“Hours of family prayers and other spiritual practices are age old and strictly practiced traditions in my family, in Kerala. But coming to the convent, I was taught how to clasp the rosary and to move the beads in a specific way while the hands were in joined posture. We would find it hard. Mother Mistress would take note of each ones hands position,” said Sr. Doris. She continued, “once a week we were to pray the prayers in Latin and the difficulty was in understanding what we were praying.”
Sr. Martina expressed, “If you are sick, you can’t be a sister,” was a slogan of the time. “Health was considered so precious for a missionary. Mother Mistress Sr. Edoarda Colombo would serve the meals up to the brim and we were to consume it fully.” She continued, “I can’t think how I have sipped coffee that was prepared with milk powder and swallowed beef cooked along with vegetables.” Enhancing her Sr. Rosy T said, “My maiden day dawned with the breakfast ‘idli and Sambhar.’ Sr. Rita Maggioni sitting opposite to me was taking stock of my expressions and difficulties but never uttered a single word. I realized that there was no other compromise than to ingest it. My tears were dropping as I tried to swallow it.
“Still hard for me” continued Sr. Rosy T “to recall another painful experience in subsequent days of swallowing corn meal breakfast. Having found the difficulty to consume it, I walked along with my companion Sr. Martina towards the wastebasket. As we were about to throw it, Sr. Agostina Cattaneo saw us and lo! She made us to eat it. We were vomiting while eating, but nothing doing, we were to finish it. This punishment was not enough, the spiritual reading of the day, was only for both of us.”
“Laborious work through out the day and sometimes even at night was another hall mark of our beginning as missionaries,” said Sr. Charles. “Be it unloading from the trucks the food grains for our survival or the black coal for cooking purpose, we were on our toes to do it.” “How can we ever forget the gardening part; drawing water from the well and carrying it for the plants?” said Sr. Rosy T. Adding to them Sr. Regina said, “we were the first batch to start our novitiate in Vijayawada and cleaning the novitiate was done by us.”
Sr. Doris can’t forget her embarrassing experience. She said, “One day I broke a plate and I was to gather the broken pieces, hold them in my hands and ask sorry, by kneeling before the mother mistress saying, I HUMBLY ACCUSE MYSELF, I BROKE A PLATE.” “This type of punishment would prolong for hours, not intentionally but sometimes mother mistress would forget and go about doing her works, while the poor soul would remain kneeling for hours. It happened once with me too. There was noise in the classroom and since I was in charge mother mistress found me at fault and asked me to kneel down. I was kneeling for almost three hours,” said Sr. Therenzia.
Sentiments of gratitude:
Sr. Dora said, “What about the dress code, one bucket of water that was provided that too once a week for bath, cleaning of the cooking gas stove after supper, going to the villages not knowing the language, learning to peddle the cycle for the first time ever in life, climate, food, culture, tradition…etc, so many are the memories of those days. But in all these we are GREATFUL to GOD for the journey we made until now.” Sr. Regina echoed, “Our disciplined life and initial difficulties helped us to bloom for the Lord.” While Sr. Viviana expressed, “Such experiences did not dampen our missionary spirit because we knew that we could do all things through CHRIST our LORD.”
Sr. Philomena said, “Ups and downs were there but the sincere desire to be a missionary kept our spirit alive.” “What kept me to move forward with passion was God’s Word, I have chosen you to be with me,” said Sr. Linet. “For me the driving force were Jesus accelerative words Abide in me and I in you,” said Sr. Treasa Joseph. “God’s everlasting love, became the whole essence of my religious life,” said Sr. Jacintha. While Sr. Seline said, “Contentment, joy, fulfilment are the only words that are on our lips today as we see our journey of 50 years.”
GRATITUDE IS THE BEATITUDE OF THE HEART. “Looking back to the years we have spent in the Lord’s vineyard we can only thank HIM for HIS GRACE working in our lives,” whispered Sr. Annie C. Sr. Emeranziana and Sr. Annie Jose joining with the psalmist expressed, “we will sing praises to our God all our lives.” On the other hand Sr. Rosy A and Sr. Ancy Mary articulated aloud, “Lord, you are GREAT, You are WONDERFUL, we remain indebted to you for your graces.” “On this great day of our lives, we join the heavenly chorus and sing Hosannas to our God,” acclaimed Sr. Rosamma. While Sr. Hilda and Sr. Clarice unanimously voiced out, “At this moment we can only sing the magnificat along with Mary, for Gods marvelous deeds in our lives.” Sr. Jovita concluded saying, “Giving thanks to God, we wish to continue this journey as long as we live here on earth.”
Communication Team, India