Blessing of our new community house in Maasin, Southern Leyte, Philippines
At last our house is finished and blessed! For two years we lived in rented accommodation with one big room for cooking, eating and sitting, and a part of this screened off for our chapel, and four of us sharing three bedrooms. We knew that we were lucky to find somewhere to live so quickly on arriving and we grew quite attached to our little house, but it is wonderful to have some light and space now.
Our community is Bing Delos Santos f.c.J., Judith Routier f.c.J. and Margaret Sheehan f.c.J. and we are in the parish of Sto. Niño de Ibarra, a part of Maasin City which is on the south coast of Southern Leyte, and which is mainly a narrow coastal road either side of mountains.
Consequently, even though we are only ten minutes from the city center, we can see the sea from the front of the house and the mountains at the back!
On February 6th 2003 we celebrated the blessing of our new convent and it was great that Barbara Brown-Graham fcJ, Rachel Duffy fcJ and Van-van Reposar, an fcJ novice, were able to be with us, especially since Van-van had been with us for all the hard work of looking at houses and plots and planning how we wanted it to be before she went to the novitiate. Consequently, after Bishop Precioso Cantillas had blessed the front door, it was Van-van who led us into the chapel carrying a tall blue candle. She was followed in by many friends and neighbours, including the sisters from the religious congregations in the parishes on either side of us.
Every room was blessed and many people squashed up the stairs in order to have a look in our bedrooms! The garden is already showing the fruits of its blessing with the shoots of the mongo beans stretching further upwards every day. The blessing ended in the outside meeting room, where Judith thanked the Bishop for inviting us to the diocese, and all those who had helped us, especially the Land Matters Officer in the Chancery, the architect, the contractor and his engineers and workers. Finally, the parish priest and our neighbours were thanked for coming to celebrate with us and for making us feel welcome. We had thought that maybe one hundred people would attend, but there were over two hundred fed by the end of the evening, for some of the shy neighbours waited until it was dark to come and share the roasted pig!
Our neighbours are mostly poor fishermen who survive by going out every night in their small individual canoes trying to find food for their families for the day and if possible enough to sell. This is the inspiration for the fact that our tabernacle is resting in a wooden boat, showing the presence of Jesus in the lives of the people. We hope to be able to offer some small income generating activities for the wives of the fishermen, and to offer some other activities to the children. But we need more people to help us to do this work, so please know you are welcome in Maasin.