As Holy Family Province, we deeply rejoiced celebrating the 104th Birthday of our beloved sister M. Telesfora Sondia, SSJ. This very significant event in her life and in our life as a province happened last January 5, 2015. It was highlighted by a Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Mario Sobrejuanete,ssp., her nephew, and a joyful dinner party. Concerning the Mass, it was my pleasure to compose the introduction and to read it at the beginning of the celebration.

“Today, we are gathered to thank God for the gift of life of M. Telesfora. It is simply great to celebrate her 104th year of her birth. Life is God’s gift every day, every minute. Life is a miracle, as seen with an eye of faith. At the age of 104, Tele, as we fondly call her, still gives us a positive wave that is unexplainable, sometimes instinctively mysterious. As a consecrated person, as a religious, she gives us a positive energy that is something beautiful and edifying. Her fidelity to prayer life, her love for community is engraved in her person. Her zest for life is promising and pulsating. 

She reads the newspapers every day. She joins her community of Madres Mayores in its daily exercise and in paseo to Mall of Asia and Ocean Park. Her favorite number is seven (7). Do you know why? Because every day she used to play “sungka”. She loves celebration. She claps her hands, smiles, shouts and laughs with the crowd. And she enjoys to be photographed!

She is, indeed, a blessing to the community. She makes our life more beautiful and colorful. Any little service rendered to her is much appreciated. She never forgets to say: THANK YOU! SALAMAT! She has a very powerful voice when she blesses the table with a gesture of a cross and says:  “BLESS US, O LORD, AND THESE YOUR GIFTS AND THOSE WHO HAVE PREPARED THEM AND TEACH US, O LORD, TO SHARE OUR BREAD (instead of FOOD) WITH THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE. AMEN” and adds “JESUS”.

Whenever she enters the chapel and sees someone seated in front when the sunlight is bright she shouts: “Mainit! Mainit! Magsakit ulo mo!” (It’s hot! It’s hot! You’ll have headache!)  Behind these words is her loving concern.

We are always amused with her loud whisper during the Homily: “I cannot hear. Di ako kabati.” And her pleading voice during communion: “Bring me…”

Weeks had already passed after the eventful celebration of Tele’s birthday, yet Tele continues to be a blessing to all of us. We do not know how many more birthdays of her God has destined us to celebrate with her. What we are sure is that our daily encounter with her reminds us of God’s unfailing fidelity to each one of us. I, myself, have been personally touched by the person of Tele. I know that her amazing person will continue to touch and inspire me to be a faithful Sierva de San Jose.

 Beatriz Bristol, SSJ

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