Last July, brother Elmoer Vergara visited AA communities in Boston, Massachusetts. A 36 days trip to get familiar with another culture and get to know the Assumptionists in the US.
What did this trip mean to you ?
This trip was an opportunity of growth, experience, and mission. It was a big leap for me to travel alone outside my country. This was my first time as a lone traveller. To be honest, I was fearful to do this on my own. The long trip which took me almost 20 hours was really unforgettable. The long wait and travel paved off as I saw my very good friend and Assumptionist brother Ron waiting for me at Logan International Airport. It was a feel good moment seeing a brother waiting for me and welcoming me in a foreign land. I felt that even more, as I first met our brothers from four different communities. Meeting my older brothers who are like fathers to me, made me realize how to become an Assumptionist religious. I was amazed that truly they are Assumptionists like us in the Philippines : the prayer life is similar, the community life and setting are the same. This made my adjustment easy and made me feel like home.
What struck you as cultural differences or similarities with the brothers there ?
The Assumptionists in the US are my brothers. I think Assumptionists in the whole world have this in common. We are all also sons of our father founder Emmanuel d’Alzon. They showed a heartwarming hospitality and a much appreciated concern towards me. Culture may be different, I was expecting an all american diet. But I was amazed of the Filipino culture present in the US. In the community, there were Filipino brothers who eat like Filipino (of course rice is present all the time) and I met Filipinos from different groups in Boston.
What were the nicest moments ?
One of my tasks was to help in the Novena for Saint Anne in our parish in Strubridge where Fr. Alex, a Filipino Assumptionist, is now the new pastor. It was a beautiful parish of 800 families. I helped in preparing and leading people to prayer during the nine days of rosary, procession and masses. It was a feast of culture as well, celebrating the diversity in our Church. I met new friends, Filipinos living there with their families and the generous parishoners.
What will you keep from this experience ?
I had the chance to visit each community of the Assumptionists, the Assumption College and the beautiful chapel of the Holy Spirit inside the campus. I had opportunities to engage with our elderly priests. It was a moving experience for me in meeting all of them especially Fr. Oliver, our oldest priest of 102 years old. This experience touched my heart. Now I better understand what religious life in Assumption is about, that is our self-giving to God through our congregation, The Assumptionists.