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“Aging is not a joke,” says centennial Filipina nun

Sister Elena Cajucom Manalo (Photo courtesy of FMM Philippines)

A Filipina Franciscan nun who completed 100 years of life says, “Aging is not a joke.”      

On April 21, Sister Elena Cajucom Manalo, a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) congregation in the Philippines, celebrated her centenary birthday. 

It is an amazing celebration of a life well-lived and inspires many to do some reflection on what it means to turn 100.

Reaching the 100th birthday might not be as easy as many people think. After all, there are a lot of pitfalls along the way in life, she says.

Those who reach the 100th birthday may know that it would depend a lot on the centenarians themselves. Generally speaking, not many reach this magical number. Turning 100 is the benchmark for an elite club of senior citizens, the nun added.

They usually receive extra attention from their family, friends, and even local media. Reaching Sister Elena’s 100th birthday is like breaking a sports record that has stood for decades. And although the ones who are lucky pass this mark, it is still a remarkable feat in life, and one should be happy and proud that she made it.

Born on April 21, 1922, the nun celebrates a major milestone in her life today and for her family, friends, FMM sisters, and all those who know her. It is a privileged time and chance to join her in praising and thanking God for this very special, significant grace with which God has blessed her.

Sister Elena finished her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and Master's studies at Fordham University in the USA.  

As a teacher, she taught for 43 years. From 1954 to 1997, she taught in Legarda, and for more than 30 years at Kaisei College in Kobe, Japan.  

At 71 years of age, she was still teaching full-time, English and Christian Values to students in Kobe. She had a great deal of stamina, dedication, and commitment. The nun has such an indomitable spirit of service and passion for mission.

Her religious piety and persevering spirit of prayer are a source of edification to many. Her love for contemplation has always moved her to rise as early as 3:00 in the morning to spend hours in prayer to be with Jesus before the Blessed Sacrament. 

For years, she has made long annual retreats in solitude and silence, a strong desire to be in communion with God, her way of preparing herself for the ‘ultimate encounter.’

Sister Elena is special because, whether she has faced bad or good times, she has always been a kind, humble, charitable presence in convents.

The most precious and greatest God has given her on her 100th birthday is a one-of-a-kind irreplaceable gem. 

Her love for mission, fidelity, integrity, and spirit of perseverance and patience are a witness of God’s mercy.

Founded in 1877 by M. Mary of the Passion (Hélène de Chappotin), the FMM congregation is an international group of Catholic missionary nuns. They are found in more than 73 countries. 

In Asia, they are present in 18 countries: China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Lebanon, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, and Vietnam. - With inputs from FMM Philippines


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.


Sr Mila, Apr 22 2022 - 10:41am
Life lived to the fullest with the grace of God!!!🙏🌹🙏🌷
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