The IFRS, where I study in Quezon City, offers us religious education and theology courses with such an organization, that the student can open up to various fields, based on four pillars: contextual, integrative, inclusive and transformational. To help the student situate himself in the realities that the poor and marginalized areas of the Philippines face, and to provide him with the context for his theological studies, the IFRS holds “special days” every year in early August. All students are required to participate in these days. We do not only study theology and the Holy Scriptures, but we try to understand the lives of people, especially the most vulnerable, women and children, and their sensibilities. I chose to go to the street people. We were five sisters.
The first day we slept with the poor families who already have a house. The second day we slept in the street with the families. At first, I was afraid because here in the Philippines there are still some cases of covid-19. The first day I had a hard time adapting to the situation because of the smell and the insects inside the house. After a few hours, I adjusted to the situation. I ate what was prepared and participated in all their activities. During the day, we separated the boxes from the plastic bottles and metals and removed the label from the bottles. In the evening, from 6 to 8 pm, we went to the street to collect plastic bottles, cardboard, and metal. I noticed that the people on the street were working very hard. This can help us eliminate the stereotype that poor people are lazy. From their experience and from what people say, they are also discriminated against when they get sick. In this case, they need someone to help them. They were happy to welcome us. Our presence made them valuable in their own eyes because they consider themselves “as nothing”.
Formation is crucial: it extends to different subjects and areas of society. This immersion of openness reminds me again that every human person is unique and has dignity. Hearing and seeing people’s suffering transforms me and pushes me to conversion, to become a better person for a better world.
Monday through Friday I join evening prayer with my neighbors, the Sisters of the Daughter of St. Anne. The Sisters invite me to all occasions such as their congregation’s feast day, final professions, etc.
May the Lord bless us and continue to comfort us in our journey with Christ! Amen.