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By Sr Emma de Guzman ICM
What happens when Filipino missionaries working all over the world come home, either for vacation or for good? Just imagine them in
But foremost, the Filipino missionaries have changed, have imbibed the culture of the people they were sent to and have shed a part of their being Filipino. Their families love and welcome them, although some find them ‘weird’ or out of place in some way. They need time for their re-entry and readjustment to the home country. They keep asking questions that are irrelevant for those who’ve never left the
But when they come together for an eight-day renewal and enrichment seminar, they are happy and are transformed from being lost to being found!
This was the joy of living together the 16th BAMEP (Balikbayan Missionaries Enrichment Program) at Holy Spirit Mission Service Center, Tagaytay City, last December 1 to 9. The facilitators were Sr Mary Evelyn SSpS and Fr Dante Venus SVD.
Sixteen participants shared their life on the missions, prayed together, laughed at their funny experiences and listened to the different resource persons. The aim was to help the balikbayan missionaries have a successful re-entry into the home front while processing their experiences and coming out adjusted, more or less.
The first two days were facilitated by Fr Edward Fugoso SVD and Tessie Nittoreda. Through the Emmaus story in Luke 24, we were led to looking into our own
The encounter in itself was healing and enjoyable. When you’re with fellow-missionaries and you tell your story – sad, dramatic, tragic or funny – there’s a feeling of compassion only all of you can understand because you’ve all been in the same situation.
Brother Silas, an SVD missionary for 24 years in
We cried and laughed together as we listened to one another’s adventures.
Fr Ed Fugoso helped us to look into our past to understand our present state of ‘lostness’ and struggles through the Psychogenetics and Gestalt Method. He made us aware of our ‘imprints’ and how to process our experiences by making our own ‘re-imprints’. A reflective ‘flashback’ of our lives and our missionary struggles allowed us to see where the Lord was and where He actually was leading us. The sharing that followed was like listening to our own stories told by somebody else in another mission country. They were our typical missionary stories of joy, pain, life, death and new life from the ashes.
The days with Fr Ed and Tessie Nitorreda were also times of intense prayer, recollection and holy hours as we recognized the loving arms of our Lord Jesus in our moments of darkness and light.
Fr Dict Lagarde MJ clarified and put words into our ‘weirdness’ when he spoke on the Spirituality of Transition. He told us a story about getting lost in
He helped us to be aware of the degree of our being lost, to name it and own it. Then we could move forward, less ‘lost’ and less ‘weird’ as we readjusted our bearings to the present Filipino culture and situation.
The highlight of the evaluation was gratitude: to the Lord who called and sent us to the foreign missions and who never left us as we did his mission, and for the SVD and SSpS congregations in organizing this life-saving enrichment program.
The Eucharistic celebrations were colored and inspired by the liturgies of the different countries where we worked.
The last night was a cultural evening of dances and songs. Each participant wore the national costume of their mission country and presented a local song or dance complete with mask and local facial designs
We ended the eight-day program with a tour of the
Fellow missionaries, as you read this in your mission countries, be brave. Hindi kayo nag-iisa! And don’t fail to undergo BAMEP when you come home to the