Nuns, priests march with protesters against Sri Lanka port project – video

 

Colombo, SRI LANKA – The People’s Movement against the Port City Project, including nuns and priests marched in protest today from the Fort Railway Station to Gall Face Green urging the government to ban the project, Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror reported.

Some nuns stood along the sidewalk holding placards while fellow sisters marched on the road with priests, Buddhist monks in saffron robes, environmental activists, and other protesters. Priests spoke with police officers, but the police stood firm face to face with the nuns and stopped protesters at the World Trade Centre. Some groups continued protesting sitting down.

See photos by Shameera Rajapaksa

Sri Lankans, including government officials, have expressed concern about the environmental impact of the 1.4 billion dollar Chinese-funded ‘Port City’ on reclaimed land next to Colombo harbor.

nation.lk online newspaper quoted Eran Wickramaratne, Deputy Minister of Highways, Higher Education and Investment Promotion at a recent event in Colombo citing issues with of water, transport and sewerage. He also warned of possible water scarcity for the future residents.

Wickramarante reportedly noted that with 300,000 people or half the population of Colombo living in the 500 acres of land of the port city, the present sewerage system of nearly 200 years old would not be able to hold or carry waste from such a population.

“Stop Port City Immediately!” read the streamer carried by marching nuns.

 

 

 

Interview : Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS, Part 3

 

RGS Sr Borbon NJ Viehland

Sr. Maria Añanita Borbon, RGS / NJ Viehland Photos

“It’s a matter of prioritizing, planning. The big resource is attitude. One cannot allow herself to get too bogged down by the many demands.”

Q & A Sr. Borbon continued from Part 2 : Religious life and vocation 

With all your assignments, where do you live?

When I’m in Manila, at night I stay in Ruhama. When I have a meeting that reaches until night time, I do not go there and sleep in RGS Provincial house. In a week I stay at Ruhama about 3-4 nights. But I find time within the week to stop by there. I also talk to the girls every now and then.

The past few weeks I was in the Visayas. We have a big project in Samar to provide boats to fishermen, houses, there is parish work to do and advocacy for ecological justice. This is not a ministry of our congregation but a special project in the sense that typhoon Yolanda suddenly came about and we had to respond.

I am the one coordinating it since the context of this action is within our ecological justice ministry. I am there at least five days a month. This last trip, I arrived here at the end of the month, so I rushed my report because if I don’t submit one for the month, I will not get my budget.

When you were in school work, did you ever imagine you would be doing these lines of work?

Before my graduation from my Masters in Educational Administration in 1996 in Ateneo, I was already in the Euphrasian residence as program coordinator for the youth services that we offered in the past. I was there for two years and I enjoyed it very much.

I had 24 girls with me who were behaviorally disturbed. It felt like there were a hundred! I was very energized by it because I think that’s a passion that I have as a Good Shepherd Sister.

The young women were from broken families and some youths who needed help in dealing with issues of being adopted as children. I found that my training in education and my own personal interest in this kind of work helped to prepare me – in terms of my way of managing, my way of handling and dealing with people, my way of listening, my way of networking with people. After that assignment I was asked to teach in our school in Batangas. I taught for several years and eventually I became the dean. I also studied for a PhD in Educational Leadership and Managment from DLSU. I graduated in 2008.

Did that interest in your younger days point you to RGS?

I graduated from college at 20 years old then at 22 I entered the congregation in 1989. I was in high school when I told myself I will become like one of the sisters of the Good Shepherd school I went to in Batangas. I watched the sisters. I was amused by the way they dealt with us and I wanted to be one of them. I told myself then that one of these days I will be like them.

Before then I taught for two years and as a classroom teacher I wanted so much to listen to the students and I acted on what they would tell me. For example, when they confided that their parents were quarreling, I called for the students and asked them more about their days.

I did not know then that that was already preparation or part of my vocation. I don’t know if that’s my personality at that time. I just wanted to listen more and assist more.

How do you manage all these tasks and look so unfazed?

It’s a matter of prioritizing, planning. The big resource is attitude. One cannot allow herself to get too bogged down by the many demands. There are many things I still have to do, like writing up funding proposal for Ruhama. But first, I am going on a five-day retreat. That helps me also.

END 

‘People’s initiative’ petition-campaign against pork barrel – photos

Muslim girl at Luneta Park sat with Sister Cecilia Espenilia [front, in red hat] and close to 20 fellow sisters of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena during the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally Aug. 25, 2014. - NJ Viehland Photos

Muslim girl at Luneta Park sat with Sister Cecilia Espenilia [front, in red hat] and close to 20 fellow sisters of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena during the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally Aug. 25, 2014. – NJ Viehland Photos

MANILA, PHILIPPINES

The nationwide campaign for 10 million signatures to pass a bill that will abolish the pork barrel system kicked off here today with a rally in Luneta Park co-organized with the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP).
Police estimated some 5,000 people were at Luneta during the 7 a.m. Mass, but organizer Renato Reyes, Jr., secretary general of New Patriotic Alliance (“Bayan”) tweeted that 20,000 people came.

Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 at Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park, Manila - NJ Viehland Photos

Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 at Quirino Grandstand, Luneta Park, Manila – NJ Viehland Photos

Nurses - Just one of the variety of sectors represented at the Aug. 25, 2014 rally dubbed as Stand up, sign up vs. all pork in Luneta Park, Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Nurses – Just one of the variety of sectors represented at the Aug. 25, 2014 rally dubbed as Stand up, sign up vs. all pork in Luneta Park, Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

La Salette Sr. Sonia Silverio (center in cream blouse and brown skirt) with ecumenical bishops, priests and lay Church leaders ring bells at the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 to call attention to the "evils" that arise from pork barrel fund allocations. - NJ Viehland Photos

La Salette Sr. Sonia Silverio (center in cream blouse and brown skirt) with ecumenical bishops, priests and lay Church leaders ring bells at the Stand up, sign up vs. all pork! rally Aug. 25, 2014 to call attention to the “evils” that arise from pork barrel fund allocations. – NJ Viehland Photos

Rallyist greets Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr.  before the bishop's speech at Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila Aug. 25, 2014 - NJ Viehland Photos

Rallyist greets Retired Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Jr. before the bishop’s speech at Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila Aug. 25, 2014 – NJ Viehland Photos

Religious and members of their institutions were prominent rally participants at Luneta, along with groups of nurses and health workers, teachers, lawyers, private and government workers – and even beauty queens.

Even beauty queens showed up represented by Maria Isabel Lopez (left, Bb. Pilipinas- Universe 1982) and Azenith Briones [rightmost, Mutya ng Pilipinas 2nd runner up and Miss Photogenic) rejected pork barrel allotments during the Aug. 25, 2014 Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila. - NJ Viehland Photos

Even beauty queens showed up represented by Maria Isabel Lopez (left, Bb. Pilipinas- Universe 1982) and Azenith Briones [rightmost, Mutya ng Pilipinas 2nd runner up and Miss Photogenic) rejected pork barrel allotments during the Aug. 25, 2014 Stand up, sign up vs. all pork rally at Luneta Park, Manila. – NJ Viehland Photos

Even doggies Winston (brown) and Cleo came to Luneta Park's Quirino Grandstand grounds where petition signing and a concert-rally were held Aug. 25, 2014 as part of a movement to stop all pork barrel fund allocations. - NJ Viehland Photos

Even doggies Winston (brown) and Cleo came to Luneta Park’s Quirino Grandstand grounds where petition signing and a concert-rally were held Aug. 25, 2014 as part of a movement to stop all pork barrel fund allocations. – NJ Viehland Photos

Read full report here on why the religious groups and Catholic bishops support the movement to stop pork.

Signing of the petition and the program during the rally followed a 7 a.m. Mass concelebrated by various priests. In his homily, Missionaries of Jesus Father Wilfredo (Freddie Dulay) reflected on the pork barrel controversy and people’s response in faith. 

Following are excerpts from  Father Dulay’s homily which are clear enough to be transcribed:

…..  Dear brothers and sisters,

Our country is not constituted by jaded populations. We are not cynical or impervious to change. Ours is a people of hope crafting and wanting to believe in the possibility of a better tomorrow.

We are a people who look forward to new beginnings – always desirous for a fresh start – may it be after an earthquake, a typhoon or disastrous government, and the Arroyo government could not be described in kinder terms.

No matter the folly of the previous administration, our people would always give the new one a chance expecting it could be no worse than its predecessor, hoping at least that it would do better.

We’ve had enough of the short lady from Lubao. Her greed for power and money had no measure and she was blatant about them. She really had to go.

But now that she’s gone from center stage, what do we have?

Many of us believed that we would have another shot at benevolent leadership, at least.

But why are we so angry after Janet Lim-Napoles got careless and fell into the gap – and now getting angrier when the PDAF reincarnated into the DAP?

Ask the people, especially those we have traditionally called the “common tao” – if a bit condescendingly and as if we haven’t all become so common in our ways – three simple and rather straightforward reasons are repeated time and again.

First was betrayal. *”Naisahan nanaman tayo. Nauto nanaman tayo. Nakuha nanaman tayo sa mga pangako. Tayo daw ang kanyang boss at magkasama nating tatahakin ang daang matuwid. Hindi naman palang totoo ang daang tinatahak ng nagtutuwid. kunwari lang pala. Hindi lamang bale ito at baluktot, masalimuot pa. kunwari lang pala. Ang daming tinatago – billion billion pala. Kung di pa natapilok si Janet, ang katotothanan ay di pa natin matatarok hanggang ngayon.” – betrayal.

*(We’ve been conned once again. We’ve been suckered-in again. We’ve been taken again by promises. He said we are his boss. This was just make believe, after all. It’s not true that the road we travel is the straight path. This isn’t nay broken and crooked, it is treacherous as well. There’s so much that is hidden – billions and billions. If Janet did not stumble, we would not be grasping the truth today.” – betrayal.)

The second simple reason is that now we know better. **”Wala naman palang dahilan upang maghirap ang nakararami sa atin. Wala naman palang dahilan upang sila ay magutom at magdusa. Ang dami palang pera. Mayaman ang bansa. Marami naman palang sapat na pera upang magpatayo ng napakaraming paaralan at hospital at tugunan ang ating mga pangunahing pangangailangan. Meron tayong kakayanang umabante at umunland.”

**(There’s no reason after all for many of us to be wallowing in poverty. There is no reason after all for them to be starving and suffering. There is so much money after all. The country is rich. There is so much and sufficient funds after all to put up so many schools and hospitals and to provide for our basic needs. We have the capability to advance and progress.”

There’s plenty to go around and a lot going for us. Where has it all gone?

Now at least we know where the money goes. We don’t only have leeches for leaders, with a few exceptions (but they are truly hard to find), there are also bottom-feeders, and their pockets much to our grief ***”talagang bottomless.”  ***(really bottomless)

My dear brothers and sisters,

Should anybody here be surprised that we are gathered to collect signatures for the abolition of the pork barrel system and all its manifestations and reincarnations?

Abolish the pork, and the true leaders would emerge – not those who are engaged full time in self-service, but leaders who would want to serve the people and build up the nation.

Maybe it’s not too late. Beloved and beleaguered leaders, listen and take heed to what the Lord declared more than 2,000 years ago: “I came to serve, not to be served.” He followed it up by telling us, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and get lost in a sulfurous non-airconditioned place?”

Of course, I’m paraphrasing, but the paraphrase fits the occasion.

Let us pray that our leaders would wake up.

 ***********

Renato Reyes, Jr. , Secretary General of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) told Catholic In Asia, “We’re very pleased with the level of support from the Catholic Church. There’s a big boost coming from at least 73 bishops and we expect support from their diocese and parishes. 

He said the pork barrel controversy has managed to unite the population. “It has managed to unite the religious, the progressives, the unions, students, teachers.” Reyes considers this “a good sign that, hopefully, we’d be able to continue with the momentum in the coming days.”

How important is it for this cause to have the Catholic Church so actively behind it? Reyes notes, “Corruption is a moral issue, so it’s very good that they’re involved. They can mobilize their constituents. In gathering signatures, it’s also very nice that they’ve opened up their parishes and dioceses and invited the people to sign up for the People’s Initiative. The have that actual support of manpower and machinery.

Reyes explains that the movement’s measure of success is “if we are able to mobilize people and if we are able to raise awareness.

He stressed that activities over the weekend through Monday is just the beginning. “This is just the start – the attempt to get numbers – the signatures. The bigger indicator of success would be raising the consiousness of the people and making them more vigilant about corruption and holding the president himself accountable for all this corruption,” Reyes added.

 

 

 

 

Nuns reach out to sex workers in fight against prostitution in the Philippines

The mobile phone is an invaluable tool Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries Junior Sister Joy Culaiban uses so women and girl sex workers who want help in leaving prostitution can contact her. - NJ Viehland Photos

The mobile phone is an invaluable tool Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries Junior Sister Joy Culaniban uses so women and girl sex workers who want help in leaving prostitution can contact her. – NJ Viehland Photos

Mary Queen of Heaven Missionaries have been encountering sex workers in the field (bars and brothels) for years. The sisters reach out to women and offer them love and listening and, if they want, shelter and a way out of the business, which is driven by poverty. They are also working to prevent entry into prostitution by educating women in rural areas, and they recently have been talking about their work at other dioceses so that the efforts can expand.

Read full report

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Local Church – what is it?

“Local Church is more than a geographical reality. A local Church is a theological and spiritual reality with concrete socio-cultural dimensions.

AMOR musician nuns by NJ Viehland

It is after all the insertion of the mystery of Christ’s Church in a local culture…

Alleluia was sung in Vietnamese at the opening Mass for the 16th Asia-Oceania Meeting of Women Religious at the Benedictine Sisters' Saint Scholastica's House of Prayer in Tagaytay City, Nov. 2013. NJ Viehland Photo

Alleluia was sung in Vietnamese at the opening Mass for the 16th Asia-Oceania Meeting of Women Religious at the Benedictine Sisters’ Saint Scholastica’s House of Prayer in Tagaytay City, Nov. 2013. NJ Viehland Photo

AMOR lord have mercy chinese by NJ Viehland

‘the local church is the realization and the enfleshment of the Body of Christ in a given people, a given place and time (FABC Plenary Assembly I, no.9)…'” 

Nuns from around  the region opened their 16th Asia-Oceania Meeting of Women Religious  with a Mass at the Benedictine Sisters' St. Scholastica's House of Prayer, Tagaytay City, Philippines. NJ Viehland Photos.

Nuns from around the region opened their 16th Asia-Oceania Meeting of Women Religious with a Mass at the Benedictine Sisters’ St. Scholastica’s House of Prayer, Tagaytay City, Philippines. NJ Viehland Photos.

– Witnesses & Prophets Building Up the Local Church in Asia,
Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI
          The Role of Religious in Building Up the Local Church, FABC Paper 116

Drumming “future” nuns welcome delegates to the FABC’s 10th plenary assembly in Vietnam

Vietnamese women in formation to be religious sisters welcomed bishops and other delegates and guests to the 10th Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) at Xuan Loc Pastoral Center, east of Ho Chi Minh during opening of formal sessions on Dec. 17, 2012.

Tran Ngoc Khoa captured their fiery performance here

Related stories:

Vietnam Diocese Grateful for “Miracle” of Hosting 10th FABC Plenary Assembly

 

Calcutta is everywhere in the world – Mother Teresa

By: N.J. Viehland

In a recent interview with Indian priest Father Ivan Vas of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) who is in Manila studying at UST, he offered Mother Teresa of Calcutta as a model of Christian discipleship.

Radical discipleship “calls us to leave everything and follow the way Jesus lived as a young man,” which is not happening today among Religious men and women in his country, Father Vas said.

“When people go to church, they want to see how the priest and religious [have] followed the Master, and they are waiting to hear or experience those testimonies,” Father Vas said citing the example of Mother Teresa.

He explained, “She saw people without health care, without food, and she just started the work. Seeing this, people come for help, and also to help,” adding, “No wonder that the Missionaries of Charity do not encounter problems with vocations and volunteers.”

This documentary on Mother Teresa shows me “Calcutta is everywhere in the world”, how she responded and why, and what drove Father Vas to say what he did about her.

Missionaries of Charity at Arzobispado de Manila for Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s birthday 2012. / N.J. Viehland Photo