After two weeks of long meetings and joyful celebrations, most attendees of the General Chapter and Regional Assembly returned immediately to their respective homes and missions. However, for the visiting Filipina sisters and the sisters from Phoenix (plus a couple extra drivers from our Texas-based sisters), the journey was not yet complete. A week on the road allowed us to share with our sisters from the other side of the world some of the most beautiful sites of the Southwest, as well as our historically significant houses in New Mexico. Our trip left us with memories to cherish for a lifetime, many graces, new friendships, innumerable photos, and some lessons learned (or learned anew).
The spiritual highlight of our trip was visiting Holman, N.M., the birthplace of SOLT and the earthly resting place of our founders, Fr. James Flanagan and Fr. John McHugh. “It feels like home,” one Filipina sister shared. “I have only taught about these places to our novices. Now I have actually seen it,” said another. Although not an impressive tourist attraction, this was the most meaningful site we visited. We were also able to make a short visit to Bosque, N.M., a former formation site and the place where Fr. Flanagan passed away. Particularly meaningful was our time with one of our founding sisters, Sr. Mary of the Redemption, who shared some of her experiences and wisdom with us.
The vastness and magnificence of the Grand Canyon and the beautiful red rocks of Sedona gave us a renewed sense of awe before creation. “Sing to the Lord, all the earth!” (Ps 96: 1)
Now, it is not an unusual occurrence for sisters to experience God’s generosity through monetary donations received from His people, but on this trip we experienced it like never before. Strangers and friends alike, almost every single place we went, felt moved to share their material blessings with us. I think God likes to show off once in a while, and He certainly made sure we were welcomed and taken care of everywhere we went, through donations and hospitality alike. May God reward all who gave to us!
3) Learning about other countries and cultures is fun.
One sister, amazed at the vast expanses of uninhabited land, kept asking, “Where are all the people?” The USA is much less densely populated than the Philippines, and there’s nothing a like a road trip to demonstrate that!
Another unexpected cultural moment: One morning, an everyday occurrence in the US literally stopped our visiting sisters in their tracks: a front loader garbage truck using automated forks emptying a dumpster!
In several places, the sisters sang several songs to share their gratitude for the hospitality and friendship given to them. It was beautiful and heartfelt. A chorus of Filipina sisters singing the Tagalog “Stella Maris” can bring tears to one’s eyes.
This trip renewed us in relationship and fostered new friendships. Names now have faces, and we have bonded as friends and sisters in the same family. May Our Lady continue to guide us on our earthly journey towards heaven!
Tanglawan kami aming ina
Sa kalangitan naming pita
Nawa’y maging hantungang
(From the lyrics of “Stella Maris” by Bukas Palad. Translation: “Be our beacon, our mother, in our journey towards our deepest desire, which is heaven.”)
Submitted by Sr. Mary Joy of our Father, SOLT