My experience of being attracted or drawn to the Good Shepherd mission is a story of journeying with people from all walks of life. This story began in St. Bridget College, a school founded by the Good Shepherd Sisters. I studied social work and head my practicum with the street children and youth from the urban area. This was also my first exposure to the real face of poverty and deprivation. And so, the seed of vocation to religious life started to sprout.
After college, Sr. Cora Demetillo invited me to work at the Euphrasian Residence (a teenage centre in Quezon City, Philippines). It was to be a four-year intimate relationship with St. Mary Euphrasia. I remember putting her photos on my table, and pasting some on the wall where I could see her each time I counselled a girl, because deep in my heart, I knew I was not alone. Indeed she was ever present, touching the lives of every girl under our care.
In June 1997, I joined the Good Shepherd congregation. During my Juniorate years, I was missioned to Good Shepherd Home, Legazpi City, Bicol and St. Bridget College, Batangas City. Journeying with students, youth women in poor barangays was an experience of shepherding and being shepherded in return. Their stories were my stories too.
In January 2005, I felt God calling me to another way of life; a call to leave the congregation and be a lay person. My only prayer then was for god to lead me to be part of any Good Shepherd ministry. The following year, I worked with the Good Shepherd Sisters in Tagaytay in their ministry for priests and women religious.
It was in Tagaytay that I met Sr. Susan Chia. She invited me to work at the Teenage Centre, Ampang. I arrived on 18th December 2007. I started working with five girls. Today, we have 17 girls full-time with us and another two on weekends. It has been a challenging mission. My consolation is the untiring support and guidance of the staff and Sisters here. Theresa Symons initiated a staff fellowship once or twice a month. It’s an opportunity to have peer support, games and laughter; to have dinner and break the word of God together. Each time we meet, it is like drinking fresh water from the wellspring, and I am nourished and ready to move on and give of myself again for the mission.
The mission of compassion and reconciliation attracted me most in the Good Shepherd. As I continue to give myself to the mission, I am being moulded in the process.
As I conclude, I offer this prayer, “Jesus, my loving Shepherd, thank you for calling me into the Good Shepherd fold. You have been journeying with me in pasture and peril. Thank you for the gift of St. Mary Euphrasia and St. John Eudes. Their presence is very much alive as the Good Shepherd people carry out their mission in response to the signs of the time.
~ Alona Aguila ~