03 May 2020
“Truly, I say to you, as long as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me” (Mt. 25:40)
“To reveal to all the Merciful Love of the Father and the Liberating Power of the Paschal Mystery” (Mission Statement of the Sisters of the Cross)
“We the Sisters of the Cross, feel strongly called and sent to continue Christ’s Mission of bringing hope and life to others. Mt 25:40 quoted above, reminds us that we are commissioned to care for the vulnerable in the world, to ‘come out of ourselves and to go to the peripheries’, in the words of Pope Francis.” (General Chapter 2019) The ‘Lockdown Period’ was truly a time for reflection on the way we have been living our lives. It was also a beautiful opportunity to think less of self and to focus on those suffering. Looking at those in our surroundings, severely affected by COVID -19, their struggles and sorrows with the eyes of God, we as communities translated our prayer into action and as a response to the situation we collaborated in the plan of God.
The generous and creative response of the Communities to this imperative found expression spiritually and materially as each Sister got involved in the Community initiatives. All the Communities began their Spiritual outreach by committing their cause and this emergency of the COVID-19 to the Lord every day, through Holy Hours, Chain fasting and prayer for a month and the ‘In Solidarity with…’, the Online Retreat from the Jesuit Conference of South Asia. Some began the daily intercessory prayer, special COVID-19 Rosary and Way of the Cross.
In our efforts to make our work even more effective and efficient, we seized the opportunities to network with other Religious, i.e. Jesuits and Missionaries of Charity; with the Municipal and Government officials, (e.g. Corporators, MLAs and Village Heads); with NGOs, even a foreign funding agency, viz. ‘Manos Unidas’ and lay collaborators like social activists and locals who manned the Distribution Centres.
As some Communities were immersed in highly sensitive areas with very few Sisters or comprised mainly elderly Sisters, they channelized their contributions of money and provisions through those on the forefront. Very importantly, the Sisters personally accompanied the distressed by giving them a listening ear, using means of communication to share their anxieties and fears, thus giving hope and consolation and nurturing their trust in the Lord. We ourselves were evangelized by the generosity, faith and self sacrifice of the many people we encountered.
Materially, almost every Community reached out beyond its confines with food kits, provisions, medicines, masks, sanitizers and toilet requisites. Some even supplied cooked food to a few who had no one to cook for them. Those they reached out to included migrants, Municipal workers, slum dwellers, hawkers, needy neighbours, service staff of our institutions, parents of students, families in the Parish, the elderly, widows, daily wage earners and construction workers.
A couple of communities reached out to their students by promising to pay the fees in the next academic year and some went out to school children in a municipal school and street school run under a railway bridge!
We end our sharing by taking a leaf out of the life and example of our dear Mother Claudine, who passionately loved Christ and loved her neighbours for love of Him. We, her daughters feel challenged to become another Claudine by participating joyfully in the kenotic love of Christ in His Paschal Mystery.
Sr. Caroline Pereira - Pune Province