Sister Helen Palacay of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Infant Jesus (FMIJ) in Quezon City, Philippines, serves society through education, charitable work, and evangelization efforts.
Since 1982, the group has been working with priests, religious individuals, and lay people to meet the needs of the Church with a focus on love and compassion.
Sister Helen, the FMIJ’s former social communication head, attests to the noble efforts of the congregation in living out the message of the Gospel by reaching out to every single person in the Church, from the youth to the elderly.
Educating the young
Sister Helen emphasized the critical role of the Franciscan congregation in teaching young people. They are fully involved in the educational service by inserting themselves into different schools in various dioceses.
"FMIJ is currently engaged in a process of reorganization that has led to the closure of educational structures and is still in progress of collaboration with dioceses or cooperatives of lay people entrusting some of our structures for the continuity of the educational mission," she told Rechilda Estores, Vatican News.
In addition, they are also an ardent provider of homes for disadvantaged children, a "long tradition of the Institute of Service to orphans and abandoned."
Sister Helen pointed out the significant impact of offering proper support to young people in the Church. According to her, children are harbingers of hope and are living reminders of God, who keeps sending exuberant members to His Mystical Body.
She said: "In their littleness, we try to teach them about life, but in their innocence, they teach us what life is all about. A life to enjoy, a life to appreciate, and a life to be lived."
Caring for the poor
Sister Helen said that emulating the life of simplicity and poverty of their founder, Saint Francis of Assisi, is "not easy" but also "a gift and responsibility."
"It is an opportunity to embrace what are essential in life," she said.
In this light, Sr. Helen talked about FMIJ’s mission to address poverty, one of the biggest challenges in society.
She said: "This is not just the external poverty that I am talking about but the new faces of poverty in the society. Material poverty affects the growth and mindset of an individual, but even materially rich people have their poverty, a poverty that is deeper, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, etc." she shared."
Sister Helen invites every Catholic to live out the spirit their congregation embodies in service of the poor by carrying their crosses, offering sacrifices to God, and living a joyful life without depending on material wealth.
"It doesn’t have to be a big change, but with the little efforts that each one has, we can enrich each other and see that this movement comes from God’s grace," she explained.
Evangelizing through modern means
Sister Helen underlined that the Franciscan’s first rule established by St. Francis is to live the Gospel. In this ever-evolving digital world, she actively works as a modern agent of evangelization with the help of social media.
For her, one of the most effective ways to spread the Word of God is through the most creative ways possible, and the internet is well-equipped to carry out such a delicate endeavor.
"With the right formation and usage [of social media], I know that God’s word will be proclaimed in creativity and zest and be able to reach more people, but as I said, this must be done cautiously and with the right discipline."
Living a prayerful life
Prayer has been the most significant part of Sister Helen’s daily life as a professed Franciscan nun for over a decade. Just as she and her fellow sisters constantly pray for the Church, she encourages the faithful to "never forget to pray" as well.
"For me, prayer is a mighty act that brings us closer to God. She said to communicate and tell God your whereabouts, emotions, preoccupations, happiness, sadness, and agitations. "Tell Him everything."
She added: "Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated, but it has to be sincere and deep. Because God knows what is deep within our hearts."
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.