Monday, May 28, 2012

Jesuit John Schumacher Reflected On the Virtues of Venerable Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo

                                    Reverend John Schumacher, S.J., an eminent Church history educator

"Those of us who know the life of Venerable Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo will conclude that very probably when God first called her, she had very little idea of apostolic service.  She thought at the beginning probably to gather herself and those who would offer themselves to God, but very soon as is evident, she came to realize that God wanted something of her.  He wanted a life of apostolic service.  So we find that very early in the history of the Beaterio de la Compania de Jesus (now Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary) that Mother Ignacia and her Beatas gave  first opportunity to the Filipina to come closer to God by means of the Spiritual Exercises, and the first opportunity for young Filipino girls to be educated."
(Fr. John N. Schumacher, SJ, Mother Ignacia's Apostolic  Service)

Relevance Characterizes the Foundation of Venerable Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo

The Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, in all its assessments of the various ministries that it is involved in, traces itself back to its foundress, Venerable Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo-a woman born in the seventeenth century but has a relevance to the contemporary generation of the twenty-first century through the members of the Congregation she founded in 1684.

With its prestigious claim as the first Filipino congregation of women in the Philippines to have Pontifical Rights, it has received accolades from ecclesiastical authorities.  Foremost among the different recognition was that of His Holiness Pope John Paul II when he spoke to the group of RVM Sisters in their pilgrimage to Rome to commemorate the congregation's three hundred years of existence.  Quoted below is an excerpt from his talk.

                                                         Blessed Pope John Paul II

"You are rightly proud of the fact that yours was the first Religious Institute founded in the Philippines by an indigenous Filipina, Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo.  And you are rightly proud of your three centuries of generous and faithful service to the Church in your country and more recently, in Papua New Guinea, in Indonesia, in West Africa, in Taiwan and in Rome itself." (25 May 1984)

                                                                       His Eminence Cardinal Pironio, D.D

Corroborating to the Holy Father's remarks was a letter of His Eminence Cardinal Pironio, written a few months earlier, to the RVM Superior General, Very Reverend Mother Maria Josefina Yamzon, RVM on 8 December 1983.  Cardinal Pironio commended the Congregation in the following lines:
"The present flourishing state of the Congregation of the Religious of the Virgin Mary not only testifies to God's blessings on your Institute, but also a proof that the foundations were solidly laid, that embers of the Institute are giving witness of a truly religious life, as well as fulfilling the service to the Church 
intended by Mother Ignacia."

                                                 His Eminence Jaime Cardinal Sin, D.D., Archbishop of Manila

The Relevance of the Religious of the Virgin Mary Sisters' ministries stands out.  His Eminence Jaime Cardinal L. Sin attests to this when he wrote:
"May you continue your great work in the Lord's vineyard by the relevance of your apostolic work to the needs of our times." (1 January 1984)

In his homily on the occasion of the 300th anniversary of the Congregations foundation, His Eminence Ricardo cardinal Vidal brought to the fore his awareness of Mother Ignacia's social amelioration mission with the following commendation-
                                                 His Eminence Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, D.D., Archbishop of Cebu

"Her vision was directed to building of a community for service to a wider community.  Her objective was to serve the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ." (12 January 1984)

Indeed Venerable Mother Ignacia's relevance is anchored  in the gospel values.  The Most Reverend Leonardo Z. Legaspi, OP, Archbishop of Naga, had glowing comments when he delivered a homily on 4 March 1984 to commemorate the baptismal anniversary of Mother Ignacia when he stated-
                    His Excellency Most Reverend Leonardo Legaspi, D.D., O.P., Archbishop of Naga

"In establishing the Beaterio and impressing on the members the intensity of her love for Christ, complete dedication to unselfish service and sacrifice she personified during her time the resurgence of the Gospel ideals in our country.  I believe it was an integral element of God's intervention in the life of the Church in the Philippines."

Venerable Mother Ignacia's relevance today is the counterpart of her humanitarian outlook.  Whereas in her time she saw the needs of others that propelled her to undertake apostolic activities to alleviate the sufferings of the needy.  Today's modern beatas go out of their way in order to minister to the marginalized people in society.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Jesuit Priest Preached at the MIM Convention

Rev. Fr. Edward F. Salmon, SJ, President of McQuaid Jesuit School, Rochester, New York

A disciple is a follower of the teachings of someone upholding and defending his beliefs or doctrines, with a relationship that is personal and devoted.  The disciple helps spread the teachings of the master.  In a homily delivered by Father Edward F. Salmon, SJ, referred to Mother Ignacia as a disciple of Christ, found in the following excerpt:  "... Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, like the Blessed Mother to whom she was devoted, was a disciple of Jesus Christ.  She, like Jesus, she , like Mary, heard the word of God and kept it by living it in her life.  You remember in Luke's gospel how Jesus was out preaching and teaching and saying all sorts of wonderful things.  There was a little old lady sitting in the crowd and she looked up at Him and cried out: 'Blessed be the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you.'  And Jesus said : 'O yes, but ...blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it."  

To elaborate on what Jesus said, Father Salmon continued to say that having heard the word of god one has to keep it and live it in one's life.  "It doesn't matter what nation you belong to, what people you come from, what matters is that you hear the word of God and keep it by living in keeping with that word."  This word of God comes in various ways.  Jesus heard from the Father: "You are my beloved Son;  My favor rests on you."  Mary heard it from the Angel Gabriel:  "Hail Mary, you have found favor with God."  Mother Ignacia heard the voice while discerning during her retreat, "...My favor rests on your.  I love you just as you are."

Moreover, father Salmon showed how Jesus kept and lived the word He heard from the father.  He knew that the Father loved Him and whatever Jesus did was motivated by such love.  To him that was more important than anything else.  Rules and regulations would have to give way to that love He has for the Father--the Father who loves all human beings and would attend to their needs.  So rules and regulations would attend to their needs.  So rules of the Sabbath had to give way to answer the greater needs of the people like harvesting the grain regardless of traditions followed by the Pharisees.

Mary, on her part, had her FIAT which was motivated by the love.  She accepted to be the Mother of God, the Mother of Jesus.  From the moment she bore Him in her womb up to the time He was nailed on the Cross, Mary was keeping and living the word of God.  As a devotee of Mary, Mother Ignacia imitated her in being a disciple of Christ.  father Salmon portrayed Mother Ignacia's discipleship in the following text : "...Mother Ignacia had heard the word of God and chose to live by that word...she dared, therefore, to do something unheard of, something very deep, something very intimate, but all in response to God's will.  She heard God's word...'My favor rests on you, Yndia and mestiza that you are, therefore, live in my love and bring that love to your sisters.'  And so she dared to do something unheard of of because she knew she was loved and wanted others to taste and to share in that love of God and therefore she did indeed found a new religious community made up of her fellow Yndias and mestizas. those days any community of religious women had to stay behind the monastery walls...but don't dare go out.  And as time went on, Mother Ignacia again living in keeping with the word she heard moved out and the sisters moved out with her."

Then Father Salmon pointed out what the Beatas did, namely:  inviting women to make retreats, educating girls and emerging themselves in the socio-cultural situation of Manila in the Philippines.  He recalled what Jesus did before He died when He entrusted the work of God to His followers  when He said : "As the Father sent Me, so I send you."  Mother Ignacia mirrored this when she abdicated her superiorship of the foundation she established, to a younger member and became herself one among the ranks several years before she died.  Indeed that was the true discipleship of Mother Ignacia.

Exhorting his audience, father Salmon concluded his homily saying: "...we gathered here to remember that as God worked in her (Mother Ignacia), so too God works in us and we too have been entrusted as she was with the word of God that says to us, You are My beloved, My favor rests on you to bring the word of love to the people with whom you live and work and have your being." 

Jesuit National Shrine of the North American Martyr's in Auriesville, New York, was the venue of the MIM activity.

Palm Beach Florida Diocese Welcomes Mother Ignacia Movement

H.E. Most Rev. Anthony J. O'Connell, DD Bishop of West Palm Beach, Florida

On 23 December 2001, the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida held a launching of the Mother Ignacia Movement in a Eucharistic Celebration presided over by His Excellency Most Rev. Anthony J. O'Connell, DD.  Concelebrating with him at Mass were Rev. Father Joseph Kuczborski and Rev. Father Jimmy Hababag.  Father Hababag is the Diocesan Coordinator of the Filipino Apostolate in the Diocese of Palm Beach.   Venue of the activity was the Mary Immaculate Church of West Palm Beach, Florida Attendance numbered about five hundred participants, most of whom were Filipinos with their American friends.

In his homily Bishop O'Connell exhorted the Filipinos to continue keeping the beautiful tradition of preparing for the celebration of Christ's coming to the world as a human being.  The novena of Masses which the organizers planned were duly actualized by having the Mass held in a designated parishes as scheduled.  The final day of the novena was highlighted by the launching of the Mother Ignacia Movement (MIM).

Bishop O'Connell inducted the MIM core members in the Diocese of Palm Beach.  A briefing made by Sister Maria Nicetas Dael, RVM preceded the induction rites.  MIM pins were distributed to the newly inducted members as a symbol of their bona fide membership to the Mother Ignacia Movement as announced by the National Executive Secretary.   Excerpts from Bishop O'Connell's homily on Mother Ignacia run thus:  "...I congratulate all of you who have given your commitment promoting the cause of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo.  We also pray to promote not just to the Filipino community but also to those parishioners of the various parishes about the significant life of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo.  We pray with the Blessed Mother Mary that with this Movement, Mother Ignacia will be raised to the level of being beatified first and later to be saint as the foundress of the first Filipino community of women in the Philippines."  He closed his talk by saying: " Thank you, Sister, for making sure that we have this celebration here in the Diocese and for all of you faithful community for coming here from everywhere to be part of the Filipino community.  I thank you mostly for taking part in the launching of the Mother Ignacia Movement."

A reception was held at the parish hall with a good number of guests present on invitation.  From their sharing it could be gauged that the work for the cause of Mother Ignacia's beatification will flourish among them.  Special thanks are due to Mr. William Manubag and his family for ring out their way in seeing to it that the MIM visitors were taken care of.
Mary Immaculate Parish Church, West Pal Beach, Florida venue of the MIM launching

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bishop Galeone of St. Augustine, Florida Presides at the MIM Launching

H. E. Most Rev. Victor Galeone, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida.

On 17 August 2002, the Mother Ignacia Movement held its launching at the St. Catherine Parish Catholic Church.  Presiding at the Eucharistic Celebration was His Excellency Most Reverend Victor Galeone, DD, Bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida.  Concelebrating with him at the Mass were the Pastor and his Associate of St. Catherine's Parish--Reve. James Boddie nd Rev. Jose Kulathinal.  Bishop Galeone preached the homily.

In his homily Bishop Galeone expressed his deep appreciation for the Filipino community who pooled their resources together in order to come up with the significant event--to promote the cause for the beatification of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo.  He elaborated on the name "Ignacia" which means "enlightened".  To him it was providential that the Servant of God was baptized "Ignacia del Espiritu Santo"--a name that connotes "light and Holy Spirit".  Then he brought to the fore the oft-repeated passage "As the tree lives, so shall it die."

From the account of Mother Ignacia's life, he singled out the holiness of the Servant of God as manifested in her prayer life up to her last moment  on earth.  Dying on her knees after receiving Holy Communion was indeed an extraordinary situation.  It is a privilege given to whom God chooses.  And for Mother Ignacia, it was a culmination of a life that had Christ for its center--a life spent in ministering to those who needed help without discrimination, especially to the poor.  This can only be possible when one has a deep faith in God and has love for Him.

As an aside, Bishop Galeone wished that Mother Ignacia's beatification would take place while he is still alive as he hoped to be present in Rome for that event.  So he exhorted everyone to pray more fervently that Mother Ignacia's beatification will soon be realized.

The MIM Launching Rites

The launching rites took place before the final blessing of the holy Mass.  This was highlighted by the acceptance of the new members to the Mother Ignacia Movement.  Bishop Galeone inducted the new members after Sister Maria Nicetas Dael, RVM had briefed them on the nature of the Movement and their role as MIM members.  As soon as they were inducted, they were declared bonafide MIM members on behalf of the National MIM Board of Directors chaired by His Eminence Jaime Cardinal L. Sin, DD and Very Rev. Msgr Josefino Ramirez, HP for its president.

Mr. Ignacio Pecore and the RVM Sisters from New Jersey--Sister Maria Cornelia Ramirez, Sister Maria Josielinda Tanudtanud and Sisters Maria Mansueta Dolalas--coordinated with the MIM organizers in the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida.  Through the RVM Sisters' invitation, Sister Maria del Carmen Yap, RVM joined their group to attend the activity.  Mrs. Carmen Cuevas and her husband, Manny, were the prime movers in having the activity organized.  An avid promoter for the Cause of Mother Ignacia's beatification--Mr. Ray Gandionco--was likewise present.  he came all the way from West Palm Beach, Florida to witness the event and was generous enough to offer his car services to the Sisters.  The Esparagoza couple from Georgia directed the choir during the Mass and the trinitarian Sisters under Mother Elena Suico volunteered to join the choir.  One of them chanted the Responsorial Psalm.

On the whole, the MIM launching proved to be successful.  The newly-in-ducted members were enthusiastic to work in whatever capacity possible for them.  From Orange Park, Florida about eight of them came for a meeting in Jacksonville on August 24th, at the Ferrer residence to plan an activity to celebrate the 254th death anniversary of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo.

St. Catherine's Parish Church, Orange Park, Florida venue of the MIM launching

San Francisco Mother Ignacia Club Opens Arms to MIM Visitors

                             St. Patrick Parish Church, San Francisco, California

On 15 May 1999 the Mother Ignacia Movement of St. Patrick's Parish in San Francisco, California held a gathering where two guests would give talks on Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo:  Rev. Father Enrico Ayo, Theological Assistant to the General Postulator for the Cause of the Beatification of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, in Rome; and Sister Maria Nicetas Dael, RVM, the National Executive Secretary of the Mother Ignacia Movement in the Philippines.

Father Ayo could not make it on the very day as scheduled due to some US visa problems encountered in Rome which cause the delay of his arrival.  It was therefore left to Sister Maria Nicetas to give the talk.  She spoke on the work being done for the cause of the beatification of Mother Ignacia  and its progress in Rome.  She then invited the audience to continue praying for the promotion of the cause so that in God's own good time, it will please Him to grant what we earnestly hope for.

An open forum took place after the talk and testimonies on the favors received through the intercession of Mother Ignacia were shared by Guada Garchitorena and Joy Morales.

Commendations are due to the organizers of the gathering, namely: Mrs. Conchita Masaoay, Bert A. Albano, MIDES Club Officers and Lay Members.  Sister Maria Nena Juyad, RVM deserves a word of commendation for her work in coordinating the activity.

Incidentally, Sister Nicetas gave an extemporaneous talk to the residents of the Home for the Aging after the Holy Mass that Rev. Msgr. Fred Bitanga celebrated the previous day, May 14.  The talk was given to inspire and encourage the residents who have been doing their share in faithfully reciting everyday the prayer for the beatification of Mother Ignacia.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Life of Venerable Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo: Three More Jewels for the Church

Homily delivered by His Eminence Gaudencio B. Cardinal Rosales, Archbishop of Manila, during the Solemn Mass for the Promulgation of the Decree of Heroic Virtues of Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo on February 1, 2008, at 9 a.m. at the Minor Basilica of
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz (Binondo Church), Binondo, Manila)

we are gathered in a Eucharistic celebration in this old Church of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Binondo where a man older than Ignacia was baptized some 60 years before she was christened. As a little boy who grew up playing in Binondo’s Churchyard (patio), he was later noticed as a very friendly and helpful young man by the Dominican Fathers who trusted him and finally recruited him as catechist and sexton (sacristan).

Binondo: Origin of the First Saints
When the first child of Jose Iuco (Yu Kho), a Chinese Christian and Maria Geronima, a local Tagala was baptized on March 4, 1663
as Ignacia in honor of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the man who was
a catechist and sacristan was no longer a resident and parishioner of Binondo. All that lingered in Binondo about the him was the memory of a catechist-sacristan who traveled with the Spanish Dominican missionaries to the island of Formosa and later to Japan, where he lost his life in a massacre of Christians in Japan.
For decades and generations,
the memory of him weakened
until he was simply relegated to the pages of historical reports to Rome, Spain and the annals of the Dominican religious missionaries. In the intervening centuries, hardly anyone spoke about him. In the fading years of the last millennium, however, the man was resurrected, by the grace of God and the

efforts of the Catholic Church as San Lorenzo of Binondo in the Archdiocese of Manila, the first Filipino saint.
This morning, we are gathered in the Eucharist in the same Church and Parish to thank God for the progress of that canonical process that studies the life and virtues of a woman—again from Binondo, from the same parish Church of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary—Ignacia Yuko, later Sister Ignacia del Espiritu Santo, who, very probably had the makings
of the first Filipina Saint. What a tremendous confluence of graces that the Philippines’ first SANTO and its first SANTA would come from the same Parish, the same Church and district in the City and the Archdiocese of Manila!

Ignacia preferred the Religious Life to Marriage
This woman, Ignacia Yuco was,
in her young womanhood, nearly given away in marriage by her parents as was the custom in those times. But her prayer life and the practice of self-discipline (now known as mortification) enabled her to stick to what she wanted. She had the mind to join the nunnery.
A Jesuit missionary priest by the name of Paul Klein who was then her spiritual director encouraged her to offer herself to God in Jesus the Lord in a new religious group
of consecrated women. They
were later known as the Beaterio Sisters, because of the Jesuit fathers’ direction, they were tagged as the “JesuitaƱas.”

The early apostolate of the Beaterio sisters was closely linked with the Jesuit fathers’ mission in Luzon and in Mindanao where
the sisters taught catechism and took in girls under their care
as “dormitorians.” As Divine Providence gifted the Sisters with more vocations, their religious formation became more attuned
to the needs of the Church in
later times, taking into studious consideration the important aspects of the local culture and sub-cultures in various regions in the country. Their tremendous growth inevitably
was taken note of by the Sacred Congregation of Consecrated
Life. Thus the institute was finally given the Pontifical “Decretum
Laudis” in 1948, when finally
they were officially known as the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary or for short the RVM Sisters.

The Decree on the official recognition that Mother Ignacia del Espiritu Santo lived, to a heroic decree, “the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity toward God and Neighbor... as well as
the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude” is further given emphasis to the early statement that “she was
an outstanding example of the observance of humility, obedience, and disdain for earthly vanity.”

In Her Life: Three more Jewels for the Church.

HUMILITY. Humility for her is the virtue of truth about oneself (herself) before God. Mother
Ignacia knew what she was before the Triune God. She was little, fragile instrument ready to break at anytime if not broken sometimes. Thus, in her prayer she would not beg to appear better than what she actually was before the sisters or others. Founder as she was of the Religious of the Virgin Mary, deep in herself she was convinced as a religious leader, she could lead and inspire not as an arrogant person but as a simple, lowly sister-servant of all. Her leadership spirit begins and accomplishes in sacrifice
and pain, like Jesus, the humble shepherd even willing to lay down his life for the flock. (John 10:15).

OBEDIENCE. Obedience for Mother Ignacia is complete surrender to the Will of God. In Jesus Christ she learned that the complete triumph of God or the coming of the Kingdom is possible only to the fulfilling of His will. “Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done.” God is the ultimate. For her God is also the only One that matters. But let the Church through its Superiors or Representatives speak and direct her little life in Binondo, and later on in the small communities of the early sisters and she bows in consent, obedience and complete surrender.

DISDAIN FOR EARTHLY VANITY for her is the total lack
of liking for vainglory. Modest and prudent all her life that was Mother Ignacia. Praise and recognition, even if rightly deserved, could not be the motivation of her actuations. They would not even be suitable thoughts for her prayer. What
a woman she was! And like the first Filipino Saint, she was from Binondo half Chinese and half Filipino.

The Church now recognizes this and through the decree that will
be unfolded to us, her practice of the theological virtues to a heroic decree is now officially accepted by the Church and ready to be shared with us for emulation.

That the Sacred Congregation for the Causes of the Saints cited these qualities of the saintly woman Mother Ignacia as fitting examples from her pious life meant that
for us to remember to thank God for her life and very especially
for the sisters of the Religious
of the Virgin Mary these three outstanding examples of virtues can be entrusted as legacy for the future of the Congregation and for those who pray for the development of Church and nation. May we who are gathered here learn not only to invoke her intercession but learn to live after her example.