Diamond Jubilarian, Sister Anne Marie Thayilchirayil, and Silver jubilarian, Sister Sophia Joseph Pampackal were honored with joyful jubilee greetings, songs, flowers, and garlands at Nazareth Academy, Gaya on Dec. 19, 2020. Sister Ann George co-Diamond Jubilarian was a special invitee. 

Sister Roselyn Karakattu, coordinator, welcomed the jubilarians, Sisters from Rajgir, Mokama, two priests from the local parish, seven SCNAs from Gaya, local religious, and staff of Nazareth Academy for the Eucharistic celebration. Sister Roselyn said, “With gratitude in our hearts we recall God’s numerous blessings upon our Silver Jubilarian, Sister Sophia Joseph, and our Diamond Jubilarians Sisters Anne Marie and Ann George.”

In her introduction, Sister Roselyn gave a glimpse of the early life of Sister Anne Marie, her call to religious life, and her 60 years of committed life. Sister Anne Marie was and is a miracle of God as she was saved from a fatal car accident in the U.S. in 1966. God had many great plans for her. Though primarily an educator Sister Anne Marie was a “Jill of all trades” and had mastered a few. She was an able principal, administrator, province councilor, director of temporary professed Sisters, director of Navjyoti Centre in Kathmandu for the mentally challenged children, and as English teacher to young women in formation in Mokama. Presently she is the patron of Nazareth Old Students Association (NOSA) and also guides the economically needy women trainees who come to campus for skills development.

Speaking about Sister Anne Marie, she described her as very approachable, inspiring, and most helpful to anyone in need. Besides her intellectual giftedness and physical stamina, she is a spiritual guru of a kind, an integrated person, and a woman of her own conviction. Everyone appreciates her availability and generosity in responding to anyone seeking her wisdom and knowledge.

Sister Elsy Kotteriyil welcomed the gathering to the celebration of “mystery unfolding in time” by giving a brief summary of the life of Sister Sophia. Sister Sophia has generously contributed to the mission of teaching in Sale, Mahuadanr, Birsanagar, and Jamshedpur and as principal of schools in Khorimahua and Gaya. Sister Sophia is a mentor, an efficient administrator, and guide. Though firm and demanding, she is compassionate and brings out the best in her staff and students. She has worked hard to build up the infrastructure of the institution to accommodate the present day demands in education and has further beautified the entire campus. A lover of nature, she nurtures our Mother Earth and enjoys her quiet moments with her.

Father James George, principal of Creane Memorial School, Gaya, concelebrated the Eucharist along with three other priests. In his homily, he elaborated the Gospel reading from John, chapter 15 in a very meaningful way. He said that the vine is the one plant that has to go through a lot of hardships to produce the best fruits. Similarly, continuous pruning and trimming are necessary for us to become the best persons God intends us to be.

After the Mass and light refreshments, The Gaya SCNs presented a short program. The congratulatory video messages from our President Sister Sangeeta Ayithamattam, and Teresa Kotturan SCN, our representative of the Charity Federation at the UN was a surprise for the jubilarians. Sister Janice Downs, a close friend of Sister Anne Marie also surprised her with a video and a letter congratulating her. The audience was taken ‘Down the memory lane’ of 25 and 60 years of the life of Sisters Sophia and Anne Marie through video presentations. The most creative and ingenious way the local community connected the family members of the jubilarians in the country across the oceans (as they could not attend the function because of the pandemic restrictions) was well appreciated. Our guests, SCNs from Rajgir and Missionaries of Charity Brothers, and our SCNAs also joined in the singing and dancing. The young SCNs of Gaya choreographed a song based on scriptural messages of God’s unconditional love for the jubilarians and their call to religious life. The last item was a lively tribal dance ( Nagpuria) to which many from the audience joined. 

For the Sunday Mass the next day in the parish, the Jubilarians were specially invited. They were honored during the Mass felicitated with a short program after the Mass. A good number of parishioners present were given light refreshments

Dear Jubilarians, as you continue on your pilgrimage on this earth gently, we are with you in loving support. May God’s unending blessings be with you always. Congratulations once again, dear Sisters!

Roselyn Karakattu, SCN