Interview with Sr. M. Angelita Pedro,
Schoenstatt Sister of Mary,
originally from the Philippines
For background information, who are you and how did you hear about Schoenstatt?
I am Sr. M. Angelita Pedro; as a nurse from the Philippines, I heard about Schoenstatt from a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary, the first Filipino Schoenstatt Sister of Mary who returned to the Philippines because of her USA visa status. While she was waiting for her papers, she was employed by the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital School of Nursing and became one of my teachers. I was impressed with her personality. I observed that there was a rhythm in her schedule, and I would see her in the chapel. Also, her attire was very modest and there was something special about her. I approached her to know what spirituality she had since I was discerning my vocation in life at that time. She introduced me to Schoenstatt primarily with the Schoenstatt Founding Document. The aim of personal education with the help of the Covenant with Mary was beautiful to me. Basically, I wanted the best for me – to be strong, free, and kind-hearted in personality. In August 1968, I joined the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary in the United States, after a 3-year stint as a nurse at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Manila, and after getting a permanent visa to the United States. I had the grace to meet our Father and Founder in my travels to the USA via Germany, a month before he died. After giving me his blessing, Father Kentenich confirmed my place in the heart of the Blessed Mother – a child of Mary and a child of Schoenstatt!
Recently you completed a biography, The Story of Puri. Can you tell us about Puri?
Purification Pedro (September 22, 1948 – January 23, 1977) is my youngest sister. Puri is acclaimed as a Martyr of Charity! There is no public movement for her cause of beatification, but knowing Puri, there was no reason why there would not be. Her life was marked by the Beatitudes. No doubt her name is in the archives of the Vatican. Her story was known in and outside the Philippines when she died on January 23, 1977. She was a victim of martial law under the then ruling dictator, while she was a social worker employed by the Bishops Conference of the Philippines for Northern Luzon. Puri’s case was investigated by a Commission of Jurists of the International Court and Puri was acclaimed as a hero with her name inscribed on the Wall of Remembrance of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, Philippines. This memorial honors those martyrs and heroes who worked to end the dictatorship (1972-1986) in their country.
How did Puri’s story first become known?
Puri’s martyrdom became public through a French book about heroes of the faith from the time of Pope John Paul II, written by Joachim Bouflet, titled Le Printemps De Dieu (2005). The article describes Puri as a woman who lived For the Sake of the Poor and died as a martyr of charity. My family and I did not know about this publication that included Puri’s story.
Many years later, Puri was featured in the portrait exhibit Flowers of the Ages, a Giant Step towards Eternity, by Ars Latina in Sacre Coeur, France, along with 40 other young saints who died before reaching 33 years of age. Again, this surprised my family. The exhibit was shown in France in 2015 and in 2016 it was displayed at the World Youth Day in Poland.
How did you decide to write Puri’s biography?
How did you decide to write Puri’s biography?
My family found it imperative to write a biography of Puri before anyone else tried to do so. We wanted a very factual story, not embellished with speculations but rather a non-fiction biography, supported by documentation. Since I had plenty of documents and letters from home, I attempted to compose a biography. After writing 20 pages, I showed the manuscript to one of the Schoenstatt Sisters in my province who is a writer and publisher. She encouraged me to make The Story of Puri known. I worked for almost 7 years with the manuscript in my free time and with minimal computer skills. Many contributions of mistakes and revisions filled the Capital of Grace of our Mother Thrice Admirable. At the right moment, Divine Providence helped! I had the wish that the book would be a gift for the 500 years of Christianization in the Philippines celebrated in 2021. I wished, too, that it would be published before the 2022 election in the Philippines so Puri’s witness would help people not forget the history of the martial law that the Philippines suffered 50 years ago.
How was the book received?
One of the proofreaders commented that Puri’s story should go to youth groups and parishes to encourage young people to live their faith in Jesus with courage in difficult situations.
I was in the Philippines this January-February 2023, and 1,000 copies of the Philippine Edition of The Story of Puri was printed. My family proudly shared Puri’s biography with family and friends, in social and church groups. We had a book launching at the University of the Philippines Hotel, the Sunday before the week celebration of the EDSA (Peoples Power) Revolution. Though the venue was small, students and faculty from the Social Sciences department attended. We sold 90 copies. 100 copies were given out to the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, which was available for selling during the week.
Puri’s story is a powerful witness for those who don’t know the history of the People Power revolution that worked against martial law and under Mary’s protection peacefully led to the overthrow of the dictatorship in 1985. Puri helped the revolution before it happened. She saw the need for justice for the common people under the pressure of martial law.
Has this project helped you to grow in appreciation of Schoenstatt’s covenant of love?
This book testifies to the work of the Holy Spirit and to the power of sisterly love and family unity, both of the Schoenstatt Sisters and my family in the Philippines. My superiors came to my aid when I was done with what I could do, and with their help doors opened for completing this project.
Not only did the Blessed Mother show her faithfulness with the writing of the book but also in touching the hearts of my family. With the death of Puri, my family came to accept Schoenstatt. The Mother Thrice Admirable brought us consolation and in memory of Puri our family home shrine, Cause of our Hope and Joy, was dedicated in 1978. In the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother: Nothing without you – Nothing without us.
What groups and Ecclesial movements helped with Puri’s biography?
The posthumous awards and testimonies presented in the book are a collaboration by people from all walks of life: classmates, friends, co-employees, teachers, comrades, counselors, civic organizations, and different religious congregations, even the Protestant and Good Samaritan churches. Schoenstatt Sister, Sr. Ann Astell, a Professor of Theology at Notre Dame, shared the draft of Puri’s biography with her colleagues and one of them, Professor Daniel Philpott, a professor of Political Science specializing in religion and global politics, and a member of Sant’Egidio Community, wrote the foreword for the book, and Professor Diane Desierto gave an advance review. Another review was given by Professor Donald Mitchell of Purdue University and a member of the Focolare Movement who served on the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. The Focolare in the Philippines presented an audio-visual program on the life of Puri in 2016, celebrating her birthday.
The Story of Puri shows how her concerns in life touched and continue to touch the hearts of others.
How can a book be purchased?
If you would like to purchase a book please email: email@example.com