Report by Malini Manjaly, SCN
Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, a US-based congregation, marked the 50 years of its first Indian members with a series of functions.
Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi concelebrated a jubilee Mass at the congregation’s New Delhi convent on Nov. 28 stressing the spiritual values of vocations.
Some 50 selected people joined the jubilee Mass in New Delhi along with the four jubilarian nuns: Sisters Bridget Kappalumakal, Teresa Velloothara, Anne Elizabeth Elampalathottiyil and Elizabeth Emmanuel Vattakunnel.
Sister Kappalumakal, former provincial and member of the Delhi community, was facilitated after the Mass, recalling her services to the congregation.
Father Varkey Perekkatt, former Jesuit provincial of South Asia who concelebrated the Mass, recalled his 37 years of association with the nun. He commented her leadership qualities in leading the congregation.
The congregation based in Mokama, Bihar, plans to have a larger province-level celebration later this month to congratulate the pioneering nuns.
The jubilarians, first Indians to join the congregation, came from Kerala. Their journey to Bihar “must have been their first journey out of the state to a totally unknown place, along with people unknown to them,” said an SCN nun.
They joined the Patna mission and remained as nursing students in Mokama for a few years before chosen to enter the novitiate in 1957.
Being the first batch to be trained had its ordeals for both parties, recalled a nun. “Both parties could not communicate well to each other in English with a total foreign accent and cultural difference.”
“The lifestyle, food habits and the ways of the US nuns were alien to these young novices,” she added.
The congregation began in India on Dec. 1, 1947, when six US nuns arrived at Mokama.
Their congregation began in 1812, in Kentucky, USA with three women. But they were confined to USA for 135 years, until they ventured to India.
The nuns came to serve the Patna mission by opening a hospital at Mokama which was the felt need of the people and time. Thus Nazareth Hospital, Mokama was formally inaugurated in 1948.
The clergy of Patna had advised the nuns to learn the local culture, the Church and the people for ten years before opening their novitiate program in Mokama. The newly arrived US nuns kept to those words and began the novitiate only in 1957.