Sister Alma Christina Catambay, MM

Born: August 21, 1930
Entered: June 1, 1963
Died: April 18, 2010

We gather this bright April morning at our Maryknoll Sisters Mausoleum in Miriam College (formerly Maryknoll College) to celebrate the New Life of our beloved Sr. Alma Christina Catambay. We entrust her to our loving and merciful God she so faithfully served.

Early in 2009 Sr. Alma’s health began to decline. In August she began receiving treatment. Her condition improved but by March 2010, the illness returned. On April 16 she was admitted to St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City. Despite the medical attention provided, Sr. Alma’s condition continued to deteriorate. She was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit in the early hours of Sunday, April 18, 2010. She passed away quietly at 6:15 p.m.

Alicia Susana Catambay was born on August 21, 1930 in Manila, Philippines. She was the eldest of four children, two girls and two boys, of Alejandro and Adela Catambay of Tanay, Rizal. All four children grew up in College, Los Banos, Laguna, where Mr. Catambay was a professor in agricultural engineering on the Los Banos campus of the University of the Philippines. The children attended primary school at Maquiling School and University of the Philippines (UP) Rural High School on the university campus in Los Banos. Sr. Alma attended the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, where she graduated with a B.S. in Dentistry. She practiced her dental profession at the University of the East in Manila and then went into private practice.

Alicia entered the Maryknoll Sisters Novitiate in Quezon City on June 1, 1963. She made her First Profession in 1966, taking the religious name of Sr. Alma Christina. She celebrated her Final Profession on May 17, 1970, Pentecost Sunday.

Sr. Alma Christina’s entire missionary life was spent in the Philippines. She started as school administrator at the Maryknoll Sisters’ mission in Jimenez, Misamis Occidental. In 1974 Sr. Alma pioneered work in the Upi missions in Cotabato at the Notre Dame of Upi High School. Following this work she went to Kidapawan in Cotabato where her passion for the work of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) was awakened. The RMP is a concrete Christian response in service to the poor and the oppressed, especially in strategic rural areas. In June 1979 she was elected as West Mindanao Coordinator of the RMP. As coordinator, she was sent as the Philippine Representative to the Asian Meeting of Religious (AMOR) in Sri Lanka. From 1993 to 1999 Alma worked in Manila as National Coordinator of the Philippine RMP.

Her dedication to the poor peasants found new expression when in September 2008 she joined the SUHAY KANAYUNAN (Farmers Support for Livelihood) which was organized to help poor farmers distribute their products directly to consumers. As dedicated as she was to the poor peasants she also remained deeply committed to helping the children of her youngest brother who depended on her assistance. This concern remained with her to the end of her life.

Sr. Alma’s photo appears on the cover of Maryknoll Sisters in the Philippines, the history of the Maryknoll Sisters in the Philippines, published in 2001. With peasant farmers, she is holding a bundle of newly harvested produce symbolizing her solidarity with poor farmers she strove to empower.

In early April 2010, Sr. Alma wrote a letter to her Maryknoll community thanking each one for her loving concern and prayers. As if preparing for her eternal encounter with God, Sr. Alma wrote: “Holy Week has been a deeply spiritual experience for me; it put me in touch with myself to focus on God and on priorities.” Indeed, as we prayed Vespers the night Sr. Alma’s remains were brought to the Burgos Maryknoll house we noticed the appropriateness of the concluding prayer, “Our Sister was faithful, and believed in the joy of her own Resurrection.”

We rejoice with Sr. Alma, as she enters the fullness of life with God. With Rev. Fr. Rudy B. Abao, M.S.C we celebrate the Liturgy of the Resurrection with her Maryknoll Family, her sister and relatives, and friends. Rest in peace, dear Sr. Alma, enfolded in God’s embrace.

Blessings of Peace!