Our world is changing and subjecting us to the challenging apprenticeship of learning how to navigate in chaos. This pandemic has plunged us into it. Battered by dissonant statements, submerged in waves of new anxiety, immersed in constant stress, we are indeed in the midst of chaos.

I would never for a moment have imagined that this 22-year missionary journey on the high seas of the distress of our societies would have prepared us to know how to deal with this pandemic and to lead our boat in this face to face with more ease.

As I wrote in my book “Defying Chaos”, I overcame fear the day a seaman taught me this unforgettable lesson: “Sophie, in the face of a raging sea, never base yourself on what you feel at sea (it should be noted that I cowered at every single wave!!) but stand at the bow of the boat and watch, assess and evaluate the degree of danger“. That day, I got up and stood beside him facing the impressive waves of this Caledonian sea in stormy weather. By his side, and in this face to face with the breaking waves, I lost the fear of insecurity… on the sea and in the air. And on land, I learned to “face” every difficult situation before me.

This experience of ” facing it ” has subsequently shaped generations of our young people in ACAY. They have been immersed in the truth of the proverb: “Where the dragon lurks, there is the treasure”. Their dragons, traumatic experiences, or complex external situations have become, with the help of accompaniment and over time, a source of transformation and even a mission.

This ‘’face to face” attitude has taught us not to look backward but forwards, at what is “to come”. This journey has been the occasion for a metamorphosis, for all the young people or others who have walked with ACAY and who, it must be noted, have been open to this experience, initially interior. Underneath all the disorders a “new creation” is emerging.

For those who have faith, when the human dimension becomes limited, let us switch to the spiritual dimension. Rooted in the Alpha and Omega, in the infinite and eternal, this faith offers us the immensity of the power of hope.

May these limitations, far from restricting us, open for us new horizons.

The Philippines being blocked for an uncertain time yet, I am constantly making sure that we are not blinded by the enormity and the weight of sadness, frustration, or anger of this current “dragon”: desperately missing our Sr Rachel presently welcomed in the ACAY Marseille team, our girls who have been confined for more than 7 months, the catastrophic economic situation of the country (46% of Filipinos have lost their jobs in 6 months!). Everything leads us to cower…

However, in spite of all this, I want to believe that a new reality is being born, both human and spiritual. Optimism or illusion, I try to believe it and thus keep up the morale of my troops.

While being masked, let our strength of speech be in refusing to give in to those who preach only fear and panic!

While social distance is imposed, our creativity has strengthened our bonds, support, and affection. Since my year in France, one thing has become obvious to me and I have given it more importance in these times: the victims of our societies are often the elderly. This pandemic adds its share of anguish and possible separation. Here, poverty is even more salient and dramatic. During our comings and goings in certain markets, grandma’s and grandpa’s abound sitting on the ground, begging no longer able to sell, as in the past, the plastic bags, the few vegetables or other trinkets in their possession to the multitude of people in the now depopulated streets. With our teams, we have tried to find solutions to help them, even punctually.

Our young Filipinos were not able to go to Marseille for the first time in so many years, to join Laurent and the team to give their testimony to the young people of the EPM. Now it is the young people of Marseille these past years who have taken over! The impact is just as splendid.

I keep you all in my prayer and affection.

Sister Sophie de Jesus | ACAY Executive Director