ON THE ONE HUNDRED ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF OUR FOUNDER MO. RAMON ZUBIETA
Celebrating the centenary of the death of our Founder, Fr. Ramon Zubieta, reminds us of his missionary spirit. It is time for us to reflect on his life and like him, to be with the people of our time who are facing the Covid pandemic and situations of war in many countries.
Ramon Zubieta, a Spanish missionary, dedicated his life to the service of people, and the extension of the kingdom of God. His mission was centered on helping the poor, marginalized, and illiterate. In the Philippines, he suffered persecutions, imprisonment; however, those sufferings did not stop him from going forward. He silently worked and sacrificed his life unceasingly with a constant spirit and a great love for all.
For Fr. Ramon, nothing was enough to serve others, he told Mother Ascension that he did not ask for financial aid out of selfishness, since he did not spend a penny on himself, he was poor and wished to die poor, but for the sake of the missions he did not mind even having debts, although sometimes he would like to have less heart and less interest in things and people, which would free him from problems and above all from mistaken praises. After offering people his best, what he did not want were “mistaken praises,” but he wanted to be poor like the people he served, to die poor like them, and still wanted to serve them more, for he thought “I am rather in debt to the people.”
The situation of the people in Ramon Zubieta’s time is reflected in the world today, especially with the pandemic due to the new coronavirus; thus also, his spirit is an inspiration for us to carry on. The cases of Covid-19 are rising all over the world. Life became more difficult due to lock-downs: many factories, companies, offices have been closed due to the pandemic. It has led to the unemployment of many, and the income of many families has been lost. Moreover, the most affected ones are the poor, the migrants and refugees, the outcasts, etc. People are no longer celebrating their festivals, and many families cannot do the proper funeral for their loved ones who died because of Covid. Many have passed out this life in pain and loneliness.
Nothing can be compared with this pain and loss, it is a pain that cannot heal, and no one can understand it except the victims, those who died after a terrible disease, and the surviving family members. Besides the pandemic, our hearts go toward the cries of the people who are facing war and injustice in life in countries such as Myanmar and Palestine.
Being inspired by the spirit of Fr. Ramon Zubieta, we wonder how can we possibly serve and help others in this pandemic situation and the victims of war, injustice, and other types of violence, because we are limited by the physical distance. Confidently, we believe that our mission and eagerness to serve and to help others is not being restrained because of this dreadful condition; rather, we become more open with the entire world and to all people with deep sympathy. Being unable to go out and give people our hands and help, we suppose that prayer is our most effective service, for we do hope in the power and care of God, who let things happen in His divine plan. Particularly, it is an appropriate time for us, who are in the novitiate stage, in which we ought to deepen our inner relationship with God and with others, to become the witnesses of the spirit of the Gospel following our Founder, Fr. Ramon.
We believe that this love will, first of all, be expressed in our community life: sharing love, joy, understanding, sympathy, before we are going to share all these with others. Let us no longer think only of our own selves, but give our selves to others with profound empathy.
Just as Fr. Ramon Zubieta, we are in debt to God’s love, and therefore, we are called to love one another.
Let us celebrate this year reflecting on his life of self-giving, fighting for justice, and like him, trying to serve and not to be served, to be in our little way, real instruments of peace.
Elvira, Ann, Hanh and Catherine
Novices, Taipa, Maca