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Sr Yvonne GRUPPETTA

I have been on mission for 14 years in Mauritania, an Islamic country. I am happy to be at the service of the poor, in doing so, witnessing to the love of God for all, whatever the culture, the religion, the social situation. I am part of an international community of four Sisters (one French Sister, two Burmese and myself, Maltese). One of the sisters, a nurse, cares for the burnt patients in the national hospital, another works in a centre for young women aged from 14 to 25 teaching them needlework, and the other works at the diocesan library and a sewing centre for deprived women.

For my own mission I collaborate with Caritas on a project “Supporting Women’s Groups”. With a team of three Mauritanian women, I work with very deprived women who have several children who live in two poor areas – shantytowns of Nouakchott. They are mostly divorced women or widows who have several children, the majority of the women being illiterate. Here polygamy is widespread, but the husband is not able to provide for the needs of all the children – hence the difficulties experienced by the women who find themselves abandoned. The project with these women aims to strengthen their capabilities and enable them to manage an activity that will generate some income. Various simple courses are organised to improve their self-image, learning reading, writing and numeracy in their own language, techniques for dyeing, soap making, etc. The women arrange cooperatives of 5 to 10 members to work on a particular activity. When these groups are well organised, small credits are granted to help them become established. A follow up with regular visits is assured until they become autonomous.

These are truly very courageous women ready to move forward. The solidarity among them is supportive. Some of them indicate to us young girls who merely loiter around the area. Today 20 young girls from difficult situations follow courses in hair-dressing (a profitable job in this country; this is able to help them in being assured of dignity for their future. We accompany them up to their insertion in the workforce.

In being present with these women and girls in difficulties I am happy to contribute with the others (especially with local people), to continue searching for ways to alleviate their miserable situations and to open doors of hope for a more dignified life. What is important is to simply be at the service of love for all the little ones in the name of the Lord.

Sr Louisa VARHALITI

I have became aware that through a long road the grace of God and the Spirit of St Emilie were guiding my life and were the source of gesture of love for the poor, the little ones, the oppressed and those suffering in mind and in body. The urgent appeal of the Bishop of Bulgaria to the Congregation at the time of the General Chapter of 1995 asking for Sisters for Béléné, did not fall on deaf ears and the delegates responded to the urgency. Sr Agnes Palealogou and I were soon sent on this mission. We had to face the difficulties of every new beginning in a long and severe Bulgarian winter.

We felt the pinch of scarcity, the humidity of a poor home. Alone all we had to face both moral and spiritual misery of a whole population. This in itself was a new experience for us. Yet what really struck us was the welcome the people gave us, happy to see Sisters among them. Many were their stories lived and shared with us about the terrible experience of 50 years of difficult times.

The Sisters of our Province, our schools, our friends and families and acquaintances all helped by sending gifts and also by their prayers. Their generosity meant assistance to the people as we were able offer food, clothing and other necessary things to poor families.

As some women had a very poor knowledge of cookery, we organised cooking lessons and this experience proved successful. This brought joy to our efforts.

Ministering to the people and their children through catechism lessons in the parish as well as preparation for the sacraments are a great help to these people. This was the Bishop’s wish from the very start and our visiting sisters realised that all this work is in line with the work of education and pastoral ministry.

These countless minute gestures done with love are learnt in the school of love of Emilie de Vialar and have woven fraternal links with the suffering people while given them an identity.

Ours is a unique experience bathed in the Spirit of St Emilie and for this I thank the Lord and the Congregation for having entrusted me with such a mission.

Sr Antonia JOHN

I was born in Sagaing, a town in central Burma but as I am an Indian citizen I had to leave Burma.

In Cyprus I ministered to the needs of the Sri Lankan migrant workers, in Nicosia, Limassol and Larnaca and Paphos where we organise liturgical meetings, prayer services etc. A priest from Sri Lanka comes to celebrates Mass and administers the Sacrament of reconciliation in their mother tongue.

I am also involved in helping migrants’ works. I help the Indian community to prepare the liturgy and other religious and social activities.

After we closed the school where I also worked for two years, the community ventured on another project. We have a Social Centre that cares for the migrant worker who have legal and domestic problems. We offer them free boarding and lodging. Fundraising activities are organised to be able to cope with the expenses of running this centre.

At the weekend the centre becomes a place of encounters:

    • a place of relaxation
    • a place where birthdays are celebrated
    • a place where national dishes are prepared to mark their national feasts.

Thus on Sundays our house is a hive of activities, our door never closed! There are so many needs to fulfil, so much information to impart and answers on so many subjects to be given. Is not this what St Emilie did with the poor she encountered?

I have found complete fulfilment in my religious life. I have never regretted for a moment having consecrated my life to God. To me to be an authentic Sister of St. Joseph, with my God given aptitudes, I live my vocation according to the Spirit of our Institute. Like St. Joseph I model my spirituality on the virtues of service, simplicity and obedience to the will of God by being open to His plan and by trusting in His divine Providence.

Sr Quinita D’SOUSA

The thought of St Emilie “The glory that will be given to God and the good that will be done to others fills me with immense joy’ inspires me throughout my mission work
My community here in Mosaboni, India, has four different ministries: Education, Pastoral work, Faith formation and Social Work and I am very happy to find myself in the different fields. This gives me joy and happiness in the missions entrusted to me.

Every morning before leaving home I just bow in front of the Blessed Sacrament and ask the Lord to accompany me throughout the day. I ask Him to fill me with His grace and to help me with my dealings with those He places in my way.

Education is my main mission and I am in my element when I am surrounded by little children in our new school in Kasidah as Head of this school. The children’s innocence strikes me immensely and I feel very responsible when I see them being fashioned like clay in a potter’s hand, waiting to be tomorrow’s head of families.

I love preparing my catechism lessons which I pass on to children at the Parish Centre. My involvement with families inspires me to serve mainly those in need and it has brought me very close to the suffering Christ. I have experienced strong moments of His compassion, encouragement, guidance and support in these encounters

According to my capacity I was drawn to serve people in their work, and this has filled me with great love and joy.

I have received much from my Congregation and I shall continue to do my utmost to be of service to others wherever I am sent.

Thus seeking the blessings of the Lord and our foundress St. Emilie, I shall do my utmost to carry out my mission according to the Motto of the Congregation “Devotedness Unto Death.”