Interconnecting the Dots
by Karen M. Lanipao, Columban Staff
In retrospect, it’s a grace-filled moment to see dots from random moments and be capable of making connections. It’s like seeing in your mind how an unfinished tapestry would look like once finished. This is how I attempt to highlight the notable Columban imprints in my journey.
It all began when I met Columban Sr. Ann Rita Centeno in 2010. We met in several more occasions and these gave me the opportunity to know more about the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban, who chose the garb of God’s poor in today’s world.
My thirst for eco-spirituality led me to attending a Creation Spirituality seminar facilitated by Columban Fr. John Leydon in 2014. It was my first creation-centered seminar and my first time to hear the New Story of Creation. For my online homework, I read about his ecological initiatives such as the Center for Ecozoic Living and Learning (CELL) in Cavite, and the Columbans’ Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), and Indigenous Peoples (IP) initiatives in Mindanao and other places in Luzon.
With the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ in 2015, the indigenous part of me felt affirmed and poised for action. I embraced this call despite my misgivings and desired to work with the Columbans. I frequented Malate Church to hopefully meet Father John, but my efforts were futile.
Today, being a co-worker and a Laudato Si Movement Pilipinas volunteer gave me opportunities to meet more Columbans – priests, sisters, lay missionaries and mission partners – who journeyed ahead in the unpopular terrain of Earth Care ministry. Looking back, I am now living the possibility I perceived seven years ago.
In my readings, I found a familiar story that I heard before. In the 1970s, an imprint was marked by Fr. Aodh O’Halpin, a Columban priest whose work in Ireland helped abort the Chico River dam in my home province, Kalinga. Indeed, it’s awe-inspiring to see the interconnection of events!
I am deeply grateful to the Columbans who help Indigenous Peoples in defending ancestral lands, and the right to life and self-determination. It’s an urgent mission to help protect our one and only home.
Karen carrying the globe on her head as she joins the rally on climate justice in Quezon City on November 16, 2022. (Image from Philippine Daily Inquirer, November 17, 2022)