I am sr. Janet R. Pereira, originally from India. I am a Missionary Sister of the Immaculate – PIME. I was destined to Italy in 2015. The development of the mission ad gentes in Europe is a concept and a relatively recent journey for us MSI. In fact, for us, Italy was not considered as a mission land. Therefore, it was not easy for me at the beginning to accept my call to Italy… I was actually dreaming of Brazil! However, God had and still has his own special project for me, which I am slowly getting to know. Now I can say that Italy is ‘my place’ and I am happy.
Like every missionary, I went through a journey to come closer to the mission. It was not easy, in fact, to get used to the food, the culture and learning a new language. At first, I wondered what can I do here? I felt my presence was useless.
I began to accept slowly, one by one, the challenges that the Lord placed in front of me. Accepting myself and the situation helped me to be open to all needs. At first, while studying the language, I had to learn to come back as an elementary school child, who depends on others for anything. I tried my best to come out of my shyness and I became nothing in front of my reality in order to learn. I became small, I did not hesitate to ask others to discover new things. Every little thing I was asked for, I said to myself: “This is for the mission” and there I found joy, even though sometimes I was doing very little things such as opening and closing the doors and the windows of our kindergarten in Monza. However, that gave me joy.
One of the first apostolates where I collaborated was the catechesis in the parish and the journey of PIME for young people. While working with catechists, children, mothers, and young people, I learned a lot from them. I experienced that I do not have to wait or think that others should come to me, but it is I who have to take the first step to go towards them. Through this journey, I found myself able to be more open and sincere, generous and loving, to put myself at the service of others without thinking too much about myself.
Thinking of a missionary who begins to live the mission, like me a few years ago, I would say that the essential point is not to have so many projects and programs. A young missionary must first observe and learn things without prejudice; this will help them to be open to everyone’s needs and slowly will bring that joy that is God’s own gift. In fact, sometimes there is no need to say so many words in order to win people’s hearts in the place where one is sent, but just our presence and testimony while living daily life is enough, as I have realized during my missionary journey.
Today I can say that I am proud to be in Italy as a missionary. I feel accepted, loved, understood by my sisters and by the people I work with. I am happy that so many people feel they have trust and confidence in me and feel free to express and share their lives with me.
A concrete event that helped me a lot and that still gives me confidence in the future was when, after studying the language, I started to go to the parish for catechism and to work with other catechists in the area. Since I did not speak Italian well yet, I could not teach much to the children. Then I started to speak to the parents and children with a little bit of language I knew, doing nothing else. At the end of the year, I was surprised and impressed by the words of the parents and the catechists: Thank you Sr. Janet, your angelic and simple presence was a gift for all! Thinking about this word I always feel a new strength to fully insert into the mission entrusted, they will accompany me wherever I go, along with that special encouragement of the Lord for me through His Word: “Do not be afraid, I am with you. I need you; I have a plan for you”.
In obedience to the mission, I have discovered and experienced the significance of joy!
Sr. Janet Reshma Pereira – Province of Italy