The Alimangohan Family: Part Three
Sr Maria Faustina and Sr John Mary Alimangohan from Penrith are members of the Sisters of the Immaculata, a young Catholic religious order in Tasmania that works for the spiritual renewal of parishes and faith formation.
Their work in sacramental programmes, youth groups, retreats and mission outreach requires a deep prayer life.
“All our work is only possible because of Our Lord; and so it begins by sitting at His feet in front of the Blessed Sacrament and by teaching others to love Him in the Eucharist,” Sr Maria Faustina said.
Sr John Mary describes their daily routine as two hours of Adoration in the morning, private scriptural rosary, the St Michael and Divine Mercy Chaplets during the day and evening Adoration with a community rosary.
“Our prayer routine also involves intercession and praise,” Sr John Mary said.
“I find Tasmania very cold but very beautiful! In terms of the faith, Tasmania is a mission field!”
They hope to help others have a love for prayer, be sustained in their faith and also go deeper.
Their trademark formation program is the Immaculata Mission School, which has a long term format over five months and a ten-day retreat format.
It was there that Sr Maria Faustina first met them and was “struck by their joy”.
“It ended up being one of the best moments of my life.”
It led to the blooming of a devotion to God that had been by planted by their parents in early childhood.
Sr Maria Faustina recalls observing her mother in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as a young child. She enjoyed the chapel’s air-conditioning in the heat of the Philippines.
“One time, I deliberately rummaged through her bag, took coins from her wallet and dropped them in the money tin one by one to see what she would do, but she didn’t budge,” she said.
“I remember thinking that ‘My Mum really loves that bread. She is either crazy or that [bread] must be God….But she’s my mum, she can’t be crazy – so that bread must be God.’”
“My parents taught us that God had to be the centre not just in our individual life but also as a family.”
They prayed the Rosary every night or during car trips to school and leisure activities, following the saying that “a family that prays together stays together”.
Prayer before activities in the day taught her that God needed to be the centre of everything and help her see Him in all things.
As a community of families, we would pray together, take part in catechesis, fellowship and outreaches.
She saw the importance of “community life not just as a family but with other families too. It helped me see that our faith is not just something ‘private’ to oneself or even the bubble of your own family, and can only grow in a community.”
World Youth Day 2011 with the Sisters of the Immaculata was a pivotal moment in Sr Maria Faustina’s discernment.
She was moved while praying at the tombs of St Jacinta and St Francisco at Fatima.
“I was struck by the fact that they didn’t waste a single moment of their life and that they died so young!
“It was there that I realised that not ‘wasting my life’ was not about ticking a bucket list but by doing the will of God – becoming what He wants you to be.
“There I prayed ‘if you want my life you can have it,’” Sr Maria said.
Sr Maria Faustina is grateful for the support she receives from her family and sees her individual vocation as part of their vocation as a family.
“I’m touched by the way that they prayed for me, encouraged me and tried to be happy for me even if it was hard for them at the time,” she said.
“Looking back, I see now that joining the convent wasn’t just my offering to God, it was all of ours. I told my parents separately and both without knowing it said the same thing: ‘You were God’s child first before you were mine, so if He wants you, He can have you.’”