09 February 2009

Newest and oldest Filipino Sister in her congregation

Newly professed Sr Antonieta Navarro Napone TC

Yesterday, Sunday, Sr Antonieta N. Napone TC became both the newest and the oldest Filipino professed sister in the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of the Holy Family . At 57 she is also the oldest ever in the congregation to take her first vows. Sister Tonet, as she is known, came to Bacolod to work with the Sisters seven years ago as a house mother to the college students whom they look after in Holy Family Home. Most of the college girls live in a house in the city proper. You can read about this aspect of the Sisters’ work in Misyon, the Columban online magazine I edit, here and here .
Sister Antonieta’s experience with the girls prepared her for the great surprise of being asked directly by the Sisters if she would like to join them. And it happens that we have a mutual friend who took her first vows as a member of the contemplative branch of Blessed Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity on 12 December, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as Sister Mary Anthony MC. She too is in her 50s. So I was very happy to see three Missionaries of Charity at Sister Antonieta’s profession yesterday at Mater Dolorosa Formation House, Talisay City, just north of Bacolod City. (There’s another Talisay City just south of Cebu City.)
Sr Antonieta with her mother and other family members.
The Capuchin Tertiary Sisters came to the Philippines 27 years ago and on the occasion of their Silver Jubilee in March 2007 the delegation, as the unit was called, was raised to a vice-province that includes a community in Korea and one in India. There are now nearly 30 Filipino Sisters and more than twenty in formation as aspirants, postulants and novices.

With Sister Antonieta, center, Missionaries of Charity and Sr Reinalda Zapata, a Colombian, of the Franciscan Sisters of St Anthony.

As I have come to know them, the Sisters live a simple and joyful Franciscan life in community, give importance to both liturgical and personal prayer, wear a simple habit and get on with their work which, in the Philippines, is mainly with girls who are poor and many of whom have suffered deeply.

The choir consisted of girls from Holy Family Home and the lunch afterwards was prepared by some of the college students who are studying Hotel and Restaurant Management.

Sister Antonieta is from Medina, Misamis Oriental, Mindanao, a parish that was run by Columbans during her younger years.

The profession of Sister Tonet was a truly joyful event. In my homily I mentioned Fr Nicolaus Kao Se-tsien from China who, after 49 years as a diocesan priest joined the Trappists in Hong Kong, made his final vows at 100 and spent 35 years as a monk before peacefully passing on at the age of 110 in December 2007. I put before Sister Antonieta the hope of celebrating her Golden Jubilee!

Capuchin Terciary Sisters of the Holy Family with novices and aspirants after Sister Tonet's profession.


Sr.Karen said...

Sister tonieta is really a gift to the congregation. She inspires us, younger ones, to be always zealous in loving God.Thank you Fr.Sean for sharing this event to the mass and hope this will encourage others to respond to the call of God.

Maritess Lumdang said...

Can I be one of your congregation, too? I am 49 years old on Friday October 3 and I still desire to become a religious someday...