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Part 3: WW2 experience

It was on December 18th when the Sisters were assembled in the garden for the morning recreation when suddenly a group of air-planes were heard approaching. Some Sisters who immediately perceived that they were the enemies’ planes persuaded us to go inside. Although some of us thought there was no imminent danger yet readily hastened to enter the place of refuge which was the most protected part in the Monastery. There was a striking incident though not a real miracle nevertheless was a delicate attention of our Lord. A very thick cloud hung over our Convent so that we could scarcely see the planes nor the enemies could view our Monastery which could have been mistaken for a gov’t. building. Our Lady has indeed covered us under her Mantle. Shortly after we heard shots, for the Japanese had reached the city of Iloilo and threw down bombs and made use of machine-guns to kill a great number of civilians. Meanwhile realizing the danger so close to us we began to pray with out-stretched arms and weeping we concluded that the last hour has come for us. The air-raid lasted about two hours when we left our hiding place.

During Vespers our devoted Chaplain came to see how we were, brought us bananas and gave us news of the havoc which the Japanese left behind. Rev. Mother found it necessary to leave our cells and stay downstairs. Every Sister generously started evacuating downstairs which took place the same day and later on the things of the offices were also transferred. It was really a period of detachment and self-sacrifice. To our great sorrow the Blessed Sacrament was removed from the Oratory. We accepted this loss to increase our desire for His Divine Presence and especially in our hearts.

Towards Christmas the condition of the country was getting worse, our families and friends came to offer us shelter in their farms. Rev. Mother was advised to entrust our two infirm Sisters to one of our relatives. The thought of the separation was heart-rending. The necessary preparations were made but no car was to be found. Meanwhile two other Sisters fell seriously ill that they received Holy Communion in bed on Christmas day. We considered these hard circumstances as the Will of God for us to remain together in the same house.

Midnight Mass was forbidden and we had to resign to suppress many different solemnities and especially the devotions during this season. Despoiled of every consolation yet we were at peace and joy penetrated our hearts. Up to this time we did not receive news about Bishop. All possible communication was difficult. But towards the beginning of the New Year after the many fruitless efforts of our Chaplain, his patience was rewarded. A Jesuit Father informed him by long distance telephone that our dear Bishop was safe with the Archbishop of Manila.

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