Sr. Yolanda Borbon, Apostolic Councilor Province of Philippines-Japan

Sr. Yolanda Borbon, Apostolic Councilor Province of Philippines-Japan

Sr. Yolanda Borbon, Apostolic Councilor Province of Philippines-Japan

Sr. Yolanda Borbon, Apostolic Councilor Province of Philippines-Japan

Sr. Yolanda Borbon, Apostolic Councilor Province of Philippines-Japan

Sr. Yolanda Borbon, Apostolic Councilor Province of Philippines-Japan

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Sr. Yolanda Borbon was born in Batangas City, Philippines. She entered the Province of Philippines-Japan in 1991, making her first profession in 1994 and her perpetual profession in 1999. She ends her role as Congregational Treasurer to begin her new role as a member of the Congregational Leadership Team.

 

Can you share with us something of your journey to the Congregation?

I came to know the Congregation during my high school and college years. Our parents strived to provide us with a good education, and sending their children to St. Bridget College, Batangas, for our studies was probably one of their best accomplishments. I’m sure they never thought that by doing so, they prepared the way for two of their daughters to be among the many former alumni Bridgetines who joined the Congregation and another daughter who later joined as a partner in mission.

I started to dream of becoming a sister during my high school years. The presence of the sisters and the images of Jesus the Good Shepherd and St. Mary Euphrasia opened my heart to a deepening relationship with our Shepherd God, who is full of compassion and tenderness for the lost and marginalized. St. Mary Euphrasia’s words, “one person is of more value than the whole world,” had a great impact on me. I remember writing an important essay on this theme for one of my English subjects in high school.

The call to religious life became stronger as I moved to college and became more involved in extra-curricular activities that kept alive the school’s motto to “let your light shine” and “be a woman for others”. As a student catechist teaching grade 1 and 2 pupils in the public schools, I was with the group of students under the mentoring of Sr. Mary Pauline Feria. She truly inspired me not only with her strict and disciplined way of forming us but more so with her compassion and tenderness toward us, the catechists and the students. In one of those activities, I remember saying to myself: “I will be a sister.”

Within the next five years after graduation, I temporarily set aside my desire to enter religious life and pursued my dream of working as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). I was fulfilled and happy in my chosen career and in my relationships with my family and friends. But then, at some point, I experienced a sense of restlessness of the heart. I was searching for something more… which I eventually found as I returned to the fold of the Good Shepherd.

Picture one: Sr. Yolanda on the occasion of her graduation from St. Bridget College.

I believe that Jesus the Good Shepherd has been leading me all along. I clearly heard His voice: “I have called you by name, you are mine!”  God has loved me so much that I wanted to share that love with others. I wanted to follow wherever my Shepherd leads me so that I can be an instrument of the Good Shepherd’s compassionate love that brings healing, reconciliation, and the empowerment of people, particularly women and children. And I always find great joy in seeing women and children experience this healing and reconciliation, reclaim their strength and dignity, and eventually help others transform their lives.

 

Did you imagine you would continue to practice your previous profession as a religious?

When I entered the convent, I thought I had entirely left behind my career as an accountant. But in my very first year as a temporary professed sister, I was assigned to work as assistant treasurer at my former school, St. Bridget College. As time went on, it seemed I was always allocated ministries working in finance and administration. Eventually, I came to value that I was not simply practicing as a professional accountant but that I was aligning the work with our mission, charism, and spirituality. I realized that there is a way of doing finance and administration specific to our Congregation, and the work grew really close to my heart. I can now say that I love this kind of mission.

 

What is this OLCGS way of doing finance and administration that you mention?

Anyone carrying out this work in the Congregation must, of course, possess the appropriate skills and qualifications, but they must also have the right work ethic and be deeply rooted in our values and spirituality to be credible in what they do. I see these values as integrity, credibility, transparency, and accountability.

I also feel that all those working in finance and administration within the Congregation should hold in their heart the basic principle – detailed in our Constitutions – that the material resources of our Congregation are at the service of our mission. And when I say mission, I don’t just mean ministry; I mean the whole life and mission of the Congregation.

As a Congregation with once large institutions, we have a lot of large properties that served the flourishing mission of the past but no longer serve the same purpose. There are new ways of doing mission, and we need to shift and make changes in the way we administer these material resources to optimize them for the mission.

The recommendations of our recent Congregational Chapter Direction Statement are also very clear that we must have a spirit of sharing and communion to ensure an equitable sharing of resources. Finance and administration cannot be in the hands of just one person. It must be inclusive, and it must be participatory.

So, I would say that I see our way of doing finance and administration as one in line with our values and spirituality as sisters, partners in mission, and as a Congregation and one in which our resources are intentionally used to empower those we serve.

 

As Congregational Treasurer, how have you been able to share this way of doing finance and administration with the Congregation?

This has only been made possible by building on the dream of my predecessor, Sr. Helen Anne Sand. She identified the need to provide the Congregation with training and capacity building and offer technical assistance in the area of finance and administration for mission.

In 2010, the year after I took over the role, I was able to begin visiting the units to run these training sessions and share the vision of our way of doing this work.

Picture two: Sr. Yolanda on a visit to the Philippines.

In fact, I see finance and administration as such an integral part of our mission that I firmly believe it should be part of the formation program from the very initial stages. Our evangelical credibility is linked to the way we manage our resources. Our training and formation should be able to integrate the evangelical dimensions and the professional dimensions of finance and administration.

We encourage collaboration and engagement of partners in mission who have the professional expertise in dealing with the increasing complexities of the global economy. Our dream of the sustainability of our mission demands that we have a credible way of doing finance and administration.

 

Having worked in the Generalate for the past 12 years as Congregational Treasurer, how do you envisage your transition to being a member of the new Congregational Leadership Team?

I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the Congregation in the area of administration for mission. I am grateful for the opportunity to experience more profoundly the international and missionary dimensions of our charism and mission. The experience of journeying with different units to strengthen their administrative systems is always an experience of oneness… a sense of unity with sisters and partners in mission responding to the diverse realities and needs in different parts of the world.

As a member of the new Congregational Leadership Team, I will be transitioning to an entirely new role. Of course, I will need to learn to let go of my current role and completely hand over everything to the next Congregational Treasurer. And in doing so, embrace the scope of my new role with fresh eyes, a clear mind, and renewed energy… while remaining aware that the unique gift I bring to the team is finance and administration.

For me, part of the benefit of being in the mission is to be able to embrace these new challenges together because, in this process, we grow as people and as a Congregation striving to realize the mission entrusted to us at this time. As I am at the threshold of stepping out of my comfort zone into a new type of unknown, I look forward, with great hope, to the unfolding process of discovery and transformation that lies ahead. God is with us and leading us in this journey.

Picture three: Family members gathered around Sr. Yolanda in the Generalate to celebrate her silver jubilee in 2020.

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