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Dentist by Profession, Missionary by Vocation

Catalina Lucman, or Dentist Bambi as she is fondly called by her family and friends, is a dentist in the morning and a catechist in the evening. Despite her busy schedule, she is still able to allot time to serve the Lord which makes her heart full.

The dual work as a dentist and catechist has been an interesting factor for Dentist Bambi. Asked how and why, she explains: “Whenever patients visit my clinic in Cubao, Quezon City, apart from providing them an exemplary dental care, I treat them with cura personalis (personal care for the individual). I try my best to make them feel comfortable, relaxed, and situate them in an affectionate environment that goes beyond culture, diversity, religion, and with utmost community–based care,” she says. 

She is a woman who tries to find God in all things. Her decades of experience as a dentist honed her to be more “patient–centered” and even go beyond. Her patients become her friends. She patiently listens to their concerns and life issues – all with empathy and solidarity. 

“It has been an innate dimension in me to be a listener from the beginning. I empathize with the varied stories of their lives – all walks of life, especially the least, the last, and even the lost,” she explains. 

Why does she do it? Her answer is, “One of the sincerest forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say or talk about. Listening is a magnetic creative force. It unfolds and expands better relationships. Usually, all they need is someone who will just sit down and listen to them, and this is exactly what I do!”

“I think it is innate in me that the values I learned from my parents, grandparents, and Catholic school upbringing manifest in my deeds as a compassionate and service–oriented dentist to my patients. In the process of being a listener to them, I may ignite insights to understand life in the light of one’s faith,” Bambi said. 

Life Situations
When asked to cite and illustrate it further, she was prompted enough to share a few cases with some details:

“One of my cases was about abortion. A patient of mine who became a close friend, called me up in the wee hour of the night, crying, and feeling at lost about her ‘unwanted’ pregnancy. She was pressured by her family to abort the baby, since she was already in the United States for work. After listening to her, I explained to her the pros and cons of abortion. What is permitted and what is not, challenging her to be Pro–Life than Pro–Choice,” the dentist added. 

With Divine intervention, the lady decided not to abort the child. Bambi saved a life from a mother’s womb. At present, that child grew up as a scholar in a Catholic school and a loving child to her mother. Her patient-friend is continuously expressing her gratitude to Bambi’s timely intervention and enlightenment during those crucial times. 

Bambi experienced several cases of abortion stories. She says talking with people about abortion is a great challenge, explaining the value and sublime beauty of human life, seeking to counteract the torrent of lies and ideological manipulation that floods today’s society in support of a “throw-away” culture. 

People who share about impeding abortions had made a difficult decision to request an abortion, thinking that it would be the right solution. After an honest and open conversation with Bambi, these patients and others have changed their minds about their context on abortion, and convinced their partners to go forward with the pregnancy, embracing God’s gift of life.

In the end, the culture of life needs to go hand in hand with a culture of encounter, of welcoming, and of solidarity, in order to avoid falling into hypocrisy. All these are needed to be effective proponents of a culture of life. “This is my vocation as a Catholic,” she asserts. 

The second case was about a foreigner who adopted a Filipino young boy. He sent him to good schools, exerted time and effort to raise him as his own. He provided a luxurious lifestyle as an expression of his love for the child. All his endeavors were futile as the boy ended up wasting all his money and worse, even joining an international mafia. 

“You know that alien expressed his profound disappointment, cried in agony and exhaustion in my clinic,” Bambi recalled. “I comforted and asked him to bring his burdens to God,” she said.

Listening to People
Likewise, Bambi has so many stories and experiences to share. “My daily life is an encounter of people with ‘varied stories.’ It takes patience, passion, and perseverance to penetrate into their situations. It takes a lot of grit to listen to people’s woes and joys,” said Bambi, a mother of three young sons.

Most of the stories and experiences of people that Bambi has encountered are so deep and commonly disconsolate. She prays that they may find grace to accept their realities and work on their struggles to cope, to find wisdom and strength,” says Bambi.

There is a third case. A patient of hers had a teen pregnancy with a foreigner. After giving birth, the guy took the child to the United States and promised to come back and marry her. To the girl’s dismay of waiting for so many years, she got married with another man in the Philippines. That girl was astonished when out of the blue, the foreigner showed up and forced her to come with him despite her situation. He even blackmailed her, saying that she would never see their son. That really broke her heart. She deeply missed her child. In confusion and desperation, she even thought of leaving her husband and going with the foreigner.  

“I told her to ignore and stop communicating with him and move forward with her life. Sometimes, things happened beyond our control, so just allow God to intercede. Currently, she is still struggling but winning,” Bambi said. 

Catechist in the Evening
Besides being a dentist, what enthuses Bambi is that she is a volunteer catechist in her own way in the evenings. For several years, she is a lector/commentator at the Nativity of Our Lord Parish in Cubao, Quezon City. “I love to be active in the local parish activities – be it in teaching catechism with children or animating young people and women about faith, religion, and pastoral programs,” she says.

She considers her dual work of being a doctor and catechist to be a person for others. “That is why I felt that with so many enlightening experiences, I was able to realize that everyone has a purpose in life and a unique talent to love others. I personally experience the uncontainable happiness with what I am doing. I felt God’s presence and I rejoice! Faith is the initial component in a life devoted to service. Without it, nothing is viable. With faith, everything goes beyond the bounds of possibilities,” she explains.

“Having a persevering faith and a devoted service for others bring out the beauty of being a Catholic. It is faith in action,” she justifies. 

Being a dentist in the morning and a catechist in the evening make her life fulfilling. Just like what Pope Francis said, “Love and charity are service, helping others, serving others. There are many people who spend their lives in this way, in the service of others... When you forget yourself and think of others, this is LOVE! And with the washing of the feet, the Lord teaches us to be servants, and above all, servants as He was a servant to us, for every one of us.” (Jubilee audience, March 12, 2016)

As a dentist, she believes that a smile gives everyone an efficacious expression that makes people feel comfortable around you. “I love the acronym of SMILE (See Miracles In Life Every day). Keep smiling,” she quipped.  

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