“I am all yours, my Queen, my Mother, and all that I have is yours.”
In 2017, when Sr. Joyce Arevalo, OSA, our pastoral coordinator in Hsinchu Cathedral asked me to be the directress of the Filipino Legion of the Mary, the only answer I gave was “I’ll try.” I had no idea about how to become a spiritual directress of the Legion of Mary (LOM) and how to accompany the migrant and immigrant members of the LOM. I had no experience as a spiritual directress. I read in the LOM handbook that the spiritual director/directress is a priest, deacon, religious Sister or brother. I felt I did not deserve to be their spiritual directress because I was a lay missionary. During the ACIES, (function of the LOM when all the members renewed their promises to Mary), I had the opportunity to ask an Augustinian Sister, a former spiritual directress of the LOM, why they chose a lay missionary to become their spiritual directress instead of a priest or religious Sister. She simply replied, why not? I pondered her response to me. I reflected on the call of Mary. There are millions of women but why did God call Mary to be the mother of Jesus? From that time my journey as a spiritual directress of Legion of Mary started.
The situation of the LOM members was rocky at the time. Many old members didn’t like to attend the weekly meetings. Some new members were also confused because they didn’t know what the direction of their Praesidium (unit of the LOM) was. I didn’t know how to accompany the LOM members and do my duties as their spiritual directress. I felt worried because I didn’t know where to start. I prayed to God to give me the grace to handle this situation. Every time we had a weekly meeting, I read a spiritual reading from the Legion of Mary Handbook and gave an Allocutio after recitation of the Catenal. I was always praying to the Holy Spirit and Mary to assist me on giving the Allocutio (a short talk on the Legion of Mary handbook). I listened to their sharing about the LOM duties and daily experiences – their ups and downs. Reading the LOM Handbook gave me an opportunity to know more about Mary, particularly her qualities and her values, and it also brought me closer to the Holy Spirit. I became aware of the functions of the Legion of Mary and appreciated the works of the Legion of Mary in the Church.
Many things happened while journeying with the LOM members. Many challenges, happy times, ups and downs, but I am still accompanying them. All the members of the Legion of Mary are working in factories or in homes as caregivers. They are very committed to attend the weekly meeting after work and serving during the Masses as ushers, attending the labor education in order to share their knowledge to other migrant workers like them and sometimes visiting the sick. I see their passion to serve God despite the time restraints and the effects of the pandemic on their lives. Most of them are working at night, and they go to the Church to serve in the morning after work. They are happy to attend Mass, the weekly meeting and do their apostolate during the Mass before they go back to their dormitories to rest. I am inspired by how they are living out their faith.
For almost give years as their spiritual directress, I didn’t imagine that the Praesidium that started out rocky would become peaceful and active in their apostolate. As I reflect on how the Holy Spirit works through the intercession of the Blessed Mary, I realized how God is good to me and to the Praesidium. The worries I had before are now replaced with the faith I have now. I learn from Mary about how to be open, be receptive to God’s call and let the Holy Spirit guide me. Journeying with LOM members brings me assurance that nothing is impossible with God.
I see how the LOM members grow in their faith and become faithful to their promises to Mary. “I am all yours, my Queen, my Mother, and all that I have is yours,” the promise they recite during annual consecrations (ACIES) is the promise that they live daily as children of Mary. This is also my promise not only as part of the Legion of Mary but as a servant of God. I am all yours.
Columban lay missionary Marea Lyn Almiranez lives and works in Taiwan.