The mutual love shared for mankind and Mother Earth serves as a bridge to unite two different religions in working towards a common goal of bringing ease, love and joy to society.
On March 3, 2011, 19 nuns from the Divine Mercy Institute for China visited the offices of Tzu Chi Foundation, Philippines—the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus (TCGLC) in Sta. Mesa, Manila and the Still Thoughts Hall in Quezon City—where they gained heart-warming inspiration as they start to set out in giving services back in their country.
The nuns were in the Philippines for their religious formation as organized by the Divine Mercy Asia led by continental coordinator and local priest Monsignor Josefino Ramirez. Msgr. Ramirez and Chinese priest Fr. Joseph Wanglujun, who lead the said group of nuns, wanted to open their eyes to the nature of doing charity works through the missions of Tzu Chi Foundation.
“Our group, the Divine Mercy Asia, practices mercy and compassion. That’s not an exclusive practice for Buddhist or Catholic. This is for all religions, and we can work together. This is our common goal showing mercy and compassion,” said Msgr. Ramirez.
The group was first toured around the facilities at the TCGLC including the eye and dental clinics, the mini thrift shop that showcased a wide array of good quality household and personal items, library, warehouse where the nuns saw the relief items distributed by the foundation to victims of disasters and other beneficiaries, livelihood training center, organic vegetable garden, and the Tzu Chi Educational Recycling Center (TCERC).
Everything that the nuns saw bore testimony of the foundation’s work not only in terms of Charity, Medicine, Education, and Humanity but also in the aspect of Environmental Protection. In stressing this mission, the volunteers discussed the recycling efforts of the foundation and showed a thermal blanket made from recycled plastic bottles.
The nuns and Fr. Wanglujun, who were later joined by Msgr. Ramirez at the Still Thoughts Hall, were also treated to a delicious vegetarian lunch which planted an inspiration to them to reduce carbon emissions and help save the earth by not eating meat.
In the tour at the Still Thoughts Hall, the Tzu Chi volunteers narrated the humble beginnings of Master Cheng Yen, a Buddhist nun from Taiwan, in founding Tzu Chi Foundation around 45 years ago. Through the posters exhibited at the auditorium of the Still Thoughts Hall, the nuns and priest were able to take a good look of the international works of the foundation in carrying out the Master’s vows of alleviating the suffering of the poor and bringing harmony to society.
A mini exhibit of the environmental protection efforts of Tzu Chi dubbed as “Living in Harmony with our Earth” also awakened the visiting nuns and priests to the severity of the destruction that the planet has incurred due to the neglect and abuse of humans.
“I believe that this experience will accompany them (nuns) always and will also inspire them to do something in their respective communities and the environment. I believe that they can do it. I also hope that one day, we can also work together for everything is possible if we work together for the goodness of our society and our Mother Earth,” said Fr. Wanglujun.
As the tour progressed, happy friendships were formed with the 35 Tzu Chi volunteers who facilitated the tour. “We are so touched that we do not feel any religious barriers. I don’t feel that I’m a stranger here. I feel that I’m a member here and that although we have different religions, we are actually one, I think we are more the same than different,” added Fr. Wanglujun.
A short gathering at the lobby of the Still Thoughts Hall also introduced the nuns to another culture of Tzu Chi: sign language. Here, the Tzu Chi volunteers taught the visitors the sign language of the Tzu Chi song “Happy Face” which brought cheers to the hearts of everyone.
Two of the nuns and Fr. Wanglujun were then given the chance to share their thoughts during the visit. The three all voiced their common feeling of being deeply touched by the missions of the foundation and being inspired by the works it carries out, especially their recycling efforts. All vowed to adapt the same spirit of selflessness and dedication of the Tzu Chi volunteers as they embark on their respective duties in their homeland.
“Although we are different in religion, we got together today in a very harmonious ambience and I don’t feel the difference in religions. We feel that there is no boundary and that Catholics are like Buddhists as both are very compassionate. Here, I felt the spirit of great love and everybody has a big heart,” said Sister Berchmans.
“We gather all this love of people. When all the little love from people are accumulated, one big love is created. I am really inspired and I hope that this should be known by many people today and should be followed by many people in our society,” stressed Fr. Wanglujun.
Msgr. Ramirez also imparted his final message to Tzu Chi Foundation as the group boarded the bus headed back home.
“I would like to congratulate this foundation. It has been receiving a lot of acknowledgements even from our local government because it is an example of how we can work together. There are so many problems now in the country and in the world which are coming from selfishness and lack of concern. Even the ecology is affected. With this foundation reminding us of our responsibilities, I believe that all of us can work together and make a difference in the world. Thank you!” concluded Msgr. Ramirez.