CEBU City, Jan. 31, 2016 – Two Poor Clares ventured out of their cloisters in Sorsogon to go on a mission at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC): to turn over monstrances from a generous American donor to Cebu’s poor parishes.
According to Sister Mary Magdalene Lagco, OSC, an American donor, who was saddened upon learning that a lack of resources had been depriving many poor parishes of the benefits of Eucharistic exposition and adoration because these require having a monstrance to protect Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, had since committed to provide monstrances to poor parishes for free.
This is where the Poor Clares come in – as bridges between the said parishes and the donor, who prefers anonymity.
Other IEC ‘purpose’
Lagco, 43, assistant superior of the Poor Clares Monastery of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, didn’t really plan to go to the 51st IEC, as contemplatives belong to the cloister, not outside, but Divine Providence obviously had other designs.
Support unexpectedly came from donors, and her superior tapped her to attend the Cebu gathering given her role in the community as formator and in-charge of liturgy. With her was Sister Marie Elvie Magsucang, OSC, a relative of Jesuit priest Fr. Jose Quilongquilong.
It also eventually occurred to Sister Mary Magdalene that her order’s spiritual mother, St. Clare, is depicted as holding a monstrance. “The Lord really wants us to be here,” she said in Filipino, noting that her other “purpose” of being at the IEC is to act as the distributor of the free montrances.
The order endorsed 51 monstrances, symbolizing the 51st edition of the IEC in the Philippines, to Fr. Carmelo Diola, SSL, chairman of the IEC’s Committee on Solidarity and Communion.
Simple conversion story
The donor, who would rather remain unknown, has a simple story of conversion. For 18 years, the donor, a hospital worker, fell away from the faith, and didn’t have time to go to Mass.
“There was no extraordinary miracle, just an inspiration,” shared Sister Mary Magdalene. The donor went to a chapel one day and prayed, and rediscovered a devotion to the Eucharist. The donor now shares the devotion by giving away pamphlets on the Eucharist to people.
An old woman mentioned to the donor the lack of monstrances in poor parishes, and since then, the donor has taken up the need to make the Eucharistic Lord known all over, especially to the poor, as her cause.
The monstrances depart from the traditional design as they can be hanged, and the receptacle for the Blessed Sacrament can be detached, Sister Mary Magdalene explained. The practical design is also meant to prevent the theft of the sacred species, she added, lamenting that nowadays, there is lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament.
The Poor Clares monastery in Sorsogon has more monstrances for distribution elsewhere in the country. Interested parishes may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 09182902003. (Felipe Francisco / CBCP News)