Herminia Coquia, fmm             

              I came  across a small ID card that listed Sr. Herminia’s height as 4’ 6” tall. The saying “Good things or, let us say, good people come in small packages” certainly applies to Herminia. I found a letter in her file that she had written to the US Provincial on June 7, 1949, just six days before her final vows ceremony. She wrote, “…There is never a day, which I always hoped and prayed for, as this coming day of final profession. I have always realized the sublimity of our vocation, dear Mother, together with the wondrous privileges and graces entailed in it and I do plead God daily for final perseverance not only for myself but for each and every one of us. …” Our little sister was in love with her God and in love with her Franciscan Missionary of Mary vocation. These words of our foundress, Blessed Mary of the Passion resonate with Herminia’s words: “Jesus is generous. He has given Himself to us. Let us not think that it is too much to give ourselves entirely to Him, with all we possess, it is only a hundredth part of what He has given us. (First Conference of a Triduum on Love, Feb., 1902) Herminia’s first mission was to India. On October 30, 1949 in her letter to the Provincial she wrote, “Yes, dear Mother, the hand of Almighty God is beckoning me to far away India – my future land of destination and I may also add here, my future place of my soul’s sanctification.” From India where Herminia had been teaching, she went to Sri Lanka where she taught in high school. She was then missioned to Liberia where she taught in St. Theresa Convent School for nearly eight years before being missioned to Ghana. Here she was, as always, short in stature, but she was high in achievements. Herminia was asked to open a new girls’ high school, the first of its kind in the Upper West Region. “Open the school” meant she had to first build it. Herminia always said she began with nothing - not even a penny!!! Once again this little sister had a big challenge which she faced head-on, and was successful in building the school. She was the first headmistress 9   of St. Francis Girls Secondary School in Jirapa, Ghana. She had the joy of seeing one of her first students eventually become headmistress. Under Herminia’s direction the school grew and today it is known throughout Ghana for its excellence in educating women. Yes, good people do come in small packages!!! There are many other stories about Herminia’s wonderful work and accomplishments but she did not focus on her own achievements but rather on those of others who were her students. She once wrote, “A teacher’s responsibility in the molding of souls for God is indeed great and I am fully aware of this truth, for souls depend upon the laborious efforts a teacher puts into her work. May the Good God give me the necessary graces to educate and enable the ideals of my future students so as to make them fit courtiers for the Kingdom of God by leading them by word and far more by example, to Him who gave us life. With unflinching fidelity I shall try to accomplish all tasks of my daily duties.” Yes, good people do come in small packages. Herminia returned to the US Province after thirty-four years of overseas missionary life—to continue her missionary life here in the US until illness in 1999 curtailed her very active life. Her graciousness, gentleness, love, care and concern for others did not stop. She was always ready to listen, to pray for and to be with others. I think she was somewhat famous or perhaps infamous at Saint Antoine Residence for her seemingly never ending delicious treats that she offered to staff and residents. Yes, good people do come in small packages. In one of her conferences Blessed Mary of the Passion wrote, “I should like you to take away with you from this conference such a constant recollection of this first glance of Jesus, that it would maintain you in that state of complete readiness for death, which will enable you to say, ‘How happy shall I be when I have breathed my last sigh, when no longer hampered by this mortal body, I shall meet that first glance of Jesus and shall hear him say to me, ‘Come My dove, the winter is passed. Come with me to Paradise.’ “ (Rome, 9 February, 1903) God will be smiling because good people do come in little packages and this good person might just have a little package overflowing with goodies for all. Dear Herminia, may you rest in peace. Lois Pereira, fmm

 

 

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