(Bert Cacayan’s foreword to the book, “Seeking New Meanings and New Expressions”, the Missionaries of the Assumption Story, launched on 15 August 2019 at the Assumption College of Davao).
An incredible and beautiful journey, it is. The story of the m.a. sisters, as narrated in this book, is a living testament of the power of women who embrace and are imbued with the spirit of Mary’s Magnificat:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.”
(Luke 1:45-53, New International Version)
I feel blessed to have been part of the MA’s journey, even at its early stages. One friend among their “circle of friends”, as the book references. I am a witness to their collective courage as they grappled with the angst of birthing their community and the challenges they faced when they made the preferential option for the poor. Faithful to the Gospel and the social teachings of the Church, they consciously and wholeheartedly share the poverty and the insecurities of God’s anawim.
This book reveals how the sisters build a community of disciples even as they daily respond to God’s call in various ways — significant and mundane. They set up structures and processes of servant-leadership within the community and continue to discern to improve them. They work in very remote mission areas and initiate new ministries among the marginalized and the downtrodden. They chose to be with the poor. The path Mary of the Magnificat would have chosen.
The journey though has not been easy. For trying to respond to the signs of the times, the missionary sisters were at times misunderstood and experienced rejection. For upholding human rights and dignity, they were maligned and suspected of sympathizing with subversives, and even branded as subversives themselves. For following Jesus’ simple lifestyle, they became a threat and a thorn to those who cling to the values of the world.
But the sisters are not, and will never be, alone in their continuing journey. They have committed co-workers and partners who are more than willing to take part in carrying out their mission. They have their ever-widening circles of friends who have made the options they have made and are ready to share resources. More importantly, they have Mary of the Assumption who, just as she stood steadfast and faithful to her Son till the end, will be the sisters’ companion, light and guide for always!
You can buy the book at the Assumption College of Davao, Cabaguio Street, Davao City, Philippines.
(Bert Cacayan is a friend of the MA Sisters. He is a co-convenor of PRAXIS Philippines and a professor at St. Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute. He just completed his term as Regional Coordinator of Terre des Hommes Germany in Southeast Asia. He is a lay theologian and management consultant).