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Sr. Hemalatha Boddu shares her Internationality Experience

Submitted by: rgsphil
On: 11/06/2016

“My daughters, I leave you as my testament love of the cross and zeal for the salvation of souls.”

  – St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier


“You are going to the Philippine Province for your international experience for four months.” This statement from Sr. Sabina Pathrose, the Province leader of Central East India/Nepal cheered my heart and I waited to reach my country of destination with great enthusiasm. I got into Malaysian airlines on 21st of May 2016 at Chennai airport. It was my first time experience to travel by air and I was thrilled when the aircraft was already flying amidst the   grey clouds and blue sky. I reached Malaysia at 10.20 pm and  spent the night at the airport. While waiting for my next flight, I enjoyed the remaining Indian snacks that I had and watched admirably the diverse foreign nationalities passing by. On the 22nd of May, I arrived safely in Manila at 12 noon.

Sr. Emma, the directress of Temporary Professed Sisters in the Philippines met me at the airport.  The affectionate welcome that I received made me feel at home with the country and the people.  On our way to the Good ShepherdConvent in Quezon City, the first thing that caught my attention was the colorful vehicle locally called a “jeepney”.  It has a unique design, decorative ornaments, flashy paintings, stars, dots and even extra lights. I felt it represents some cultural signs of the country.  

Our car entered the gate of the Good Shepherd Convent Quezon City and brought us to the beautiful building, surrounded with green and fresh garden.  This is where the Good Shepherd Community is located.  The Temporary Professed Community is housed at the fourth floor of the building and as we entered in, I was already filled with excitement to meet the six temporary professed sisters who were having their summer program. There are three from Myanmar and another three from the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.  Indeed we are an international community! Though it was my first encounter with them, yet, the feeling of belongingness to the temporary professed community was already experienced   deep within.  Our internationality brought us together!  I cherish their company, laughter, melodious singing at the morning and evening   prayers. We share chili powder at   table during mealtimes and they often remind me to speak slowly as we struggle to understand each other’s English spoken in different tongues. I was fortunate to join the community in the final week of their classes with Sr. Naty on Culture and Information and Technology.  It was   interesting to learn the culture of each one as each sister presented her country of origin and cultural background.  I am grateful for the love and care that I experience, the accompaniment and guidance to familiarize with the sisters, the communities and the ministries within the campus and the entire province.

Being housed in the same building where the Good Shepherd community is, provided me more opportunities to interact with the sisters and get to know the community.  The community is entrusted with the two fold mission of providing a welcoming home for the sisters from other communities who would come to Manila for various purposes and  caring for the sisters who are sick or recovering from surgery. During my two weeks stay, I experienced the sisterly care and affection from the sisters in the community. Every time they ask about India, my thoughts would fly to India without any transportation charges. I extend my heartfelt thanks to the community leader and all the sisters for their hospitality and care.  

“Where there is no honor to the elderly, there is no future for the young.

-Pope Francis

I had the opportunity to be with the sisters in Maria Droste Infirmary.  At present there are 12 elderly sisters who have labored in the Shepherd’svineyard and now resting and praying for the sisters and the various missionary endeavors in the province and the congregation. It is a place of nourishment both for the body and the spirit.  The sisters are well taken cared-of under the guidance of Sr. Arabella Balingao who is in charge of the infirmary. There are eight care givers who rotate in three shifts and one house keeper.  They are very devoted and always at the service of the sisters. 

The moments spent with our sisters at the infirmary are unforgettable; their smiling greetings in spite of their physical illness and pain, their never-ending stories of the adventurous active life and missionary journey in the foreign countries. I found it important to listen to their stories to have a better understanding of today’s realities.  In my conversations with the sisters, a response from Sr. Eugenia Mendoza, 92 year old was an eye opener for me. “I will come with you to India” she said, when she heard my sharing about the Good Shepherd mission in India.   Her untiring zeal and missionary spirit remains strong despite the obvious physical frailty. I am challenged by her response to strengthen my missionary vocation. The reflection shared by Sr. Therese Veloso, a contemplative sister still resounds in my heart, “Our God is God of the living, God of the NOW.”

Though I will not mention the names of all the sisters, I find each sister having a positive  disposition in life. They are like “little children” who depend on God and caregivers. These sisters have played an active role in the Good Shepherd mission in the prime time of their lives as religious, so today we have a wealth of mission stories to tell. I felt we need to rekindle our communal sense of thankfulness, appreciation and warmth to affirm the elderly sisters and let them know that they are important in the communities and they are sources of wisdom for the younger generations.

In the west, scholars present the current century as ‘the century of old age’: there are fewer children and an increase in elderly people. This imbalance is a great challenge to contemporary society.

I thank Sr.  Regina Kuizon the province leader of Philippines and her team for giving me many opportunities to continue my formation and strengthen my vocation as a Good Shepherd sister.

I am also grateful to Sr. Sabina Pathrose and her team for their prayerful accompaniment and for allowing me this four month period of international experience in the Philippines.

“Our zeal must embrace the whole world.”- St. Mary Euphrasia

 

Sr. Hemaltha Boddu, RGS

Temporary Professed

Province of Central East India/Nep