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Final profession in Lubumbashi

On 31st July 2021, Sisters Béatrice-Landrine KASONGO KIBANDA and Mélanie NSANGO KALUNGA consecrated themselves to the Lord for life as Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary in the Province of Saint Vincent de Paul, in the D.R. Congo.
We join them in joy and thanksgiving for their commitment and assure them of our prayers.

From left to right: Sisters Béatrice-Landrine Kasongo, Isabelle Ilunga and Mélanie Nsango

 



Recent news

Entry to the postulancy

On August 6, 2021, the Province of Ranchi was happy to welcome nine new postulants. They are Gloria Bilung, Alka Surin, Nikita Lakra, Anastasia Hunni Purty, Sunita Laguri, Sandhya Kerketta, Beli Kujur, Niketa Tirkey and Anusha Hasda. We pray that the Holy Spirit may accompany and guide them in their formative journey. May they discover the joy of following Christ and grow in the virtues of the Gospel and in the charism of the Congregation!

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From left to right: Gloria Bilung, Alka Surin, Nikita Lakra, Anastasia Hunni Purty, Sunita Laguri, Sandhya Kerketta,Beli Kujur, Niketa Tirkey and Anusha Hasda.

First profession

On August 14, 2021, the two novices Anna Tran Thi Kim Thanh and Maria Nguyen Que Tram, from the Region of "Our Lady of La Vang" in Vietnam, made their first profession at the Interprovincial Novitiate in the Philippines. They could not return to Vietnam because of the pandemic situation, but the sisters of the Region, their families and friends were able to attend the celebration which was broadcast live on Facebook.

With joy and gratitude, we congratulate them wholeheartedly, wish them the best and assure them of our prayers.

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From left to right: Sr. Maria Nguyen Que Tram and Sr. Anna Tran Thi Kim Thanh

Video of the profession :



Communication to the Congregation: EGC 2021 / N° 04

16/08/2021

We are happy to inform you about the further development of our EGC. After a break, we continued our journey with Phase II.

On 12th August, Sr. Lucy Jacob welcomed all the participants back and told them that Phase II would focus on information from the General Government’s perspective, to see where there has been progress, where there is a need to improve, and to respond to the desire to move forward.

She then introduced to the participants the new simultaneous translators: Sr. Martine Krichel and Mr. Pierre Hernalsteen.

The day started with the opening prayer. After that, Sr. Lucy invited the participants to reflect on how the transmission of the EGC would be done in the Provinces, Vice-Province and Regions. She asked each unit to propose a programme for the transmission, taking into account the following elements: content, methodology and time. This transmission should take place within the next two months. After the group work, we shared our reflections in the plenary session. It was a mutual enrichment for us.

The second session was based on financial management in the Congregation, presented by Sr. Rosily Mathew. She began her presentation with a quote on the "social role of property" (Fratelli Tutti 118-119). She shared her personal experience and observations in this function. She also showed the impact of Covid-19 on the financial situation of the Congregation. 

August 13: The day was dedicated to sharing on the Congregational retreat, with the theme "Living our vows in the three dimensions of our Charism", and on the concern for our Common Home.

Some Provinces were able to make this retreat. In other Provinces, not all the Sisters have made it, because of the pandemic situation. All the participants appreciated this initiative taken by the General Government. The impact of this retreat in the Provinces are: the deepening of our Charism, transformation at personal and community level, understanding and living of our vows in the light of our Charism.

The sharing on the celebration of the Season of Creation and Laudato Sí week showed that it was a beneficial time for all, thanks to the different experiences lived by each one. All the Sisters made every effort to live the calls of Laudato Sí, and they committed themselves to protecting our Common Home, wishing to continue to have this experience of Laudato Sí.

At the end of the sharing, Sr. Lucy proposed to the participants the theme for the 2022 Congregational Retreat: "Ecological Conversion". All the participants appreciated the proposal.

August 14: During the opening prayer, we were in communion with our sisters in Pakistan and the Pakistani people who were celebrating the 73rd anniversary of their independence. We also prayed for our two young Sisters Anna Thanh and Maria Tram from Vietnam who took their first vows in the Philippines.

Afterwards, various topics were discussed:

- Project of the book on the history of the Congregation

- SCJM literature (published documents about SCJM)

- Evaluation of “Integrated Life Style”

- Means of communication: Websites

- International Community

The texts of the presentations were then sent to the participants online. They were given time to read and study them personally. A sharing of reflections, comments and clarifications followed in the afternoon. The participants appreciated the work done by the General Government.

The day of 15th August began with the opening prayer prepared in honour of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and for the intentions of the 73rd anniversary of India’s independence. After the prayer, we followed the presentations of the day.

These were the heritage property of the SCJM, and the Constitutions and Statutes (modifications and structural changes). The texts of the presentation were then sent to the participants for personal reading and study. A sharing of reflections, comments and clarifications followed in the afternoon.

Sr. Lucy gave a concluding address and Sr. Roshni expressed a vote of thanks. Finally, we concluded the EGC with a prayer of thanksgiving which ended with the Magnificat.

The General Government would like to thank all the SCJMs for accompanying the participants by their prayer during this EGC 2021.

 

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Communication to the Congregation: EGC 2021 / N°3

11/08/2021

As you know from our last communication that we have been working on “envisaging and engendering an open world” and focusing on “building bridges to a new story” (cf. Fratelli Tutti / FT). By now, we are also quite comfortable and at home in the virtual world, using applications like the Padlet and other facilities of the Zoom. 

August 7th started with the sharing of overnight reflections which gave us a clear indication that the Spirit of the Lord is with us, guiding and animating us. There were signs of struggle and strong feelings of hopefulness.

As we continued reflecting on and listening to the message of FT, the common feeling was that the Holy Father is calling us to a radical response and, trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we felt ready and willing to face the challenge.

An awareness meditation and a reflection on the labyrinth at the end of the session energized us and clarified for us our work as members of EGC. We have doubts and fears too but as we walk together, we feel strengthened to commit ourselves to build bridges to a new story as new horizons open up before us - a new SCJM story!

On the following day, 8th August, the focus was on the theme ‘heart open to the world’. The overnight reflections revealed that FT is throwing hard challenges to us. The day was organized between plenaries and group works. Through the interpretations of personally chosen symbols, we began to see an emerging direction towards GC 2023. There was much convergence and the feeling was that we are being invited to a radical conversion, greater communion, solidarity within our wounded world, sharing of our resources, and building a new world.

The opening prayer of 9th August put us immediately in focus – mediating the birth of something new, a new world order. The imagery of the midwife powerfully communicated this message. With this mind-set, the members of the EGC continued their work on gaining greater clarity on the focus for the GC 2023. An on-line voting clarified the issue further. Today, the EGC also spent some valuable time to finalize the procedure of the General Chapter and other related documents.

At the end of the day Sr. Lucy thanked Ms. Ilaria Nuti, our simultaneous translator, who would leave us today. She was thanked for her outstanding skills at translation and for the quality of her virtual presence with us. She would be replaced by Ms. Claudia for the remainder of the first phase of the EGC. 

 On 10th, the last day of the first phase of our EGC, we were directed to look back on this ten-day journey and to feel “what touched us most and how we are being called forth at this moment of our journey”; also where we felt resistant. A very rich sharing followed.

The ‘Icon of Mercy’ has been the one major force that touched and influenced everyone as we heard loudly and clearly Jesus’ invitation, “go and do likewise!”

The group entrusted with the task of gathering ‘pearls’ from the entire experience and to present them in the form of a message for the Congregation presented the text they had prepared. It was well appreciated and got the approval of all participants.

Of course, you will hear more of all this from your representatives through the transmission of EGC in your respective province/region.

An on-line evaluation and a vote of thanks saw the conclusion of this day. On behalf of the General Government, Sr. Deepthika Silva thanked the facilitators and the translators. The facilitators in turn expressed their satisfaction of working with SCJM, thanked and congratulated all for their simplicity, dedication and whole hearted participation.



Communication to the Congregation: EGC 2021 / N°2

06/08/2021

The third day of EGC continued with its focus on the theme “a stranger on the road”. The day started with the sharing of some reflections, dreams and thoughts related to the previous day, followed by a reflective prayer on the theme of the day.

A considerable length of this day was spent on highlighting issues, concerns, insights and challenges that emerged from the reports of the provinces and regions. What emerges as a clear indication for the Congregation is the invitation to “come down from the donkey” in response to the needs of the poor and the vulnerable in our midst.

Continued reflection and sharing in small groups on how to be a Good Samaritan further clarified the direction we are called to take. Deeply grounded in the Word of God, we are invited to see reality from the perspective of the vulnerable and to develop a spirituality that can stimulate and empower us to greater openness, flexibility and creativity in meeting the needs to the “stranger” on the roads of our life situations.

On day four, we began looking at “envisaging and engendering an open world”. That the EGC would spend four days on this theme signifies the importance of this orientation. The participants of the EGC are clearly listening to the teachings of Pope Francis in Fratelli Tutti in an attempt to find ways of responding to his call in appropriate ways.

The day began with a meaningful prayer and reflection on the faith of the Canaanite woman (Mt. 15:21-28). Then it was time to get to know each other through personal stories – opening up to each other’s personal world as lived out in one’s natural family and in the SCJM family. These sacred moments of sharing were very enriching and it strengthened our bonding as members of the Congregation. It brought about a sense of gratitude, solidarity, trust, understanding, listening, and openness among us. We felt the presence of the divine in all of our experience and could see how God has been leading us all along in our life. The day ended with a thanksgiving hymn; “Every person is a sacred story”. How beautiful and great are the works of the Lord!

Day five began with the reflection on the universal experience of vulnerability, based on Mt 16: 21-23 and the story of Job. Human life is fragile & we all have experienced it especially during the pandemic. Blessed are the fragile, the vulnerable, the poor in spirit - they belong to the kingdom of God. Through this morning reflection, we were being invited to embrace our own vulnerability, experiences in diverse ways.

The shared activities of today focused on moving from a closed world to an open world. For reflection we were directed to listen to our own experience of being members of an international congregation. We recalled and shared with each other and with the whole group experiences of times we felt energised and estranged as an individual member and as a province / region in the congregation. It was a time when we felt being trusted, encouraged and supported and a sacred moment to recognize and accept our own vulnerability, individually and as a congregation.

Another significant work of this day was to identify those factors that prevent us from noticing the strangers in our midst and to consider what choices we have to make in order to “come down” from the donkey. Our answers were recorded and displayed using an interactive presentation software (Mentimeter). The day ended with sharing of our feelings of gratitude, communion and support to one another.

Today, the 6th day of our virtual EGC, we have been focusing on “building bridges to a new story” as we continue our journey through Fratelli Tutti.

Our morning prayer, led by Frances, was centred on the icon of transfiguration of the Lord and reflection on Mk. 9:2-10. The icon is a manifestation of the presence of God. It draws and brings us into this presence so that we can experience God in our soul. In this way we become a living icon of God.

We were invited to go up the mountain to the place of meeting, the place of listening. We asked for the grace to open our eyes to see Jesus leading us out to ministry and to the people.

After prayer, Br. Emili introduced the work of the day. The question for reflection was: What important choice, in real and practical ways, could we now make to create the first chapter of a new story that opens us more to each other and to the world? The group responses were presented on the padlet for the assembly for further reflection and response.

At the moment, we continue with the same theme that we started on Day Four. More of it, in the next letter!

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Communication to the Congregation: EGC 2021 / N°1

02/08/2021

As you already know, this important online event of the Congregation started beforehand on 31/07/2021 with a test session to get used to the new technology.

On the first day, after the introduction of all the participants, the facilitators reminded us of the purpose of the EGC, which is to promote communion within the Congregation, and of the essential points of EGC/19, namely knowing each other, the Congregation and the local Church, and listening to the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor (LS 49).

After this reminder, we reflected on two questions:

- What are your concerns as we start EGC/21?

- What are you feeling inside yourself at this moment?

What emerges from the questions discussed in the small groups is the concern to take responsibility during this time of pandemic as well as the concern to use the new technology in an appropriate way.

As for feelings, we are all happy, motivated and willing to live this new virtual experience. Yet, the worry about the technology is still holding us back. However, we hope to dispel it.

Sr. Lucy Jacob addressed warm words of welcome to everyone and introduced the facilitators, Fr. Emili Turú and Ms. Frances Heery, the secretaries and translators. This was followed by a time of prayer and reflection on the icon of Mercy (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 70).

The second session focused on the objectives and planning of the GCE/21 and contemplative leadership. These two themes were discussed in groups: the secretary of each group presented her report to the plenary assembly.

On the second day, the session started with a sharing of some dreams and thoughts related to the previous day. This was followed by the announcement of the theme.

An intense prayer from the icon of Mercy introduced us to the theme and challenged us with a fundamental question: Who is my neighbour?

Afterwards, Bro. Emili projected several pictures, allowing us to deepen our contemplation of the icon of Mercy in our own context and in the global context.

Then Ms Frances Heery explained the acronym VUCA: V, Volatile; U, Uncertainty; C, Complexity; A, Ambiguity.

This acronym describes the world we live in today: a changing, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.

During the afternoon, the groups met in two stages, by continent. Each secretary wrote the group’s answers on their padlet (a note on an online virtual board where one can write and share thoughts, ideas, reflections) and read them out to the plenary. Ms. Frances Heery made some comments after each group’s sharing.

Dear Sisters, as we journey together through this important event of our Congregation, we will be happy to gradually share with you the progress of our daily activities. We continue to count on your prayers.

May the Spirit of the Lord continue to guide us in our reflection and discernment during this EGC/21.

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Recent news

30/07/2021

Flood in Gurgaon, India

Three days of non-stop rain plunged the novitiate building in Gurgaon (Delhi province) into deep waters. The water level rose up from the basement to the ground floor, forcing Sisters, Novices and Postulants to the first floor. Fortunately, the water level started to recede from the second day, much to the relief of all of us. To restore the house to a liveable condition is a herculean task.

 

Entry to the Novitiate

28th July was a joyful occasion when four postulants started their novitiate in Ranchi province. They are Anjuliya Pradhan, Alice Kerketta, Anupa Kujur and Beronica Bada. We wish them every blessing in their journey of formation. May they grow in the virtues of the Gospel and in the charism of the congregation!

Beronica Bada, Alice Kerketta, Anupa Kullu, Anjuliya Pradhan

 

EGC 2021

As the opening of the EGC/21 is at our door, the General team is busy with the final phase of its preparatory work. Since virtual meetings are quite new for all of us, the EGC participants are following test sessions, facilitated by Sr. Kim Chi. Today’s session was kind of an ice breaker and most of the participants seem to have conquered their initial fears and anxieties! Those bigger challenges of the virtual world are waiting to be conquered!

 



Latest news

17/07/2021

Professions

  • The junior sisters of the Provinces of Ranchi and Delhi have their gathering in Dalhousie (Delhi Province) to begin their tertianship, under the guidance of Sr. Moly Augustine Vavukatt, in preparation for their final profession this year. There are fourteen of them: ten juniors from Ranchi and four from Delhi. May they have a very enriching time together!
  •  

  • Our heartfelt congratulations to our four novices from the Delhi Province who made their first vows today: Tamanna Bhatti, Jobita Tirkey, Mary Grace Xaxa and Promila Ekka. We welcome them into the Lord’s vineyard and entrust their religious consecration to the divine protection and to the Virgin Mary, our Mother.

 

Video of the profession:

 

Pakistan (sent by Sr Maria Shaukat)

Reception ceremony (hair cutting ceremony)

In June, the heat is on its peak, but during the 3rd week of the month we didn’t feel it so much, as we were anxiously busy in the preparation for the reception and the first profession of our novices Anum Saleem, Anita Nasir, Soha Shaukat and Roma Kanwal.

On the eve of 22nd June 2021, the first symbolic ceremony of cutting of hair took place. Cutting of hair is symbol of sacrificing the female beauty. The novices had set their hair in beautiful decorated hair ornament called “Paranda”. They were then given red veils and led to the chapel, the palace of their King Jesus accompanied by the formation community, singing Ps. 45.

The Provincial team and the sisters of Lahore Community received them joyfully at the entrance of the chapel and together they went in the chapel for the evening program.

The first profession of Sr. Anum, Sr. Anita, Sr. Soha and Sr. Roma (23rd June 2021)

It was a blissful day for our Congregation and especially for the Province of Pakistan when our four novices committed themselves to the Lord. His excellency Rev. Bishop Sebastian Francis Shaw and about twelve priests presided over the Holy Mass. Many sisters of other Congregations and Brothers of Charity also witnessed the ceremony. The Mass started at 5:30 pm. The parents of the four elected novices accompanied their daughters to the altar as an offertory to the Lord. It was a very touching moment. The choir, under the guidance of Sr. Maggie Yaqub, sang beautiful hymns based on the theme " Come, Follow Me ". Rev. Bishop shared an inspirational, supportive and encouraging homily to help us to continue following Christ by bearing witness to the Gospel values.

All the sisters of our Congregation joyfully accepted the newly professed Sisters by garlanding them, according to our culture. When the Holy Mass ended, a newly professed, Sr. Anum Saleem, on behalf of her companions, Sisters Anita, Soha and Roma, presented a vote of thanks and invited everyone present to enjoy the delicious dinner in the convent garden.

After the celebration, the newly professed Sisters went home with their families for two weeks.

 

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Sr. Soha, Sr. Anum, Sr. Roma and Sr. Anita

International Community

The long wait for the arrival of members from Africa for the formation of the International Community was partially fulfilled this week with the arrival of Sr. Charitine Impuhwe from the Vice-Province of Rwanda on 15th July. The Generalate Community has given her a warm welcome. Now we are looking forward to welcoming the fourth member in the coming days.

 

Floods

  • Belgium has been hit by deadly floods in Wallonia, Limburg and other places following record rainfall during the last days. At least thirty-one persons died and many people are still missing. Some areas are more affected, especially the provinces of Liège, Namur and Luxembourg. A large part of Wallonia is now on alert. We entrust all these victims to the Lord.
  • This situation is not unique to Belgium. Our neighbouring countries are also in the same situation, especially Germany. In Asia, the monsoon rains are taking their toll on India and Sri Lanka.

Coronavirus crisis

The virus does not seem to be in any hurry to leave us! The number of infections is said to be on the rise here in Belgium as well as in other countries where the SCJM are present; especially Vietnam, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, India...



Some news of the week

10/07/2021

Final Profession: On 3rd July, the province of St. Bernard, Congo had the joy of having three of their junior sisters making their final vows in the Congregation: Sr. Arlette Babakanga Baka, Sr. Yvonne Kundji Bala and Sr. Julienne Piki Asska. While we join our Sisters in the province in joy and gratitude, we also congratulate the three young religious for their faithful commitment to the Lord and wish them well and assure them of our prayers.

 

A New Leadership Team in the Region of Mali: The installation of a new leadership team took place on 7th July: Sr. Rose Meta Kabambi as the Regional Superior, Sr. Joséphine Mavanga and Sr. Marie-Véronique Kapinga Bunkayebe as Council Members. All the sisters of the region and the novices of NIA (Noviciat International d’Afrique) were present for the occasion on site. Srs. Régine Ndaye and Julienne Tumone, who are in Congo, Sr. Suzy Spaenhoven, who is on vacation in Belgium, Sr Birgit Goslain, and the Community of the Generalate joined them virtually. The appointment of the new team was also made on line by the Superior General, Sr. Lucy Jacob. The prayer service prepared for the occasion was a highly symbolic one, emphasising the values of the Gospel as embedded in the SCJM charism.

 

Corona visits Vietnam again! As the cases are on the rise, the country is witnessing another lockdown. Our sisters are not able to hold or attend classes. However, they are creatively using their time by manually sorting out tea leaves and thus being in solidarity with the people. This activity also brings in some income for the region.

 

A break in the routine! It was a welcome ‘interruption’ for the community of the Generalate to welcome some guests into the house, something that Corona had forbidden us to do! A priest relative of Sr. Valsam Jose, Fr. Reji MSFS along with a couple of his friends spent a few hours with us on 8th July. They came from Austria and Germany to visit some places in Belgium which included a visit to the Generalate as well. We were happy to have them with us, even though it was a very short one.



Some events of this week

03/07/2021

  • First Professions

Mali: On 20th June, Novices Régine Ndaye and Julienne Tumone from the International Novitiate of Africa, Mali made their first profession. After a short holiday with their biological families in Congo, they will return to Mali as members of the Region of Mali.

 

Congo: It was then the turn of the Novitiate “Mére Hostia” Kimpese in the Province of St. Bernard, Congo. On 24th June four novices of Saint Bernard Province and one novice of Saint Vincent province made their first profession.

 

Rwanda: The vice-province of Rwanda is blessed with two more members as novices Francine Mukanyandwi and Janviere Uwimana made their first profession this week.

 

Ranchi : Four novices – Beronica Hembrom, Arti Soreng, Mary Suman Toppo and Anshu Lakra – of Ranchi Province took their first vows in Ashadeep, SCJM Novitiate, Hulhundu, on 3rd July. The sisters from Fatima Convent and Sneh Sadan, Hulhundu were present for this joyful occasion.

Video of the profession : 

 

In joy and gratitude, we welcome them all into our SCJM family and congratulate them for their generous response to the Lord. May you all bloom and blossom in the spirit of the SCJM charism!

  • This week, we also celebrated the Silver Jubilee of Sr. Joséphine Mavanga of the Region of Mali. We thank God for all that He has accomplished in and through her in the Congregation and in the world at large. We congratulate her on this occasion and wish her many fruitful years ahead.

 

  • With gratitude to God we hear of the steady recovery of Sr. Yvonne Ngomba Lukusa, the Sister in-charge of formation in the Vice-Province of Rwanda, from a major surgery for brain aneurism.
  • We join our Sisters in Pakistan who are now following, as one community, an on-line retreat. We wish them a very enriching time with the Lord and with one another.
  • Generalate / Belgium

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The 30th of June saw the 61st Independence Day of Congo. The Generalate community celebrated it with a meaningful prayer service. Added to this was a meal in the Congolese style, prepared by our Sisters Cécile and Angélique. A cultural evening took us to Congo with its natural beauty and rhythmic dances.

The nomination process in Mali, as you may be aware, is in progress now. The General Council is fully involved in this procedure of discernment. Your prayers are requested during this important time in the life of the Region.

Belgium is in a holiday mood now! The Covid restrictions are relaxed and everyone is out there enjoying the freedom of movement, the generous sunshine, the fresh air and the cool waters at the sea side. Churches are open with liturgical services, even though the number of worshipers will have to remain limited.

The European Football matches are going on. The Belgium team – the Red Devils – is a group to reckon with! As of now, they are in the quarter finals and, being hopeful of reaching the finals, you can imagine the excitement in the country!



24 June 2021

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Happy Feast!

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As we celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus this year,

 

let us celebrate all the blessings of the year 2020-21.

 

We have grown through this year of the pandemic:

 

we have renewed our life in many ways;

 

we have realised like never before how much we need each other;

 

we have found new ways of reaching out to one another;

 

we have learnt to cross frontiers using technology;

 

we have strengthened communion within the Congregation

 

and grown in the awareness of being a global community of SCJMs…

 

and countless other blessings that have their source

 

in the Heart of Jesus.

 

With a sense of immense gratitude to God, I wish you, my Sisters,

 

a Very Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

 

Sr. Lucy Jacob

Brussels, June 2021


Laudato Sí Week celebration in Legazpi - May 2021

THE SCJM IN LEGAZPI, PHILIPPINES, RESPONDING TO A VIGOROUS CALL OF CARING FOR OUR COMMON HOME….

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The sisters ventured anew, in these trying times of pandemic, to advocate and promote the “Care of our Common Home” as their active participation in the LAUDATO SÍ WEEK 2021 celebration. Since Legazpi City, Albay, is placed under general community quarantine, it was not possible to organize a community outreach/activity in a bigger and wider scale, not even in the Church premises or any local zones. Hence, the sisters collaborated with the family beneficiaries of the SCJM apostolate. It was then discerned and they have chosen a family (Michelle Malaga and her family) with spacious surroundings, that could possibly participate in clean-up drive and home gardening, at the same time pray with them, plant with them, be nourished with shared meals, joy, laughter and each other’s presence. It was indeed a wonderful Family Day at Home with Nature and A Day to Remember. “God Has Gifted Us To Give”. (A Theme engrained to celebrate the Philippines’ 500 years of Christianity.)

The sisters spent the whole day with the family in Malilipot Albay from 9:10 in the morning until 6:00 in the evening on May 22, 2021. They explained to the family the whole day’s schedule of activities and the purpose and meaning of the said event. In this matter, the family expressed that though they actually have space for garden, still, they do not have proper methods, ideas or approaches towards home gardening and planting fruit trees that could possibly yield harvest and income in the future.

The day started with a short prayer to Mother Earth, translated into their local dialect “Bicol”. Then, it was followed by a few minutes’ orientation that highlighted the importance of growing vegetables and other fruit trees; and also, the vital roles of the elders in giving the example to the young ones by living life in God and with the nature. To strengthen the family with team work spirit, the family members were divided into three groups, and one Sister was assigned to work with them.

After the group work, they all came together, cleaned the area and carried and re-used the logs by keeping them around the plants for protection. Also, logs protect the soil from being washed away and when decayed, they become nutrients to the soil. On the other hand, the sisters, together with the family members, have agreed to take care of the plants alternately among them. They have planted vegetables such as lady fingers, beans, eggplants; and also chili, lemon grass and dragon fruit; fruits trees like mangoes, guava, lemon; and flowering plants too.

Aside from praying and planting, they shared the blessings of cooking together, having meals and snacks together, and sharing their cooked food, wrapped with banana leaves, with the neighbors. It was also an opportunity to promote the SCJM charism to everyone the sisters encountered, especially the young ones. The sisters and the family, together with few friends, had their closing prayer in the afternoon, before the snacks, with the theme of the Holy Spirit-The Gifts and The Fruits. Then they spent some time together, sharing personal, family and friends’ stories, their feelings, ideas and experiences.

Above all, we thanked God, through the intercession of St. Joseph The Worker, for the day’s good weather. It was a miracle, since before that event and even after that day, there were rainy days and unfavorable weather conditions.

DIOS MABALOS PO! (GOD’S BLESSINGS!)

Sr. Madelene Nueza

 

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Situation of COVID-19 in India and Pakistan

Present Situation in Pakistan of COVID-19 / 06 May 2021

We are waiting for the day when there will be shouts of joy and victory everywhere, when we can begin to live a normal life, a life free of fear and anxiety; when we will say to each other: “Do not be afraid; everything is fine”. It is no more “rejoice and be glad”. May it happen and happen soon! This is a wish and a prayer before the Lord of mercy and compassion.

At present the situation is so scary and depressing. The third wave of the virus is much more contagious, infectious and life-threatening. There are no more signs and symptoms that we had been hearing about. So one does not know who the carrier is and therefore people are not serious and careful about it. Last year when it started people were fearful so they took care of themselves and thus Pakistan did not suffer so much compared to some other countries. Unfortunately, when the virus is much stronger than before, people are less careful and prudent. Looking at the irresponsible attitude and behavior of the people, the government of Pakistan has become more active and strict about it. It is trying its level best to keep the people on the track with measures such as the following:

- All shops are closed at 6:00 pm, where as in the past certain shopping centers were open till late at night.

- Every Saturday and Sunday all the markets are completely closed.

- The transport is allowed with 50% of passengers only.

- The parks and public places are closed.

- Vaccine is available for all above 40 years of age. People have not to go very far to get it. Now we hear that the government schools will be turned into vaccination centers so people have not to wait in long queues for their turn. 

- Now as Eid, the Muslim festival, is approaching so there will be complete lockdown from 8th – 16th May.

- The army is also involved to keep a check. The people violating the regulations have to pay a heavy fine.

All our communities are having special adoration. Some sisters have their personal devotional prayers also. May the Lord listen to our humble cry and clear our planet from this deadly virus!

Sent by Sr. Victoria Rehmat

An update on Situation of Covid-19, India / 05 May 2021

We are going through the worst ever global crisis in our life time. The first phase of Covid-19 was bad enough but this second phase has become simply uncontrollable and the death rate is rising hour by hour. Everywhere we see the gloom of death hanging in the air. Two of our sisters have been snatched away from us so mercilessly. Our hearts are not yet healed and we are still mourning. Every day we get news from our communities that one or the other is infected by this dreadful virus; as also in other congregations, parishes and villages. There are villages where the entire population is affected by the virus. We also hear of the deaths in our own neighborhood and of the parents and relatives of our students and staff, people whom we have known. Few of our sisters have lost their dear ones. Many priests and religious, whom we have known, succumbed to this dreadful disease. Every day we wake up with the news of death. We are all anxious about our family members, especially in the villages, but we entrust them in the Mighty Hand of God. There sisters still in the hospital being treated; others are quarantined in their communities and treated under the guidance of doctors. Some of these communities are in the villages where many are infected. Sisters keep instructing people telephonically on how to care for their family members and neighbors when they are infected. It is unfortunate that many of the villagers do not have access to proper medication and treatment.

Our sisters involved in health care services are there, caring for the victims day and night, at the risk of their own lives. We are worried about them and pray much for them, and at the same time we feel proud of them and surrender them in the merciful hand of God. Although many states are under partial lock down, the superiors of bigger communities take risk and go out to procure things for the needs of the sisters. They also help neighboring communities with provisions. 

This explosion of the virus of death around us has left us feeling powerless in the face of its violent attack. There is shortage of ICU beds, Oxygen supply, and availability of doctors. It is a heart rending scene to see the lines of ambulances and stretchers carrying the patients, standing in queues, outside hospitals, pleading and crying for help. Testing for Covid has broken down due to shortage of necessary means and testing agencies are refusing to take samples as they do not have the means to test them.

In this agonizing situation God alone is the help we can count on. We believe that He is there and He will help us to ride through this terrible storm. All will be well in his own time and in his own way. All our communities are concerned about the whole province, the congregation and the world and have chain adoration the whole day and find our strength and support in him who said, “Do not be afraid, trust in me”.

Sent by Sr. Tessy Edayal 



The relentless spread of Covid 19 in India…

30/04/2021

(The government of India apparently has placed a ban on giving out news of the pandemic situation in the country, except by those authorised by it. So, our sisters are not able to write freely. The following is an extract from a letter that came in just before the ban, sent by Sr. Mary Joseph, the Provincial of Ranchi.)

“As I sit down to pen a few lines on the second wave of Covid 19 and its negative impact on human lives in India, I am distracted and distressed by the siren of ambulances plying on the road taking patients from the hospital or to the hospital, to get them admitted somewhere for treatment. The situation is very bad and it is getting out of control day by day. The number of infected cases keep escalating, hospitals are overwhelmed, beds are not available, required drugs are not found in medical stores, oxygen supply is not sufficient… Those in authority are trying their best, but not able to bring it under control. Unlike the first wave of Covid 19, the second one is deadly and the death rate is very high. As we read news and watch on television what goes on in the country, we keep calling out to the Lord for his mercy and compassion on the world...

The departure of our two sisters in two days, victims of Covid, has devastated us… In the midst of pain, sorrow, uncertainty, anxiety and fear what we realise is there is nothing on this earth that can hold us… God alone! God has a plan for us!

At this moment we rely on the words of the Psalmist: "The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (Ps. 34:18). We find solace in Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

We are grateful to our SCJM sisters from all over the world for being with us at this painful phase in the life of the province. We remember you for your prayerful support through phone calls, messages and consoling words. May the Good Lord bless you with good health and keep you safe under His wings!”



Coronavirus in India

Avril 2021

Brussels

26 April 2021

Dear Sisters,

Several of you have been inquiring about the situation in India with assurances of your prayerful support for the country and for our Sisters in the provinces of Ranchi and Delhi in particular. Thank you very much for your interest and concern.

I do not have to go into the statistics of the pandemic situation in the country. The media is full of it and you are well informed, I am sure.

Going by the news coming from both the provinces, our Sisters are living through a very difficult time, as we can well understand. The sudden departure of Sr. Crescentia Xalxo and Sr. Lidwin Mary Rodrigues in quick succession had been rude shock for all of them. In both the provinces, there is a deep sense of pain and sorrow over losing them to the virus. Although several sisters in different communities are tested positive, their symptoms are reported to be mild and they are in the process of recovering.

Our Sisters in Mercy Hospital in Jamshedpur are living with the daily reality of the mounting cases of Covid-19 as they are not able to accommodate the patients who come to the hospital for treatment.

The worsening situation in the country is both fearful and alarming for everyone: rapid rise in the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths, insufficient facilities for treating the sick, over-worked and exhausted health care workers, a right- wing government that is preoccupied with an agenda of its own… The woes are many!

I need not say that all this is very disturbing for all of us. The Lord alone knows why things happen in the way they do. We remain united to Him and to one another during this time of crisis and pray for strength and courage to remain faith-filled and hope-filled.

Affectionately,

Sr. Lucy Jacob



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