REFLECTING…WALKING WITH ST. EUGENIE
By Ana de Villa – Singson
Whenever my mom visits my home for Christmas, her regular refrain is: “Where is the belen, Ana? It is the heart of Christmas.” Recently, while collating an Assumpta e-album of beautiful Christmas trees heavy with the most ornate and gilded decorations, Sr. Ana Melocoton, RA, asked: “ Where is the belen? Where is the Christ Child? “
How do we find the Christ Child in the frenzy of Christmas 2022? Emboldened by low Covid 19 statistics and excited to be able to greet and hug each other face to face again, we get consumed with buying gifts, wrapping them elaborately, making lists, planning our burgeoning calendars, buying our festive wardrobe. In the maelstrom of our self-created “noise”, there is little time and space for the simplicity, humility and gentleness of the Christ Child.
Many times, I think God speaks to me through my children. While deliberating on gift choices, my eldest son Manuel quietly said, “Gifts don’t always have to be bought, Mom.” Truth and wisdom from the mouth of babes ( well…a 25 year old, 6 ft 1 man who will always be my baby)! I started arguing that we don’t have enough occasions to show how much we appreciate those dear to us. And again, Manuel stumped me with “There are many ways to give a gift.”
And so, I learned from my son. This year, I gave gifts made by my hand: crocheted coasters in pastel colors, pristine white cosies, scented candles, roped baskets, crocheted wrist bags and bento bags. They are gifts from the heart, made lovingly (and sometime painfully) by hand. They are meant to say that during the pandemic, I realized that what counts very much are people who have touched my life and made it better in so many ways. The handmade offerings say that this is me, simple and unadorned, coming to your home without too many trappings but with an abundance of love. This is me trying to spend a little less so I can give a little more where it counts…to those who have nothing for noche buena, those who don’t know where the next meal will come from, those with shoes that barely fit and clothes worn with wear and tear. This is me saying that I have to change in many big ways so that I can quiet the noise of the maelstrom and hear the Christ Child in my heart. He whispers in the stillness …if I can only learn to quiet the heart’s many wayward desires.
There are many ways to give gifts. I would like to be a gift: to pay forward the abundance of undeserved graces and blessings showered on me. And with this hope is a prayer. May the Christ Child teach me. Simplicity. Kindness. Generosity. Forgiveness. Patience. Gentleness. With each small act. With each small step.
Advent. The time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child. Gaudete! He is here.
By Ana de Villa – Singson
Mother of 2, Trustee, Editor, Advocate, Hobbyist
HS Batch 83 | Proud to be!
To educate is to transform the world.
Among St. Marie Eugenie’s quotes, this one hugs my heart most tightly.
Unlike most of my classmates in Assumption, I come from a middle-class family. Ever since I was a young prep student, my Mama Olive always told me to study hard, get a degree, and aim for the best, because in life, people could take everything away from me, EXCEPT my education. I took that seriously.
Assumption introduced me to some of the most precious people in my life — friends I call sisters, and teachers I call mentors. In school, though not always easy, I learned to:
- Be a friend
- Make sense
- Read and understand before having an opinion
- Write with artwork-like penmanship
- Master the art of decision-making
- Commit to give my best even in the most menial tasks
- Have courage to speak my mind when necessary
- Stay curious
- Believe that nothing is as impeccable as God’s plan and timing
- Know that the world is big, and there are always people outside my comfort zone who could benefit from all of the above — all that I have and all that I am, if I choose to share.
Self-awareness and discernment have signaled that I have not been called to be a teacher. (I have many friends who are, though. J) But all throughout my career thus far, the roles I have thrived in often involve educating audiences towards outcomes that positively impact their health, environment, and future.
My Assumption education has taken me to many places, allowed exciting experiences, and led me to be passionate about helping more people have access to the same quality education, and consequently, life. This is why I joined the Velada committee, and why I continually enjoin our batch to raise funds for the Mission Schools. Because one may not be able to instantly or directly transform the world, but with unique abilities and a sincere heart, one can try.
High School Class of 1997
Wife. Fur Mom. Communications Consultant.
ARMY for life.
Last weekend, our batch recorded our Velada video as Ruby Jubilarians of 2022. This is the 4th time we’ve celebrated our Velada, and every time we do, I see and feel this favorite quote from St Marie Eugenie, LOVE NEVER SAYS I HAVE DONE ENOUGH, in each and everyone of us. The bonding and caring flows out so naturally and sincerely. Whether in Manila or in different parts of the world, online and on-site, from planning to practices to performing to fundraising and donating, everyone puts pause on their daily routines, and shares their time, talents and treasures to live by our batch motto, Quid retribuam Domino? What thanks can I render Thee, Lord?
Everyone of us has been given a mission: to bring the Father’s Kingdom into the lives of others. – St. Marie Eugenie
Having a mission in our lives gives us a sense of purpose and direction. It gives us peace and happiness.
As a wife and mother to 5 kids gives me a mission to bring my spouse closer to God, and to raise my kids to be saints – for all of us to get to heaven.
I used to avoid getting involved in family council and parish activities thinking that I am already busy raising 5 children. I would keep away from the morning kapihans of parents, and say no to getting asked to be a parent rep. I would steer clear of certain people in the parish, so as not to be asked to join parish activities. But fast-forward, I now find myself actively serving in our parish, AC BED Family Council and recently the AAA.
I believe it’s God’s Grace that lead me to where I am now, doing what I do. Organizing spiritual activities for our parish community through the BEC, for Assumption parents through the family council and now serving the alumnae has been a huge blessing. This process of sharing God’s love to others has been a fun and deeply enriching spiritual journey of my faith.
In our recent recollection, a question was asked on how to raise kids to have a spiritual life. It was answered by — first and foremost, parents must lead by example. I hope that this mission given to me by God be the influence and light for my children to strive to be saints. At the end of our lives, getting to heaven is all that really matters.
Jenny Silayan – HS 1993.
Jenny is a faith and spirituality advocate, pro baker and culinary entrepreneur.
THE WORLD IS TOO SMALL FOR MY LOVE and LOVE NEVER SAYS I HAVE DONE ENOUGH
Saint Marie Eugenie founded the Religious of the Assumption in 1839. She was a visionary who believed that society and the world could be transformed through education; in particular, the education of young women from the elite families of France. Her world then was indeed too small for her love, yet, as a visionary she saw what could be … an Assumption, almost two hundred years later, spread out around the world in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa.
LOVE NEVER SAYS I HAVE DONE ENOUGH and as products of her vision and the Assumption education, we are imbued with her spirit. Whether as new graduates, young jubilarians, or recent golden jubilarians like me, there is always more to do and be done. We chose two mottos as High School graduates, CARITAS CHRISTI URGET NOS and LOVE CONQUERS ALL. It is the love of Christ that inspires us and prods us on .. at first within the confines of our family, then the community, country, and beyond. In small ways for me, but in grander and more noble ways for others, we heed Marie Eugenie’s call as she asked of us and we BRING OUR STONES TO THE EDIFICE, her edifice … that of the Assumption.
Charo Nieto Climente | HS 1969
The onslaught of COV-19 and other natural calamities like Typhoon Odette has caused so much pain, suffering, and anxiety. We may ask ourselves why the Lord allowed all these evil happenings. You may agree or disagree with me, but perhaps there is a strong message behind all these. the world has become materialistic where money, power, and self interests have become priorities in life, at the expense of causing suffering to many people, and destroying traditional values that bind unity in families and societies. Personally, I think that in this pandemic and in the many calamities, the Lord is asking us to empty our vessels of blessings and love and reach out to share LOVE to the world. Spreading LOVE brings a more positive aura and freshness to the world, a powerful force and panacea to fight the evil in this world. LOVE gives HOPE and REBIRTH to our aging planet.
True enough, we have seen countess people giving of themselves in service to care for the sick the dying the unemployed and all affected by the pandemic and calamities. Many have returned to a deeper prayer life where they once again experience God’s love and care.
When we count our blessings, we experience the love of God and His generosity. St Marie Eugenie urges us to share this love by generously giving of ourselves in service to others, even in the smallest way, in our homes, community, environment, and country. Touching lives with LOVE and HOPE is our legacy to future generations.
Today, my inner gaze is fixed on You Lord Jesus!
I have received sad news of the death of a friend, a disciple from BLD community in Los Angeles and sorrow has filled my heart. But at the same time, I also received news “of a brother and another sister” who I have been intensely praying for … and I rejoice in the good news of the negative test results for covid. Truly your healing love brings good News! 🌼
When I ponder on life and death issues, I just want to thank you Lord Jesus for your tender eyes and Sacred Heart that calm me from fear and anxieties, giving me a chance to hope against hope .🔥
At Mass this morning, when the Holy Bread and Wine, Body and Blood were raised at Consecration, You assured me that I belong to You … and all the souls I lift up are safe in You. ❤️🙏
The words of St MarieEugenie are also mine. ”You have chosen me, I come from you, I am going to You.”
I include my brothers and sisters in the Clay community and all the communities I serve, the Sisters of the Assumption congregation, friends in Christ, my beloved family, the world in the Potter’s hand. 🌎
You are my true joy in life, my Prize, my Treasure … I am your beloved … You are mine … I will be totally immersed in You forever 🙏🙏🙏❤️🔥🕊🕊🕊 Amen!
A Rose praying with St Marie Eugenie
By Pilar “Ginny” Brion Garza
Meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, the 4th and 5th Mysteries in particular, it occurred to me that while most of us have meditated a lot on the Passion of Jesus while praying, perhaps not many of us have given sufficient thought to the fact that Jesus could have, at any time, asked His Father to stop what was happening.
One word from Him would have been enough for a host of angels to come to His side. Their visible presence alone would have silenced the crowd and scattered the soldiers; leaving the Priests and Pharisees cowering in fear. Then the angels would have borne Jesus away to a place where His wounds could have been tended to, His strength restored.
But Jesus never uttered one word in His defense, nor any words of recrimination against His tormentors. Neither did He ask for a single second of reprieve from His sufferings, even if only to catch His breath.
Why? Because Love alone was not enough (after all, we had already ignored the freely-given love of the Father!)
Love in action was necessary. Serious, gut-wrenching, heart-wrenching suffering, where every agonizing step was a prayer, every drop of blood an offering, every word a blessing … for us, His beloved.
And yet …
Yes, “and yet”, here we are, our lives torn asunder by the pandemic, wars in every corner of the world, still lost, still wandering in the desert of our sins.
So … what now? Is it all darkness? Is there no hope for us?
To give in to frustration, to despair, to fear, would be like telling God “I can love no more,” and turning your back on Jesus’ sacrifice.
I know all this, and yet, my soul struggles to keep my love going. Then, in my struggles, I hear His voice: “I thirst.”
I know then what He is asking of me, of all of us.
All He asks for in return for His boundless, unconditional Love is a pittance of our Love to slake His thirst. By itself, it will never be enough, but bound with His Love, our meager efforts at loving will spread beyond the reach of our arms, of our imaginations, and of our time on earth.
St. Marie Eugenie took this to heart, encouraging her communities to turn to Christ,allowing Him to “give them the energy for one more effort”1 and to “teach them that love never says ‘that is enough.’”1 Indeed, her own life was one of continuously giving more of herself to others for God, until, in her final infirmity, she had “nothing more to do except to be good.”2
I now know why I will never be able to say that “I have done enough”. It is the Assumption way; it taught me, it taught us, that Love has no end!
Pilar “Ginny” Brion Garza is proudly from Herran Class ’70. She graduated as the Class Valedictorian.
By Socorro “Cory” O. Villafania
Last October 2, 2021, when Sr. Rekha, Superior General of the Religious of the Assumption, had her virtual conversation with Assumption Together, something she said really struck me: “ If you feel pain, you are ALIVE; if you feel the pain of others and are moved to do something, you are HUMAN; if you feel that what you are doing to lessen the pain of others is not enough, you are SONS and DAUGHTERS of ST. MARIE EUGENIE.”
What a way to explain the Foundress’ saying “Love never says it is enough”! Love does not rest; there is always something more that we can do. Just when we think we can pat ourselves on the shoulders for having spent almost forty years in educating the young, we discover that more of our children do not even know how to read. Just when we feel we have worked long enough and hard enough in defending human rights, we wake up to the reality that those who have studied the law are the very ones who violate the rights of the poor and the helpless.
“Love never says it is enough” is complemented by another saying of St. Marie Eugenie, namely, “Our life must be a constant ‘yes’ to God.” We are called to constantly seek God and His will in the daily and the ordinary. This means that we must not only make time for prayer where we focus on God, on spiritual things, and on the favors we want to ask from HIm; we need to build and nurture a prayer life that is rooted in a vibrant relationship with God. WeLISTEN to Him and fall in love with Him because He is LOVE HIMSELF, and realize thatten minutes with Him is never really enough!
When we look at JESUS who fed thousands of hungry people, taught them tirelessly about the Reign of God, healed the sick and touched the lepers, restoring them to their proper place in society; when He forgave sinners and dined with tax collectors, making them all feel they were PERSONS and that they belonged to the Kingdom without exception; when He chose ordinary, unschooled men whom He loved as brothers and to whom He entrusted the mission…all that would have been the achievement of a lifetime, but “love never says it is enough”. Not everyone was pleased with Jesus. Those in authority were scandalized by the WAY and the DEGREE to which He loved the people they considered detestable. Most of all, they were gravely insulted when Jesus cleansed the Temple of the money-changers who were victimizing the poor with their corrupt practices and turning the house of God into a “den of thieves”. Those in authority were angered because they were part of the corruption.
The rest is history. It was not enough for Jesus to show God’s compassion through the good that he had done. Even in the darkness of spirit, He chose to be faithful to the Father and His mission of salvation. He continued “to choose the Kingdom” and “refused to respond to sin with sin” (Rausch, SJ, Who Is Jesus?). He freely accepted His death as part of His life and ministry. Jesus was the perfect YES to God.
Jesus was the Center of St. Marie Eugenie’s life. Is it any wonder that she also experienced many “deaths” in her mission? As she learned to love the way Jesus loved, she also discovered that there is no diminishment in loving; there is only a BECOMING MORE and a GIVING MORE. Her daily YES to God moved her to go BEYOND ENOUGH with “A PASSION for GOD and A PASSION for PERSONS” !
St. Marie Eugenie of Jesus, pray for us.
Socorro “Cory” O. Villafania was an Assumption educator for 39 years. She taught Assumptionists from June 1972 – March 2011.
By Ana Casas
I have many favorite and inspiring saying of St. Marie Eugenie of Jesus, but for now I choose to reflect on this:
Through all the challenges of life that I faced, Jesus was always there for me.
As a young mother with 6 small children, as a neophyte Religion teacher struggling to make Jesus known and loved to HS seniors, through a difficult marriage, through major surgery and illnesses, Jesus was always near.
When faced with problems that I was at a loss to handle, I would throw myself in Jesus’ arms and surrender to His Will. Somehow my Crosses became lighter and I would be able to cope. For example, when cash was lacking for the children’s tuition, they would be offered scholarships! When I had major surgery followed by a procedure that cost a humongous amount (at least for me), miraculously, there was money to pay! No need for a loan!
Jesus has always been my Shield, my Refuge, my Rock, my Deliverer! With Him by my side, I don’t “sweat the small stuff.” I live by what St. Marie Eugenie says,
Ana Casas, “Tita Ana” to her numerous CLE students, is from High SChool Class 1955. She was with the Assumption High School Academe from 1966 – 1996 and started teaching Religion / CLE in 1975. She was with the Assumption College Administration from 1996- 2004. She is much loved by her students.
By MARGE TAMBUNTING
As we go through life, the Lord speaks to us from where we are.
With prayer, I hope to empty myself of false pride and self-centeredness, and instead choose to be a peacemaker and an understanding, loving person.
In all humility, Lord, fill me with Your presence and love so I may be more like You — loving, kind and caring to those around me.
Marge Tambunting is a 2020 Diamond Jubilarian of High School Class 1960. She was the AAA President in 1988 -1989.