16th April 2010
My dear Co-Workers, Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, L.M.C.S and Volunteers,
I wish each one of you a Holy and Happy Easter. May Jesus speak to you His loving words: “Peace be with you.” May you experience in your heart the power of the Resurrection which turns darkness and suffering into light and joy. Love will conquer always and it will never end.
Grateful for God’s wonderful ways, I would like to share with you how our sisters here in India, in Palin, Arunachal Pradesh, were chosen by God to become channels of peace in an extraordinary way during this Lenten season.
On the 10th of February at about 8.30 at night, a fire burnt down a private hostel. Within minutes, the bamboo walls were consumed by the fire. and ten of the smaller students who
had been already asleep, were killed. The injured children were carried to the dispensary of our sisters who took care of their wounds.
That cold winter night was filled with the cries of anguish of the parents who were trying to find their children in the dark, then the panic turned into anger against the priests of Don Bosco School. For lack of place in Father’s hostel, the parents had admitted their children in the private hostel which burnt down.
The next day, the Civil Authorities had to evacuate the priests and teachers by airlifting them. Meanwhile our four sisters, trembling with fear and praying in their chapel, closed all the doors. They were told to be ready to be taken by helicopter into safety. One junior sister commented later: “It was God’s plan that our flight did not arrive.” Our sisters remained with the people. They began going from house to house consoling the families, praying the Rosary, helping the parents to forgive and conducting prayer services on Sundays in the Parish Church. Till now, the priests have not been able to return. Sr. Concettina, the regional superior, writes: Our Catholics at Palin have grown in faith, love and unity.”
At last on the 19th of March in a meeting with the Civil Authorities, the people agreed to make a memorial site where the hostel burnt down and to bury their children there. The sisters and the Catholics are longing and thirsting for the celebration of the Sacrifice of Holy Mass. Fr. Julius, M.C. has gone to celebrate the Easter services at Palin. We hope that after Mercy Sunday, the Don Bosco priests will be able to return to their flock.
God used our sisters to turn hatred into love and forgiveness; confusion and strife into unity; despair into hope and trust; doubt into faith; sorrow into consolation and joy. The sisters had to face their own darkness of fear; praying they renewed their surrender of their own lives and safety to God. The junior sister in the community shared this with me: “For my first profession my younger brother wrote a letter to me and sent me the Divine Mercy picture. He wrote: “those who live for others are great, not only great, they are called martyrs.” I remembered this sentence and it gave me the courage to face the situation and to die for Jesus”. God filled our sisters with His own courage. Thus strengthened, they were able to lift up the people.
In January and February during my visitation of the sisters, I had the joy of meeting some of you and of being able to thank you personally for your whole hearted effort to make your lives something beautiful for God and for your involvement in our services to the poorest of the poor. By God’s grace, I visited our communities in Bombay and Pune in India. Thereafter, I began my first visit to Africa. I learnt much from our sisters in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Central Africa, Tchad, Cameroun, Nigeria and Nairobi. They live constantly in political instability, often with religious and ethnical violence and some of them in interior and isolated areas. They are working hard to bring Jesus’ love and compassion to the poor and they face many challenges.
I enjoyed the long and well prepared Eucharistic Celebrations in which the large assembly participate whole-heartedly clapping, singing and swinging their bodies at the beat of the drums. Our sisters give hope to the poor by serving their needs in feeding centers, dispensaries and caring for the TB patients, AIDS/HIV sufferers malnutrition children and the mentally challenged in our homes.
Much work is to be done to strengthen the family life. M any marriages have not been blessed for cultural and economical reasons. I was surprised to see the name of Jesus or some Bible quotation proclaimed on almost all the vehicles. All the bishops whom I met expressed their great appreciation of the sisters and their work for the poor in their dioceses.
During the first week of March, I visited some of our communities in Haiti where the earthquake had caused terrible destruction and suffering. God protected the lives of the sisters and immediately they began to attend to the wounded, to bring the dead to the mortuary and to provide food for thousands of families. Soon the untiring work and generosity of many made it possible to bring extra sisters to Haiti and to channel from Miami the flow of relief materials.
On my way back to Kolkata I had the joy of meeting Sr. Nirmala at the community of our contemplative branch in New York. I found her in quite good health and expressing her gratitude to all for the prayers offered for her.
The preparations for the centenary celebration of our Mother’s birthday have begun. May this event draw all of us closer to God so that our lives may witness to the unconditional love God has for each one of His children.
At this time of keen suffering, may our Mother intercede for our dear Holy Father, that he may have strength to continue to teach and guide the people of God.
In gratitude for who you are, we keep you and your intentions in our prayers. Please pray for us.
God bless you.
Sr.M. Prema M.C.
Mother Teresa Center
524 West Calle Primera,
San Ysidro, CA 92173