The “Rebecca Moment” in the Philippines
Ever since Philippine Duchesne and her companions set sail for the New World on a ship named Rebecca, we have come to speak about “Rebecca moments” as times of choice, sometimes in perilous situations or when facing similar uncertainty about the future as Philippine faced when she boarded the Rebecca in 1818.
In the Philippines our “Rebecca” moment came on August 22, 1969, when the first two Filipino RSCJ “set sail” from Japan in response to the Second Vatican Council’s call for the renewal of religious life. It was 151 years earlier on August 21, 1818 that Philippine Duchesne set foot on Market Street Landing in St. Louis, Missouri.
More Filipino RSCJ joined them to start a “little society” living in a rented apartment in the midst of the inner city of Manila, and seeking to discover how religious life for them as RSCJ would take form. The community participated in political action and education for the next twenty years of martial law until the People Power Revolution overthrew the dictatorship in 1986.
Soon after, as our contribution to nation-rebuilding, we went to Northern Samar, one of the poorest and most neglected provinces of the Philippines. This year we celebrate thirty years of presence in this Duchesne-like mission.
Together our little community of the Philippine District prayed, discerned decisions, and eventually evolved a post-Vatican religious life form that was considered a breakthrough in the lifestyle and ministries of the Society of the Sacred Heart.