FROM a childhood dream of working for the secular press, Sister Regina Kuizon of the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) has gone beyond her youthful reveries as she now directs the communication office of a worldwide religious order.
Kuizon is the highest-ranking Filipina in the congregation based in Rome, Italy. As a communications coordinator of RGS, her job includes publishing a newsletter in English, French and Spanish, and updating its official website. She also keeps RGS members worldwide up-to-date with the congregation’s activities and conventions. She serves a congregation of more than 4,000 members located in 72 countries in five continents.
However, Kuizon’s religious vocation does not stop on being a communication officer. Just like other RGS sisters, Kuizon everyday fulfills their congregation’s mission of comforting troubled youth, single mothers, the homeless, abused women and children and victims of human trafficking, among others.
“The motivating force in our lives comes from a sense of being loved by God and feeling particularly attracted to Christ in His shepherding expression of this love,” she told the Varsitarian.
On September 8, 1985, a Marian year, she was tasked to cover a youth gathering in the University of the East-Manila in preparation for the Golden Jubilee in the year 2000.
Kuizon was then working at the communications office of the Archdiocese of Manila under the late Jaime Cardinal Sin. She attended the gathering, little knowing that the journalistic assignment would change the course of her life forever.
“Fr. Ramon Salinas, O.P., one of the speakers posed a question: ‘what would you offer to the Lord in 2000?’” Kuizon said.
The priest’s words pierced through her spiritual consciousness, leading her to consider the vocation of a sacred life.
The last five years before entering the convent in 1990 was a “training in disguise” for the path Kuizon would eventually track. She became an assistant publications adviser of the Varsitarian in 1985, and worked at various Catholic publications where she had an intense orientation on the realm of the marginalized and the abused.
In 1990, she joined RGS.
After a decade of learning and experience, Kuizon’s auspicious moment arrived in February 2001, when RGS Asian leaders conducted their general meeting in the Philippines, during which she was in charge of the secretariat.
“In the same meeting, I learned that RGS was in need of a communications coordinator for the 2003 General Chapter meeting held only every six years, and attended by international RGS members,” she said.
In August 2001, she received an invitation of working as a communications coordinator in Rome, Italy.
Kuzion said she knew that the post was also offered to other sisters abroad.
“In 2002, I decided to fly to Rome,” she said.
For Kuizon, living in Rome is both a gift and a challenge.
“It is a gift because of the privilege to explore the racial diversity of the congregation. It is a challenge because the languages I had to learn,” she said.
Witness to ecclesiastical history
Kuizon’s stay in Rome not only expanded her religious and professional horizons, but also enabled her to witness significant events in the history of the Catholic Church.
Kuizon attended Pope John Paul II’s wake and witnessed the introduction of Pope Benedict XVI as the new head of the Catholic Church.
“I was able to go to the Vatican and what used to be just a 10 to 15-minute walk from Via Conciliazione to the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica turned out to be more than five and a half-hour vigil starting at 8 p.m. and finally reaching the altar at 1:30 a.m. Others had to queue for eight hours, sometimes 12 hours or more,” she said, adding that people from all walks of life paid their last respects to the Holy Father.
As she saw the demise of a Pope, she also witnessed the phenomenal white smoke coming out of the Sistine Chapel signaling that the College of Cardinals had elected a new pope. She was there when Pope Benedict the XVI was formally introduced to seat in the helm of papacy.
“I was with Good Shepherd sisters who participated in the Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica when the Cardinals had to elect Pope Benedict XVI. We were united with the universal church in praying for a new pope,” she said.
Dream of coming home
Although she admitted that it is difficult to live away from the Philippines, Kuizon managed to endure homesickness while accomplishing her job dutifully.
Although she is thousands of miles away from the country, Kuizon, a native of Morong, Rizal, carries with her the good memories she accumulated, while performing works of charity in her motherland.
“When I was still in the country, I visited a young single mother who just gave birth to her daughter in a public hospital. Moments after her delivery, she was in a recovery room, sharing a bed with another woman who just gave birth,” she reminisced.
The Good Shepherd sisters managed to pay the single mother’s hospital bills. While in Rome, Kuizon received news that the single mother’s finances improved and can now provide for the needs of her daughter. The woman would drop by the convent to give donations to help RGS in its projects for women.
In Rome, she realized the importance of Filipinos in Catholic Church.
“Some of the Romans regard Filipino as indeed gift to the Church,” she said.
“I look forward to my return to the Philippines where I dream of working with women and children,” she conveyed. Tomasino