Magazine article U.S. Catholic

I Believe in Miracles

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

I Believe in Miracles

Article excerpt

It's the second day of my short visit to the southern Philippines. After early-morning Mass in Zamboanga City and a quick boat ride across the Basilan Straits, Claretian Father Angel Calvo and I have made our way past the capital of Basilan Island, Isabela, up the mountains, past coconut and rubber plantations, to the town of Lamitan. Here we drop in unannounced on Dominican Sister Sulpicia Wate.

As we settle down for a cup of instant coffee and a slice of toast with cream cheese, Wate, the director of Claret School here, welcomes us with a warm smile and proceeds to tell us about the night of June 1, 2001: After a busy last day of school, she and the other three sisters of the convent had watched Richie Rich on cable before going to bed. Shortly before midnight, the sisters awoke from breaking windows and loud noises at the hospital across the courtyard. They suspected it might be the feared Abu Sayyaf rebels, who have been committing atrocities in the area for 13 years, and so they rushed to hide in their basement.

Soon someone banged on their gate, "Sister, open the gate!" A neighbor, an Abu Sayyaf sympathizer, jumped over the wall, opened the gate, and then the rebels broke down the front door of the convent. The intruders searched the house for the sisters, whom they wanted to add to the group of hostages they had already abducted five days earlier. But with the entrance to their basement room hidden from view, the four sisters stayed undetected. …

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