Sr Petra Likhittam’s ministry in Thailand
In 1978 I entered the Congregation of the Presentation Sisters in Western Australia, after obtaining my Teaching Certificate and teaching in Victoria. Following my profession I taught in a number of Presentation Schools in WA for the next 12 years. During that time I worked towards and gained my Masters Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) with a view to returning to Thailand, my homeland, to minister as a Presentation Sister in an educational capacity.
In 1991, a community was established by the Congregation of Western Australia in Thailand – Sisters Joan Evans, Monica Maddox (RIP), Cecilia Phetpanomporn and me – and since that time I have been continually involved in the teaching of English as a Second Language in a number of schools. Currently I am working in the Diocese of Nakhornratchasrima and based in the town of Korat as an English Language Coordinator for eleven schools in the Diocese. Under the auspices of Bishop Joseph Chusack Sirisut I work in the Catholic Education Office with Fr John Ekachai, the Director of the Diocesan CEO. In the main I visit the schools, assist the teachers with any problems they may experience in their teaching and assist with their programmes and lesson plans for English teaching. I also conduct seminars, workshops, in-service days and supervise lessons in the classroom.
The eleven Catholic Schools in the Diocese cater for both Primary and Secondary students and by Australian Standards are quite large, most enrolling 1,000 or more students, with the largest enrolling some 6,000 students. I find my ministry challenging but fulfilling and I believe I am following Nano’s dictum to her sisters: “We must prefer the schools above all others.”
Margaret Kehoe pbvm in Lima, Peru
Our challenge as Presentation Sisters in Lima is to be a presence among the poor, living as they live, experiencing life from their perspective. Flowing from this, we focus our energies on changing the mentalities and structures which keep the women so oppressed. Training in work skills, education, manual crafts, self esteem, dance, aerobics, alternative medicines, etc, help them to discover their own worth and dignity as women and this does change the quality of their lives and the lives of their children.
Ministry in Thailand continues
In 2013 Sister Cecilia is continuing as the Field Director of COERR (Catholic Office for Emergency Relief and Refugees) for the Ratchaburi Diocese. She visits nine camps, two near Ratchaburi and seven in the north of Thailand. Visiting these northern camps involves nineteen hours of stressful driving through dangerous terrain. Sr Cecilia trains the staff of COERR in the programHealing of Memory and Reconciliation. This program is aimed at helping the people in the camps to cope with their pain and suffering, and to deal with conflict within themselves. These refugees are enabled to participate in such programs as planting and tending vegetables, and the making of Tiger Balm, candles and soap. Sr Cecilia and her workers aim to help each person to be fully alive and fully human. As part of her camp ministry Cecilia visits the homes of the refugees. The children and elderly are given extra food as they are often under-nourished. In the northern camps warm clothing is distributed.
As part of the COERR, Cecilia and her co-workers spent two days working with the people in the Immigration Detention Centre in Bangkok, sitting and listening to the people tell their sad stories. Cecilia and her co-workers interact with many nationalities including African, Austrian, Burmese, Chinese, Karen, French, Japanese and Laos. Sr Cecilia finds this work very challenging and fulfilling.