About Sarah Noonan

Sarah Noonan is a missionary who has been to missions in Africa, Peru and the Philippines. She has worked as a teacher of the elementary grades and a chef in Buffalo, New York. Sarah comes from a family of 8 and has 41 nieces and nephews...and counting!! Sarah is spending a year with the Oikos Sisters and their mission, updating the website as she goes!!

Adlaw Han Mga Kablas (Day for the Poor)

Much of the work done in the Oikos Mission is planned programs, but the Oikos Sisters are always open to the will of God and the movement of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes the work we do is not a ministry, but a special event, such as the following:

                             Adlaw Han Mga Kablas

This past May, I was blessed and honored to be able to travel to South Korea with the Oikos Sisters to have an immersion/retreat with a Catholic congregation called Kkottongnae through the generosity and support of the Diocese of Borongan. There we attended the “Love in Action” school that taught the importance of loving and caring for everyone, especially those who could never repay the generosity shown them, namely the poor, disabled and elderly. We participated in a festival in honor of the poor and homeless of Seoul called the Pumba Festival. The Holy Spirit struck straight to the hearts of the Oikos Sisters and, almost immediately upon returning home, they began pl022anning their own festival for the poorest of the poor here in Borongan, a barrio fiesta called Adlaw Han Mga Kablas.

The Oikos Sisters were founded out of a need they saw to help the poor. In 2018 they will celebrate their 20th anniversary! Since their inception, they have been caring for the poor in countless ways. What we participated in with Kkottongnae was a celebration of and for the poor people. A festival where they can laugh and dance and sing and eat their fill…a day of joy for them. That is the spark that ignited within the Oikos Sisters and fueled our Adlaw Han Mga Kablas fiesta.

A few weeks before the event took place, the Oikos Mission was in high gear preparing for our fiesta. The Oikos Sisters called upon their co-workers to assemble gift packages for each adult, child and family who would come, to build “houses” where the food would be 034served and to help on the fiesta day. They also requested help from the Borongan community for donations of food and drinks for the poor. Invitations were made and given to poor families and Oikos scholars together with Caritas and Diocesan scholars helped to decorate our venue, the Don Bosco Youth Center. They also helped to pack up the gifts and were an enormous help the day of the event.

On Saturday, September 30th, our Adlaw Han Mga Kablas, the sun was shining outside and Christ the Son, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, was beaming through the faces of each Sister and volunteer. It was an early day for all of us, and yet we were all blessed with energy and joyful spirits throughout the entire day. We were expecting around 250 fiesta guests, but the count nearly tripled as more than 600 people came!! We were astounded and worked quickly to make more gift and rice packs for our guests as 035they were singing, dancing and having such a fun time thanks to our talented MC’s and house band. But God, our Abba Father, shed His light and His miraculous mercy on us as each child who came received a party bag and each adult received a grocery pack with rice. We had just enough! And the food? It was like being on the mountainside near the Sea of Galilee 2,000 years ago…not only did we have enough food to feed everyone, but there was more leftover, even after all of the volunteers ate after the event!! We were all praising God for His kindness to us!!

We were so blessed with the presence of Father Roneil Canillas, Father Roberto Picardal and Most Reverend Bishop Crispin 042 (2)Varquez who celebrated a beautiful mass for us with the assistance of Deacon Jonathan Pading. We were aided by many of the mothers whose children are sponsored through the Oikos Sisters, the CRLJ Charismatic Community, Sister Bing of the Living the Gospel Sisters and many past and present sponsored scholars. Truly, each person was a gift to us and not only helped to make the day run smoothly, but made it fun too!

One of the high points for me was when everyone gathered in a circle and sang “Hawak Kamay” together, which means holding hands together. Being a foreigner, I was unfamiliar with this song, however, with a friend’s help, I learned its sweet meaning…You are never alone, no matter what happens. Not only can you look to God in Heaven, but you can always depend on me to be there for you, to hold your hand, to help you in this uncertain world. You are never alone. As the words were translated to me and I looked around at all of the people standing and holding hands, singing with everything they had in them, it really moved me. To me, that is what Oikos is all about…being there for anyone who God sends their way, bringing God’s love to the poor and giving others the opportunity to do the same.

It seems that for the Oikos Sisters, and for me, it was the very fruitful trip to Kkottongnae in South Korea that led to what we hope will be the first annual Adlaw Han Mga Kablas!!                                TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!

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Great News For The Charity Village!!

Although there have been a few ups and downs in the Charity Village, I have some great news to share with you!!  Building began in February and right now there are several homes built, painted and blessed!  Families have already begun moving into the village even though construction is still underway.  And ALL 25 HOMES ARE FUNDED!!!    Awesome news!!

There has been some difficulty in securing the land for the road going into the Charity Village.  First permission was given by the surrounding land owners of the village to build the road on their land, but then the families demanded an unjust price.  Also slowing down the construction was a ban on cutting down coconut trees.  Thankfully, these issues are beginning to be resolved!!

Due to a generous donor and a compromise negotiated with many prayers, the road right of way has been finalized and purchased!  And we are praying that after an assessment of the property and the coconut trees therein, the ban on cutting down the trees will be lifted within the coming weeks.  More good news continues as another generous donor has stepped forward to help pay for the heavy equipment needed to take down the trees.  When the ban is lifted, we’ll be ready to roll!!!

No endeavor in this life is without difficulty and road blocks.  The Oikos Sisters have found the way to keep positive thoughts flowing amid the twists and turns:  faith and trust in the Lord!!  Thanks be to God for their persistence and prayer.  Please join them in prayer that this village for the poor without homes of their own will soon be completed!!  Many, many thanks to you!!!

2017 Summer Mission Appeals

We in the Catholic Church are united within the Body of Christ, making us all brothers and sisters regardless of our earthly heritage. All of us come from the same Father, all of us are loved and cared for by the same Mother, and all of us were saved by our one Brother, Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter where we were born, what country we live in, our familial situations, we are all brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus and are called to care for each other on a global scale. Keeping that in mind, the Catholic Church in the United States holds yearly mission appeals wherein missionaries from all over the world are invited to come and share the stories of their mission and ask for prayers and financial help for the work that they do.

Every summer for the past six years, Sister Clarissa has come to the United States, the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois in particular, to IMG_3820share her stories of the Oikos Mission and the work done by the Oikos Sisters to help the poor in their region of Eastern Samar. This summer, Sister Clarissa spoke at three churches: Saint Walters, St. Ann in Oswigo and Immaculate Conception.

She was warmly welcomed at each and every parish and was overwhelmed by the generosity and hospitality that she was greeted with. A silent auction fundraiser was also held at St. Petronille Parish in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Sister Clarissa helped the members of the Poor Household of God to raise funds for all the work that the Sisters do, in particular, this year they focused on the Charity Village with the proceeds going to fund electricity and paint for the homes being built there.

New to this 2017 Summer Mission Appeal was a second appeal held in my hometown, Buffalo, New York. Although I am still in the midst of my missionary year with the Oikos Sisters, they asked me if I would accompany Sister Clarissa to the US and speak in the churches for the Buffalo Appeal. This was so new to me! I had heard missionaries speak before at masses, I have even heard Sister Clarissa give a few of her talks, but to listen to one and to give one are very different things!!

But just as He does with Sister Clarissa, the Holy Spirit was with me and helped to inspire me to speak the words that would most touch 034people’s hearts. I too was received so warmly by the priests and parishioners at the Churches I spoke at: Immaculate Conception in Wellsville, Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna and St. John the Baptist in Kenmore. I was so very grateful for the generosity of the people in Buffalo, and so touched by their interest in the Oikos Mission and their prayers and blessings for me.

It is with great joy and love that Sister Clarissa and I say THANK YOU to all of the priests and parishioners, to people in the communities that were so welcoming, to the Diocese of Joliet and of Buffalo, and to the members of the Poor Household of God as we head back to our mission in the Philippines. Truly, truly, the Oikos Mission could not do all of the amazing work that we do without the help of our caring and generous brothers and sisters in the United States and throughout the world. We are very blessed indeed!!

Saint Teresa of Calcutta once said, “I can do things you cannot do. You can do things I cannot do. Together we can do great things!”   Amen!!

TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!!!

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ABC…1,2,3…It’s A New School Year in the Philippines!

In June, a new school year began for most of the students in the Philippines.  Here in Borongan, Eastern Samar, the kids are excited and nervous about the coming year!  That is universal throughout the world for most kids.  What isn’t universal is that the families here cannot afford most of the school supplies needed for their children. The teachers here do not ask for a lot.  Notebooks for every subject, pens or pencils depending on the grade and handwriting pads.  But for families that work each day just to put food on the table, it comes down to feed my child or give her a notebook.  Which would you choose for your child?

046The Oikos Sisters strive to meet the needs of the neediest, that includes school supplies!  During the last  few weeks of May, we went to several barrios handing out school supplies to the kids.  Many families have been coming to our mission 20160529_150035house in the city to ask for supplies as well.  Thanks to the Poor Household of God, this year, we were able to give over 600 children school supplies, some of which included new school bags, shoes and uniforms, depending on the need.

 20160529_105147Not only that, but through the generosity of our sponsors and various donations made throughout the year, the Oikos Sisters aid over 200 children, giving them allowances for travel fees for school and money for school projects.

You can see how excited the kids are to receive the supplies and begin their new school year!!  Thank you to all the donors of The Poor Household of God for putting these smiles on our kids faces!!

To become a donor, please check out our donate page!!

Please pray for our little ones, and the big ones too, that they have a successful school year.  Thank you!!

To God be the Glory!!!

GRADUATIONS IN OIKOS!!!

Graduations are always exciting times, even here in Oikos.  All of the hard work and time sacrificed to studies has paid off and has culminated to a jubilant walk across the stage signifying crossing from one side of life to another.  The scholars in Oikos have worked so very hard and we are all so very proud of all of them!!!  These are the students who are sponsored by the Poor Household of God and who board within the Oikos Mission Houses, called Oikos Angels, who graduated college this year:

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Lino graduated from the College Seminary with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy. He will continue on to Theology with the hope of receiving Holy orders.

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Ivan graduated Cum Laude from the College Seminary with a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy. He will go on to Theology with the hope of entering the priesthood.

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Maria Lyn graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education

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Joy Lyn graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture

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Kate graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration

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Benedict graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education

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Rosalinda graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education

These students worked so hard to accomplish their goals.  Staying up late, missing Oikos Family events to do school work and all the while, trusting in God to help them succeed.

Without the help and prayers of sponsors through the Poor Household of God throughout the world, this day might never have come for these students.  Everyday these students gave thanks to their sponsors and remembered them in their prayers.  Many, many thanks to those who helped to make this day possible for these high achievers!!!

There were three elementary school graduates this year as well:

Angel, grade 6 graduate who will go to high school here in Borongan

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Jake, grade 6 graduate who will go to high school in Cebu in a boarding school run by the Sisters of Mary:

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And Lhans, who will attend the same school as Jake in Cebu:

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Congratulations to all of the Oikos graduates!!!!

We are all so proud of our graduates!  Truly, all of them have worked so hard to achieve this great honor.  And all of them, all of the Oikos Family, are so grateful to The Poor Household of God who makes it possible for these children not only to go to school, but to be able to have money for their fare to and from school, money for their school projects and for food each day.

 And not only that, each one of these students, and in fact ALL of the students sponsored by The Poor Household of God, each one of them knows that this day, their graduation day, might not be possible if it weren’t for the generosity and love of people all around the world who sponsor them.  The thoughtfulness and love of these sponsors gives these children wings to succeed in school and in life.  If you are an Oikos Sponsor, THANK YOU!!!

 If you would like to become an Oikos Sponsor and provide the opportunity for a poor child in the Philippines to break out of  the bonds of poverty, please click here.

 We give praise and thanks to God for His great providence and love.

 

UPDATE ON THE CHARITY VILLAGE!!!

Quite a long time ago, the Oikos Sisters began dreaming about building a village where the poor people of Eastern Samar could live, those without land or a home of their own.  One of the philosophies of the Oikos Sisters is that all things happen in God’s time.  We cannot demand or rush God…we simply have to trust.

Well, it was just about one year ago that things began rolling for the Charity Village, and now we are in “full swing” mode!  It seems like every month there is a new development, a new accomplishment or a new challenge making itself known in the dream land of the Oikos Sisters.

1448177969677The Charity Village, just to remind you, is on land donated to the Oikos Sisters…1.5 hectors, in fact.  It is located in a central part of Borongan, away from the river and a little bit higher than the surrounding areas.  This makes the Oikos Sisters quite happy…basically being on land that is not prone to flooding.  The land is rich in flora and fauna, having many coconut trees, fruit trees, avocado trees, and beautiful plants.  The Sisters plan to add to the bounty coming from the earth with a community garden where all of the residents of the Charity Village will learn how to grow vegetables and be responsible for the garden’s care.  The plan right now is to have 25 homes built, along with a chapel, an evacuation qcenter and a medical clinic.  The evacuation center will be three stories and will house the Oikos convent, rooms for scholars, a large meeting area and plenty of room for many people to find refuge in times of need.  And the medical clinic will include rooms for OB/Gyn care, ambulatory care, a dental clinic, beds for overnight care should that be necessary and the Oikos charity pharmacy.  There are local doctors who donate their time to clinics such as the one the Oikos Sisters are planning.  Right now, the Sisters have funding for 22 out of the 25 homes and, the awesome news is…they have begun building the homes!!!

The first two homes were built during the Diocese of Joliet Partnership in Mission Medical Mission that was in Borongan during the first two weeks of February 2017.  Along with the medical team, a construction team also donates their time, talent and treasure to the poor people of Borongan.  Together with local community volunteers, the mission team made first homes of the Charity Village a reality for the Oikos Sisters!!

IMG_2293image (3) IMG_2294  Working long hours in the sun and the rain, the construction team did an absolutely amazing job building the homes that are sure to be the answer to many prayers here in the poorest region in the Philippines.  For certain, the team of missionaries and volunteers have answered the prayers of the Oikos Sisters!

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So…without further ado… (drum roll, please…) here are                                              THE FIRST TWO HOMES IN THE CHARITY VILLAGE:

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We give praise and thanks to God for His generosity and His providence.

And we thank the many people who have been praying for the Oikos Sisters and their endeavors.

What is up next for the Charity Village?  A road will be built for easy access to the land and construction on more houses will begin.

What is still needed for the Charity Village?  Funding for a few more homes (the cost to build one home is $2500.00 for labor and supplies) and funding is also needed for the evacuation center and the medical clinic.  If you want to help financially, you can donate here.  And your prayers are always needed and appreciated.

The Oikos Philosophy: Living By The Spirit

The Oikos Sisters have a beautiful relationship with God.  Over the past 18 years…almost 19, they have come to trust in the Lord completely.  Many people say that, you know?  Just put your trust in the Lord…but I wonder if all of the people who say that really know what it means.  Below is a blog written by Sarah Noonan, a missionary from Buffalo, New York living and working with the Oikos Sisters for one year.  Please take a moment to read the following…it is very inspirational, and gives a beautiful insight into the daily lives of the Oikos Sisters and what it means to really trust in the Lord…

I’ve written some pretty fantastic things in this blog that the Oikos Sisters do.  From sending kids to school to feeding the poor in the barrios, from teaching all people about God to giving free medications to the poor.  They eat sleep and breathe their charism, like going to the poor where they are and giving them a hand up like in the immersion and livelihood programs.  It is all amazing but it all takes time to prepare and people to do it.  However, sometimes, the most incredible giving is done spur of the moment, when the Holy Spirit taps you on the shoulder and asks you to help.  I think that’s happened to me a lot, but perhaps my busy schedule or shyness, perhaps even intimidation has kept me at times from approaching strangers and seeing if they need help.  I think the Oikos Sisters live so tuned into the Holy Spirit that they go at the merest tap and they trust with all of their being that God will protect them.  Today I was witness to such an occurrence,  and it literally moved me to tears.

Sister Minerva and I were at mass this morning, as usual, and after the mass we began to leave.  However, Sister Minerva saw a woman and a young boy who were sitting quite a few pews up from us.  As we were leaving, she suddenly turned and walked to the other door where the woman and her son was.  She greeted them and asked them about their lives.

The woman’s name is Jennifer, and her son is John Mark.  She is from Manila, but when she got married she lived with her husband in CanAvid, a town north of Borongan.  She has 3 other children besides John Mark.  A few years ago, Jennifer’s husband was killed, how or what for, I do not know, but Jennifer feared for her life and the lives of her children.  So, they went back to Manila and lived with her grandmother in a teeny home.  Deciding to return to CanAvid to see if she could get help from the government there, she and John Mark went there, but to her dismay, because she no longer lived in Can Avid, they offered her no help. 

Jennifer decided to come to Borongan, where a distant relative lives, and see if she could get the fare back to Manila.  However, the family here is poor as well and is unable to help.  Now, Jennifer and John Mark spend their nights sleeping behind the stage at the plaza in the center of town and spend their days begging for food on the streets, hoping to get food for the day, let alone the fare for a trip for 2 back to Manila.  She is a beautiful woman with kindness in her eyes, and my heart ached for her when I heard her story.

She tried a few times to approach the priests in the cathedral, but shyness and embarrassment about her situation kept her from asking for help.  So, Sister Minerva offered to help introduce her to the priests and told Jennifer where to go to get food always at Oikos.  Upon coming home, after our morning prayer, I asked Sister Minerva how else we can help her.  The Sisters were given money from a former resident of Borongan, and she said she feels called to give Jennifer the fare to Manila this very day!!  I cried out loud and hugged Sister Minerva…my heart just broke thinking of this woman and her son sleeping outside, going to bed hungry, far away from the rest of her family, especially her children.  And to think that in just a little bit, they will be together again…oh my, my heart just leapt!!!

That is the way, here in Oikos… to be open to the Holy Spirit where ever He sends you, whenever He taps you on the shoulder.  And to give.  Certainly, there are needs here in Oikos, certainly the pharmacy needs more medications to give to the poor, certainly we will need to get more rice so we can hand it out to whoever knocks at our door, certainly there are many more needs, but certainly there are people right in front of us who often get overlooked because we are thinking of the big picture, of the many needs we have and the many errands we have to run.  But, even with all of those things on her mind, Sister Minerva saw someone in need, and she immediately responded to that need…and lives were changed.  That is one of the things the Oikos Sisters have learned over these past 18 years…I trust with all my being that God will see to my needs and the needs of those who are under my care, and I see to the needs of the person right in front of me.  He will provide if only I have the courage to trust.

Living by the Spirit…being moved by the Spirit…how awesome is that?  The next time I feel that tug, I’m going to respond!!

To read more of Sarah’s blogs about her experiences in the Oikos Community, please visit http://www.godsgloryamongthepoor.blogspot.com.

 

 

 

Sister Clarissa Says Thank You!!!

This year marked the 6th year Sister Clarissa has been coming to the United States to spread the word of the marvelous way God is working through the Oikos Sisters and to raise money for the many programs the Sisters facilitate in Borongan, Eastern Samar in the Philippines.

Sister Clarissa has a heart full of gratitude to the people who held fundraisers in Buffalo, NY and the suburbs of Chicago, IL and the many people who came out to support Sister Clarissa and the work of the Oikos Sisters.  At the fundraisers and several other events, the guests that came were delighted to hear of the new venture the Oikos Sisters are involved in, the Charity Village.  Sister Clarissa  spoke of the poorest of the poor…those who do not own land and have no rights to government aid as a result.  It is a beautiful story, and to find out more about it, go to www.PoorHouseholdofGod.org/news-page-2

The best part of Sister Clarissa’s visit, I believe, is not found in the generosity of people here.  Certainly, that is awesome and worthy of sincere gratitude!!  But I find that the best part of Sister’s visit is the spreading of the work that the Oikos Sisters do in the Philippines.  Each year, it seems, more and more people are reached, more and more people hear of the amazing way God is loving His poor through the Oikos Sisters, and more and more people open their hearts and minds to the workings of God in the world.  Sister Clarissa is not only a missionary in the Philippines, she is one here as well, bringing us not needed money so we can survive, but needed love from God so that we can truly live, so that we can attain true life in Heaven with all of God’s beloved children.

As Sister Clarissa says thank you to all of those who generously gave their time and treasure to help the Oikos Sisters, I say right back at ‘cha, Sister Clarissa!  Thank you for giving us your time and treasure…your love of Jesus.

Please continue to pray for all of the Oikos Sisters, you can be assured of their prayers for you!!!