FAITH
Ashore in Dumaguete
by Rev. Fr. Roman C. Sagun, Jr.

The superior of the seven pioneer SPC missionaries to Dumaguete was Mother Marthe de St. Paul Legendre. More of their account is as follows:

We rose early and got up on deck. From a distance, we could make out Dumaguete. The houses were lost in the greenery between the mountains on the one side and the sea on the other. It was really beautiful. Furthermore, after Manila, we had been sailing between the islands. We saw only a range of mountains covered with verdure and seemingly inhabited by uncivilized pygmies, monkeys and parakeets.

We were getting nearer. From afar we greeted this soil of Oceania where we would be working for the salvation of souls. Already we took possession of it in the name of God and of the Community. During the Novitiate, I had always dreamed of the faraway missions, but never, never had I thought that one day I would be sent to one of the South Sea Islands, far, far away, at the other end of the world. Oh, the good Lord has granted my desires beyond my expectations. My lot is beautiful and I would not exchange it for a kingdom.

Dear little Sisters of the Novitiate, come, come quickly to join us. If you only knew the good that there is to be done here… It is the mission, the true mission, such as we dream of it in the Novitiate… But let me continue my story…

The ship dropped anchor more than one hundred meters away from the harbor. There was not enough water for the ship to come closer. On shore, a great number of men and women were coming and going, calling each other, arriving from all directions.

A boat left the shore. It was the parish priest who had come to meet us. He welcomed us and invited us to disembark. Our arrival had been long awaited.

Rowing ceased about fifty meters away from the ship. A score of men waded toward us. Four of them advanced, holding up a chair. The priest gave them a signal and, to Sister Superior’s horror, the men prepared to lift and seat her on the bamboo armchair. It was the last straw.

“They are going to carry me on that,” she cried in despair. “I will surely die of fear… Ah! I prefer the hanging stairs and the planks!” Sighing profoundly all the while, she raised herself and managed to sit in the armchair. Eight sturdy arms lifted her like a feather and there she was, borne in triumph as King Clovis had been, once upon a time, on the shields of the Franks. She was not as selfassured as the young warrior, for she was trembling all over, hardly noticing the group of men escorting her in the water, as she repeated over and over the Hail Mary of a soul in mortal danger… What an unforgettable sight!” (to be continued)


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