Holy rosary

Sister Dorothea Pamplona, ​​Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary: ​​God’s Ways


Interviewed by Sister Malia Dominica Wong, OP
Catholic Herald of Hawaii

I never expected that when I became a religious, I would be sent to so many places to serve in so many varied functions. From the Philippines, I was sent on a mission to Hawaii and Saipan, before returning to the Philippines. In September, I will be leaving our motherhouse for parish work in Tuscany, Italy. At this age in my life, being assigned to another mission is exciting. As Pope Francis encourages us all to spread the joy of the Gospel, I feel it is my calling as a Dominican sister to spread the Good News.

The most difficult experience of the mission occurred during my first assignment in Hawaii. I was then only a temporary professed nun, like a baby who needs to learn many things. I remember when we had visitors at the convent and it was my cooking day, I cried. But there was an angel sister I would ask to help me, and she would cook such delicious meals.

The culture and the way of speaking the English language was new to me. It was difficult to teach in class. But after the first year, the first challenges were overcome, and by the third year, I felt at home.

I really enjoyed teaching first and second year. Preparing the children for their first communion was my greatest joy. It was such a privilege to see the children grow in their love and encounter with Jesus. It was also fun to accompany the children to their sports games, to support and encourage them. Watching students grow from their early days of learning to read and write to become professionals years later is priceless.

After 11 years in Hawaii (1975-1986), I no longer wanted to leave. I really loved the people, especially those in Kauai where I served the majority of my mission. I even made my last religious profession at Holy Cross Church in Kalaheo. But God had God’s plans and 11 of my companions and I needed to leave the country because of a visa problem.

In Saipan, I looked forward to Sundays after teaching during the week, because after Mass we would tour the island and visit the sick and housebound. In the Philippines, I served as a teacher, school administrator and formator of young religious. One year, I had under my direction 26 postulants who gave them lessons from morning to evening. I said to Mother General: “I want to resign. But, she kept saying that she couldn’t find me a replacement and that she was “just waiting”. Each moment was followed by another until several years passed.

In everything, I always said, “Lord, I’m doing my best. It’s not my job, it’s his; not my mission, but God’s. Now I have three students who have become Dominican seminarians and one student who has become a Dominican sister.

As I leave for my new mission in Tuscany, three of my religious companions were my former novices, one of whom will be my superior at the convent. It is a humbling experience. God has his own ways. We continue to do our best to serve people.

Sister Dorothea Pamplona is a Dominican Sister of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines, professed for 49 years. From 1975 to 1986, she served at Holy Cross School in Kalaheo, Kauai, St. Elizabeth School in Aiea, and St. Catherine School in Kapaa. She resides at the motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters in Molo, Iloilo City, Philippines.