Sr Bernarda (on wheelchair) with (Left-Right): Prepostulant Loristika Patrick, Sr Aemy Soo, Sr Anna Yap, Sr Laura Anggie

By Sr Anna Yap fsp

July 7 2022

PASAY CITY, Philippines – One of the pioneers of the Daughters of St Paul house in North Borneo (now Sabah) celebrated her blue sapphire jubilee of religious profession at the Queen of Apostles Sanctuary, Daughters of St Paul compound here on 30 June 2022.

The celebration was a combined jubilee celebration: five sisters were celebrating their silver jubilee (25 years), one her golden jubilee (50 years), three diamond jubilee (60 years), and two blue sapphire (65 years).  The Eucharistic celebration was presided by Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila and concelebrated with several members of the Society of St Paul, assisted by two deacons.  Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic protocols, guests were limited to family members and relatives, and close friends.

Sr Bernarda (on wheelchair) with (Letf-Right): Novice Imelda Samuing, Sr Anna Yap

Born in Sogod Cebu Philippines in 1929, Justina Branzuela entered the Daughters of St Paul in Lipa in 1953.  She made her first profession in 1957, taking the name of Sr Maria Bernarda.  She took her final vows in 1962.  Shortly after her perpetual profession, she was sent to North Borneo (now Sabah) where she served from 1962 to 1970.  Of a cheerful and open nature, she easily made friends in her new environment.  Together with the other sisters, they visited many remote villages in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei and diffused many books in English from the Philippines.  When the state government refused to renew their missionary visas, the sisters started to leave the state one by one, including Sr Bernarda.  Sadly, the house was closed down in 1971.  However, in 1989, after 18 years, the house was reopened by local Daughters of St Paul.

Today she lives in the infirmary wing of the community due to declining health and old age.  As she celebrates her blue sapphire jubilee, she is grateful to have seen the fruits of her and the other pioneers’ labour – the Sabahan professed sisters and formands present to share the joy of her jubilee celebration.