Mary John Mananzan is a Missionary Benedictine sister from the Philippines. A noted theologian and author, she has served as president of St. Scholastica's College, as prioress of the Missionary Benedictine Sisters in the Manila Priory, and as national chairperson of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines. She is a political and feminist activist who helped develop an Asian feminist theology of liberation, and works with a number of organizations that deal with gender issues and women's concerns. Currently, she ministers as superior of the Manila community, and as a member of the Priory Council.
Our community could be a great witness if we succeed in living harmoniously together, in spite of our differences; but if we cannot, our community could be a real scandal to the secular world.
The story begins with a request in 2010 from Bishop Emmanuel Trance of the diocese of Catarman, Northern Samar, one of the poorest provinces of the Philippines. Would our sisters, who run the Divine Word Hospital 150 miles away in Tacloban, open another?
At the core of conflicts between different individuals or different groups is difference. There is something threatening or at least disconcerting about the unknown. We are somehow not at ease with the strange, with the unfamiliar. We lose our sense of security when faced with the other. But we must make a real effort to try to understand each other.