Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan 
30 March 2017

For more than 150 years, the congregation of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul has done outstanding and earnest work and service to the Church and our country, especially among God’s poor in the peripheries of Mindanao. Guided by their motto, "The charity of Jesus Christ crucified urges us," the Daughters of Charity reach out to communities in need with respect, dynamism, and piety.

The DC Sisters call Mindanao their special home, an inspiring journey of heeding the call of Pope Francis’s challenge “to go to the peripheries, not only geographically, but also the existential peripheries: the mystery of sin, of pain, of injustice, of ignorance and indifference to religion, of intellectual currents, and of all misery.” The DC Sisters have been serving in Mindanao for over half a century. Those who were assigned here during the height of Martial Law in the 1970s saw the immense need for an apostolic intervention to help rekindle Mindanaoans’ hopes and aspirations for their own promised land. The DC Sisters have worked quietly but effectively in conflict-stricken areas in Mindanao, and they have had profound impacts on the lives of the people they serve in Jolo, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Marawi, Zamboanga City, and Ipil, as well as in more stable areas like the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

The first DC community in Mindanao was in Valencia, Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur where the Sisters ministered in pastoral, community-based health, and educational programs. Later, they transferred to Pagadian City, serving in the catechetical ministry. In the 1980s, they served in the Diocese of Tagum, Davao del Norte in the Social Action, Justice, and Peace apostolate, championing the causes of Indigenous Peoples. Martial Law years also toughened the DC Sisters, as they stayed in solidarity with the victims — left, right, and center in the political spectrum — working for relief and rehabilitation, legal assistance, and health care.

They have adapted to the signs of the times, shifting their focus to the welfare of families of land- and sea-based migrant workers. In Cagayan de Oro, they have strengthened the Migrant Workers Ministry, becoming a reliable group for spiritual counseling and legal assistance. In 2011, when Tropical Storm Sendong lashed its wrath across the City of Golden Friendship, the congregation sent four teams of DC Sisters to work with the displaced Kagay-anon families. In Sendong-ravaged Iligan City, the DC Sisters also attended to the basic and spiritual needs of families in evacuation and resettlement sites sponsored by their congregation. The DC Sisters have likewise been steadfast in promoting interreligious dialogues in Marawi and Ipil, among other areas. Now they are being invited to restart their ministry in the Archdiocese of Davao.

You will find these generous, understanding, and agile DC Sisters in hospitals, orphanages, resettlement communities, schools, particularly those serving the poor and the marginalized in demanding circumstances. True to their core vocation of mercy and compassion, the Daughters of Charity remain committed to seeking and helping God’s poor who are in need of His loving care and tenderness.

In recognition of their valor, spirit, and selflessness in championing the poor and the marginalized following the noble deeds of their founders, St Vincent de Paul and St Louise de Marillac, and for their generous service and dedication to the Church in Mindanao, especially to communities in the peripheries, Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan is honored to confer the Archbishop Santiago TG Hayes SJ Award to the Daughters of Charity.


Words by Stephen Pedroza
Image courtesy of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul