MY GREAT COLUMBAN “CLOSE ENCOUNTER”
by Sister Socorro Largo, RSM
After the closing celebration of the Columban Missionaraies’ 100th year Jubilee in the mountains of Don Victoriano, Misamis Occidental; and the celebration of my 60th year as a Sister of Mercy in Iligan City, in 2018, I thought of writing this article.
I finished my high school and college education at the Immaculate Conception College in Misamis (now Ozamis City) like my great mentors: the Columban Sisters and Priests, and the lay missionaries. It was during this time when I first met the young Columban Priest, Rev. Father Patrick Cronin, SSC, who later became an Archbishop. He covered the Aurora, Zamboanga areas to celebrate Sunday masses with the people, turning up in our barrio, Tambulig, on a horse or in a left-over WWII jeep. It was impressive, how he could easily adapt to the unfamiliar territories and the people in the Philippines.
Archbishop Patrick Cronin with the Religious Sisters of Mercy sisters and a Columban Sister (rightmost), Mindanao
Years later, an American Columban Priest, Father Edmond Bahl, SSC, confirmed my religious vocation and connected me to the Religious Sisters of Mercy who were just starting their Mercy Mission in Tubod, Lanao. These Mercy Sisters, especially during their pioneering days, were greatly assisted by the Columban Family in adjusting to the Mission. Because of the Columbans’ love for Mother Earth, they have helped in our efforts on reforestation in Mt. Malindang and in some work with the Subanens. The Sisters of Mercy continued working with the Columban Fathers, establishing schools in three towns and a hospital in Iligan City
The Columban Missionaries and the Sisters of Mercy share the same Irish roots. The Religious Sisters of Mercy started in Dublin City in 1831. Some Irish Columban friends said that they were educated by the Sisters of Mercy.
I thank God and Mama Mary for these “close encounters” with the Columban Missionaries. It is indeed a year to be grateful, being connected with the Columban Family since the late 1940s.
Sr Socorro Largo (center) with Virgie Vidad of Pedalling for a Living (rightmost) and a friend (left)
during the 60th anniversary of Sr Socorro as a Mercy Sister
Sr Socorro with Columban Father Paul Finlayson