Sister Marilu Limgenco, born in the Philippines, received her first overseas mission assignment to Hong Kong in 1981. After two years of Cantonese language study she joined the Pastoral Team Ministry in Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital. With her Chinese ancestry, Sister Marilu felt at home in her new mission. It was also like being at home on weekends when she was surrounded by hundreds of Filipina migrant workers. Sister Marilu was a friend and spiritual advisor to several domestic groups, and stressed the need to support one another as they experienced both personal and collective problems.
Sister Marilu continues assisting domestic migrant workers as they deal with employment issues in Hong Kong. She says that besides being the cook, the cleaner, the laundress and the baby-sitter, many of the domestic migrant workers are also loaned out illegally to clean the homes of family members or to care for older parents. Most of the women hope that they will be a domestic worker for a short time but many find themselves as housekeepers fifteen or twenty years later. Since most of the migrant workers are Filipino, the majority are also Catholic and the church reaches out to them through counseling, special Masses, bible study, and legal assistance. There is also a house of refuge for women where they can recuperate if they are sick or have lost their jobs.
For Sister Marilu, “We are in pastoral care—caring and loving. We are willing to be there and journey with them in their lives.”
Before entering the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation in 1968 in the Philippines, Sister Marilu worked for three years in Maryknoll College in Quezon City. She had a year of reflection and theological studies at Maryknoll, NY before making her first profession of vows in 1973. After working in Supportive Services at the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Sister Marilu returned to the Philippines and worked in the National Secretariat of Social Action for Justice and Peace and was a Health, Nutrition and Family Life Coordinator.
Sister Marilu was also Executive Secretary for the Health Movement for People before leaving for her mission in Hong Kong.
Sister Mary Lou lived through the transition of Hong Kong to China and continues working as a pastoral care-giver to the sick and dying at Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital, and her ministry with the Filipina Migrant Workers.