24 Sep The Novitiate Journey Towards Eco-Sustainability/philippines
Both the Sagrado Corazon de Jesus Novitiate and the Sta. Rafaela Maria House of Spirituality are built just on a half hectar territory. But despite the limited space, from its humble beginnings the sisters of the community have always been moved by a much larger spirit for the love of the Earth. Gardening is a constant part of the Novitiate life and many novices to this date can identify the tress they had planted. And lo and behold!, all of them are fruit-bearing trees!
In these most recent years, moved by the cry of the wounded Earth and of the poor the novices entered deeply into a more radical approach embracing what is called for by Pope Francis and by our GCXX: “we need to enter into the process of ecological conversion so that the commitment with the earth, with environment, the most poor and the generations to come may be translated into a lifestyle that ensures the integrity of Creation.” (GC XX, 50)
The novices have journeyed through the Modular classes on Ecology and Care for the Common Home and their exposure to the clean up drive of the Manila coastal area, tree planting, building houses for the homeless through NGO’s and the praying the Luadato Si prayer after the vespers other than the daily instructions and workshops on our documents. During the Sisters’ Convivence there was learning and applying of Bokashi technology; and rosary and adorations are held at the gardens while in intimate contact with nature and the God of creation.
Each novice has been taking charge of every corner of the place to cultivate with love and dedication. The greenhouse at the backyard has already produced and shared lettuces, mustard leaves, eggplants and herbs of basil and blue ternate. The cucumber, passion fruits, and river spinach are curling the terraces of the buildings. The moringga trees, dragon fruit and silk squash are rooted by the fences while the pomelo, cacao for chocolate, guavas, lime and jackfruits are flourishing. Mangoes, rambutan, avocado, watery rose apple and cotton fruits are rich harvest this year suffient for our fruits and vegetables and also abudantly shared with our friends.
Other than these edible produce, the rustling of the thickening bamboos in the front yard woos each one to pray and invites all to stillness. The Sta. Rafaela Park has evolved into a captivating orchidarium where variety of orchids are now beautifully adorning our chapel, prayer rooms, dialogue and living rooms not counting the other ornamentals spead through the gardens – returning the glory to their Maker.
This depeening commitment for the care of the common home is equally made possible through networking. The help of Fr. Benjur, SDB who is an artist and a friend of the community provided the scheme and some details of the ecological project and retreat house beautification. Sr. Jessie, the JPIC National Coordinator worked so hardly then with the novices with her ecological passion while the formators faithfully follow up the projects until now. The ACI Family collaborates by coming together on agreed schedule for clean up while we give dignity of labor to the poor by tapping the services of Mang Edwin, Kurt and Ronron for the maitenance. The help of our generous benefactors mean a lot to carry out this endeavor.
Not only the place but the novices and retreatants as well have evolved into a green sanctuary where they now share the fruits of the earth and contemplate God in the splendor of Creation echoing the Season of Creation’s Jubilee of the Earth “to seek a sustainable and integral development.”
It is finding, committing, and being oneself within this Great Temple as deeply experienced by St. Rafaela Mary: “I am in this world as in a great temple offering a sacrifice of praise to God.”
Sharon Francisco, aci