“Sister, I am not sending my daughter to be a doctor or a teacher. I am sending her to be a missionary. Teach her the Bible, let her go around and preach the Word of God”. Which daughter will not feel proud to see that these words of her father are fulfilled.
Way back in the year 2006 on 10 June, when I discerned to be a missionary and approached Sr. Anita Alva, the then Province Leader of Siliguri to allow me to be a candidate in the MSI family, my father uttered above words and entrusted me to the care of the sisters. Thereafter, my onward journey was marked by endless-surprises. Never ever I regretted over the decision that beautified my life over the years. 4 December 2022, marked the beginning of the long-awaited day. A day wherein I pronounced my Perpetual Vows and a day on which I received my Missionary Mandate to the Church in Papua New Guinea.
“Dangmei Simon, like St. Paul, once took the U-turn, you never looked back. You are a powerful preacher who changed the face of your village. I am witness to it”, these words of Sr. Anita Alva, to my beloved father welled up immense ripples of joy and gratitude in my heart. I also recalled the word of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, “No vocation is born of itself or lives for itself. A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people.” (58 World Day of Vocations). Yes! the vicinity amidst which we grow facilitates both our vocation and our mission. My father as a catechist, under the guidance of the Missionaries had learned to preach and kindle the spark of faith not only in us but also in the entire village.
True! Right at my infancy, I was enlightened on God’s love by my father. Although my childhood was clouded by the ethnic conflicts of the times, I still thank God for those arduous and grief-stricken times, which brought the missionaries in our land, who were assisting us to wipe the tears from our cheeks. They taught us to keep up our faith and to smile despite strenuous times. There began the spark to be a missionary. Not just in me, but my entire family. My father was attracted by our Charism and my mother would pray asking God to pluck at least one bud from our family to be bloomed at His altar. Sincere prayers from heart lifted to God, never go in vain. God plucked me out of my nothingness, I entered the MSI, and today two-fold celebrations; saying a definitive yes and being sent out by the Local Church to the distant lands.
What greater joy I could have had than to celebrate this festive moment of my life in my home town with my village and family members? St. Ignatius Parish, Bishnupur in Manipur, was all filled to the brim with delight and festivity to see one among them pronouncing “Yes” for the rest of her life and ready to leave for the mission ad gentes, ad extra and ad vitam. The Congregation gathered for the celebration expressed, “It’s our time, to rise! To awake! To follow and to give our lives to God, who calls us to fulfil His mission.”
Sr. Cecilia Dangmei, Siliguri/PNG