Fictional activist nun played by Vilma Santos in the famous movie is said to have been patterned after Good Shepherd sisters
Ten nuns of the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) of the Philippines, led by their provincial, Sr. Mary Regina Kuizon, RGS, marked the jubilee of their religious profession by renewing their vows last April 22, at Good Shepherd convent in Quezon City.
Good Shepherd sisters are of course well-known to many Filipinos who have been to Baguio City, and who have shopped at the Good Shepherd store there, famous for its delicious “ube” and strawberry jams. The money raised go to the college education of poor Cordillera youth.
In Manila and elsewhere, the Good Shepherd sisters are famous for ministering to the poor, especially abused women and victims of trafficking. Famous RGS sisters are the late Sr. Christine Tan and Sr. Pilar Versoza (of Pro-Life Philippines).
Poet and screenplay writer José “Pete” Lacaba is said to have patterned the title character of “Sister Stella L,” the celebrated movie about an activist nun played famously by Vilma Santos, after the Good Shepherd sisters.
Aside from Sister Regina, who’s a silver jubilarian (25 years in religious service), the other jubilarians were Sisters Mary Almee Olaguer and Mary Regina Pili (diamond, 60 years);
Sisters Mary Tomasita Antigua, Mary Luz Bantilan, Mary Rosario Battung, Mary Stella Mangona and Mary Regina; and Sr. Maria Arabella Balingao and Mary Lea Comia (silver).
April 22 was Good Shepherd Sunday and coincidentally also the 150th death anniversary of St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier (1796-1868), founder with St. John Eudes of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, as the RGS sisters are formally known.
A journalism graduate of the University of Santo Tomas, Kuizon joined the RGS in the 1990s after a secular stint as writer and photojournalist. She was later summoned to Rome to be the communications head of her worldwide order. She took up her master’s in communication at the Gregorian University.
Zeal and faithfulness
Sr. Ellen Kelly, RGS superior based in Rome, sent her congratulatory message read by Sister Regina:
“Sending you prayers on your celebration of your jubilee. It looks like it will be a wonderful day for your province for 10 Sisters filled with joy and gratitude.
“Imagine all the good done by these sisters! Thank you and each one for your zeal and faithfulness to our Shepherd God.”
Kelly had reason to thank the Philippine Good Shepherd sisters. Many of them now work in mission lands abroad.
Support for Sister Pat
Meanwhile, Kuizon and Fr. Cielito Almazan, OFM, cochairs of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), slammed the Duterte government for the “illegal arrest and detention by the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation” of Australian nun Patricia Fox, NDS.
“(AMRSP) expresses its solidarity with Fox … in her work of proclaiming the good news of salvation and liberation to the poor and powerless.”
“As religious and consecrated persons,” said the AMRSP heads, “we stand with her and all who do God’s mission of care and compassion for… the poor of the land.
“We are shocked that after 27 years of dedicated service to the poor, Sister Pat was unduly arrested and detained for allegedly being an ‘undocumented alien’ and for participating in “political activities.’”
“It is simply unacceptable that in the age of computerization, the Bureau of Immigration could not verify that Sister Pat had a valid missionary visa. This to us is harassment of an advocate of the rights of the poor.
“We demand that the rights of Sister Pat be respected, and so the rights of our mission partners, foreigner or Filipino, who truly work for justice in our country.
“Let the government agencies, especially the Bureau of Immigration, not hamper the prophetic work of our foreign missionaries to alleviate the lives of the poor and powerless.”