VOICE FROM THE SOUTH
By FR. EMETERIO BARCELON, SJ
Sister Carmelita was buried in the Good Shepherd Sisters Mother House in Quezon City last Saturday. I met or knew Sister Carm as a child. Those of us who took care of her called her “iyakin” for she cried often, especially when frustrated. Yet she was noted for her happy disposition all her religious life and her propensity to celebrate. Sister Carm tells us that at the end of high school, she experienced a strong feeling to dedicate her life to follow Christ as a Good Shepherd nun after reading a pamphlet on it. After that she ignored or even resisted the thought. She went to the University of the Philippines, Diliman, studying statistics then worked for the National Statistics Office. The thought of becoming a nun kept coming but with no attraction. Then she relented and asked for admission. From the moment she accepted, all doubts left her.
She worked in their Cebu House, then was made superior for the house for unmarried pregnant women in Malabon. From there after a few years she was chosen provincial superior of the Good Shepherd Sisters of the Philippine Province. Against many of her requests and protests, she spent most of her life as superior, liked by her subjects. This is not easy. There will almost always be problems and stormy petrels to calm. Her last position was in Tagaytay where she was superior of two communities and keeping an eye on retreatants and helping them. Recently her terms ended. She had hardly taken a breath rest when the Lord took her unto Himself.
In Cagayan de Oro, the Good Shepherd nuns work with the poor girls who climb the ships, waiting to load or unload cargo on Macahalar Bay, for prostitution services. Sister Belardo tells me these prostitutes need a friend they can trust and assurance that Jesus loves them, even with all their problems. The sisters also run schools and a variety of other works. They have a contemplative group that does a lot of praying and penance in reparation for sins of man. In general the objective is to spread the love of Christ.
Sister Carm’s father was one of the early sugar technologists trained in the early twenties in UP Los Banos, Ramon Cruz. They run our sugar industry in its prosperous years and sustained it for decades. Her sister is National Scientist Dr. Lourdes Cruz whom Sister Carm recruited to help the native Aetas in Zambales where they have a flourishing community. Sister Carm comes from a large family of eight siblings. It is from large families that many vocations come. The great missionary countries like France and Ireland have dried up in vocations to spread the love of Christ. Maybe it is the turn of the Philippines and Vietnam to continue this work of spreading the love of Jesus. China and Africa are waiting for these missionaries of love.
Vocations have also dwindled in our country but it can have a second spring with examples of happy disposition of Sister Carm and her Good Shepherd Sister working in obscurity but steadily spreading that love with work, prayer, and sacrifice. That is the fiber with which modern saints are made. May their tribe increase with the blessing of the Lord.