For Good Samaritan Sister Germia Tocama, last Saturday April 13 was “one of the greatest days” of her life. Germia (pronounced Hermia) made her perpetual profession as a Sister of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict, the second Filipina woman to do so.
“The celebration was wonderful and joyful,” Germia told The Good Oil.
The Rite of Perpetual Profession took place during Mass at Holy Family Parish Church in Bacolod, Philippines, in the presence of about 200 people.
Those gathered included Germia’s family and friends, Good Samaritan Sisters living in the Philippines and a number visiting from Japan and Australia, children and parents from the Good Samaritan Kinder School, friends from Bacolod’s squatter settlements where Good Samaritan Sisters minister, local parishioners and members of other religious congregations.
Cistercian Monk, Father Filomeno Cinco OCSO, who has journeyed with Germia for many years as her spiritual director, presided over the Eucharist.
During the ceremony, described as “full of life and energy”, Germia proclaimed her vows of stability, conversion of life and obedience in her own language, Ilonggo, and the sounds of Filipino music filled the church.
“The ritual is rich in meaning with both word and gesture and [is] very participatory,” said Sister Clare Condon, Congregational Leader.
“When Germia had made her commitment, many of the kinders [from the Good Samaritan Kinder School] came running up the church to kiss her and to sit with her!”
Germia is well known to these children and their parents through her Family and School Liaison role at the Good Sam Kinder School.
For the many Good Samaritan Sisters unable to be physically present with Germia on Saturday, they were gathered in prayerful support in their communities throughout Australia, in Japan, Kiribati and Timor Leste.
“Many sisters in Japan and Australia have walked with Germia during her time of temporary profession, so it is a time of great joy,” said Clare.
“My gratitude to all those who have prayed and journeyed with me during my preparation and also on the day of my profession,” added Germia. “Thank you very much to all the Associates, Oblates, and Sisters of the Good Samaritan.”
Born and raised in a suburb of Bacolod City, Germia, age 40, first met the Good Samaritan Sisters in 1998 through a family friend. She had not long finished a business degree at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, and was working as a finance clerk for a local non-government organisation.
Over the next 15 years, Germia’s connection with the small cross-cultural community of Good Sams in Bacolod grew, and in 2002 she became a pre-novice. Then, in 2005, she took the next step and made her temporary profession.
In 2013, the Good Samaritan community in Bacolod remains small in number (there are seven sisters) but is a vibrant mix of Filipina, Japanese and Australian sisters.
“It is our most international community, where three very different cultures live, pray and minister together,” said Clare.