July 10 a heartbreaking day

Pat-P Daza - The Philippine Star
July 10 a heartbreaking day
My St. Paul (Quezon City) classmate Teresa Cortes

July 10 was the fatal day for 11,071 employees of ABS-CBN. I bet everybody knows why. It was a heartbreaking day, to say the least. I was so emotional and I was advised to take a break. This is why I didn’t have an article Monday last week. I needed time to grieve and process the travesty that happened; and maybe, find the “silver lining” in all this.

Last May 23, I got a message from Margarette Castro, a former high school classmate. She said that another classmate, Teresa Cortes, was assuring me of her prayers for our franchise renewal. It turns out that Teresa is now Sr. Mary Triana, a contemplative nun (Pink Sister) based in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. I was overjoyed to receive the news. I asked Margarette how I could get in touch with Sr. Mary, and she obliged by sharing Sr. Mary’s e-mail address with me. Since then, Sr. Mary and I have been corresponding quite regularly and she has graciously allowed me to tell parts of her story.

Today, July 20, is her birthday. Aug. 8 will mark her 25th Silver Jubilee in the Religious Profession as a contemplative nun. 2020 is actually her 28th year as a nun, but it was on Aug. 8, 1995 that she completed three years of postulancy and the novitiate. Had it not been for this pandemic, some high school classmates from St. Paul College, Quezon City who are based in the USA would have visited Sr. Mary to celebrate this momentous occasion with her. Sr. Mary was so looking forward to seeing classmates she has not seen for over three decades. For now, the jubilee will be celebrated only with the members of their community in attendance.

I remember Sr. Mary as a quiet girl when we were in grade school (St. Paul, Pasig) and high school. According to her, it was when she was in Grade 3 that she read the story of St. Rose of Lima. This is when she began to entertain the thought of becoming a nun. When her father passed away when she was nine and a half years old, a priest who was at her dad’s wake asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She instantly replied that she wanted to be a nun. Initially, she thought of becoming a doctor. She believes, however, that St. Rose must have prayed for her, making the decision to join the religious life inevitable.

Sr. Mary belongs to a close-knit family, and she’s the youngest of 10 orphaned siblings. Imagine the disbelief of her brothers and sisters when she told them she wanted to be a contemplative nun. They tried to dissuade her but when God’s gentle call intensified, she could not say “no” to the invitation.

In school yearbook), now contemplative nun (Pink Sister) Sr. Mary Triana based in St. Louis, Missouri, USA (below), is celebrating her birthday today July 20).

The choice of becoming a Pink Sister was also providential. Together with family or friends, she would visit the Pink Sisters Convent in Baguio City occasionally. She remembers always being in awe of the sanctuary and the silence and reverence the chapel exuded. In 1988, she applied to the convent in Baguio and began corresponding with the vocation directress.

Unfortunately, when the housekeeper of the Corteses saw her application papers, she threw them away. This made her think that this was a sign that the religious life was not for her. And then, in 1991, she and her sister went on a Holy Week Visita Iglesia. Their last destination was supposed to be Mt. Carmel church on Broadway avenue, but the taxi driver got lost and brought them instead to — lo and behold — St. Joseph’s Convent, or the Pink Sisters in Quezon City. For her, this was a “happy fault experience.” From then on, her journey towards the fulfillment of a contemplative life began. On May 1, 1992, she finally answered His call and was admitted as a member of the community.

As a contemplative nun, a Pink Sister is a silent witness of God’s love and goodness to others. Most of all, Pink Sisters are witnesses to God’s real presence in the Most Holy Eucharist, in His Sacraments and to His presence in every person and throughout all creation. She embraces a life of total dedication, centered solely on the Divine.

They are known as Pink Sisters because of their rose or pink-colored habits which symbolize the joy and love of the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is their role model. Each sister, therefore, bears in her religious name either Mary, Marie or Maria. Their founder is St. Arnold Janssen and Mother Mary Michael is co-foundress. Her cause for beatification is underway.

The Holy Adoration Sisters’ Convents located all over the world may have different time zones for the daily schedule, but they all follow the same activities. They arise at 5:15 a.m. and retire at 8:30 p.m. In between, they have meditation time and the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the twice-a-day examination of conscience (the first before lunch and the second before the night prayer). They pray the Liturgy of the Hours, which consists of the Office of Readings, Midmorning Prayer, midday and mid-afternoon prayers. They also have the community of vocal prayers (i.e. recitation of the rosary) or attend conferences given either by a clergy or a lay resource speaker. Due to the pandemic, however, the conference is now limited to a monthly recollection given by their father chaplain. They also have working time and engage in personal individual prayer. Over and above these, they take turns in the adoration, 24 hours a day, seven times a week.

Knowing how devoted Sr. Mary Triana and her fellow Pink Sisters are to God is a comforting and reassuring thought. How soothing and touching it is to know that despite all the evil in the world, there are still many selfless individuals out there who have dedicated their lives to praying for us, sinners.

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