One of the priorities indicated by the General Chapter of the Congregation of the Siervas de San Jose in 2011 in Cajar (Granada) and covered in the objectives of the Strategic Plan 2011-2017, is the LJ-SSJ integration. To achieve this end, Holy Family Province, has been designing various instruments in order to survey the understanding of the Lay Josephines and the Siervas de San Jose regarding the laical dimension of the Charism, and how the LJ-SSJ integration is understood.
In view of this and as a meaningful way of celebrating together the 182th Birthday of Fr. Francisco Butinya, the Siervas de San Jose and the Lay Josephines in Luzon Cluster gathered at Holy Family School last April 16 2016, in order to have their 1st General Assembly with two objectives in mind: (1) To share their unified understanding of the LJ identity and SSJ–LJ integration, and (2) to celebrate each other’s presence as one Josephine Family.
After a very solemn Doxology (with dance interpretation) led by the Pre-novices, Sr. Milagros Maravilla, SSJ (SSJ Provincial Coordinator), inspired the group with her welcome remarks: “… Dear LJs and SSJs, let us relish and enjoy the gift of each one’s presence… allowing ourselves to be mutually enriched by the giftedness of one another… Let’s continue the journey we have long started since the years past. Let’s continue opting for LIFE, God’s precious gift to us… LIFE of humanity and LIFE of Mother Earth…I warmly welcome all of us… especially to this, OUR JOSEPHINE FAMILY…”
Sr. Marcelina Sta. Cruz, SSJ guided the group to the flow of the activity, a very rare event to celebrate the presence of each other.
Bernie de Jesus, (LJ Coordinator), discussed the LJ profile in the Philippines: when and how it started, the number of attendance, reasons of declining membership or attendance, etc. She said that one of the reasons of the declined attendance was due to age and health conditions. She also discussed the functional organization and the journey of the 3 groups of LJs: the Butinya Group, the St. Joseph Group and the Mandaluyong Group; According to her, some of the activities that strengthen the bond and relationships of SSJs and LJs are recollections and retreats, participation to mission send off, SSJ Feast day celebrations and action programs. There is also an outreach program of Malasiqui Group and of Silay Group, living rosary, recollection and children’s catechism. The LJ Groups in Manila are involved in recruiting members to the Lay Josephines, in apostolic services, parish work and reaching out to the poor.
The theme of the event which is “THE UNIFIED UNDERSTANDING OF LJ IDENTITY AND SSJ-LJ INTEGRATION” was presented in a sitcom style. Sr. Erlinda Garaci, SSJ and Minelli Poquiz were the emcees while SSJs Sr. Marcelina Sta. Cruz and Sr. Jennifer Uy and LJs Connette Sta. Cruz, Ma. Victoria Pogosa and Nydia Macaraeg were the panelists.
The following is the summary of the panel discussion:
Panel I: Unified Understanding of the LJ Identity:
1. The Lay Josephine vocation is a call to live the same Charism that the SSJ received.
2. It is a gift to the church and as such is not exclusive to the SSJ alone. This lay vocation shares the same dignity, value and importance with that of the SSJ's.
3. LJs committed to live out the SSJ charism, are called to proclaim and give witness to the Good News of Work in their everyday lives in their family, workplace and realities proper to their state of life.
4. The SSJ and LJ share the same vocation, same dignity and same mission but differ in the manner of its expression.
Lay Josephines are called to live the same charism that the SSJ received. It is a double force in recreating the charism in two different ways hitting the target: the poor working world. The SSJs and LJs have one mind, one heart in living out the charism.
Panel II: Unified Understanding of SSJ- LJ INTEGRATION
SSJ-LJ Integration starts with the clarity that both have received the same Charism, that they share the richness of each one’s gift as religious and as lay, making the charism more dynamic and more relevant to the church and in society especially to the poor working world.
1. It is a process of journeying together, living and recreating the Charism towards one common vocation.
2. Both have a strong sense of belonging to the Josephine family, welcoming and accepting one another in all places and circumstances.
3. They recognize each other’s identity and autonomy and in the process grow in mutual knowledge, respect, acceptance and love, as they work in partnership and collaboration in the SSJ/ LJ mission and ministries.
4. Their relationship is based on solidarity, reciprocity and equality.
5. The SSJs and LJs are autonomous in financial and operational matters.
After some clarifications, affirmations and comments on the topic, lunch was served where they were able to have more personal interaction.
After viewing the video presentation on the Life of Fr. Francisco Butinya, the event was concluded with the celebration of the Eucharist by Fr. Ronnie Banaria, cmf. His challenge for both SSJs and LJs was to deepen in their identity as Siervas de San Jose and as Lay Josephines because God in his love and mercy has chosen them not only to be proclaimers of the Good News to all peoples especially to the poor but also to be the MESSAGE of the Good News.
PowerPoint profile LJ
Lay Josephines in action-1
Lay Josephines in action-2
Lay Josephines in action-3