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Remembering a joyful missionary

HONG KONG (SE): A Memorial Mass was offered at the Diocesan Pastoral Centre for Filipinos, Central on March 19 for the soul of Sister Graciela San Diego of Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Angels (MNDA), who passed away on March 5.
 
People also prayed for the soul of Sister Florence Yongi, another MNDA sister who recently died when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed on March 10.
 
Mass was concelebrated by Father Jay Flandez, chaplain to Filipinos, together with Father Ronnie Gicalao, Father Mark Serna, Father Jun Jacobe, Father Jovito Dales and Father Francis Mahilum.
 
Four MNDA sisters: Sister Maricris Llasos, Sister Sylvia Cantor, Sister Lili Yan Lizhen and Sister Helen Choi were also present along with Sister Corazon Demetillo, Sister Felicitas Nisperos, Sister Eden Tabudlong and Sister Cecille Duque and friends of Sister San Diego.
 
In his homily, Father Flandez remembered Sister San Diego as a joyful missionary always giving life to people she met with a big smile on her face wherever she went. He remembered that she was dedicated to serving by helping migrant workers in need. She would sit down with a group of migrant workers in Central and talk with them. There were times she would accompany migrant workers to the Philippine Consulate when the situation called for it. Even after her return to Canada, she still kept contact with the migrants in Hong Kong. 
 
He also remembered that the sister was really prayerful and the message she gave to the sick people in hospital is that prayer gives one strength. 
 
Sister Maricris Llasos, MNDA regional superior, shared her memories about her mentor. According to Sister Llasos, Sister San Diego was the first Filipino who entered the MNDA in Canada. She was first sent to Tanzania before coming to Hong Kong. 
 
It was in 1997 when Sister Llasos first met her in St. Anthony’s Church, Pokfulam, during the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the MNDA congregation. Sister Llasos said she was really impressed by the happy smiles of Sister San Diego, which told her that consecrated life was joyful and made her decide to enter her congregation. 
 
Sister San Diego later inspired Sister Llasos to start a scholarship project that supports overseas Filipino workers taking short time study courses in the YMCA.
 
Sister San Diego was instrumental in promoting religious vocation among overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong. Several sisters were recruited but only four remained in the congregation and Sister Llasos is one of them. 
 
Sister San Diego stayed in Manila from 1997 to 2006 and was then assigned back to Canada where she became the local bursar. In 2015, she was assigned to Hong Kong where she became the regional bursar. 
 
During that time, she also helped with the ministries of the chaplaincy for Filipino migrants by visiting the sick, helping to train lectors at St. Joseph’s Church, Central, leading bible sharing sessions and street evangelisation events. 
 
In 2017 she returned to Canada and was elected as the general bursar in August 2018. 
 
May you rest in peace, Sister Graciela San Diego.

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