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Educating poor children and young people from broken families

By Rechilda Estores

Sr. Ma. Teresa Agustiniada Ouano, a Filipina councilor for mission-apostolate in Leaven of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (LIHM) in Laguna, Philippines, shares the congregation’s dedication in education and formation of the young people and families. “Our community was officially founded in the Philippines in 1991 and we devote ourselves to the evangelization and formation of youth and their families,” she told Vatican News. She said that LIHM congregation believes in the relevance of evangelization of the people. “Our charism in evangelizing young people is through continuous catechetical instruction, Bible studies, monthly formation, retreats, recreation and other activities,” she added. Sr. Ouano stated that the works of the LIHM sisters is an action from their charism. “The mission of Christ continues to unfold through the institute in the evangelization of the youth, particularly in the public schools, families, and parishes through the devotion to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,” she furthers. “We respond to the needs of the Church in line with our charism.” She pointed out that the charism of the LIHM community is “victimhood”. “Every LIHM Sister humbly and joyfully accepts this gift, offering our sufferings and sacrifices to become a leaven of Christ’s work of salvation in the Church,” Sr. Ouano said. She emphasized that the LIHM sisters works “with a generous and open heart,” she added. “LIHM shares in the sufferings of others, transforming these sufferings into love.”

She discussed that their mission to spread the Catholic faith is important because the LIMHs “confidently hold onto the promise that God will not only continue but finish the transformational work He has begun in us.” Sr. Ouano also expressed that their belief is lived through the “embodiment of God’s Word into practice and realizing more fully of LIHM’s mission in spreading the good news.” The LIHM councilor for mission-apostolate also said that the LIHM congregation “strives to encourage others to see the face of Jesus in the midst of this challenging world.”

Teaching Catholic Education

Sr. Ouano emphasized the need and importance of Catholic education for young people.

“We have been closely collaborating with the Department of Education program of recovering the moral and spiritual formation of students, teachers, school principals, and school heads,” she said.  The Filipina sister expressed that LIHMs continue to educate and “help the youth specifically in public and private schools where the Christian faith is not regularly taught,” she said. She said that they have “responsibility to help both in the moral and spiritual formation of our young students as most of them come from broken families,” Sr. Ouano also shares the role of the congregation in teaching the children.

“We are in a better position to help as we deal with them almost every day in school and many of them are lost in drugs and in bad company because they do not know Jesus and Mother Mary,” she elaborated. “They just don’t know anything better because nobody tells and guides them to what is more meaningful and better in life as even their parents failed, too, in this aspect.” She shared that they talk to “parents through house-to-house evangelization to encourage their children to pray, listen to God and not turn away from His call.” Sr. Ouano pointed out that LIHM animators have to provide resources for the children “since most of the children are from public high schools and are poor and can’t afford to pay for their fare and other needs.” She also mentioned that some students “had learned and they had striven to be model students and Catholics in and out of school.”

Sr. Ouano went on to discuss that the “LIHM attracts the youth to participate in the life of faith” and serve God, she continued. “Since youth are bold, brilliant, daring, firm and passionate, enough to set the world ablaze, the LIHM endeavors to redirect their energies towards a virtuous life by challenging them to use all their talents and zeal towards the glory of God.” The Filipina sister explained that “LIHM inculcate Christian virtues and values among their students; LIHM use holistic, integral and contextual approaches in order to reach out and to educate the whole person.” She added that LIHMs “accompany and dialogue with young people, telling them that it is a privilege and a joy to serve the Lord and his people which we enjoy with all our heart.” She expressed that the LIHM life particularly “encourages the young people to love human life and dignity by embracing a life of purity and goodness.”

Women of faith

Sr. Ouano said that the congregation recognizes Mary as our mother, guide and inspiration in all things. “Every LIHM Sister strives to acquire the same dispositions that the Blessed Mother exemplified in her life,” she added. In her 21 years of service, Sr. Ouano has expressed the hopes of the LIHM congregation to involve women in serving the Church. She invites women to “surrender and trust that God planted the vocation in us and will transform our life beautifully.” She added that the sisters will continue to serve God with “an unending labor of love and faithfully persevere in service to the people. We faithfully pray and work for souls, it has become a part of us, a lifestyle for all Marian animators and SCGs (Scholastic Core Groups).” Sr. Ouano concluded the interview by encouraging people “to inspire others and take the risk of responding to God’s call.” (Vatican News)


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