. I was and am never alone in my journey. This I realized when I was a child.

Mission Sending of Jenanydel Nola and Luda Egbalic

On Saturday, May 17, 2014 in a Eucharistic Celebration presided by Columban Regional Director Fr. Pat O'Donoghue, Luda Egbalic and Jenanydel Nola formally joined the Columban Lay Missionaries (CLM).  Luda and Jen signed a contract with the Missionary Society of St. Columban for a three-year mission work in Korea.

CLM Regional Coordinator John Din, in his introduction speech prior to the actual mission sending ceremony, called Luda Egbalic a woman of faith and Jenanydel Nola a woman of depth.  He claims that such faith and depth were not only his personal experience with them but that of Jen and Luda's family, friends, and co-parishioners as well.  During the parish missioning of Luda in Malaybalay, Bukidnon and Jen in Maitum, Saranggani, many came to celebrate with them and show their support.

Luda and Jen express their commitment to the Columban Lay Mission

Regional Director Fr. Pat O'Donoghue accepts their generous offers of service

Signing of Contract
Jen and Luda with Fr. Pat Baker and former Ph21 team member Ivy May Carpio
Luda and Jen with CLM Regional Coordinator John Din

Zyra's Story

For six years now, my family and I have been joining the Christmas midnight mass at the Good Shepherd Sisters’ Mt. Maid Training Center (MMTC) in Baguio City. I like it here because the atmosphere is intimate. During homily, a student-worker from the MMTC would share his/her life story. Many of these are stories of pain, rejection, abandonment, brokenness, woundedness, sufferings, struggles, faith, hard work, falling, rising up again, healing, hope and that promise of a better and brighter future. These are stories I believe many in the congregation can relate to. The midnight mass in December 2013 was no different. 

When Zyra Allison Hiano was chosen to share her story, her initial reaction was “Why me?” This was followed by embarrassment because her life story is not something she can be totally proud of. It is not a happy one especially her childhood. Then panic overcame her. What must she share and what must she leave out? But as her time to share neared, she slowly became at peace with the story she was going to share. She hoped that her story will touch and inspire even just one soul from the audience.

Zyra Allison Hiano comes from Ifugao Province. She finished high school at the Immaculate Conception High School in Banaue. She never knew her biological father because he left them even before she was born. Even if she knew her mother, she never felt her motherly love. In fact she does not even understand what motherly love actually means. When she was very young, her mother brought her to her grandparents’ house. She knew what was going to happen then and pleaded with her mother not to give her away. But her pleas fell on deaf ears as her mother left her for good to her grandparents so that her mother can be with her new partner. Sometimes she still remembers that fateful morning when she was silently crying and pulling her mama’s hands to her but her mama pulled away, never to come back for her again. 

Zyra is thankful to her grandparents who never stop caring for and loving her and supporting her dreams. This time, when she sees a child being tugged along by his/her mother or father, she is reminded with the kind of relationship she never experienced from her mother or father. Every Christmas when she sees the nativity scene and sees the Blessed Virgin Mary and Joseph staring intently at the baby Jesus, she is grateful that many children are still blessed with loving parents like Mary and Joseph. She also remembers with grateful heart her grandparents. 

Zyra is on her second year as a student worker at MMTC, and taking up nursing aide. When she learned that she was accepted at the MMTC, her grandparents were the first ones to congratulate her. They were happy for her because they know this was the start of Zyra’s dreams coming true. The first few months in Baguio City were difficult because it was her first time to be outside Ifugao and away from her grandparents and friends. Slowly, however, she made friends with other student workers at the MMTC. They share the same aspirations and goals of a better future. They support and understand each other. They listen to one other. She is also thankful to the staff of the MMTC for their love and care. She also learns a lot from the values formation given by the Good Shepherd Sisters. She is grateful to them for the work they do and for opening opportunities to the financially disadvantaged children of the Cordilleras who aspire for a brighter future.  

Zyra’s story reminds me of my own role as a parent, as a mother. My twin boys turned 16 last December. I used to say that my joys outweigh my challenges as a parent. I don’t know if that is still true now because parenting has become more difficult lately. Sometimes I feel lost, I feel inadequate, and even useless. Sometimes I wonder if the two young men in my house now are the same twin boys I first held in my arms that morning of December 1997? Are these the same boys I held to my bosom to keep warm during those cold nights of 1997, or saw crying when they had their first hair cut, or making their first step at nine months, or climbing our window grills at two years old, or proudly holding my hands while I walk them at Burnham Park? Now they ignore me. Sometimes I want to give up. But sometimes I think they are just slowly evolving to be the uniquely special persons God wants them to be. I cannot understand God’s ways. But faith in my God? I have it. I do. I know He is always near me, guiding me, carrying me when my burdens become heavy to bear alone, leading me and my family where we are suppose to be.

By Marivic Mercene