Three women in the Philippines, who longed to deepen their relationship with God, have become the first Good Samaritan Oblates outside of Australia.
At a ceremony which took place at Holy Family Parish in Bacolod on September 7, Susan Delfin, Marites Lagrito and Lelanie Cautivar made their oblation.
In doing so, the women join more than 80 other Good Samaritan Oblates from across Australia.
The new oblates have made a commitment to living the Good Samaritan call to prayer, community and service in their daily lives and connecting with each other to nurture community.
Marites Lagrito is the principal of the Good Samaritan Kinder School in Bacolod and the first lay person to take up that role. She was first connected to the Good Samaritans when joining the Kinder School as a teacher 16-years-ago. A year later Marites began her journey to becoming an oblate, starting out as a Good Samaritan Associate.
“I was eager to deepen my relationship with God and also with the Sisters,” said Marites. “It was Sister Leonie [Duenas – former principal of Good Samaritan Kinder School] who first told me that the Good Samaritan Sisters have other partners aside from associates. I eagerly asked her if I could join. She said yes and so I began my formation.”
Marites recalled the oblation ceremony as a special day surrounded by important people in her life.
“It was a very moving and blissful day for me,” said Marites. “I felt really special as I know only few have this kind of opportunity.”
Like Marites, Susan Delfin was introduced to the Good Samaritans through the Kinder School – where she has volunteered for the last six years.
Susan’s journey has not been an easy one, having lost her mother at a young age and then becoming a single mother after her marriage broke down many years ago.
Her desire to be part of a community, where she could be of service to others, is what originally drew Susan to join the growing oblate movement.
“I wanted to be part of something where I was a blessing to others and could touch their lives. I have found this with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan,” said Susan.
During her time at the Kinder School, Susan has been immersed in the Good Samaritan charism. She was introduced to the oblate movement by a Sister visiting from Australia and is delighted to be a part of it.
“On the day of our ceremony, messages from the Australian oblates were pouring in to welcome, support and accept us to the growing oblate movement,” she said.
This joy is echoed by Lelanie Cautivar who said: “My happiness cannot be explained”.
“I am overwhelmed and very happy to be part of the oblate community of Good Samaritans.”
The first Good Samaritan oblation ceremony took place on July 2002 at St Scholastica’s in Glebe, NSW, following growing calls for a deeper, more formal relationship.
Before oblation can take place an individual must move through the stages of Inquiry and Candidacy.
“This process lasts for several years and involves a process of formation in Good Samaritan spirituality and way of life,” said Sister Sonia Wagner, Coordinator of Oblates. “After this they can make their commitment to live by the Rule of St Benedict in the spirit of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan.
“Once an oblate, they continue to engage in ongoing formation through a local oblate group and renew their oblation annually.”
Accompanying the oblates since mid-2016 has been Sister Germia Tocama.
“My responsibility has been to accompany them as we learn together to be good neighbour to each other,” said Germia. “Together we strive to integrate and live out the values of Benedict, of community and of prayer in our lives.”
Germia noted that the movement is not without its challenges.
“One of the challenges is the demand of our daily ministries,” she said. “Each person needs to negotiate the time we can come together for community lectio divina (sacred reading).
“We have to be mindful to sustain our connection and hold regular meetings to keep the fire of God’s love burning in our hearts.”
For these oblates, the journey continues as they progress with their commitment to seeking a deeper connection with God, to live and share the Benedictine spirituality and strive to be neighbour.