At 5:00 o’clock in the morning of November 16, 2019 the whole AR congregation headed to Calumpit, Bulacan. At 30 minutes past 7 that morning in Calumpit, preparations were underway to get the day started. Lines were forming according to the medical test needed by each participant. However there was one person being sought that early morning – the sponsor of the breakfast treat! At the arrival of the OLSHS community, Sr. Faith Niña Fuertes served breakfast. All the sisters, aspirants, ISS and all the participating doctors, nurses, dentists, optometrists, lawyers and volunteers all looked for a comfortable place to feed themselves to sustain them all throughout the whole morning.
At 8:01, registration was in full swing and the doctors were all in. The Medical staff was all set with the medicines donated by various drug stores and from some generous medical laboratories in Metro Manila. Sr. Dorothy Aguila and Sr. Mirriam Capellan led the sisters and nursing student volunteers in dispensing medicines to each patient after seeing their doctor. A good number of sisters were also around to greet elderly participants and bring them to the counter for their medicines. The group of elderly AR sisters were simply milling around and happily chatting with some townsfolk and there were also sisters in the lookout for those who have questions about religious vocation.
The rolling dental clinic of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was a great blessing. It came in equipped with 5 dental chairs, an x-ray machine, fixed apparatuses for surgery, etc. It was matched by the presence of 3 surgical army dentists and 2 civilian dentists of the AFP and 5 dental assistants. All the severe cases were turned over to the army dentists. The mission on eye care was also mobbed by patients. There were long lines for the free consultation and free glasses. From 8 o’clock to 3 in the afternoon, there never was a slow down, not even for a short lunch break for the eye doctors. Even the staff of the Bishop of Malolos presented herself for examination and for the free glasses.
The legal mission did no get much attention and action. Perhaps, people from Calumpit are not used to free legal assistance. But for Sr. Jeanne, it was a blessing in disguise, she had all the time to converse with the lawyers for all her legal needs. Anyway, the two lawyers were just as happy to take part in the great activity for the intentions of the congregation.
Mass was at 8:30 presided by the parish priest of Calumpit. Fr. Proceso Espiritu, in his homily, preached about the lives of the Talangpaz sisters and underscored how their holy lives resulted into the establishment of a religious congregation- the Augustinian Recollect Sisters!
The opening program was emceed by Sr. Mashyl Entac, AR. Rev. Mo. Lucena Antipala, the superior General was called to give her message after the singing of the Talangpaz Hymn. In her message to the parishioners and beneficiaries of the medical mission and recipients of loot bags, she recalled to them the noble beginnings of the Talangpaz sisters in Calumpit, their journey to Calumpang and their humble beginnings as a devotee of our Lady of Mt. Carmel, then their lives as beatas, and how it developed to become what it is now- the AR congregation. Mo. Lucena expressed her thanks to the people of Calumpit and invited them to join in the mission of the Talangpaz sisters saying, “The thrust of the Church before and now is new evangelization: Revitalization — buhayin uli ang buhay Christiano – pagbabago sa buhay natin bilang Christiano.” Then she capped her message by challenging the Calumpit folks. “Pwede ba dagdagan natin ang AR from Calumpit? Itong mission na ito ay para din sa inyo, sa ating lahat.
Venturing out to visit the river where the two sisters cruised to reach Calumpang, I noticed the rough waters that morning. Its roughness disturbed and annoyed the peaceful existence of the lilies and water plants growing by its sides. It must have been both a nice and disturbing travel by the Talangpaz sisters by this river. Perhaps they encountered challenges along the way. Nonetheless, what is important is they reached Calumpang and their sacrifices blossomed into something very beautiful!
At the general council special meeting on November 21, Sr. Marilyn Cula was congratulated for a very successful outreach activity! May God be praised!