June 20, 2024

The restricted movement of the public due to the Luzon-wide quarantine has inconvenienced even the survivors of the dead.

The Garas family of Tuba, Benguet found themselves in a situation where because of circumstances, were not able to see for the last time their beloved “Lola Madre,” who joined her Creator, early morning of March 25 at age 90, at the St. Francis Convent in Baguio City.

According Diana Garas, grandchild of the late Sr. Teodora of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, the last time their family saw Lola Madre was last March 15. She was up and about that day albeit weaker than usual perhaps due to her age.

The quarantine that declared the entire island of Luzon on a lockdown prevented family members, particularly those living in Baguio City and Tuba from visiting her again. On March 25, on the occasion of the Feast of the Lord’s Annunciation, the Garas family received a call from the St. Francis Convent informing them that Lola Madre has passed on of natural causes.

To pay their last respects to Lola Madre, the family and fellow nuns at the Franciscan Missionaries organized an overnight vigil to allow some relatives and friends to see her one last time before her remains were cremated.

Devastated at first that they only saw her remains for a few hours, the family said Lola Madre’s life and devotion to the Lord should be celebrated instead.

Lola Madre is best remembered for her unassuming ways.

One of those who paid tribute to Lola Madre is Franciscan Missionary Provincial Supervisor Sr. Marilyn Oliva, who is now based in Quezon City, and a friend since their novitiate days.

On the final days of Lola Madre, Sr. Marilyn did not get the chance to see nor talk to her due to the restrictions on transportation but she nonetheless prepared a tribute for her good friend.

Sr. Marilyn said Lola Madre exuded serenity and joy to those around her. “She was indeed a faithful handmaid of the Lord in all the things she did, in everything that she is. She is one who, when given a task would do it devotedly, quietly in a spirit of service.”

Fellow nuns also remember Lola Madre as friendly, respectful, committed to duty, grateful, prayerful, and naturally likes to care for the sick.

With the many lives Lola Madre touched, the Garas family said the grief they are going through right now has been replaced with gratefulness that the Lord blessed their love one with a long life that she may love beyond blood but embrace a bigger family by choosing to be a nun. – Rimaliza A. Opiña