Sr. Ameline B. Initia: new Asia-Pacific Justice and Peace Promoter

Dominican Daughter of the Immaculate Mother, Sr. Ameline B. Initia from the Philippines is the new Justice and Peace Promoter for Asia-Pacific Region. Besides the new role, she serves as a member of the General Council (Vicaress General) of the Congregation and the congregational archivist.

We asked her to share a bit about herself, her background and passion for the justice and peace ministry:

Justice and peace are important to me because of the witness and example of Jesus. He has always been on the side of the oppressed, the poor, and the marginalized. As stated in the Gospel, He did not come to minister to those who are well but to those who need healing (cf. Mark 2:17). Jesus’ acts of justice involve not only healing the hurting but also confronting those who have been causing the hurt. As a follower of Jesus, I am called to pursue justice and peace.

This advocacy is very dear to my heart as I come from a family of ten children and was orphaned at a very young age, at 10 years old. My father died because of foul play as he was very outspoken and honest. His boss asked him to be quiet about the anomalies in their office and threatened to kill him if he reported to the superintendent. Before he could report, his life was taken. After my father’s death, we experienced all kinds of suffering and lived in poverty. This is my family background. Since then, it has always been in my heart to stand with the oppressed and the unjustly treated.

I have always wanted to work with the poor, the needy, and the marginalized. That is why I studied Sociology in my undergraduate studies. The University of Sto. Tomas in Manila, during the late 1970s, exposed us, especially through Rural and Urban Sociology courses, to the reality of the situations in different communities.

It is always my passion to be near the lost, the least, and the last. I wanted to reach out to them. However, the reality of a lack of financial resources has hindered this passion. This reality became even more vivid to me when I entered the cloistered Sisters. I could only sigh for the needs of suffering humanity, interceding for the world while on my knees in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. My favorite nocturnal adoration was at midnight or early in the morning when everyone else was asleep. In the silence of the night, somewhere, someone is oppressed or destitute, and in the darkness, many crimes are committed. In my prayer, I could see the images of “suffering faces.”

On April 29, 2000, on the Feast of St. Catherine of Siena, I returned to the DDIM. The passionate saint inspired me to “walk with two feet,” the love of God and the love of neighbor. I can now connect the dots of my religious journey: to truly immerse myself in the ministry of justice and peace, which is a vast and challenging ministry. Providentially, I was sent to attend the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations. We were bombarded with many inputs about the situation of the entire world, not only on the issue of women and girls but also intertwined with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals: zero hunger, good health and well-being, climate action, etc.

“In this environmental emergency crisis, the ministry of justice and peace promotes environmental stewardship and sustainable practices for the well-being of all, present and future generations.”

The Church has long been ahead in presenting these issues through various encyclicals written by the Popes. When I studied Spiritual Theology at PUST (Angelicum University in Rome), one of our course readings was the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Cardinal Sodano wrote on June 29, 2004, to the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as he presented the Compendium.

“Throughout the course of her history, and particularly in the last hundred years, the Church has never failed, in the words of Pope Leo XIII, to speak “the words that are hers” regarding questions concerning life in society. Continuing to expound and update the rich patrimony of Catholic social doctrine, Pope John Paul II has, for his part, published three great Encyclicals — Laborem Exercens, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, and Centesimus Annus — that represent fundamental stages of Catholic thought in this area. Numerous Bishops worldwide have contributed to a deeper understanding of the Church’s social doctrine. Numerous scholars on every continent have done the same.”

Furthermore, why is the ministry of justice and peace important to me?

I believe it plays a crucial role in promoting social justice, peace, and reconciliation within communities and society. It advocates for the protection and promotion of human rights, especially for marginalized and vulnerable population such as women and girls. It identifies the root causes of social injustices, such as poverty, discrimination, and inequality.

We are very much affected by the present wars and conflicts, even at the domestic level. The ministry of justice and peace plays a vital role in promoting dialogue, reconciliation, and peace-building initiatives. It helps build bridges and fosters sustainable peace.

In this environmental emergency crisis, the ministry of justice and peace promotes environmental stewardship and sustainable practices for the well-being of all, present and future generations.

There are many other issues confronting families, communities, societies, and nations. I strongly believe that the ministry of justice and peace serves as a beacon of hope to the whole world.

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