She Kept her Faith Alive…
Volume 20 Number 1
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 17:23
Sr. Josephini Ambatali, SFIC
Provincial Superior
Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate

December 23, 2005

Dear Sisters,

Today, we are committing Sister Mariani, born to Mariano and Maria Dimaranan on February 1st, 1924, and baptized Marcela, to the womb of Mother Earth. We celebrate her passing away in this Mass of the Resurrection, as the victory over death (in its many forms) earned for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a most fitting way to bring to a close the earthly presence of one whose hope was always fixed on the promise of life to those who believe. Sister Mariani was such a person. In her vocation story, entitled “Moments of Faith Response” written during her early religious life, she mused: “Why was I accepted as a Franciscan? It seemed like ‘love at first sight’… would this last? Is it really the will of God that I join the Franciscans? … Nevertheless, I didn’t have the least thought of giving up my vocation. … I felt my calling to the religious life in the day to day situations that crossed my way, and, the interest and commitment I took as faith responses to people in their situation were opportunities sent by God. Early in life, I was inclined to a life that would share myself with others, especially with the poor … There were blocks, but these were opportunities for faith response."

After her release from three months of detention as a “political activist”, Sister Mariani was asked to head the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines set up by the Association of Major Religious Superiors to defend political detainees under military custody and to document the human rights abuses of the Marcos dictatorship. She headed this Task Force for about twenty years. At one time, she said of the TFD: “The AMRSP decided to put up the Task Forces after a series of biblical reflections. I’d like to stress that these Task Forces have a two-fold purpose: to respond to the needs of the victimized people, and to create vehicles by which religious can be closer to people” (underlining SFIC’s). This, no doubt, is another instance of her faith response, a public profession of her conscious acknowledgment of our Foundress Mother Teresia’s charisma or gift whereby the experience of the reality of God’s love makes one aware of the nearness of God in the poor, the little ones, and the powerless, and enables her work for God’s Kingdom of justice and peace. Sr. Mariani’s response to the query “Why did I become a nun?” verifies this. Her answer: “What should be my response to oppression as a follower of Christ? … It is not so much the theology of liberation as my religious vows that push me to do this work.”

We all know that she received honors for her work from similarly-oriented groups. She was also nominated as one of this year’s 1,000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize. But for Sr. Mariani, these were but incidental to the faith she kept and nurtured.

The book A Woman of A Kind, a collection of talks she gave during Martial Law, is a testimony to the painful experiences, as well as the courage of those who, with her, have committed themselves to the struggle for justice, human rights and true democracy … an inspiration hopefully for the youth of today to carry on with this kind of work.

Even from her sick bed, Sr. Mariani lamented the fact that the struggle is far from finished. She saw the transgression of human rights being repeated in the poverty of peoples.

Sr. Mariani was given the gifts of a “woman of strength” --- kneeling in prayer to keep her soul in shape … showing courage in the midst of her fear … giving the best of herself to everyone … realizing that life’s mistakes can also be God’s blessings, and capitalizing on them … knowing God will catch her when she falls … wearing grace, not the look of confidence, on her face … having faith, not that she is strong enough for the journey, but that it is in the journey that she will become strong … (an adaptation).

Thus had Sr. Mariani kept her faith alive despite all odds. To be now with the God, Source of her strength and endurance, is her sure reward. May her faith continue to live on among us.

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