In continuing with the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth’s charism of reaching out to the poor and to those in need, Sisters in Gaya, India, are ministering in a variety of ways.

Nazareth Academy in Gaya, gives coaching classes to neighborhood children from classes one to five. Janice Rathapillil, SCN, the director of the program said that all these children go regularly to the government schools. Children enjoy attending the SCN program for they learn with the help of the teachers in a good environment for studies. The classes are conducted after the regular school hours. The students pay a nominal fee of twenty Indian rupees (30 cents) a month. Sisters Janice and Angela Lepcha visit the women inmates of Gaya Central jail twice a week. Some have shown an interest to become literate and acquire skills such as tailoring.

Anne Marie Thayilchirayil, SCN, former principal, takes care of the tailoring classes for the young women from the neighborhood. Except for one or two, all are Muslim girls who do not usually get out of their homes without an escort. Though over 35 had registered for the six-month skills-training program, only 22 are continuing because of early marriage. The women pay Rs. 450 for the entire training, around $7.

On Sundays, Sisters help with teaching catechism to the children and the youth in the parish. They are also actively involved in the Mahila Sangh (Catholic Women’s Group) and other parish activities.

Nazareth Academy in Gaya, a road to the future, was a dream come true for the young SCN pioneers, Charles Miriam and Ann Roberta Powers. The dream was to teach India’s youth. In 1951, Sisters Charles Miriam, (Mary Holt), Ann Roberta, Ellen Maria and Ann Bernadette took up the English medium school known as Loreto Convent in Gaya owned and administered by the Loreto Sisters from Calcutta. The school had then 160 students. The SCNs changed the name of the school to Nazareth Academy. Today this prestigious school has over 2,500 students, over 50 percent of them, girls. Besides teaching in the school, these pioneer Sisters reached out to the surrounding neighborhood. They and their successors taught in the parish Hindi medium school for almost 40 years. Today, the Sisters continue the legacy of the pioneers in Gaya in reaching out to both those who have and those in need.

Written by Malini Manjoly, SCN