Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stuffing Our Jars

Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP

An “inventory” of sorts has recently been re-shared over 6,700 times on Facebook: “Fill an empty jar with notes about good things that happen. Then on New Year’s Eve…see what awesome stuff happened this year.” One of our sisters said that her cousin and husband did that in 2013 and accumulated a box worth.

As we begin 2014, we want to tell you that you’re in our box! Any particular reason? Well, for starters, in the past three months we held two fundraising campaigns: a Webathon in October for several development projects of our publishing house that had been on hold because of a lack of funds, plus a drive to support the outreach by our sisters in the Philippines in the wake of last month’s typhoon. The Webathon brought in $28,487.10, and the collection for the Philippines, $16,065. Neither would have succeeded without your generosity and commitment to the Church’s mission of evangelization that you and we all share. To you, hearing that you and your families are in our prayers may seem unnecessary, but to us, saying it is like emptying that jar (or box) in wonder.

Sr. Noemi Vinoya, FSP provincial superior of the Philippines, says that not even that suffices “to express the gratitude we feel in our hearts.” Sr. Carmel Galula is especially inspired by the young people “repacking the relief goods for Tacloban! The youth are our hope, and working with them makes the ‘Bayanihan’ spirit – the spirit of volunteerism that Filipinos exhibit…even in non-emergency situations that call for a sense of community – very much alive.”

Several of the sisters involved in the relief effort described the experience as a life-changer. “God has visited us through the strong winds and surge of water,” writes Sr. Rosalinda. “He allowed me to suffer with him in the midst of chaos and pain” that others were suffering. “It was indeed an experience of purification and conversion.” Sr. Antonietta agrees and adds: “I have realized that God is our Father, for he never abandons us in the midst of sufferings.”

Sr. Pinky (Purificación) Barrientos works in the media office of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines and has been one of my principal contacts for accurate and timely information. Sunday she wrote to me:
“We are truly grateful for the show of support that you and the sisters and the generous donors have given to our sisters in Tacloban and to the people who have been greatly affected by the typhoon. Indeed the show of solidarity from everyone all over the world is absolutely overwhelming, that it makes me choke with emotion. Every time I read anything that has to do with people affected by Yolanda and people who are helping them, emotions well up in me and tears just roll. 

“But the survivors’ strong spirit and determination to overcome is also a source of inspiration for all of us, especially when some petty difficulties sometimes tend to make us lose our bearings, and we grumble about life.

“May we continue to pray for one another as we also remember all those whom the Lord has entrusted to us through our common Pauline vocation.”
As “luck” would have it, one of the Tacloban sisters was in Manila when the typhoon struck. She was able to funnel donations she received for Tacloban through the archdiocesan office of Palo, which is near the city. A few weeks ago, three other sisters began to clean and salvage what they could in the media center and convent, readying it for the replacement of the roof. Funds permitting, they plan to completely rebuild at a later date. They realize that renovating now would be insensitive to those who still don’t even have a roof over their heads. Since four Daughters of St. Paul and the Cooperators are the only Pauline presence in the Easter Visayas, they have every intention of regrouping and continuing their mission there.

Even though we’re closing the fundraising project tomorrow, if you’d still like to donate, click here. Your donation will be dropped directly into a fund that our superior general has set up in Rome for the Filipino sisters to draw from for the people, the Cooperators, and, when possible, themselves. As you launch a new year, may your sacrifice pack your jar to overflowing, as Jesus promised.

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