“When the Lord closes a door, He opens windows.”

There are many things that the “lockdown and quarantine times” crafted and reinvented our lives with. It was a long stay then, for the three of us from the South, meant only for a quick and important reason in going to Manila. Yet, we were caught up with quarantine lockdown and made us stay more days, into weeks, months and eventually completed 4 months!

It was on the third month that I consider as a meaningful way of spending lockdown days in Manila. An advanced retreat for our novices was scheduled since we have ample time that the government requires the citizens to stay home as safety measures for Covid-19 pandemic. It was a 6-day journey together with the eight novices that somehow has provided me the opportunity to see through the windows of the precious gift of self of these novices.

The 6-day prayer journey brought color to my days in here. The Spirit is so active that what was prepared to share with them were not used and instead the spirit led us to another path. The spirit of openness and an attitude of receptivity to God’s grace, led us to open our hearts and receive His Word. Indeed, the unfolding of His message was known in the choices fitted for each heart.

Gradual unfolding of what was kept in one’s heart took place in prayers, inputs, reflections and sharing. Remembering the words of Peter Drucher, father of modern management who said, “Leading people is like conducting an orchestra. There are many different players and instrument that the conductor must know thoroughly.” During these days of journey these are the areas of revelation disclosed:

  • “Who do they dream about?” I have learned about their minds by looking at what they have already achieved and more to understand what they dream of becoming …missionary spirit is burning in their hearts.
  • What did they cry about?” What they achieved were nurtured with the liquid of their eyes, the diploma was achieved in a high price: sleepless nights, the mental tortures on examination days, other responsibilities in the convent and the pain to be far away from the family and home especially in difficult times.
  • What they are singing about? What is their joy, successes, perseverance which have become the source of their strength—the “Yes” of Mary strengthen them.
  • “What are their values?” The strong bond of many years thru thick and thins in their lives, their living together that they know each other in depth that have entered the sacred chambers of their hearts along with their formators.
  • “What are their temperaments?” This is important to be able to discover the key to their hearts.
  • “What l discovered?” My deep appreciation and gratitude how the Formation Team in Macau patiently, lovingly, and trustingly gave their love, took care, taught, formed and nurtured each one of them. We, here in New Manila, the Formation team is reaping from their labors and their testimony of life as graced by the Spirit of Life. Other workload of the previous team were clarifying their motivation and vocation, drawing out their individual endowment, asserting out the best in them, making them love our Congregation and most of all setting them ready to work in God’s vineyard, our mission. The total number of years in basic and fundamental formation enables each to know God in prayers, loving God in others and serving Him in the mission of the Church.

In what I perceive in turn makes my heart proud, joyful, and thankful for l found the key to their hearts. It was a blessed chance to discover the promptings and gifts of the Holy Spirit as was manifested in the hopes and dreams of our young sisters. They are as determined: ready hands and hearts to love the Lord above the tempest and risks to “Go and proclaim, the Lord lives among us.”

May the Spirit of God and the love for others molded from the sacrifices, prayers and example of our Founders Mons. Ramon Zubieta and Mo. Ascension Nicol, continue to impel us to go on with joy and full trust in the God of love and of Providence.

Sr. Ma. Virginia Benito

Reina de la Paz Community

Baliwasan, Zambanga City

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