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Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres Philippine Province @110

"Alive in the Word, Light of the World."  (1904 - 2014)


         Amidst great jubilation and thanksgiving, the SPC Philippine Province marked its 110th Foundation Anniversary on 29 October 2014, with the theme, “Alive in the Word, Light of the World.” The highlight of the celebration was the Solemn Thanksgiving Mass at 10:30 A.M., in Our Lady of Chartres Convent, Antipolo, officiated by no less than His Eminence Most Rev. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, together with seven bishops and close to fifty priests.

        Among the significant persons who joined the Solemn Thanksgiving Mass were Mother Maria Goretti Lee, SPC, Superior General of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres; Sr. Emily Louise del Castillo, 4th Assistant General, together with 46 SPC Sisters from foreign countries--Australia, East Timor, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, the United States, Italy, Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh, Danang, Hanoi, My Tho);  a big number of SPC Sisters from the local communities all over the Philippines; the clergy, religious men and women of different Congregations and Orders, as well as lay partners and collaborators of the Sisters in the different ministries.

In his homily, Cardinal Tagle underscored the meaning and the living out of the theme of the celebration, “Alive in the Word, Light of the World.” He emphasized how the Sisters should share the light of Christ with humanity in the world of darkness--of sin, of confusion, of ignorance.  His Eminence further reminded everyone to be alive in the world, to radiate Christ, the true Light of the world, with his admonition, “Inviting you to be hungry with the hungry, to be thirsty with the thirsty, to be unsure with the unbeliever, to be confused with those who are confused . . .  to be like Christ.”

          Sr. Lilia Thérèse L. Tolentino, in her Words of Thanks, expressed her deep gratitude to God for so many blessings: “For a journey of 110 years fully blessed and directed by the Lord, marked by evangelizing events put up by four ministries: Formation of Sisters, Education, Health Care, and Pastoral Ministry; for Bishop Frederick Rooker’s invitation to the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres to come to the Philippines in 1904 for the protection and strengthening of the Catholic faith; for the grace of 110 years of mission and service in the name of evangelization; for the phenomenal growth of the Congregation.” She also expressed her profound gratitude to His Eminence, Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, the Main Celebrant and Homilist; the seven concelebrating Bishops; 44 concelebrating Priests; Mother Maria Goretti Lee; Sr. Emily del Castillo; the 46 SPC Sisters from other countries; the representatives of Religious Congregations and Orders; family, friends, relatives, employees, students, alumni, benefactors, business partners and collaborators of the Sisters in their ministries; acolytes and Mass servers. She also acknowledged those who helped prepare the big activities during the Triduum. Sr. Lilia ended her message thus, “As Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, we strongly affirm to live out our Christo-centric spirituality in the fullness of the Paschal Mystery after the example of St. Paul, our Patron, Father Louis Chauvet, our Founder, our First Sisters, and the luminaries and torchbearers of our Congregation. We pledge to remain alive in God’s Word so that we may be light of the world  . . . to continue to walk in the truth.”

Triduum Celebration

October 27 – Day 1

*                9:00 AM - Mother Maria Goretti Lee, Superior General, had a session with the Junior Professed Sisters in the Cardinal Dougherty Conference Hall. During her talk, Mother General shared the reasons why the Holy Father declared 2015 as the Year of Consecrated Life. She reiterated, “This declaration should be a reminder for us, as Religious, that we need to be committed persons, and our attitude should be different from the rest. We may have struggles but establishing an intimate relationship with God and seeking for encounters with Him can only make us authentic witnesses to others, with the quality of our presence more valuable than words.”  She also expressed her gratitude and praise to the Lord for the generosity of the Philippine Province, for the Filipina Missionaries serving in different parts of the world.

*              2:00 PM - Symposium of vignettes and testimonies of Sisters in different dimensions of Religious Life, attended by Sisters, simultaneously held in three different venues: Founder’s Hall, Our Lady’s Hall, Sisters’ big Refectory, in teleconference set-up. Six Sisters shared their stories, exposures, and experiences on Vocation and Formation, Spirituality, Education, Health Care, Pastoral Ministry, and Mission. Mother General, in her message, said, “The sharing of the six Sisters distinctly described the living-out of the common legacy we have received from our Founder, Fr. Louis Chauvet, Mother Marie Anne de Tilly, Marie Micheau, Barbe Foucault, our Mother Superiors through the centuries . . . by virtue of our call to be a Sister of St. Paul, which we have sealed with our Religious Profession, we shared in this common legacy of the Paschal Spirituality and charism of the Gospel charity in the ministries of Education, Health Care, Pastoral Care, as well as Formation Ministry both locally and in the mission ‘ad gentes’.” She further underscored, “The journey of 110 years by the SPC Province is not only about what happened to the Congregation during the 11 decades; it is also about God’s journey with you, Sisters, in all your paths, the rough roads, the valleys and the mountains that you have traversed--starting from the experiences of the first missionaries in 1904.”  Mother Maria Goretti quoted Pope Benedict who said, “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (Evangelii Gaudium, 7). Pope Benedict further said, “We become fully human when we become more than human, when we let God bring us beyond ourselves in order to attain the fullest truth of our being . . .” (EvangeliiGaudium, 8).  Mother Maria Goretti posed the challenge, “Which words, which sharing left an imprint in my heart?”

*                      5:00 PM - The Sisters gathered in the Chapel for the Eucharistic Visit followed by the Solemn Procession to the Garden of Peace Cemetery for the Evening Prayer and Rite of Remembering and Giving Thanks for the deceased Sisters of the Congregation. The sound of three trumpets and a flute signaled the call to start the rite. In silence, the Sisters in great number, each holding a lighted candle, formed two lines in silence, for the solemn procession to the Garden of Peace. The ringing of bells from the belfry accompanied the entire procession. The procession stopped for a while at the gate of the Garden of Peace for the Unveiling and Blessing of the Marker commemorating the visit of Mother General. Mother Maria Goretti Lee and Sr. Lilia ThérèseTolentino unveiled the Marker. Sr. Ma. Nilda Masirag, Provincial Assistant for Education, read the Citation, after which, Sr. Lilia Thérèse blessed the Marker. The solemn procession continued down the winding road to the cemetery for the Rite. The solemn Evening Prayer followed, then Sr. Mary Vianney Ramirez, SPC, Superior of the Community of St. Paul University Manila, read the Tribute to the SPC Deceased Sisters , followed by the Laying of the Wreath by Mother Maria Goretti and Sr. Lilia Thérèse at the foot of the Cross. Mother Maria Goretti said the Final Prayer and Blessing. The Choir led the Congregation in singing “Amazing Grace” to close the Rite. Picnic followed at the Chico Grove and the gardens of OLCC.  At 8:00 P.M., the bell was rung to signal the end of the meal, followed by the singing of Salve Regina. 

October 28 – Day 2

*                     7:00 AM - Mother Maria Goretti, Sr. Emily  Louise, and the SPC Sisters from foreign countries, accompanied by the Provincial Administration, had Mass and hearty breakfast in St. Paul University Quezon City.

*                   10:00 AM The Sisters had a guided tour of Luneta and Intramuros: Rizal Monument, which was constructed during the American colonial period of the Philippines in the early 20th century; San Agustin Church, constructed during the Spanish colonial period and  designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and Metropolitan Manila Cathedral, which was established in 1571, the see of the Archbishop of Manila, the de facto Primate of the Philippines. The tour was an experience of Spanish-era Manila, with its cobbled pathways, and the famous 400-year-old walled city.

*                       12:00 NN – The Sisters’ visit to St. Paul University Manila started with the floral offering in the historic Chapel of the Crucified Christ, the only structure that miraculously withstood the Japanese bombing during World War II. This chapel has been declared a National Historical Site by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). Next in the itinerary was a visit to the University Museum depicting the SPC Congregation origins and the more than a century precious heritage of the University. The visit ended with a sumptuous lunch at the Hotel and Restaurant Management Center of the University.

   *                5:00 PM - The guests, composed of SPC Sisters and Sisters from other Congregations, were treated to a Dinner-Cocktail at the first floor of the St. Paul Activity Center for Excellence (SPACE) of St. Paul College Pasig. Other guests were SPC schools’ Board of Trustees, lay partners, parents, alumni, and Friends of St. Paul. 

  6:00 PM - “No Greater Blessing . . . Images of a Century and a Decade of SPC Presence,” a cultural presentation, was presented in the Bishop Frederick Rooker Theater, third floor of SPACE.  Sr. Dedicacion Rosario, SPC, Directress, St. Paul College Pasig, in her Welcome Remarks, accentuated, “The evening’s program is a remembering, a tribute, a thanksgiving, a praise, a prayer.”  Sr. Lilia Thérèse, in her message, inspired and challenged the Sisters saying, “Knowing with our patron St. Paul, that ‘Christ is our life,’ we trust that our apostolic works somehow become a light to those whose lives we touch. Being rooted in the Christ-Word makes the consecrated person’s life and mission a Christ-Light which, like a torch, not onlybrightens the day-to-day existence, but illumines the collective history of the group.  This is aptly stated in the Congregation’s theme for all the Sisters of St. Paul throughout the world for the next six years, “Alive in the Word, let us be Light.” Her prayer for all SPC Sisters in the Philippine Province was “that the blessing of 110 years will give us more courage and zeal to continue our mission for the Lord Jesus in the Church.” The presentation was mostly in songs, dances, and audio-visual presentation of images in segments: SPC Origins from its humble origins in Levesville-La-Chenard, France in 1696; Arrival in Dumaguete in 1904; Early Expansion; The War Years; Walking in the Truth in Prayer; Walking in the Truth in Ministry, in Media, and the Performing Arts; The Torchbearers; and the Finale and Ensemble. The talents were from the five Metro Manila institutions, namely: St. Paul College Pasig, St. Paul College of Makati, St. Paul College Paranaque, St. Paul University Quezon City, and St. Paul University Manila. Mother Maria Goretti, in her Congratulatory Message, said, “This occasion is a beautiful moment to give thanks to God for the rich blessings this province has received: in the growth of its education ministry of 40 schools, in the 13 hospitals, 7 pastoral centers where the distinctive Paulinian warmth and simplicity open the way for the lay partners to share our charism and spirituality in the service of the sick and the most deprived.”

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October 29 – Day 3

*                  10:30 AM - The Solemn Thanksgiving Mass, officiated by His Eminence Most Rev. Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, was the highlight of the celebration of the 110th Foundation Anniversary of SPC Presence in the Philippines. The celebration was graced by Mother Maria Goretti Lee, SPC, Superior General of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres, and a total of 600 guests.

*                 12:00 NN - The Sisters, clergy, and other guests, came together for an Agape, a moment of joyful sharing and friendship.

*                   1:30 PM  – “110 Years in 10 Minutes”  The Young Sisters in Formation presented “We Are The Children of Light, Let Us Be Your Light, and Light Shine,” in the Sisters’ Big Refectory  to convey the theme of the celebration in graceful gestures and music.  The Sisters and guests who were entertained by the well-choreographed presentation were left in awe … and wishing for more.

*              1:45 PM – Mother Maria Goretti, patiently yet gamely posed for photo opportunities with the Sisters from the different SPC local communities, some Friends of St. Paul, and those who wished to have special remembrance with Mother General. It was indeed, a rare and special experience for the Sisters to be with the Superior General, that up close and personal!

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Contributed by: Sr. Ma. Adelina Portillo, SPC and Sr. Mercedes Bacaoco, SPC