As missioners, besides learning about a new culture, we also get new insights about our own and about ourselves. This was Sister Numeriana’s (Norie’s) experience when she began language study in Korea in 1978. Although she had worked for thirteen years as a nurse first in the Philippines after graduating from Marian School of Nursing and Far Eastern University in Manila, and then in the U. S. and Canada before entering the Maryknoll Sisters in 1976, it was in Korea, where she did not know the language or customs, that she felt like a child again. Korea challenged her identity in those early years but she remembered that language is also non-verbal and it was the language of her heart that helped her communicate through all her years in Korea. Actually, Sister Norie’s personality was well suited to the “Land of the Morning Calm.”
In Korea, one’s birthday is celebrated in a big way at one hundred days, one year, and when one reaches sixty! Sister Norie was delighted to celebrate her 60th in Seoul four years ago at Miriam Center for Migrant Women. The Fila-Kor, an Association of Filipina women married to Korean men, meets regularly at the Center, founded by Sister Norie along with the Miriam Center staff. They welcome these couples to share their issues regarding language and their lives in Korea.
The couples have found in Sister Norie a compassionate listener who creates a relaxed and peaceful ambience. They felt empowered by her caring presence, by her challenges, which enabled them to sort out some options and make new decisions on their chosen lifestyle. These women, the Filipino migrant workers, and the Filipino missionaries in Korea helped her to deepen her roots as a Filipina. For many years there were very few Filipinos in Korea and Sister Norie says that at that time she could hardly speak Tagalog, her own language. Whenever she attended the Filipino Mass, the hymns sung in Tagalog touched her deeply. When she was elected president of the Association of Filipino Catholic Religious Missionaries in Korea, she accepted it only after the members agreed to have team leadership. She also introduced team leadership to the Fila-Kor group so everyone would feel mutual responsibility to the Association and to each other.
In Korea, she first worked as a psychiatric nurse at St. John of God Psychiatric Clinic in Kwang Ju. In 1984, she began her pastoral ministry with the urban poor in Songnam City,living in an integrated community of clergy, religious and lay people, visiting people in their homes and also organizing scripture study groups. From 1988 to 1990, she continued work with the urban poor, including spiritual direction for the workers in Chulsandong Kyeonggi do.
In 1990, Sister Norie was appointed to the congregational vocation ministry at Maryknoll, NY for four years. More recently, she has completed her role as the Maryknol Sisters’ personnel director.
Over the years in preparation for various ministries. Sister Norie studied theology at the Maryknoll Seminary and Loyola University, Chicago; took three quarters of Clinical Pastoral Education at Methodist Hospital, Brooklyn, and received her M.S. in Religious Studies, including pastoral counseling and spiritual direction from Fordham University, NY in 1998.
She returned to Korea in 1999 and worked for eight years as the Maryknoll Sisters Regional Vocation Minister, continuing with her migrant ministry, spiritual direction, pastoral counseling, and scripture study groups. During this time she was also co-supervisor, with a Korean Sister, of Clinical Pastoral Education, and co-founder and active in a group of English Speaking Spiritual Directors.
A Filipina by birth and a Canadian citizen who has lived many years in the United States, Canada and Korea, Sister Norie is at home in global mission. She will join the Maryknoll Sisters’ Contemplative Community on September 1, 2013.