Newsletters

Week in Review
Week of January 23, 2017

Meet the Missionaries


In this edition of the newsletter, we continue the series of brief profiles and interviews with members of the staff of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN, who can provide a perspective of the work of the Mission “from the inside.”  We are pleased to welcome the two newest members of the staff, Mother Teodora Juan, MCST and Sister Lourdes Nerva, MCST. They are  from the Philippines and are religious sisters of the Missionary Catechists of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus.  We are delighted to welcome them as they undertake their new roles at the Holy See Mission.

 

Mother Teodora Juan
Office Manager

Q: What is your family background?
I was born in Baliuag in the province Bulachan, north of Manila in the Philippines. I am the youngest of 11 children. My family was a very Catholic family. My mother was a member of the Legion of Mary and a churchgoer. My father died before I entered the convent and my mother died in 1992. I never dreamed of being a sister. I wanted to be a nurse when I was a child. After I entered, I studied and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. Later I went to Rome to study Missionary Spirituality.
 
Q: What drew you to your religious institute?
I did not dream to be a Sister, but because of the work I used to do, my involvement in church activities, and through the influence of my parish priest, I discovered my vocation. I was involved in the Legion of Mary and was a catechist in Manila. I discerned for a year and I decided to join the sisters. I was drawn to my order because I am a catechist.
 
Q: How do you like the work so far?
I love it. It was difficult at first, but little by little I am learning. I like doing my work and interacting with people, especially the staff, and learning about what is happening at the UN. They deal with a wide scope of world issues by attending the meetings at the UN and participating in discussion. Although I am not doing the work directly, I believe what the Archbishop and everyone here is doing is important work for the Church, and I feel a part of it. The Church can express her views regarding the issues at the UN, so I really love the work because it is really related to my order’s mission as catechists.

Q: Where were you serving before this?
After my studies, I became Novice Directress. I did the formation work and then became a General Councilor. Before they elected me a Superior General, I was in Rome for four years and I was working as a collaborator for the cause of beatification and canonization of our founder, Bishop Alfredo Mario Obviar, who is a Servant of God. Then they made me Superior General of the congregation. In Rome, I was the superior and coordinator of the ladies of the Sedes Sapientiae International Ecclesiastical College, which is the seminary run by Opus Dei. This is why I find the Church of St. Agnes here in New York such a sacred place because priests of Opus Dei are there. I like the way there is a continuity of the spirit of St. Josemaria Escriva. Wherever we see them, we find their identity as Opus Dei.
 
Q: What is your impression of New York?
They call this the sleepless city of New York because you always find people rushing, and each person is very busy. But I find the people very warm. People stop us to say how much they like to see sisters in a habit! I can see the goodness of God in this place. I am very much aware of my role as a missionary. Whether I am working in the house or office, or wherever I am sent, I am a missionary. To be a missionary is to bring the good news in my little way, just like St. Therese. I try as much as I can to do little ordinary works in an extraordinary way. That is what our founder taught us: that wherever we go we bring Jesus.

 

Sister Lourdes Nerva
Archives Manager and Business Manager

Q: What is your family background?
I was the only child in the first marriage of my mother. My father died when I was one year and three months old. My mother worked as a nurse near where I was born in Libmanan Cams Sur in the Philippines. When I was 13 years old, my mother remarried. I have four step-brothers and step-sisters. We are just like one family. My step-father died 2 years ago. I grew up studying with Dominican sisters from grade school to high school.
 
Q: What drew you to your religious institute?

At first, I preferred another congregation where it was more modern, where there was no habit and they gave retreats. I had friends there, but they told me I was not a good fit. My mother encouraged me to be with my order because she knew a sister from my order and connected me. It was really the grace of God that pushed me to enter this congregation. At the time, I had been working as an accountant for 11 years, so after joining the order, I have always worked in the office and don’t have much experience doing pastoral work.
 
Q: How do you like the work so far?
At first it was challenging, but now I am beginning to love it. I had to learn a lot very fast. But I love it because this is the will of God for me. When something is difficult, I reflect on it and calm down. And then I go home I pray. It is very effective for me. I learn to be patient and humble through the challenges, and it leads to more prayer.

Q: Where were you serving before this?
I was in Rome working with the seminarians of the Diocese of Monopoli-Conversano Minor Diocesan Seminary. I am happy to tell you that most of them became priests. They always called me “little mother.” I stayed with them for about 5 years. After I worked in the office with the bishop there, I went to work for another bishop.

Q: What is your impression of New York?
I am learning to love it. We have been able to meet new people and recently visited friends of Mother Teodora in Queens and Long Island. I still need to see more of New York. I am looking forward to seeing the Statue of Liberty and also to visiting our community in Maryland. I also hope to volunteer in a parish because I don’t have a lot of experience in parish work. We will probably start volunteering at a parish after we get adjusted.