THE BLOW OF COVID-19 TO OUR MISSION TODAY
Initially, I find this topic nothing stimulating, palatable much less interesting to write on particularly during this pandemic time ushered in by covid- 19 into the global world, given the fact that this unwelcomed guest and most dreaded, enemy brought into our lives almost every bad omen and disaster we could have thought of and had never expected.
Nevertheless, allow me to glean positive factors that certainly would be more functional, practical, and helpful for us to get over and move forward with our daily lives, so much so, that in spite of still having covid- 19 in our midst, we do not allow this woeful venom to assume control of mankind and in the end, continues ruining innocent lives.
What is the blow of covid-19 in our mission today? In my own perspective, the “blow” of covid-19 now, is nothing but the negative impact, the wicked force impinged on an innocent humanity. This kind of “blow” from a despicable villain, covid -19 is incomparably distinct to the gentle “blow” of the cool morning breeze caressing us like a soothing balm with its fresh, healthy air that sustains our daily lives, maintains harmony in our relationships, feeling unceasingly grateful toward the bounty of Mother Earth and to God our Generous Creator and Heavenly Provider.
At the outset, despite our unsophisticated life here in our small, rural mission in Loyola High School, Subanipa, Olutanga, Sibugay Province, everybody felt very much distraught, warily on guard as to what degree can covid-19 further propel its fatal “blow” on this relatively poverty-stricken community whose source of livelihood are fishing and farming with meager income to sustain the family’s day to day basic needs prioritizing their children’s education.
However, when the new school year 2020- 2021 started, and covid -19 was getting more aggressive causing more devastation in other corners of the globe, Loyola High School Administration, Faculty, Staff, Parents, mission partners, the Local Government Unit, The Philippine National Police and the Municipal Health Officer and front liners were undaunted though fearful to some extent and… who would not be? But…because we teamed up as one working force, cautiously heedful of all protective and stringent protocols to save each and every person’s life in the community, covid- 19 did not very well succeed in this environment and much less in this context.
Without losing sight of its fatal grips and blows, we focused more on the spiritual side by appealing for God’s gracious blessings and interventions, praying the Holy Rosary, at the start of our school tasks and reflecting on the Word of God through the daily Gospel. We deem it also very important, to optimize our time, efforts, energy efficiency, task effectivity, etc. to defeat the impetus of this seemingly indomitable enemy, and still achieve our aspired goal for Loyola High School Students: “Education Must Continue.” And… indeed the school year ended with our 827 students promoted to the next year level out of whom 118 Gr.12 students graduated successfully in the face of all adversities.
How do Loyola High School and the Community of Dominican Sisters survive in Subanipa amidst pandemic time? Since Education is considered a paramount investment in the lives of our children, regardless of the financial status of their family and their milieu, the Department of Education open handedly stepped up in support of our School especially to our Teachers, Students, Parents along with the whole Community of Subanipa. because they ultimately believe in the continued pursuit of qualitative education of our young people.
Almost all educational support system was made accessible to our Institution most specifically the Government scholarship grant for both to Junior High and Senior High School students which is a huge financial assistance to the family.
The pedagogical process envisioning primarily the Learning continuity of each student in this pandemic time was done via the modernized advance technology: Zoom meetings of all Administrators, Webinars for Teachers’ Trainings and Pedagogical Formation, Lectures, Inputs and updates, Conferences, etc. Even confining ourselves during numberless lockdowns, quarantined ourselves to protect others and keep ourselves protected, working from our homes several times during the year, etc.
The present crisis might still persist and continue creating chaos for more years ahead. On our end, notwithstanding, the remarkably generous presence of the Religious Missionary Dominican Sisters of the Rosary for 58 long years in this secluded, tough yet enchanting island of Subanipa make us more steadfast and undeterred.
More than ever, we, the present Community of three religious Sisters: Sister Wilhelmina Calip, Sister Jessica Badiang and Sr. Consolacion A. Sta. Maria, effortful venture to flesh out our Congregational Charism bequeathed to us by our Founders Mons. Ramon Zubieta y Les, O.P. and Bld. Ascension Nicol Goňi. Our main Missionary Charism is to specifically bring God’s Word through Education, along with our personal and communitarian life’s witnessing to people, fully aware of this relevant Mission God’s Will has situated us in.
Thus, we, Sisters and the whole community of Loyola High School involved in the task of education, vehemently engage in forging continued revitalized resilience to beat and defeat the deadly blow of covid -19 and its variants. Also, we venture, to develop a resilient mindset and attitude to recover quickly from their negative impacts, to bend like the bamboo without necessarily breaking down, to get back to our former position and become much stronger, more enlivened, and invigorated.
How do we build up resilience in ourselves, in our community and in our students? Christian Hope, Faith and Fortitude are the key factors and resources to help us achieve this in the midst of pandemic. We constantly remind ourselves never to lose hope but embrace Hope, not to weaken in strength but keep ourselves dauntless, and even stronger in maintaining our spiritual connectivity with Jesus and Mary our Blessed Mother.
Lastly, covid’s impact has not taken much of its toll simply because our faith helps us to hold our grip on to a Supreme God whose wisdom, love, magnanimity, compassion, and forgiveness imbue us with humility and endurance, repentance and conversion to come before our most loving God to make atonement for our many defilements and flaws.
We continue to reflect on Mary’s example as an open- ended” YES” to life as it enfolds. She is our shining example, trusting in God who, unceasingly surprises us, but He is always present with us amidst all surprises. Covid-19 surprised us beyond our expectation, but our Merciful God blesses each one of us with his calmness in the midst of “rough waters” on stormy days.
Sr. Consolacion A. Sta. Maria, O.P.