I have been living for several years in the community in charge of welcoming Indian sisters in the mission ad extra. On their arrival the Indian sisters didn't speak French, therefore part of our mission consisted in giving them the keys to start learning French and to fit into our community life as well as the life of the Province and the one of the local church.
Talking to them, exchanging with them made me imagine the life in their country and to dream that one day I might discover India, their way of living, and the work of our sisters even more.
Thanks to this closeness with the young sisters, especially with Sr. Jane. The fact I was granted permission to visit India by our Provincial, I had the great joy to discover southern India: beautiful country so different from ours.
Sr. Jane, being South Indian was to visit her family and the Province of Madurai in August 2019, for her holidays, suggested that I could make a trip for 3 weeks and was willing to organize the same. I was excited with this proposal of visiting 3 provinces located in South India namely, Trichy, Madurai and Angamaly.
On the 1th of August, Sr. Jane and I took the flight in Geneva which lasted 13 hours. I could not help thinking of the sisters who left for India in 1886, at that time the journey was much harder and longer than ours, since it lasted one month. From Chavanod they had to reach Marseille to board the ship going to south India.
At the arrival in Madurai, the sisters along with the General Team welcomed us with the jasmine garland. There were about 20 sisters of all ages. I was deeply moved by the gesture of our sisters with their colorful and variety welcome in all the provinces.
The sisters enquired about the Province of France and the mission ad extra. How happy I was to meet novices and pre-novices. I visited the institutions where our sisters along with the lay teachers are engaged in teaching children from nursery school to university. I was moved by the presence of many young girls for the Holy Eucharist at 6.30 am, before they could go to the university.
I could admire the service done by our sisters in helping the poorest, the lonely, elderly, beaten women and the handicapped children towards making their life better. The sisters do cater to the needs of the sick and rehabilitating the men who are drug addicts.
The above mentioned works were found 2 provinces. As a matter of fact, I didn't reach Angamaly because of the flood provoked by the monsoon.
I was privileged to take part in a very special celebration: The one commemorating the death of our Foundress. Not only the oratories were decked with flowers, but the event was celebrated by the pupils in our schools. Gathering in the courtyard as they normally do before entering their class, they prayed and read an extract of the Annals recording this event. Once again I was deeply moved by these celebrations and demonstrations.
At the end of this fabulous journey, I read again through the souvenirs of these 3 weeks. I think of all the sisters I met, of the new relationship born along the days, and I recall the kindness of our sisters towards me. I have read in the Annals, the story of the settlement of our sisters in the southern part of India but I now understand better their mission. I feel very close to them as I gained better knowledge of our Congregation.
I was able to measure the boldness of our French sisters who did such a valuable work to develop the apostolic organizations and to convince young Indian girls to join them.
I do thank all the sisters who made my trip possible. I cannot forget Sr. Maryline and Sr. Pushpam. I thank the Provincials: Sr. Fatima Kattar and Sr. Jyothi Selvaraj, the interpreters, Sr. Lourdu and Sr. Premila for allowing me to witness the work undertaken by our first sisters is carried on with the same spirit.
Sr. Blanche PEZETBack