God’s grace is overflowing! On
May 12, 2012, I made my perpetual vows and was immediately sent by my
congregation to Canada for mission work. It was a big adventure, and
Sister Marilyn and I arrived at Holy Trinity Parish in North Vancouver on Aug. 19, 2012, and were picked up at the airport by the generous Marge and Nael Degrano – our first family here. Fathers James Comey and Rey Usman welcomed us and handed us the keys to our convent. Our mission journey had begun and, deep in my heart, I would persistently marvel at what I would give birth to spiritually in this mission.
I love my work in the sacristy, as it has rooted me more in my relationship with God. Being a Grade 2 PREP catechist has challenged me to work with children in preparation for their first holy Communion. All our parish involvement and pastoral ministry to the hospital has made my apostolic life meaningful.
We were always encouraged by the Archdiocese of Vancouver to receive formation to get updated on ministering more effectively and I was very inspired when Murita Chua gave presentations on Catechism of the Good Shepherd. It was through her that I was inspired to adopt the methodology and start making even simple materials with cardboard.
When she invited us to attend CGS training in August 2013 at St. Jude’s Elementary, it grounded me greatly in my faith, in my vocation as a religious, and in our ministry to children.
With much joy and inspiration, I asked permission from Lea Young to help as a volunteer in her atrium every Tuesday. I was welcomed with open arms by St. Jude’s Principal Mike Perry and from September 2013 to June 2014 he asked me to present my vocation story to all grade levels in the school. I learned a lot by having hands-on experience of the methodology with the students and was determined to finish Level 1 training in May 2014.
Academic Year 2014-2015 was a challenging year as I was required to remain in the convent more. However, this gave me the opportunity to start making CGS materials. In October 2014, my sister fell seriously ill for three months in the Philippines. I spent most of my time in our chapel praying for her to get well and recover. It was also at this time that I completed making CGS Eucharistic presence materials. Due to my sister’s condition and my love for CGS at the same time, I started praying Psalm 23 – the Lord is my Shepherd – every day. Praise God, my sister recovered and is alive today.
On July 19, 2015, a turnover of pastors took place. Father Comey, who was very much appreciated by the sisters for his fatherly love and care for us, entrusted us to Father Augustine Obiwumma, who is very supportive and empowering to us in all our endeavours. I started with CGS Level 2 Training in August 2015.
CGS started to sprout and grow as I substituted in St. Jude from September to November 2015. By January 2016, CGS was introduced to Holy Trinity Elementary as a program in preparation for first holy Communion. Holy Trinity Principal Kevin Smith liked the program materials he had seen and I told him I was willing to offer the program at his school. As part of our preparation, he and I visited St. Jude’s CGS Room (Atrium) and I started attending CGS Level 3 Training in August 2016.
The Good Shepherd is very faithful, and our CGS Level 1 Atrium was blessed by Father Augustine on Oct. 11, 2016 (timely as it was the birthday of my sister who recovered). It was attended by most of our parishioners from the morning Mass including Adrian Smith, a parishioner who helped me with most of our wooden materials.
The CGS program started with Kindergarten, Grade 1, and Grade 2 once a week. Each grade level was divided into two groups who would come to CGS for an hour each. I am blessed that God sent me Alejandra Lara to assist me in the implementation.
The work of the Good Shepherd cannot be prevented and it continues to blossom as we hosted more CGS training. This will give birth to a new atrium on the North Shore at St. Anthony’s Parish, soon to be followed, we hope, by Deacon Renee Nahanee bringing it to St. Paul’s, North Vancouver.
The CGS program for the academic year 2017-2018 was offered for Kindergarten to Grade 3 once a week and from Grades 4 to 7 once a month. With the gift of more children, I am double-blessed by Monica Altamirano and Mariana Amui who are generously assisting me in the implementation of the program.
This academic year 2018- 2019, CGS runs from Kindergarten to Grade 4 once a week and Grades 5 to 7 once a month. Sister Margaret Z Hkawn Ri comes in and helps me every Thursday and I am hoping that soon we will have full implementation of the program in all grade levels next school year.
I thank God for giving me a lot of patience working with the children, and for teaching me profoundly about my faith through CGS. This is my driving force in adopting and loving this program, giving me the courage to experiment and apply this methodology to our children. This program has given me a great deal of discipline and diligence in prayer, preparation, and handing on the faith to the children.
Being a humble sower of the faith, I learned a lot more from the children listening to their responses and the output of their work. It gladdens my heart when they repeatedly say in prayer: “I love you Jesus!” “Thank you, Jesus, for (countless things they can mention).” “Happy birthday, Jesus!”
I am so inspired by children who quietly work on a liturgical calendar, setting the altar table, or with materials on the Mass and baptism. The children’s favourites are materials on the Good Shepherd, the Last Supper, the Empty Tomb, and a puzzle map of the city of Jerusalem. It is such an inspiration when Grade 1s can name all the Articles of the Mass. It is truly inspiring to see the Grade 2s receive First Holy Communion, knowing the gestures and prayers at Mass, which they have learned the whole year with their Roman missal and repeated mini-masses. It is amazing to see the children’s faces beaming with joy and confidence and the bond they have for each other receiving Jesus for the first time.
One time we were going through the Holy Mass. The class was so quiet I could tell how profound the experience was and how they understood it. With joy, I told them that we would invite Father Augustine next time, but one student said confidently, “When he comes, he will just sit down and we will be the ones to say the Mass!” I hope that one day this program encourages priestly vocations among our children.
When we first implemented CGS, I was afraid the children won’t understand the presentations of the parables. But I was surprised to see how easily they comprehended and reflected upon them. I am convinced now that the parables are also meant for the children.
I am grateful to have finished all my CGS training this summer and am proud to be a recipient of a scholarship for both my Level 2 and Level 3 formation. Holy Trinity Elementary and Parish were also very supportive in my travel expenses and my religious community was very generous in supporting me through this wonderful faith formation program. I am also very thankful for my CGS formators Deb, Susan, Carolyne-Marie, and Lynn, and for all the families and friends who have hosted me and inspired me in this endeavor. And truly, all glory to God the Good Shepherd!
Sister Minerva I. Boado, SNDS, is a La Salette Sister from the Philippines. She is currently coordinator and catechist of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and coordinator of PREP and youth ministry at Holy Trinity Parish.