Submitted by the Manila community, who had to cancel their FCJ Bicentenary 1820-2020 celebration on 4th April due to the COVID-19 emergency.
What is the connection between two hundred years, and two million pesos, you may ask? On 4th April the FCJ sisters in Manila had planned to have a celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the foundation of the Society. The Mass was to be held in Sacred Heart Parish Shrine, our parish. Of course the celebration was cancelled because of Covid 19 and the 4th April was the 21st day of the total lockdown of Metro Manila.
In the afternoon we received a phone call from the parish asking if we would help with the distribution of food vouchers that evening. Caritas Manila had received very substantial donations to help the very poor people who are badly affected by the lockdown. The relief help was to be distributed through parishes. Each parish received a sum of money in proportion to the number of needy people in the parish. Sacred Heart Parish received 2 million pesos in food vouchers, one thousand pesos per family.
We expected to be part of a large group of religious tasked to distribute the vouchers but we discovered that we were the only ones except for one sister in charge of social services and one of the priests of the parish! We were equipped with masks and rubber gloves and then we were all allocated to different areas. We had special permission to break the curfew. The coordinators of the areas met us and together we went house to house to distribute the vouchers.
It was a most moving experience to see how much this financial help meant to the people who are struggling to feed their families at this time. Most of the people have lost their source of income because of the lockdown and the promised government aid does not always reach the most vulnerable. By 10.30 pm we were back home having distributed about two thirds of the money. On the 5th April we distributed the remaining vouchers.
It was a most unexpected but beautiful way of celebrating our Bicentenary and one we feel would have given joy to Marie Madeleine’s heart.
FCJ Community, Manila