Sr. M. Pia Lumiwes
“I am forever grateful that God called me to be His disciple. This has filled me with joy all the days of my life. Jesus is my joy always and forever,” Sr. M. Pia happily said.
Her family fondly called her Rosa, her baptismal name. This is her story of a life of steadfast joy.
Rosa was one of the Igorot people. When she was a child, her parents had arranged her to be engaged. This was part of the culture in the Mountain Province, and the young Rosa did not question this custom. She said: “this was how things were in our life and in our culture. We accepted our situation.”
Rosa was very happy because everything was arranged for her. All she had to do was follow the guidance given to her. The marriage rite was already arranged. Everything was prepared before she was born. She finds this amazing even now … how their ancestors and parents prepare the future of their children. For Rosa, she understood that this was their way of caring for their children.
On the other hand, without their knowing, ever since she was a child, she had this strong desire to become a religious and joining a congregation which she can call her family. She desired to see herself as one of those who spends each day of their lives in love and service to the Lord. This desire of hers gave her a certain joy which only she understood.
With this desire, she had her own plan to search for a Congregation with the intention of joining them. During her college years, she came to know a native Congregation, the SIHM (Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary). They were open to accepting the Igorot women. Rosa was very happy and the hope of joining this Congregation was a source of great joy and excitement. She was not able to enter at the specified time because she was working as a teacher. She understood that it was not the moment to her to fulfill her childhood desire.
Years passed and she forgot about that desire. God knocked at the door of her heart again. He had His own way of leading her to where He wanted her to be. While teaching in elementary school Rosa met someone who was in the Congregation called the Pious Disciples of the Divine Master. Listening to her friend telling her about it, Rosa had a feeling of great joy and felt desire to belong to them. She didn’t tell her family about this, and she felt that her father would be against this idea.
Without their knowledge, she went with a friend to Manila who had entered the Daughters of St. Paul (DSP). This Congregation had the same Founder as the Disciples of the Divine Master. It was her first experience to go to Manila, and she tagged along with her friend who brought her to visit the Disciples of the Divine Master in Pasay.
In Pasay, she was overjoyed when she met the 17 aspirants. Sr. Aloisia Diato, an Italian sister was their formator and superior. Rosa immediately presented herself to the Superior and expressed her desire to join them. The Superior was happy to meet her. She didn’t ask her many questions about Rosa and accepted her immediately. Her entrance was scheduled one month after that meeting.
Rosa went home with her heart filled with great joy and hope. At last, she will fulfill her desire. She didn’t waste a single minute of time in preparing the documents. She met her Bishop who gave his support and blessing for her decision. However, because she was doing all this without her family’s knowledge, she had a problem when her father found out. At first, she was happy when her father said that he would come with her to get all the documents needed from their Parish. But to her great surprise, his intention of coming along with her was to tell their Parish Priest not to release even one of the documents that she needed. In other words, he strongly disagreed to her decision of becoming a nun. This was a difficult time for her and made her sad because her father had the last word in the family.
However, Rosa believed that if it was God’s will, it will happen. True enough, God intervened in the person of their Parish Priest who talked to her father and convinced him. They went home with all the documents and most importantly, with a light and happy heart having won the favor of her father. She felt as if everything had been arranged by God, especially when she saw that the date of her Baptism coincided with the date of her entrance into the Congregation. That was so significant for her and she was even more convinced that she was doing God’s will.
Before leaving, her father told her: “Now, you will be joining the sisters. Always remember this, if one day you will change your mind, and you cannot enter the congregation and you are sent back home, because you are unsuitable, then you are very welcome to come home to us.” The joy that filled her heart at that moment wasn’t taken away with her father’s strong words, because she was so sure of her decision and call become a Sister Disciple of the Divine Master.
She was given the religious name of Sr. M. Pia Lumiwes, with St. Pius as her Patron Saint. Now, Sr M Pia is 88 years old, and she has spent 61 years in the Congregation. The joy that she had when she was a child, when she desired and searched for a Congregation has never diminished. Her soul is still filled with joy and gratitude to God who loved and called her. She may be the only Igorot in the group, but she never felt like she was different or was rejected. Instead, she feels so much at home in the community, despite the differences in culture and upbringing: wherever she is sent by God: either in the Philippines or abroad.
Her memory of the first day in the congregation is vivid. She was so happy because she was welcomed and respected by her companions and
She said, “Until today, I pray that there will be more Igorot women who will join us in the congregation. I am forever grateful that God called me to be His disciple, and this has made me rejoice all the days of my life.”
Just like our first Mother, Venerable Mother Scholastica Rivata who said, “Solo Tu Mi Basterai”, Sr. M. Pia also uttered these words, “Jesus is
my only joy always and forever and He alone is enough for me.”