December 1, 2018, the last day of the Liturgical Year was the first day of a New Era in the history of Assumption Asia. Today saw the weaving of four countries Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Japan into the one PROVINCE of ASIA PACIFIC.
Today, RAs from the four countries, lay partners and friends gathered in the chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption in San Lorenzo to celebrate the mandate of Sister Lerma Victoria Pangantihon, r.a. as the first Provincial Superior of the new Province of Asia Pacific.
At 10:00 a.m. the Celebration of the Eucharist was introduced by Sister Mary Sheryl Reyes, r.a. outgoing Provincial Superior
Welcome to the Mass of Thanksgiving for Sr. Lerma Victoria Pangantihon as first Provincial Superior of the Asia Pacific Province. Allow me to read excerpts from the letter of Sr. Rekha Chennattu, our Superior General, on the appointment of Sr. Lerma :
Very dear Sisters,
…It is with great joy and the same sentiments of gratitude that we announce the nomination of LERMA VICTORIA PANGANTIHON as your Provincial Superior for the next three (3) years with effect from the 1st of December 2018…
As One New Province of Asia Pacific, from two provinces with particular histories, systems, and structures, we would underline the fact that the province is NEW and will thus need a vision that will welcome what is emerging, what is new in and for the Province.
In this context, we consider the following as important and decisive for the Province of Asia Pacific :
- To pay attention to the gifts and fragile realities in each country.
- To continue to respond creatively to the challenges in the areas of vocation promotion, formation, and accompaniment.
- To be open to the different cultures, religions, and the reality of poverty that will enhance our choices of the peripheries for the new province.
- To discover and design new ways and forms of participative leadership, communion, inculturation, and internationality.
- To set in motion and concretize the orientations of the General Chapter 2018.
We thank Sr. Lerma for saying YES to our request, for her love of the Sisters and the Congregation. We count on each sister to support Sr. Lerma and to assume with her the animation of the Province in the coming three (3) years.
We are united with every sister, every community, and with every country in welcoming the New Provincial for the Province. Let us pray for deeper faith in God and greater trust in one another as you discover the diversities, the peripheries, and the spirit that binds us together as daughters of Saint Marie Eugenie.
Counting on God’s fidelity and assurance that we are never alone, we likewise assure you of our support and accompaniment.
Father Mick McGuire, Sr. Lerma’s mentor and brother was the presider.
Concelebrants were Father Ngoa, Fr. Jean-Pierre, our Assumption brothers, and Fr. Francis Gustilo, SDB, mentor and friend, who delivered a thought-provoking homily.
The Offertory Procession was very meaningful.
Different languages and dialects accompanied the symbolic offerings
- Luzon – Baguio Woven table runner
- Visayas – rice basket containing stalks of palay from Sibalom, Antique
- Mindanao – mat woven by tribal women of Bukidnon
- Thailand – ceremonial flower arrangement
- Vietnam – lacquer vase
- Japan – grafted plant arrangement
After the celebration of the Eucharist, Sister Lerma Victoria’s Thanksgiving Address touched the hearts of all present by her simplicity and complete trust and dependence on God who called her to this mission of servant-leadership.
Lunch at the Biyaya Hall of the Henry Sy Bldg. was a happy family affair.
Sr. Lerma’s words of Thanksgiving
“The Lord is faithful in all His words and loving in all His deeds.
The Lord supports all who fall and raises all who are bowed down.” (Psalm 144 : 13-14)
This is the Word of the Lord that came to me in the morning of that day when I received the call from Sr. Rekha, our Superior General, for this new mission. I pondered these words in my heart and I felt so much peace and consolation without fully understanding what they meant. Today’s celebration is first and foremost about God, He who is indeed faithful in all His words and loving in all his deeds. Looking back, I realized that it was God’s way of preparing my heart and giving me the grace to say “yes” to this new mission of animating the new Province of Asia Pacific.
Like David in the psalms, I continue to affirm that indeed “the Lord is faithful in all His words and loving in all His deeds,” I remember with gratitude and affection all those whom God sent my way as a sign and instrument of His fidelity, His mercy and loving-kindness. First of all, I thank God for my family especially my mother Victoria and my father Loreto. Both have passed on to fuller life and they have left behind the legacy of faith and love of God and neighbour. I thank God for my favourite and only sister Lorna as well as my brothers who have showered me with their love and attention as I was growing up as the youngest in the family. We did not have much in terms of material things and comfort but faith, hope, love and laughter abound at home. Secondly, I thank God for my Assumption Family. I thank God for Mother Milagros whose love and selfless dedication to the poor inspired my young spirit. Yes, it was in San Simon, Pampanga, working with farmers as a social worker, that I heard the call to follow Jesus Christ in religious life in the Assumption. My idealistic young mind embraced the vision of St. Marie Eugenie, “to educate is to set a person free, to educate is to transform the world.” I remember with fondness Mother Angela and Mother Cristina whose loving support, wise comments and kind words encouraged me to hold firm to my vocation even in moments of challenges and difficulties. I am blessed to have known them and many others : Mother Rosario, Mother Carmen, Sr. Carolina, Sr. Trinidad, Mere Helene, Soeur Marie Ste. Anne, Soeur Aimee, and many others who now form part of Assumption in Heaven.
Today is also about our new Province of Asia Pacific. The letter of appointment of Sr. Rekha and the General Council is very clear. As One New Province composed of Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, from two provinces with particular histories, systems, and structures, we are invited to pay attention to the gifts and fragile realities in each of these 4 countries, to continue to respond creatively to the challenges in the areas of vocation promotion, formation, and accompaniment, to be open to the different cultures, religions, and the reality of poverty that will enhance our choices of the peripheries for the new province, to discover and design new ways and forms of participative leadership, communion, inculturation, and internationality, to set in motion and concretize the orientations of the General Chapter 2018.
Finally, to all of you who are gathered here today and those who are united with us in prayer, Priests (Fr. Mick, mentor and brother, Fr. Francis, mentor and friend, Fr. Ngoa and Fr. Jean-Pierre, our Assumptionist brothers) my Sisters and our lay partners and friends, I could not name all of you individually but I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for being a part of my journey, for loving me, forming me and challenging me to be the best of who I can be…and now for this new mission that God has entrusted to me, I count on your prayers and support for me and for our new Province of Asia Pacific.
Like Marie Eugenie and Mary, our Blessed Mother, I entrust myself to the love of the Father, to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and to the power of the Holy Spirit. Maraming Salamat po. Khap Khon kha. Cam On. Arigato Gozaimasu.
December 2, first Sunday of Advent
A beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky during the celebration of the Eucharist. The rainbow of GOD’S PRESENCE to watch over the Province of ASIA PACIFIC in the coming three years as Sr. Lerma Victoria and the 19 Communities of Asia Pacific enter into a COVENANT RELATIONSHIP with GOD AUTHOR of all that is GOOD.