VIRIDITAS: GREENING OF THE SOUL
Interviewed by Sister Malia Dominica Wong, OP
Catholic Herald of Hawaii
By the grace of God, I’m just happy to live every day. When I made my first profession, I said to myself: “I offer my life to God in thanksgiving for all that he has done for me. I don’t remember where I read that line. Perhaps it was from a book, or from the writings of Saint Agnes of Montepulciano studied during my days of novitiate. Whichever way I came across it, I was so impressed. Of course, I didn’t foresee all the trials to come in life, but I always held on. Acknowledgement.
When trials come, I storm heaven with prayers even when I feel like prayers are meaningless, empty. In addition to sharing my trials with Jesus, I find it helpful for me to share them, discharge with the sisters and some others. For example, during the first death I experienced, that of my brother, I really needed help. My brother was shot and left dead by the side of the road. I needed to stay strong and be one with the faith for my family. I didn’t know what to do or how to get out of it.
Previously, I had befriended a Jesuit priest, Father Thomas Green, author of several books on prayer. He was invited for a year to preach at the annual retreat of the sisters. I wanted to keep in touch with him, so I tried to send him a letter in the hope that he would respond. He did, and we became mail-order friends. Father Green was one of those God sent to save me. Truly, it is the grace of God revealed through others that makes me constantly grateful.
In my current job, I am responsible for the faith formation program at Holy Angels Parish (in California). I am always enthusiastic about the work. Compared to Catholic school students who have regular religion classes, I can really feel the thirst of public school students and their parents to learn about the faith. Although parents are the first educators of their children, some do not know how to make the sign of the cross.
So I started programs offering workshops and seminars for parents. When they thank me, I tell them to thank the Lord who inspired me. It is so gratifying to hear parents say, “Thank you very much, my son is now leading the prayer at mealtimes. Or, “My child asked me to go to church on Sunday because he received first communion.” These graces are more than anyone could ever ask for. I always have tears in my eyes at first communion or confirmation. I thank God for making me an instrument of their faith.
However, as the challenges continue, some catechists have complained, “It’s been almost a year and students can’t memorize the Our Father.” I always tell them, “Just keep working with them.” As the director of the Office of Faith Formation for the Archdiocese of San Francisco said, “Just introduce them to Jesus. Students may not be able to memorize the Our Father because no one at home is praying. But, if they have a relationship with Jesus, they know how to pray. Keep praying for them; they will remember.
Sister Ma. Delia Obenza is a Dominican Sister of the Most Holy Rosary. She is the youngest of three children in her Davao City family. She has 33 years of profession. During her four years in Hawaii, she served at St. Elizabeth School in Aiea and St. John the Baptist School in Kalihi. She is currently assigned to Holy Angels Church in Colma, California, where she serves as director of the religious education program.