Today, the First Sunday of Advent (Nov. 30), our good Father visited the infirmary of our Alberione Home, Pasay City, Philippines at 4:03 p.m. (local time) to call to himself our sister: RABAYA MARIA REGLA – SR. MARIA CLEMENS, born in El Pardo (Cebu), Philippines, on 21 November 1946.
Just a few weeks ago, Sr. M. Clemens arrived in Pasay City to undergo treatment for her progressively deteriorating health due to a kidney lesion, internal bleeding and other collateral complications. We are sure that when the Lord, the God of life, made his sudden visit to the infirmary today, he found our sister vigilant, ready as a bride waiting for her eternal wedding.
On 22 June 1964, at the age of 17, she left her big family (13 children in all) to enter the Congregation in Pasay City, Philippines. After her initial formation, she made her novitiate in Lipa, concluding it with her first profession on 30 June 1968. Her formators appreciated her good heart, gentleness, kindness and serenity, as well as her ability to adapt herself to everything, her readiness to serve others, and her attitude of reflection and study, especially in view of the Pauline mission.
As a young professed, Sr. M. Clemens dedicated herself to capillary and collective diffusion in the dioceses of Manila, Cagayan de Oro and Baguio. After her perpetual profession in Lipa in 1974, she made a valid contribution to various diocesan offices in Davao and Cebu.
In 1981, she had the grace to remain for some time in Pasay City to perfect her cultural and religious formation, obtain a Master’s Degree in Social Communications and attend a number of professional courses for the television sector. Afterward, with great apostolic zeal, Sr. M. Clemens put to good use the preparation she had acquired, dedicating herself for almost 35 years with creativity and perseverance to the radio and television apostolates. As a true pioneer, believing firmly in the grace of the Pauline mission and without becoming discouraged by the difficulties she encountered, she worked first in Pasay City, producing radio programs on the lives of the saints, meditations on the Gospel and numerous catechetical programs.
Later, in Cebu and Davao, she broadcast the Sunday Eucharistic Celebration in Cebuan, involving bishops, priests, benefactors and communications professionals in this initiative. She sought out the churches best suited for her purpose, prepared commentaries on the biblical texts and encouraged lively liturgies to foster the growth of faith above all among the poorest people, the sick and Filipino laborers who, via YouTube, were very happy to be able to participate in the Mass in their native language. Sr. M. Clemens was also tireless in seeking funds to sustain production costs.
The mission she carried out made her quiet and reflective: her mind was always engaged in trying to find appealing and effective ways of communicating with the people she was striving to reach. She felt the responsibility to be at one and the same time a catechist, teacher and formator of consciences, and she derived special joy in feeling close to the poor in the breaking of the bread of the Word.
On 2 October 2020, Sr. M. Clemens left Cebu to take some necessary medical tests because at this point her body needed particular care and attention: the “moment” of her meeting with God was approaching and we are confident that his coming did not find her unprepared. The words of today’s Liturgy cast light on our sister’s life and death: “Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay and you are the One who shapes us. We are all the work of your hands.” With deep gratitude, we place our sister in those loving hands in the assurance that God will give her life for all eternity.