They may be small in number, but the community of Good Samaritan Sisters on Negros Island, the Philippines, continues to make a difference to the lives of many. Recently, this six-member group of women opened a new outreach centre in Bacolod.
According to the co-ordinating team members, Sisters Grace Marcelo, Germia Tocama and Anne Dixon, the Good Samaritan Outreach Centre in City Heights will be “a place of hospitality” where those who visit “will be welcomed, nurtured, and empowered”.
While the centre is a new initiative for the Good Samaritan Sisters, it will build on their existing ministries. Among these ministries, the sisters run the Good Samaritan Kinder School; they provide school scholarships, visit families in local squatter settlements, support children’s feeding programs and offer pastoral care to those in prison.
“Recently, we discerned that we have to move forward in order to reach out to more people and share our resources, including our Good Samaritan-Benedictine charism,” said Sister Germia Tocama.
“The outreach centre for me is a gift to the people we minister to. It has been created so that we can serve the people better through programs that can assist and support their hopes in life. It will also encourage and empower them.”
Working in partnership with the local community, the sisters will offer a range of living skills and personal development programs at the centre to help build sustainable solutions to poverty in the area.
Speaking to a group of 85-plus people at the opening of the centre on July 12, Sister Grace Marcelo said that poverty is a “condition” that can be overcome through collaboration with others and personal commitment.
“[Poverty] can be changed but only if we work together, only if you believe that your condition can be changed too, only if you would like to commit yourselves to change,” she said.
“How can we bring about this change?” Grace asked the group. “We can do this if we work together in partnership.
“We are not here to give you solutions or answers or even produce miracles. We are here to be a facilitator, enabler, and mediator. We believe and value the dignity of each human person and so we believe in your capacity and ability to make the change in your life. You can create a miracle in your own life. You can make a difference once you start to believe.”
Grace said it is the “dream” of the team “to see a transformed individual, family and community”.
“We can achieve this if we start working hand in hand, in partnership. And with God on our side nothing is impossible. Trust in yourself. Trust in each other. Trust in God,” she told the gathering.
“We, the team, are really excited about this venture,” said Sister Anne Dixon.
“What I’m really happy about is that we seek for it to be inclusive – meaning everyone is welcome – whether they come from our squatter areas or from the housing areas; everyone will be equal.”
If you would like to support the work of the Good Samaritan Outreach Centre in Bacolod, donations can be made through the Good Sams Foundation.