Memory of my short journey in India 16 Jan. – 20July 2013

My long awaited day for a renewal was dawned at last and I reached Rishivana, the renewal centre at Mangalore, on the 2nd of June 2013. What a beauty of God’s creation!  The panoramic beauty, the quietness, the waters of Netravati running by, the small little islands and the beautiful greenery around all adds to the beauty of Rishivana. Every evening I used to go to the terrace and sit still switching off to my thoughts, to drink in from the ocean of God’s love as Fr. John, the director of the Ashram puts it.

Rose-photoAs I sat and watched, I saw from far little boats of fishermen moving slowly and majestically and I heard the sounds of water flowing and the rain drops falling. I could hear the chirping of the birds, the colorful butterflies around and the beautiful flowers that dance in the gentle breeze. Everything so alive yet so quiet.  The words of psalm 8resounds in my ear “how great is the Lord….”How good is the Lord and how great is He who created them all in harmony. I felt and experienced the greatness of His love, of His loving presence in all His creation.

The stillness of the place and the beauty of nature around helped me to empty myself and to get into the inner silence.  I loved justto  feel and experience only His presence and the ocean of Divine love as in the words of the  psalmist “Be still and know that I am God”.It is an experience of coming home to your inner self at the core of ones  being. The senses of the body and those of the mind cannot mediate God. So we need to withdrawourselves and get into deep silence detaching ourselves from all that is dear and pleasing.

One of the many ways to get into deep silence is constant reflection of the name of Jesus. It happens that our mind dwells on the past painful events or on the future possible fearful events that can happen producing lots of fear, anger and self pity and this in turn shapes our behavior. Repeating thename of Jesus makes the mind to come back to His presence here and now. If we can develop this practice of holding on the thought of Jesus in our minds and hearts then we too can say with St. Paul “It’s no longer …..but Jesus who lives in me” (Gal2:20). Inorder to come to this stage of contemplative prayer we need to purify our minds and hearts of all its attachments and negative thoughts and begin to take delight in the Lord alone. This brings about inner bliss and inner peace, joy and contentment that nothing else can give. As a result one is able to see Christ in all being and develops a deep love and compassion for all and comes forward to serve others as an expression of one’s love for God. Fr. John says “there is no detachment without attachment”.

I was very much attached to my mother. A week ago, my mother died. The feeling of loss is unbearably intense.The sudden death of my mother was shocking news for me.  It all happened just two days after my departure from home andeven before I reached Kurla Station came the sad  news of herpassing away. She passedaway while saying the family prayer in the hands of my brother and sister-in-law she said goodbye kissing both of them and was fully conscious of everything. I thank the Lord that I had a chanceto be with my parents for some time.

I take this opportunity to thank each of you for all the prayers and special love expressed in different ways in past days.He has given me the strength to accept this great loss of my mother and to face it. I want to thank you for your calls, prayers and words of encouragement for strength during this time of bereavement.It is a God given chance for me to experience what it means to be detached even from the dear ones. Fr. John says that “attachments are indispensable to experience detachment”.

The Lord is asking me constantly to detach myself to all that is dear and near in order to attach myself to Him. Once again I am getting ready to leave India and the Indian province where I loved to be. It is really true that “man proposes and God disposes”.Once more I’ll say goodbye to each of you.  I really did enjoy my stay here India in these past months. I thank each of you for the love, special care, prayers and being close to me in different ways. I was so happy to see the progress and the hard work of all the sisters in the province.

 Once again I say good bye to each of you. I ask your special prayers for me and for the specific mission entrusted to me.Assure you of my prayers and love.

Sr. Rose Melkulangara FSP

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Srs Albina and Immacolata say goodbye….

9th March was day which brought us Daughters of St Paul, specially the Bandra Community, a shock and deep sadness, when we realized it was time for not one but two of our sisters to say good bye to us. Though both they and we ourselves were preparing ourselves for this fateful day, little did we realize the truth in the saying death comes like a thief. At around 2 p.m. Sr Immacolata said her ‘yes’ to the Lord’s call to enter into eternity while sisters accompanied her with prayers. We were still making preparations for her to be taken to the Hospital Morgue, getting documents ready etc, when in the room opposite, Sr Albina began to show signs of declining health. Her pressure began to drop drastically and at one moment she lifted her shoulder indicating pain. Some of our sisters were by her side, massaging her and helping her as they could. But the Lord had decided that she accompany Sr Immacolata to the eternal banquet and she serenely passed away due to cardiac arrest, or simply a heart attack.  After documents of both our dear sisters were ready, they were taken to the Bhaba hospital morgue until the next day around 12:45 when they were brought back.  Not a minute passed when prayers were not said or hymns sung, in order that the ambience be almost like the one they were approaching – that of heaven. The floral tributes, the aromatic incense sticks all added the heavenly touch to this beautiful atmosphere.  The band group which was hired by Sr Immaculata’s family played soothingly well-chosen hymns.

The funeral Eucharist began at 3 p.m. and the Chapel was overflowing with the relatives and well-wishers of our dear sisters, and of the Congregation in general, including members of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master and the Society of St Paul. Rev Fr Michael Raj, presided over the Eucharist , flanked by Fr Jose Pottayil, the homilist and Fr. Joe Eruppakkatt, besides many other priests of the Society of St Paul, who incidentally had come to Mumbai for the Superiors Meeting.  Truly Srs Albina and Immacolata were privileged to be led to the Pearly Gates, on a carriage of prayers of the Pauline Family who were far from lacking on this day. In his homily Fr Jose Pottayil expressed his deep gratitude to Srs Albina and Immacolata, both of whom he knew personally, both in India and in Rome, where Sr Immacolata had served at the Queen of Apostles Hospital.  He spoke all the good that he had learnt from them how they had always been a example to him. The choir helped us all to praise God using our voices melodiously. Before the Eucharist ended, the Funeral Rites were recited by Fr Joe Eruppakkatt in the Chapel itself, since it was predicted that it would be difficult in the cemetery due to probable lack of space, conditions, etc.  Two buses were arranged and also the Community vehicles took the sisters , relatives and well-wishers to the Sewri Cemetery for the burial. Here after Mr. Elroy, of A.J. Fernandes Undertakers said a few words of thanksgiving to God , for the lives of our two sisters, and contribution , women and religious sisters make to the world. After this, the graves were blessed by Fr. K. V. Sebastian and while a song dedicated to Motherhood was being played, and all showering petals of roses and other flowers, the two coffins were lowered down into to the grave. The wreaths and candles were then arranged on the graves and they were looking beautiful at the end of the entire proceeding.

In conclusion, we must acknowledge the love and care showered our two sisters by Sr Jayanthi and Sr Rosaria, as also Srs Rose and Mukta as also the other sisters.

 

Sr Joeyanna fsp

 

Sr Grazia Vaz passes away

On 25th April, on the Feast of St. Mark, our dear Sr. Grazia said good bye to us. It was a day which brought us Daughters of St Paul, specially the Bandra Community, a shock and deep sadness, to know that after two sisters had passed away in the month of March, one more sister within a month is leaving us for her eternal reward. I had sent you a message on 11th April saying that Sr. Grazia began to show signs of declining health, her haemoglobin was low, and she had infection all over the body. The chemotherapy could not be continued and she was taken to Holy family for the transfusion of blood, for she had reached the 4th stage tumour of the urinary tract.  Sr. Grazia had a very peaceful death although she suffered intensely.

After the documents of sr Grazia  was ready, she was taken to the Bhaba hospital morgue until the 27th  morning around 7.00 am  when she  was brought back and placed in our chapel.  Not a minute passed when prayers were not said or hymns sung, in order that the ambience be almost like the one she was approaching – that of heaven. As soon as the body was placed in our Chapel we prayed again as a community the Office for the Dead.

The funeral Eucharist began at 9.00 am and the Chapel was overflowing with the relatives and well-wishers of our dear sister, and of the Congregation in general, including members of the Sister Disciples of the Divine Master and the Society of St Paul. Rev Fr George Kaitholil, the Vice Provincial of SSP presided over the Eucharist and in his homily he highlighted the aspect of hope and trust so beautifully and powerfully.  Truly Sr Grazia was privileged to be led through a carriage of prayers of the Pauline Family who were far from lacking on this day. Her face was looking very peaceful and radiant. Sr. Vimala gave short introduction about Sr Grazia and Sr. Ancy John proposed the vote of thanks in which she also testified about Sr Grazia’s life. The choir helped us all to praise God using our voices melodiously. Before the Eucharist ended, the Funeral Rites were carried out by Fr Michael Raj, the Provincial Superior of SSP in the Chapel itself and closed the coffin, suggested by Mr. Elroy the funeral undertaker, due to extreme heat.

Two buses were arranged to proceed to the Sewri Cemetery for the burial. The grave was blessed by Fr. K. V. Sebastian SSP and while an appropriated song was being played, and all showering petals of roses and other flowers, the coffin was lowered down into to the grave. The wreaths and candles were then arranged on the grave beautifully at the end of the entire proceeding.

Sr Grazia was a person of prayer, she believed in the Lord, who promised his continuous assistance. She worked hard and taught her successors to love the work and motivated them, whether they were our young ones in formation, young sisters in various communities or the co-workers in the Catholic Enquiry Centre; she was a great teacher, for she really put her heart and mind into the responsibility entrusted to her, by using all her talents and creativities in whatever work she was called to carry out.

She was a person who readily made friends and collaborated with others, she was always striving to do the greatest good possible, inspired by the promise of Jesus Master, which echoed powerfully in the depths of her heart: “Do not be afraid. I am with you always.”

Sr Grazia’s brother-in law, her nephews, niece and their families, were present for the funeral. There were also sisters from the communities of Ahmedabad, Goa, Mangalore, Nagpur, and Secunderabad, besides the sisters from Borivli and Vasai. There were also several relatives of our sisters who participated in the funeral Mass as well as accompanied the body to the Cemetery.

The Lord visited Sr Grazia and called her for her eternal reward and the memory of her lingers in our minds ever fresh and we keep her in our prayers.

She was truly a Pauline apostle who offered her life in dedicated service of the Word with great love and zeal. May she obtain for our Province all the graces needed for our life and mission.

Sr. Ancy John fsp

Sr Antonette Jesumani’s musings, from Rome…

 Loving greetings from Rome, the land of our origin. I am happy to meet you all through this letter. It is the 8th month that I am here in Rome and it is really a long time to write my first letter to you. It is not that I do not remember you all. It is rather I remember very often and it is really bad to tell that after this very long time. But better late than never.

 There are many reasons why I was silent, first and for most I came here with mixed feelings and though I said yes and accepted to come here and study, I had my own fears about many things, one of the things is my study itself but now I have finished one semester already and everything went well and am confident now that with God’s help I can make it and do it well.

 As you all know I am here to continue my theology studies, but I had to complete some courses which I have done 20 years back in Nagpur before taking any specialization. These past months I experienced the Lord at every step of the way – great and small. How true it is that He really is with the chosen ones.

 It is not very easy to take up the study after a long gap and that too in a foreign land, but the grace of God and the Love for the apostolate gave me the courage to take it up as a challenge, amidst many things. I am very grateful for this opportunity to study after a long gap in view of giving myself in the Apostolate little more effectively and professionally.

 It is also not only study, but I am experiencing and growing in many ways as a Pauline, living in an international community and closer to the founders place etc. God has put many and wonderful people in my way and I am learning from all of them. Also I consider it as a responsibility to do well in my learning from everything.

 Believing comes from the very depths of who we are. Believing is not rooted in what we know in our heads, but in what we have embraced with our hearts. Being far away from home and dear ones, I have more chances to experience Him and Him alone in the depths of my being and grow closer to him and also discover the beauty of living with the sisters from other nations.

 All this is possible because of the generosity of the Sr Antonieta and the General Government and Sr. Ancy and team and each of you sisters and I am grateful to one and all for your encouragement and support. Initial months were not very easy, but they all helped me to grow. I am grateful to the community of Nagpur who took trouble to send the papers on time from Nagpur seminary and for the community of Trichy, my last community before coming here and to the sisters of Bandra who send me off and to you my dear sisters. Thank you for your love and encouragement and support.

 I always remember each of you in my prayers, especially whenever I visit new churches and our founders’ places and during the last blessings of Pope Benedict XVI. I remembered specially our senior sisters and sisters who are sick and who are looking after them. At present, my way of being grateful to you is by giving my best in my studies and I want give also in the Apostolate for God, our province and for the congregation for His greater glory.

 I count on your support; please continue to pray for me. I look forward to meeting the sisters who are coming for the charism Tour. Most Welcome dear sisters.

The greatest treasures in life begin with God’s abundant goodness in giving us the gift of a Saviour. HAPPY EASTER!

 

Sr. Antonette Jesumani, Rome

The Provincial Chapter is an experience of the Daughters of St Paul.. have a look

The Daughters of St Paul , Provincial Chapter of India 2013 , Pune

Today was indeed a special day as we had Bishop Thomas Dabre, the Bishop of Pune Diocese with us for the celebration of the Eucharist. Sr Jessy Jacob and Sr Stevena Lobo, helped us begin the day with a meaningful liturgy.

Bishop Dabre led us to appreciate St Paul as the greatest of apostles, without whom Christianity would not have spread as it has. He exhorted us to emulate St Paul we being ministers of the Word. He invited us to be Christified like St Paul by living concretely the theme of the Chapter, ‘We believe , so we speak’ (2 Cor 4:13). To believe is not only in the mind, but with our hearts and spirits.

At 8:30 a.m. we came together as assembly to finalize the improvements we wanted to propose for the Working Document Draft.100_8508

After this, Sr Ancy John then introduced us to the upcoming activity…

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Marian Week – Formation Group

All the formation groups functioning together formed a CART. The formators have done the good job of dividing the formees into four groups—naming them after the four wheels; piety, poverty, study and apostolate. Each group has its own responsibilities, functions and jobs to fulfil. Accordingly the Piety Wheel organized “Marian Week Talent Contest” from 1st September to the 8th. The aim of the competition was to increase our love and devotion to Mary our mother.

On August 31st was the contest of making Birthday Cards for Mother Mary; September 1st was the competition on composing the prayer to her; 2nd was the solo singing on devotional songs dedicated to Mary; 3rd was the speech competition on any virtue of Mary; 4th was the Marian Quiz; 5th was the essay writing on the role of Mary in our lives; 6th was a skit competition based on any gospel passage based on Mary; 7th day was the solo dance on any devotional songs on Mary. The winners were applauded by the awarding of the prizes on the 16th of September.  It was supposed to be on the 8th but due to Bandra Fair it was postponed.

The competitions were the best opportunity to learn more about Mother Mary, and at the same time increased of our love and devotion to her. It was a chance to discover and to make use of our talents and gifts. The Piety group learned to organize and take leadership in conducting programmes and to encourage our younger sisters, the aspirants. We are grateful to God for blessing us with the variety of gifts and talents.

Our gratitude goes to our formators Srs. Shalini, Meera, Rita and Vimala who were available day and night and to do the needful. IT would not have been possible without their support and encouragement. We are grateful to all the sisters of the community of Bandra especially for the judges.

Anne Maria, Novice, Mumbai