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Twenty Years of magnifying the greatness of the Lord

Twenty Years of magnifying the greatness of the Lord as the Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Mission for the Deaf (SLMD) celebrates their foundation anniversary in Naga community

THANKS be to God for His marvelous gift to the Congregation of the Sisters of the Little Mission for the Deaf (SLMD). July 8, 2021, marks the 172 years as a congregation founded by Venerable Joseph Gualandi in Bologna Italy. It was July 8, 1849 when he received his divine call in educating and evangelizing the deaf. On July 8, 1849, as the first Holy Communion was being celebrated in the Church of the Blessed Trinity in Bologna, he saw a girl taller than the others, in the state of perplexity.

She was Carolina Galuppini, 20 years old, deaf, whom two zealous sisters , the countesses Ranuzzi, had prepared for the first communion. In that moment, Father Joseph saw the immense field of apostolate that the Lord had prepared for him, it was not in faraway lands, on other continents, but right beside him, the world of the hearing impaired, who were precluded from knowing Jesus and His Gospel. SLMD is an International Congregation of Catholic women religious, now celebrating its thirty- three (33) years of existence in the Philippines and two decades in the Naga community. This Italian-based Congregation was started providentially in this Southeast Asian Country in obedience to God’s call. God made use of Sr. Clarisinda C. Cagang, to come into fruition His plan for the deaf in the Philippines, currently the SLMD Mother Superior -Philippine Mission, she was a young student in the Philippines then, when she heard an inspiring talk on vocation by a priest from the Gualandi Fathers of Italy.

Sr. Clarisinda’s response to the “great commission” of Jesus to serve Him commenced when upon hearing the promptings of the Holy Spirit, immediately sent her application letter to the Gualandi Fathers in Italy which was eventually forwarded to the Suore Della Piccola Missione, Italian for Sisters of the Little Mission for the Deaf. The greatest joy for every believer is to respond to God’s call just like Sr. Clarisinda, the first Filipino disciple of Venerable Monsignor Joseph Gualandi whose birthday, June 9 coincides with her founder, is a true disciple of Jesus doing her mission promptly and full time. This congregation was later instructed by the Vatican to go to the Philippines and make a new home for their mission and ministry here in the pearl of the orient seas, the historical and romantic title for the Philippines. Thus, on October 30, 1988, the first missionary nuns were sent to the Philippines to set up the Congregation in the persons of Sr. Elena Di Serafino and Sr. Antionette Tegon. To assist them was Fr. Savino Castiglione, now serving as Superior General. The SLMD community was first established in Las Piñas City and later expanded to Cebu City in the south and Naga City in the North. The establishment of mission in Naga was through the invitation of then late Archbishop Leonardo Z. Legaspi. OP. DD. In March 2001, the sisters began their work among the deaf in the Bicol region. The nuns taught catechism and basic literacy to the deaf, holding classes for them in several local public elementary schools. Beside their outreach to deaf youths, the sisters became involved in health-education program for pregnant women through clinics they offered in towns around the Bicol region. A tutorial-formation center was then formally opened in Balatas Road. It started off with 10 students and, yearly thereafter, had increased in the number of students.

Today, several years after the congregation set foot in the region in 2001, its advocacy to help educate the deaf has persevered, teaching catechism and basic literacy in remote Bicol towns. Likewise, the erstwhile tutorial center in Naga City had flourished, currently offering pre-school, kindergarten and junior high school education while offering services to test hearing, Audio Brainstem Response (ABR), Pure Tone Audiometry (PTA), Play, Audiometry and tutorial ,growing in size to become the Joseph Gualandi School for the Hearing Impaired, Incorporated now offering up to Grade 7 and 8. Just like the special and unique resonance in the heart of Father Joseph Gualandi in his time on the word of the Lord “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature including the deaf”, the Sisters of the Little Mission for the Deaf and their teachers likewise committed all their energies to bring down the existing communication barriers, encouraging their integration into society, and promoting their human and spiritual talents. The life of the Sisters evolves in the eucharist and in the scriptures serving as food for their souls, nourishing their spirit and filling their hearts, meditating on them day and night putting them into practice and perfecting mortification of pride.

Their hearts rejoice in it, praising the Lord always. On a sustained and regular basis especially on weekends and holy days of obligation, the sisters serve as interpreters during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass livestreamed through various online platforms that can be viewed globally, thus, nourishing the spiritual need of the deaf community. As the SLMD sisters die, multiply in number, mature in age and holy fervor, they remain strong, firm, constant, faithful and immutable, always in grace, peaceful, joyful and consoled by the Holy Spirit. Nothing can separate them from their heavenly spouse whom they gave their fiat to everything, then, now and for always. Over the years, their simplicity and joy in their work have attracted many friends and benefactors who have helped them in big and small ways, from finding a place to call home, to providing the day-to-day provisions, assistance in their noble projects like putting up a school for the deaf, audiology clinic, basketball court that served as temporary classrooms for the past 15 years and as source of income for the salaries of teachers among others. The deaf-mute regardless of age, find solace and home in any of the Joseph Gualandi Schools and Mother Orsola Convents in all three locations in the Philippines, The SLMD sisters accept, care and love them the way Jesus did. Here lies the fundamental challenge the sisters face, to become disciples and missionaries who respond to the calling received and to communicate everywhere, in an outpouring of gratitude and joy, the gift of the encounter with Jesus Christ to all nations, including the hearing impaired and those hard of hearing the cries of the poor.

The sisters in accepting the call of the Lord consecrate themselves to the Father, to proclaim the Gospel to the deaf, and establish in the world one of the signs of the divinity of Christ, the Deaf hear. As a gift of the Spirit and only for love of God, they assume this mission in total consecration of themselves for the evangelization of the deaf, living this gift in the radicalism of the three vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and in the fellowship of community life in their quest for a sanctified life. The SLMD Mission has its origin and fulfillment in the Father, who in His plan of Salvation for all sent with the power of the Holy Spirit His Son to manifest with gestures of love his compassion and mercy. With gaze fixed on Jesus, they accepted with faith the mandate of the Church to bring the Good News of salvation to those who are deaf. Their vision is foreseeing the hearing-impaired children imbibed with Christian values as responsible stewards of God’s creation independently living among and with the society. Their mission is to provide a holistic environment for education and training of hearing- impaired children that they may develop self-confidence, self-sustainable skills and values rooted in the virtues of a morally principled person as tools for their role and integration into the society. Philosophy followed is method for a child not the child for the method as the school employs the multi-sensorial approach to oral intervention for children with hearing impairment only. The method explores the various ways of teaching aural, visual and tactile to maximize the potentials of the hearing-impaired children and make use of what modern technology offers as the school intends to instill Catholic Education to hearing impaired individuals that they may practice their faith and produce hearing-impaired students who will be able to communicate orally without the use of sign language. Core values are humility and fear of the Lord, fidelity to Christ, spirit of sacrifice, simplicity of life, unwavering integrity and compassionate service. The successful construction of the Two-Storey Joseph Gualandi School Building for Hearing Impaired with an initial of 4 Classrooms out of 12 with Multi-Purpose Hall located at the second floor in a period of 7 months was under the leadership of their Local Superior, Sr. Nora B. Patlonag, SLMD.

Unveiling and Blessing of image of Ina, Our Lady of Peňafrancia and Statues of Founder, Venerable Monsignor Joseph Gualandi and Collaborators, Venerable Mother Orsola Mezzini and Father Cesar Gualandi were a fitting way to celebrate and mark the 20th Foundation Anniversary of the SLMD, a great milestone, indeed! The Sisters attribute this beautiful and miraculous school building to our Beloved Patron of Bicolandia , our Ina, our mother under the title Our Lady of Peñafrancia, to St. Joseph whom we celebrate this year as his year and most of all to our Heavenly Father , Jesus His Son and the Holy Spirit who time and again manifested His real presence in the Eucharist and alive in each one of us. In the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Sisters are humbled by the outpouring of support from generous benefactors near and far, institutions, government officials, donors and friends for their prayers, financial and material support for the realization of this first ever school building.

The substantial amount donated by PROCENT, Germany was instrumental to jump start this project through the facilitation of EPECTO headed by Karola Klier board of Director-Germany and Dr. Rey Hernandez board of Director-Philippines and first German Volunteer Mareike Dannman and her family . The Sisters can never make it without the huge help from the Local Government of Naga headed by Hon. Mayor Nelson S, Legacion; the City Engineers Office; Solid Waste Management Office; Hon. Gabriel H. Bordado, Jr., Congressman of Third District, Camarines Sur; Hon. Luis Raymund “Lray” Villafuerte, Congressman 2nd district of Camarines Sur; Hon. Miguel Luis “Migz” Villafuerte, Governor, Province of Camarines Sur; Hon. Anthony Reyes, Mayor of the Municipality of Milaor; Hon. Eduardo Severo, Mayor of the Municipality of Calabanga; Hon. Marilou Marquez-Hirose, Mayor of the Municipality of Camaligan; Hon. Diano Ibardaloza Jr, Vice-Mayor of the Municipality of Camaligan; Hon. Allan Go, Mayor of the Municipality of Ocampo; Hon. Fermin Mabulo, Mayor, Municipality of San Fernando, Ateneo de Naga High School Batch 69 and USI Batch 69 headed by Mr. Larry Santileces, Madam Lumin Duran and Dra. Rosie; Universedad de Santa Isabel Batch 81 represented by Judge Maggie Cu; USI High School Batch 86 headed by Mrs. Che Bulaong and USI-BSN Batch 1990 headed by Mr. Achilles Amados and Mrs. Crisanta Arcilla; DepEd Naga; headed by Mr. Mariano De Guzman, OIC, Schools Division Superintendent and Mr. Renato Gavino, Chief, School Governance and Operations Division and Mam Nancy Morada, staff and employees of DepEd Naga; Missionaries of the Poor, headed by its Founder, Very Reverend Richard Ryan Ho Lung MOP, and it’s Regional Superior, Father Henry Lozano MOP, MOP brothers; Deaf Community- parents, teachers and students; Mr. Pedro Lucha, Barangay Kagawad of San Lucas, Camaligan for the Soundsystem and Lights; Mr. Ricky Magtuto for the Led Wall. Mr. Jesus Abucar for the Commemorative Markers; Doy and Mercy Preconcillo for the first ever made Image of Ina enthroned in the school wall; DN Steel; Mr. and Mrs. Dominique and Maybelle Tan Velasquez, Maria Theresa, Sixto, Tatay and Brother Celso; MOP for the making of statues; the Caceres Commission on Communication headed by Rev. Fr. Loiue Occiano, and Team Leader Kuya Dadoy, Mam Crisel who served us emcee; staff and members of CCOM, Kuya Melvin Abilay Mangaoang for editing and in photoshopping works. Major Sponsors and Honored Guests cut the ribbons and unveiled the 2 commemorative markers. Archbishop Rolando Octavus Tria Tirona, OCD. DD., Archbishop of Caceres led the Blessing of the School Building, Image and Statues and served as the Main Celebrant for the Holy Eucharist assisted by Con-Celebrating Priests of Caceres namely, Monsignor Joseph Wilmer Tria, Rev. Fr. Ryan Fenis, Rev. Fr. Dan Arnante, Rev. Fr Henry Lozano, MOP, Rev. Fr. Joey Gonzaga, Rev. Fr. Jeremy Salise, FFI, and Rev. Fr. Gerome Pelagio. God is more present in the world because of the humility, gratitude and generosity of the Sisters and the angels sent by Jesus to them to help them in their mission. His greatness passing through them as their soul proclaim the greatness of the Lord, exalting God our Savior.

The Sisters look forward to the days and years ahead as they implore the grace and mercy of God in their efforts in building God’s kingdom here on earth and for an increase in vocation so that their ministry and witness may benefit as many people as possible the world over. The mission stands and you can make a difference in the life of a deaf-mute child and the SLMD Community. Remaining 8 classrooms will be built with livelihood center and dormitory. This will be the next project and your support big or small as long as it’s coming from a joyful heart will go a long way to make a mustard seed grow into a big tree with God’s blessings. Proverbially, the amazing growth of the kingdom of God in the hearts of the deaf community had humble beginnings yet when love is sown by the angels sent by God and Ina it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the deaf-mute kids can make nests in its shade. A great percentage of the students at the Joseph Gualandi School for Hearing Impaired, Incorporated cannot afford to go to a school due to extreme poverty, some being orphaned, aggravated with the onslaught of calamities and detrimental effects due to the impact of the evil virus, whereby many families experienced being temporarily or permanently laid off from work. Poor people inordinately bear the brunt of economic shocks brought by this virus. The disease has highlighted how vulnerable and interconnected everyone is. Aim is not to turn down students who cannot afford the specialized schooling, thus, the need for continuous searching for donors and benefactors to sponsor for full and partial scholarships. Being deaf is hard enough, but to be poor and uneducated at the same time makes it even more difficult. Deaf children have the right to education, being a fundamental human right in every individual, irrespective of race, gender, nationality, ethnic or social origin, religion or political preference, age or disability. They are our hope for the future too.

For Inquiries: Contact Nos: 09182813370; 09778411541

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