Sr Pat Fox says her expulsion from the Philippines because of her work with the poor and marginalised has had “a chilling effect” on other religious congregations and Christian groups. Source: Catholic Religious Australia.
“It’s had a very chilling effect, not only on other congregations, but also on Protestant groups engaged in similar work in the Philippines,” Sr Pat said.
“It’s already resulted in people stopping doing some of the things, especially outdoor things, that they were doing.
“But there are pockets of people who will keep fighting and being with the people. And there are groups who are trying to reignite the prophetic role of religious. But it’s not easy in the current environment in the Philippines.”
Sr Pat, 71, who had lived and worked in the Philippines for 28 years on a missionary visa, returned to Australia on November 4 after immigration authorities cancelled her visa on the order of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“I wasn’t deported, but I was leaving under protest,” she said.
“I was very sad, and probably naïve, because I was anticipating that I would get an extension on my visa.”
Sr Pat, who began religious life as a teacher and later undertook a law degree and lived and worked among the poor in Melbourne, arrived in the Philippines in 1990 with another Sister of Sion to establish the congregation’s mission in the country.
The early years were spent learning the language, becoming familiar with the culture, and learning how things were done in the Philippines.
“Our house was in the south and I moved to the north to be with the Justice and Peace Group, and I started to see some of the injustice and I joined with the people in their struggle for change,” she said.
“I began to see that the law isn’t necessarily moral.
“The people taught me so much about hope, justice, commitment, perseverance. I learnt much more from them than I ever gave.”