A Light of Hope

By Mary Joy Rile

The author is Assistant Editor of MISYONonline.com and Columban Mission.

I first met the Light The Life (LTL) Candles Community of the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, Novaliches on their second anniversary and blessing of Light the Life Learning Center on May 6, 2017. Looking at the mothers and how excited they were at the products of their labor, I knew there was something more that I ought to listen to. Two months later, Korean Columban lay missionary Anna Noh Hyein, who initiated the Light the Life candle-making project, brought one of the mothers, Mrs. Joy Price Sullano, to our office, so I grabbed the opportunity to interview her.

Joy Price Sullano (left) being interviewed by Mary Joy Rile (right) at the Columban Mission House, Singalong, Manila

Joy is married to Abdul Sullano, a security guard, with whom she has seven children. She used to sell street food, such as french fries and hamburger in Commonwealth Avenue. A day came when her small business place was threatened to be demolished. She did not have other sources of income. It was so timely that Anna came into their place and brought them some light of hope. Anna was having immersion at St Peter Parish, Commonwealth Ave., Novaliches, and even helped Joy in selling street food. She smiled as she recalled how good Anna was in sales talk.

Later in 2012, with the prompting of their parish priest Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr., Anna recruited around 20 mothers, including Joy and initiated a candle-making project at St Peter Parish. Their zero knowledge in candle-making was supplied with weekly trainings for two months. It started as an exploration and eventually capacitated everyone. It was a learning process for all of them, including Anna. In four years time, the project went full-blown and was then turned over to the parish.

Anna ventured into another area. She gathered another group of mothers, this time at the Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy, and introduced them to candle-making. She invited Joy to join her and train this new breed of candle-makers. Since then Joy has become part of the Light the Life Candles in this community.

Joy is leading this new group. In the experimentation stage, she reflected, “It was necessary to do trial-and-error as you would not know the flaws if you hadn’t tried. Usually, before I teach others the proper way of making candles, I test the process first and I realize that it’s always an opportunity for something new. The same with life, there will always be something new to learn and to impart”.

Anna and Joy

She works closely with Anna, mainly supervising the project. She’s been with her for five years now since they started the candle-making project. She was drawn to Anna’s sense of vision, sincerity and desire to improve the lives of the mothers, which made her want to be part of it.

She has grown in love with Light the Life Candles community. She may have encountered difficulties in dealing with mothers, but she is firm in saying that they are bonded by one objective, guided into one direction and looking forward to the accomplishment of their goal. And this moves them to be tolerant with each other, humbly adjusting and learning to understand the problem, assessing what one can contribute and what needs to be done. They are working as one team.

“In most things, when you don’t give it a try, you settle into thinking it’s difficult. But the moment you take a step and you put your heart into it you will surpass any kind of challenge, no matter how difficult it is.” That’s how Joy deals with challenges.

She doesn’t mind travelling for about an hour every day to work with Light the Life Candles. She is grateful to Anna and the Light the Life Candles community for their help. This experience has changed her life. The Gwangju Youth Supporters and other donors through Anna provided scholarships to four of her children, which on her own, she could not afford. Because of them, her second child, who is taking up Nursing, is graduating this year. Her third child, taking up Accountancy, who stopped for some time in college due to lack of funds, is now back to school.

Mothers working with Light The Life Candles

To quote what Joy has to express:

“On behalf of the mothers, I would like to give thanks to the Missionary Society of St. Columban because through them Anna was assigned to our place; and through her initiative the Light the Life Candles came to be, providing us mothers the opportunity to learn candle-making and earn a living for our families.

It is every parent’s dream to send their children to school and graduate so they can face the future equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to survive on their own. Education is the best legacy we can give to our children. This dream has become a reality with the help of Anna, in particular and the Columbans, in general. A number of us are being helped and we remain grateful. I am also thankful to Fr. Antonio Labiao, Jr. and the Diocesan Shrine of Our Lady of Mercy in Novaliches for helping me and accepting me even if I don’t reside there.”

Joy sees herself being called to serve through the Light the Life Candles. She received a light of hope and she hopes to share the light to others as well. She hopes to continue for as long as she can.

Joy giving seminar on candle-making to students of Metro Manila College, February 17, 2017

Light the Life Candles also offers candle-making training to those who are interested.