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Limping Ladies

Companions in Mission

By Monaliza Esteban

I wonder if the Blessed Virgin was limping during her old age? Nevertheless, I think she will still be there doing what God the Father asked of her. Perhaps even though she was not physically fit during Jesus’ time, she still did what she had to do.


While on mission in Fiji, I had a group of older ladies in the parish who were my companions in mission. These women were full of enthusiasm and helped spread the word about the mission work.

At this point, you may be wondering why in our church the older ladies are more committed to the prayer to the Blessed Virgin. They have this intimate connection with the Blessed Virgin that some of us can’t feel.

When I was in the Philippines I often witnessed older ladies inside the church praying the rosary before the Mass started. I was not that devoted to the Blessed Virgin until I had a chance to study about her. St. Thomas Aquianas once said, “It is in knowing that we learn to love a person.” Indeed, Jesus also taught us that we can’t love a person unless we know them. How can we say we love them when we know nothing about them? I’ll bet these ladies know a lot about the Blessed Virgin, and I think they have something in common that made them the best of friends.

In my meekest opinion, I see the Blessed Virgin transpiring in them. Not because I see them praying their rosaries every Saturday in church or I see them with their devotion to her, but because of the Mary-like zeal they have to serve God.

They travel from village to village, from one area to another area, and even from parish to parish just to bring the word of God to the people. One time upon arrival after dark and a long journey to the high land of Ba (in Fiji), a small child ran to her grandmother informing that there was a group of old ladies coming, two limping ladies and one big limping white lady. It made us laugh when we made it to the house. It was the same story when coming back from one village, because we were are all limping! It is true that the ladies walk slowly, and everything they do is in slow motion.

Out of the blue, Aunty Eileen told the driver, “You know Navin, Jesus picked those fishermen to be His apostles, in Ba He picked the cripples.” She was referring to herself, me and the other limping ladies. Though they are physically weak, I can see their love and concern for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Mary’s love for us was manifested in them. I believe their friendship with the risen Mary has helped them a lot in their zeal to evangelize people in different places. Mary brings them closer to her Son every day, and she gives them strength to continue their mission even if they are older and slower. Mother Mary is their pillar of strength in their old age.

Working with them for years has deepened my relationship with the blessed Mother. They have walked with the risen Mary throughout their lives and into their old age and it inspires me a lot. When these old limping ladies said “yes” to their chosen vocation, perhaps they didn’t see of what the future will give them but more what they can give for the future.

Originally from the Philippines, Columban lay missionary Monaliza S. Esteban lives and works in Fiji.