Friday, July 07, 2006

I shall remain at my post (Clodesindis Luken)

Mother Clodesindis Luken, a Benedictine missionary from Germany, became a great missionary to the Filipino people and fostered vocations. She was popular in the country that the vice president once said of her, ““If Mother were to run as mayor of Manila, she would easily win.” After her term of office as prioress, she was assigned as superior to the Benedictine community of Legaspi. With a narrower scope of responsibility, Mother Clodesindis could attend personally to whoever might need her attention. She taught some classes, instructed lepers in religion and comforted them in many ways.
On December 21, 1941, the Japanese invaders landed at Legaspi City. Shortly after, they wanted to occupy St. Agnes School. Politely but firmly, Mother answered, “This is a school. Besides, Germany and Japan are allies. So you cannot take the school.” It was her personality rather than her logic that caused the Japanese to withdraw.
As the underground movement was active, many suspected guerillas were arrested and tortured. At the risk of her own life, Mother Clodesindis would plead for their lives, appealing for justice and mercy. With the community’s prayer and her own bravery and sacrifice, she saved many Filipinos from military cruelty and from death.
During the bombings in September 1944, many sought and found refuge at the convent. She braved the bombings to bring food and clothes to the lepers. On Holy Saturday of 1945, the sisters shortened the Office because of the bombings. Sensing danger, Mother Clodesindis addressed the community, “It is impossible to leave the house now; but after five this afternoon when things are quiet, you may all go to the air-raid shelter. I shall remain at my post.” When the carpet-bombing started, the sisters realized that St. Agnes was within the target area and, leaving the chapel, they hurried to the shelter. As usual, Mother was at the rear to look after everyone. Just then she met some children who were crying in fright. She got them candies and led them to the Sacred Heart statue to pray with them and calm their fears. In was there that an incendiary bomb struck the main building, hit the statue and killed Mother Clodesindis.
On April 4, some American soldiers brought to the sisters the bones which were believed to be Mother Clodesindis’ remains. After the War, on August 11, 1945, there was a solemn transference of the bones to the cemetery at Albay. Afterwards, they were brought to the sisters’ cemetery in Baguio. There, sisters come every day to pray and ask for help. Mother Clodesindis’ presence still prevails.


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