Monday, July 2, 2018

World Villages in Tanzania

NEW MISSION IN TANZANIA: Expanding to reach more children in need...

World Villages for Children is expanding! The Sisters have been invited to Tanzania to bring their programs to one of the world’s poorest economies. Child malnutrition accounts for over a third of under-five deaths in Tanzania and substantial numbers of children are living in desperate conditions. Many children drop out of school and, without sufficient skills, have few options for work. So many young children are living at risk, malnourished, vulnerable and in need of our help.
During these first few months in Tanzania the Sisters of Mary are meeting with the representatives of the local diocese who have invited them to set up their Boystown and Girlstown and have offered them 62 acres of land to do so. The Sisters setting up the programs are Sister Acela, Sister Theresa, Sister Maureen and Sister Elena; they are busy each day organizing the project, meeting potential contractors and of course studying Swahili!  The Sisters have also received a blessing from Pope Francis to begin their new mission in Tanzania.
Sr. Maureen with some Tanzanian children, meeting potential students
While they are there, they are witnessing the dire situation faced by children. They see many children begging on the streets or selling whatever they have scavenged. Some of these children have spent time with the Sisters playing games and learning songs, and the Sisters feel humbled to meet these children and learn about the terrible challenges faced by each of them.
Once the construction work is complete and the new program is set up, the Sisters of Mary will be able to provide a place of safety and the chance of an education for these children so that they are not forced into a life of poverty . The Sisters of Mary programs have seen success across the world, and we hope to bring this success to Tanzania.
In Swahili 'Ahsante kwa msaada wako!' (Thank you for your support).
Please pray for our success in this work and we look forward to keeping you up to date on progress!


Friday, May 18, 2018

Personal Testimony: 'So what else could I ask for?'

NOTE: I beg your indulgence but allow me to share with you my own story of how Fr. Aloysius Schwartz (Now a Venerable) and the Sisters of Mary changed my life.
I will be featuring similar alumni stories soon as testimonies to the many 'miracles' made possible because of our beloved Fr. Al: Champion of the Poor, my hero, our hero, and soon to be a SAINT of the Catholic Church! 
Deo gratias! To God be the glory! 

THE FUTURE was uncertain before I learned about the Sisters of Mary. The biggest question in my mind back then was whether I could go to high school. My parents, both natives of Gainza (a fifth class municipality in the province of Camarines Sur), had to raise seven of us. I have four brothers and two sisters. And you could perhaps imagine how it was in the farm. I sometimes had to skip classes just to help out in the field. The harsh realities were not strange to me at an nearly age. My mother having to go the rounds of relatives or other people to borrow money, or to beg, so we can eat -- one could never forget that. 
But though we were poor, we were a bit endowed up to here in the head. Both my sisters were going to college, all benefit of scholarships and as working students. Still they needed support. For my part, even I graduated valedictorian in grade school, going to high school was a question and my parents even asked me to stop for a while to make way for my sisters, to lessen the burden of supporting us. Still I did not want poverty to hinder my dream of studying all the way to college so I started looking for scholarship grants myself.

Acceptance Slip/ID to The Sisters of Mary School Boystown in Silang

And here comes the Sisters of Mary School, an institution that provides free food, shelter, clothing and secondary education to poor children so they break away poverty. So what else could I ask for? When I passed the entrance exam and the interviews with the Sisters, I knew my prayers had been answered. 

God’s grace would keep flowing as long as one knew where to look. SMS had perhaps built a lot of reputation with its students at this time that even before graduation, companies were waiting to hire graduates. I was fortunate to be one of them. I became one of the pioneering graduates to work as draftsman in a Japanese company in Manila, the SHI Designing & Manufacturing, Inc. (SMDI). Still, my sights were trained towards a college education. After working for more than a year, I started looking for schools offering night classes. I had to settle, at this time, on a diploma course in computer programming at AMA-CLC in Paco. I finished the course in 2002. One year later, SDMI transferred me to its IT department as a junior programmer/trainee.

My pursuit of a college degree did not stop. In June 2004, I enrolled at STI College EDSA-Crossing for a degree in Computer Science. I chose the school because its night schedules worked like those for regular full-time students. Being a working student is not easy, as I’m sure others who’ve gone through the experience would agree. But with the training I got from the Sisters of Mary School, I endure the most trying moments from financial difficulties to physical to emotional fatigue.

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (2008)

With my beloved parents at the STI Network Graduation at Crossroad 77 in Quezon City (2008)
But even in the middle of all these, there was one thing I consider my greatest achievement: I was financing my younger brother’s studies from his second year until he obtained his degree in Electronics and Communications Engineering in 2007. This was while I was also trying to finish my degree in Computer Science. On April 25, 2008, my sacrifices paid off. I received my diploma in Computer Science, graduating magna cum laude at STI. On top of that, I was 2008 STI Student of the Year, at the national level.

With former officemates at the Gurango Software office in Singapore (2010)

Today, life is much easier for me and my family compared to years ago. My mother does not have to beg or borrow, thank God. I am currently employed as Lead Requirements Analyst at Gurango Software Corporation in Libis, Quezon City. Now I can say that bright future is visible on the horizon. I just need to persevere and never forget to ask for His guidance and to be grateful always for the blessings that come my way – big or small.

Taking a day-off from work during an overseas assignment in Singapore (2010)

My stay at the Sisters of Mary School opened new horizons and opportunities for me and for thousands of fortunate young men and women. It was a privilege to be served by our dedicated Sisters. It was inspiring to see them so inspired to serve the poorest of the poor. Although I never met Fr. Al, for he was gone when I entered SMS, I want to thank him personally for bringing the Sisters of Mary to the Philippines.

To +Fr. Al, Mother Michaela Kim SM, +Fr. Urrutia SJ, my beloved Sisters of Mary, the dedicated teachers, all the staff and workers inside Boystown as well as the students I’ve met during my stay at Silang, Cavite campus, thank you very much! You have touched my life in ways you may never know and for that I will forever be grateful to God for bringing you into my life.
Batch 1999

The Sisters of Mary School - Boystown, Silang, Cavite, Philippines
***This story was originally published last 2011 in the coffee table book, Fully Alive! Celebrating the Story of Fr. Aloysius Schwartz and 25 Years of the Sisters of Mary in the Philippines 
With Sr. Riza Riva, SM at the inauguration of the exhibit at Monsignor Al Schwartz Memorial Center
in Silang, Cavite featuring the first batch of recipients of the Fr. Aloysius Schwartz Award (2015)
From an IT career in the corporate world, I am now embarking on a different journey responding to God's call as a Jesuit Scholastic of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus and currently studying Philosophy at the Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Miracle is Unfolding in East Africa's Largest Country: Tanzania

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Is.6:18)
Sr. Maureen with some Tanzanian children
Sr. Teresa visiting a family in the town
Sr. Maureen gathering the children for her morning Catechism class
Sister fetching water from the public well
The missionary Sisters of Mary with the happy and vibrant Tanzanian children

From Asia, to Latin America, and now to Africa! :)

The Sisters of Mary is now laying the foundation for a new charity program in Tanzania, East Africa's largest country, and the first in the African continent. They were graciously received and welcomed by His Eminence Polycarp of Phengo, Archdiocese of St. Joseph, Dar Es Salaam. The Sisters are now busy looking for the possible site for the establishment of a Girlstown program while already immersing and adapting themselves in the local culture and the Church 
in the country.  

May God and Our Lady of Banneux, the Virgin of the Poor, continue to guide you, dear Sisters, as you extend your mission to the poorest of the poor, wherever it is, and wherever the Lord calls you to serve His people with joy in the Name of Christ!

Thank you very much our beloved Venerable Fr. Aloysius Schwartz for the continuous outpouring of love and guidance from above and to our generous benefactors for helping the Sisters of Mary continue the legacy of their beloved Father Founder. To God be the glory!

The Sisters of Mary started as a small group of women of Christian faithful formed into a religious Congregation on the feast of the Assumption in 1964 by Fr. Aloysius Schwartz in Busan, Korea. Through the invitation of ecclesiastical and government authorities, they have expanded to the Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil and Honduras. They are “contemplatives in action”. That is, they strive to unite the vocations of Martha and Mary. Their active life is balanced by three hours of daily prayer and contemplation. The Most Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, granted through the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies of Apostolic Life, the decree that they are a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right on March 2, 2000.

Source: | Photo (c) The Sisters of Mary

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Father Al: On Belief in Jesus

“If you truly believe in Jesus there will spring up from the depths of your heart a never-ending stream of living joy.” – Servant of God, Fr. Al Schwartz

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fr. Al: On Covetousness

"Covetousness is a vague word, but it means simply greed or desire for material possessions, goods and money. It is written in the Psalms, "Be still and you shall know your God." Desire, greed, and covetousness keep our hearts from being still. They agitate our hearts. They create this inner noise and we do not hear God, nor find Him, nor be one with Him. So, we must make our hearts still, silent and quiet by ridding them of all desire, greed and covetousness. If we do this, then we will hear the voice of God. " ~  Fr. Al's Homily to his Children, February 19, 1992