3 Silver Jubilees of Religious Profession
Two Samoan and one Indian Little Sister celebrated 25 years of Religious Profession on 20th August 2020 with as much festivity as the pandemic would allow.
Their vocation stories follow:
Sister Malia Aloisia
"Through the years I have come to believe that my call to religious life
is a gift that calls me to be open to become my truer self"
These past 25 years have been stamped with so much joy, because they have been spent with the source of all joy. Every day, he continues to call me in the quiet peace of the chapel and oratory, in the fraternal life shared with my Little Sisters in community, and in the beautiful faces of the elderly and the contact with family and others outside our Home. Jesus said, “All this I tell you that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11). Of course, only in heaven will we experience the absolute fullness of this joy, but there is no doubt that he has given us a foretaste of this endless bliss here and now, in our beautiful vocation of the Little Sisters of the Poor belonging to him, who is himself our Saviour and our Joy.
"Come and hear, all you who fear God, while I recount what has been done for me” (Psalm 66: 16). As I look over my story with the Lord, and the many blessings He has given me. Saint John Paul II was Pope when I was a young teen, I did not know much of Paul VI and the other past Popes until I read about them in the congregation. I was a Catholic Youth member and a member of the children of Mary and also a member of our Parish choir. At the youth and children of Mary’s society we were many of us and were taught by people who loved us and believed in our futures. Whatever problems we came from back at home, we began to experience healing. We tapped into something tremendously invaluable. We encountered Christ. While I would never want to oversimplify Saint John Paul II, it seems that his joyfulness and energy summarize well what was happening in my own life during his pontificate.
My first gift from the Lord was to be born into a very warm and loving home, where I grew up as the middle child of nine siblings in a village near Apia. As with my vocation, mine began within my family. I was blessed to be born to parents who loved God, loved each other, and loved us, their children. My mother’s parents were Catechists and very profound people in the catholic faith. It was in this setting that I came to know God loved me and I learned how to love Him. From an early age, my parents taught us kids that loving and serving God was the most important adventure of life. We learned how to say the Rosary at a very young age and we have a great devotion to Mary and Joseph. We used to get up early to say the Rosary before we went to school I profoundly believe here the possibility of God calling me to religious life. I felt the call in a very young age of 12 years and I believe God began to fashion my heart to enter religious life, but at that time the thought of religious life never entered my mind, I was fully occupied with my studies as I was prepared to enter college at the time. But before all this happened I believed that God had touched me and spared me for Himself. My mother worked for the Little Sisters Home for the aged at Vailele village. Sometimes my sister and I used to go with my dad to accompany her back home. There in the Home of the Little Sisters I met the lovely sisters who were kind people who gave us nice smiles they welcomed us to sit in the residents lounge room to wait for my mother and gave us rosaries and something to eat. That gesture touched my heart.
I was devastated just after my last year in college when my father became ill and died at a young age of 45 years. I made up my mind then to look for a job in order to help my mother raise my younger 4 siblings who were still in the full swing of their studies.
My intention was to look for a job that would pay me enough in order to help my family, especially my mother. I found a good job at the British Tobacco company as a clerk officer and gained enough wages. My mother was happy and I worked there for 6 years. My 4 older brothers also had very good jobs, so now no more worry for my Mother and the family.
While working at the Tobacco company, I often saw the Little Sisters who would come to ask alms. I was touched to see them begging for the poor and I presumed this was another way God reminded me and encouraged me to think again of the past years that I felt something but had never done anything about it. Here I see God’s hand on me and I made up my mind to do something to look out and search what it is that God wanted.
I prayed about it and spoke to my mother and family and they supported me very much. I decided to quit work and started searching religious life. I went to retreats with the sisters of different congregations and spent time with them at weekends. One teaching congregation asked me to teach in their Order, I refused as I do not have the skill of teaching plus my heart was not there. I decided to see about my friends, the little sisters of the poor, the last choice on my list. I was a little afraid as I was not sure of myself. Anyhow, I went and I met some lovely sisters in the kitchen. The sisters told me that if I wished I could come on the weekends to help them and to see what it was all about, and the impact was immediate. (“Well not quite immediate: at the end of the first week, I thought “Well, that was too much praying and too much working for me so I guess I don’t have a vocation!”) Yet by the end of the month I was craving that call to prayer and through the close encounter with the sisters I began to believe that I too was called to religious life. I wanted to share in their enthusiasm for life and their profound peace. For the next several years I was on a mission to discover the will of God for my life in different communities of the little sisters where I was called to work and serve God through a life of prayer and life of hospitality following the footsteps of their mother foundress St Jeanne Jugan the wonderful woman saint canonized in 2009. Through the years I have come to believe that my call to religious life is a gift that calls me to be open to become my truer self. Living out this decision hasn’t always been easy. I’ve had my fair share of doubts, trials and grieving, but through it all, I sense the gentle, loving guidance of Christ’s Spirit enfolding me with his presence. His presence manifests itself in the regular events of everyday life. Saying “yes”, to God is not always easy but with His Grace all is possible. As St Paul in 2 Cor 12:9-10 “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness. For whenever I am weak, then I am strong”.
I entered the congregation of the little sisters of the poor in 1992 in Apia then went to Auckland, NZ as an aspirant and Hastings, NZ for Postulancy. In 1993 I went to Sydney for my novitiate, I made my final vows in the year 1995 in France.
Thinking of my journey now 25 years of vows, I recall the words of Thomas Merton’s prayer: “I do not know where I am going…but you will lead me down the right road, though I know nothing of it.”
I can only say in gratefulness with St Jeanne Jugan “BLESSED BR GOD, THANK YOU MY GOD”
Sister Lucy of Jesus
"I found Jesus, the treasure which was hidden in the field of my life."
I was born in South India in Kerala. I have three sisters and three brothers and I was the fifth in the family. One of my sister’s is a Little sister, (Sr. Teresa of Jesus) and a brother is a Franciscan Missionary brother. My vocation comes first of all from a good Catholic family. My parents were very strong Catholics, and we were all brought up in the Catholic faith and education. I didn’t know much about the life of the Little Sisters, because there was no homes of the Little sisters in Kerala. When I was in school two Little sisters from Coonoor, came to my house on their way to their annual collection in Kerala. My sister was one among them. That was the first time I met the Little sisters. Shortly after Sr. Teresa left the country for France for her further studies. But without failing, every month she used to write to us about her mission near the Aged poor. She sent us the image of Blessed Jeanne Jugan with the prayers asking us to pray for her canonization. And a novena prayer to Blessed Jeanne Jugan. I was very faithfully praying this prayer in our family prayers. After my school, while I was helping in an Institute, one of my friend’s invited me to visit the Home of Mother Teresa. At that time she was still living, and I was surprised to see the number of poor people being cared for by the sisters. There I knew that they needed more hands to help the various needs of the very ill and dying. While returning home I wrote to Sr. Teresa about my new discovery with the Missionary Sisters of charity. She encouraged me, saying that she was praying for me. From that time I had the desire of giving my life to charity, to do something for God, but I did not know where? I didn’t tell anyone about it. praying to God to show me the way. One day Sr. Teresa asked me if I wouId be interested to go to one of the home’s of the Little sisters just to see their work, but I was not interested to go far away from home. After a few days I received a letter from the Little sisters in Bangalore, happy to receive me. After praying God gave me the courage to go and I spent a month with the Little sisters in Bangalore. Everything was new to me, but the sisters looked very happy, loving, kind and understanding. Soon I felt at home with them. From them I learned how to pray and work with the Aged people. After returning home, I received another letter from the superior saying, if I would like to return and join them, I was invited for the Feast of St. Joseph on the 19th of March 1986. I was delighted, but it was very hard, how to leave my parents and families especially my dear friends. After praying I expressed my desire to my parents, they did not refuse my request saying your happiness is our happiness. We will pray for you. That gave me the courage and I returned to Bangalore, joined with the other 5 candidates who were already there. Years went by very happily, learning how to love God by serving the Aged poor. I made my first commitment on the 21st May 1989 in Bangalore. 5 years later I made my final commitment on the 20th August 1995 in France, very happy to be a member of the family of Jeanne Jugan. Now I can tell you my vocation is not my choice, but He chose me and arranged everything for me that I may be with Him forever in the service of the Aged poor as a daughter of St. Jeanne Jugan. Only listen to Him in prayer. He will arrange everything. I found Jesus, the treasure which was hidden in the field of my life. I love my vocation happy to serve Him wherever He sends me. I thank God for His faithfulness to me during these 25 years of my Religious life.