30 August, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 11/07/2006
PHILIPPINES
Mindanao: Notre Dame Oblates mark 50 years "serving Christians and Muslims"
by Santosh Digal

The congregation was set up by two missionaries of Mary Immaculate with the aim of supporting education in the archipelago, torn apart by years of separatist struggle. With time, peace and interfaith dialogue became the foremost mission of these sisters.



Cotabato (AsiaNews) – Despite myriad troubles experienced over the years, the Oblates of Notre Dame "are happy to serve both Muslims and Christians in Mindanao", where they are "joyfully celebrating" their Golden Jubilee. Mindanao is an archipelago in the southern Philippines that has been torn apart by clashes between the army and Islamic separatists for more than 50 years.

During festivities marking the anniversary, under way in Cotabato, Sr Rose Susan Montejo, Mother General of the congregation, said: "These 50 long years have been trying at times but very fruitful. We can say that during the tormented times of Mindanao, we managed to perform our work, serving the poor and promoting peace."

One of the most significant works undertaken by the sisters involves the formation of basic ecclesial communities, which "seek to attend to the needs of farmers, fisher folk, 'lumados' (indigenous peoples) and other marginalized groups".

The sisters are also in the forefront of peace-building projects reaching out to local Muslims and Christians, as well as youth education and local health services. "Although we are not many, our efforts go ahead," said Fr Montejo.

The congregation was founded in the early fifties by two Oblates of Mary Immaculate. These priests were sent to the southern Philippines, where they started literacy projects for local youth, setting up a chain of schools called Notre Dame.

One of the priests, Fr George Dion, contacted two retired teachers working as spiritual counsellors in the area and suggested the establishment of an institute of lay consecrated people to help educate Mindanao's youth: the two accepted to help him and the new institution was set up with the blessing of the then-bishop of Cotabato, Mgr Gerard Mongeau.

Dion, who would later become bishop of Jolo, is considered to be the founder, while Mgr Mongeau, later archbishop, is the canonical founder. On 10 November 1956, the first woman arrived: Sr Estrella Adre. This event marked the official birth of the institute.

At the time, the institute had mostly lay people who took temporary vows but shortly afterward, many consecrated themselves to religious life, taking perennial vows.

The early work of the Oblate sisters was focused on parish catechism, but they soon threw themselves into social services too, like education and local administration programmes, the formation of diocesan catechists and ministry among the indigenous peoples and women of Mindanao.

Sr Montejo said: "With the advent of liberation theology in the 1970s, we launched a foundation aimed at supporting initiatives of inter-religious dialogue and peace between Christians and Muslims. With time, this became our main mission."

From the archipelago, the sisters branched out elsewhere in the Philippines and later to Papua New Guinea and the United States. Even throughout the long and bitter war, the sisters remained on the frontline, alongside the missionaries of Mary Immaculate, seeking to help the needy, both Christians and Muslims.

Today, the Congregation counts 168 sisters: gathered in Cotabato, the sisters are "recalling the past and planning for the future. We are happy that we have helped many young worthy women to become sisters to help those in need."


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
01/08/2010 PHILIPPINES
Mindanao: spreading a culture of peace through radio
by Santosh Digal
12/22/2009 PHILIPPINES
Educating children to avert a culture of violence in Mindanao
by Santosh Digal
11/23/2004 PHILIPPINES
We are working to build peace, says Pikit parish priest
by Sonny Evangelista
02/15/2005 PHILIPPINES
Inhuman and wicked attacks, says Filipino Archbishop
12/27/2005 PHILIPPINES
Mindanao Muslims celebrate Christmas too
by Santosh Digal

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.