Christmas 2006 gathered the Assumption Family of the RAs, AAs and the LSAs. We prayed 1st Vespers of Christmas together, had Dinner here in Emmaus, and renewed our Vows before Communion (a first time in the history of our Assumption Family ?) during the beautifully prepared and well participated Liturgy of the Midnight Mass celebrated by Fr. Bernard, Fr. Gilles and Fr.Chuvi. The AA Brothers & candidates led the singing as well as the participation of the Sunshine Choir of the Old Girls.
THREE ASSUMPTION FAMILIES TO CELEBRATE THE BIRTHDAY OF JESUS
On the Eve of Christmas, three Assumption families were gathered to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. There were 27 Assumption Sisters, 13 Assumptionists (Fathers, Brothers and Candidates) and 6 Little Sisters of the Assumption.
We all filled the Marie Eugenie Chapel with heartfelt voices to welcome the Lord. A very short practice and orientation for the midnight mass followed right after Vespers. A festive dinner prolonged the first Christmas eve celebration. At 9 pm the much-awaited ‘midnight’ mass started. All lights in the school chapel vicinity were turned off except for the spotlight on the manger with Mary and Joseph waiting for Jesus to arrive. Bro. Ricky sang “O Holy Night” as every Sister holding a child processed. Sisters on wheel chair said it was a moving sight towards the crib. San Lo chapel overflowed with smiling families, watching their young sons and daughters pass by. Finally, Sr. Gertrude laid the baby Jesus in the manger which prompted the assembly to kneel down and pray. After a moment of silence and when each one was back to their respective places the celebrants Fr. Bernard, Fr. Gilles and Fr. Chuvi, entered solemnly, too.
Two powerful choirs : the AA’s and the Sunshine Choir led the sung liturgy. Fr. Bernard delivered a beautiful homily inspiring us all to be good children of God. Right after the Agnus Dei , all 46 religious including the four sisters in their wheelchairs came forward to renew their vows. Every word was clearly proclaimed using one formula differing only in the part (underlined) : “... I vow to live in poverty, chastity and obedience according to the Rule of Life of the Religious/ Augustinians/ Little Sisters of the Assumption. Truly it was a moving experience of making a public profession to a life of love, a life for others — a life for God. The tradition of kissing the baby Jesus created a long line of families in. And of course, picture taking is always part of the ritual. One family even placed their own baby on Jesus’ crib while his own father carried the baby Jesus in his arms. The gathering didn’t end after the mass because many families stayed for the agape. The Sisters lovingly prepared and served hot chocolate, cookies and biscuits for everyone to share. They also gave away candy cane for the little children. Everybody went home happy, renewed and inspired. Jesus is once again born in each one’s heart.
Back to the true meaning of Christmas caroling, the Juniors went out of their way to bring joy to two retired staff of San Lorenzo : Mang Pedro and Manang Salve. Mang Pedro with his grandchildren waited by their gate for the Sisters arrived. Seven Junior Sisters sang common English songs translated into Pilipino by Ms. Ottie, their music teacher.
While singing the fifth song they gave away little gifts for the family : baby Jesus pins and rosaries with Christmas messages. Regardless of Sr. Regivic’s reminder to Mang Pedro not to bother to prepare merienda, it was the joy of his wife, Manang Gloria to feed the young Sisters. When Eunice, one of Mang Pedro’s grandchildren started the videoke, the Sisters joined the singing. Then everyone exploded into song and dance. After saying goodbye each Sister left with one or two papayas for trophy.
The following day, the Juniors readied 9 Pilipino Christmas songs. The next stop was Makati Medical Center’s male, female and children’s wards. It was heart-warming to see patients shedding tears because they were touched by the surprise visit. After carolling the women patients, off to the male ward where they were the ones surprised at a man loudly complaining against MMC. So Sr. Visi gave him a copy of the song sheet and invited him to join them. He willingly accepted and even clapped his hands while singing.
The most receptive of all were the children ; they were giggling and were all eyes on the Sisters. It was a refreshing ending for the Sisters who after 2 hours of cluster to cluster singing had to walk back to San Lorenzo. That night they surprised the 10 boarders who were still in school with their Christmas carols. The boarders were a very jolly audience. So at home with the Sisters they spent some time to chitchat and get to know one another. Last stop was Manang Salve’s place. Since the Sisters couldn’t fit into her house, they sang along the alley, caroling for the whole neighborhood who peeped/ went out of their houses and listened to Christmas carols. The Sisters received more than they have given because they went out, saw and experienced where God happens.
Sr. Mary Ignatius Vedua, r.a.
Junior Sister, Emmaus Community