“The history of salvation is a history of yes … a history of ‘here I am’. Christian life is this: a continuous ‘here I am’ to do the will of the Lord.”
Homily of Pope Francis in Santa Marta, 24 January 2017
We want to share our yes. The “Yes” that each one of the religious given during all these years are added to the initial ‘yes’ of Claudine and of her companions, without which we would not have the celebration of these 200 years today.
Sr. María Cristina Ojeda RJM
They asked me to write in a few lines about the beginning of my vocation. I tried to do it and hope these lines may be of use to you.
I remember that when I was 10 or 11 years old I used to go with my paternal grandmother to the church, to Mass or to the Rosary and to the festivities that took place. I was lucky to go to the primary school run by religious sisters. I made the First Communion at the age of 12, and since then I was attracted to go to church, to pray, to be in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It gave me great comfort to be in the company of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament for 15 minutes.
At the age of 13 or 14 years old, with my family, I moved to Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua and there we had the opportunity to meet the Sisters of Jesus and Mary, where I and my twin sister studies at the Jesus and Mary Academy – the commerce and English classes. I attended only the classes only for one year. I do not know what attracted me the most of Jesus and Mary but I was happy that I said: Here I want to be forever. The apostolate of prayer, the Marian devotion and all that I lived in Jesus and Mary filled my heart with joy and happiness.
It was difficult for my parents to accept this reality and they did not want me to continue studying to forget my desire to be a nun. I left the Academy and started working as an assistant in an analytical laboratory; there I stayed for two years until my father gave me his permission to enter into the Novitiate. I can say that the Virgin Mary was the one who caused the spark of vocation to blossom in me on 31sy May, the feast of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. That day we offered the crown that we formed with our effort throughout the month of May.
It was on 12th December, feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, that my father granted me permission and on 31st May 1945 my parents took me to the convent … I can truly say that I am happy, and that I consider my life as a blessing and a grace for me and for my entire family. The rest of my life I want to live with joy, with enthusiasm, giving thanks to God for so many gifts of His Love.
Sr. Selma D’ Souza RJM
Timor Leste, Pune Province
3rd February! The Day! When something about the life of a simple French woman living in the last century moved me. What happened is what takes place in the life of most school going children.
As a student of class 8 at St. Agnes’ High School, Mumbai, my painting & poem were among the few that made it to the school notice board on the Feast of St. Claudine Thevenet, the Foundress of the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus & Mary. Imagine the joy & pride of a child…. that was mine … along with it came the idea that someday, this ordinary yet inspiring life could also be mine!
Sr. Nancy Arratia Larico RJM
My name is Nancy Arratia Larico, I am 49 years old and since I have use of reason I have been able to have a close relationship with our God.
I did all my studies in a religious school in my hometown. On the day of my first communion I had the experience of feeling Jesus as THE FRIEND THAT NEVER FAILED and that from that day he was with me more present.
After my Confirmation, I felt the desire to make Jesus known to everyone, especially the little ones, I experienced his love, his forgiveness, his predilection, his peace and his call. And with the daily Eucharist my desire to consecrate my life to him was accentuated.
My desire to make Jesus known led me to participate in different missionary groups to go to the poorest places in my city, there I discovered the ignorance that people had of a God who loved them and this motivated me to share the experience of a God love.
Sr. Anita Chiasson RJM
On the day of my first communion, I was seven years old, the Lord visited me. I had a very strong experience that marked my life. Upon receiving communion I felt full of love for Jesus.
In my adolescence I liked to go to mass. I lived three kilometers from the church and walked this distance every day to receive Jesus.
Although I had two lovers, I felt that they did not fill my heart. I wanted something deeper. That is my call to be a religious.
A little comical detail; every Sunday there was bingo in my parish (to pay for the construction of our temple). My mother sent me to participate. I went to the temple making a request to Jesus: win! And every time, I won. I think the Lord used that to conquer me.
Sr. Felicitas Sulca Baldeón RJM
I’m Felicita Sulca.
I lived my childhood and my adolescence without knowing God. I thank him because he found me and showed me his love and his infinite kindness.
I felt the Lord’s call during the preparation for the Sacrament of Confirmation. This call was a process.
At the beginning, the desire to belong to a Marian group to pray to Mary the Holy Rosary was born in me, and the Lord granted it to me. Then another desire was born: to be a catechist, to make known the love of Jesus, this love that He had made me to taste one day, and the Lord gave it to me.
This is how my great love for Jesus and his Word grew. At the end of 1987, I strongly felt the call of the Lord to consecrate my life to Christ to be the reflection of His love. I wanted to enter in a religious congregation, but none convinced me and when I wanted to participate in their meetings, something prevented me. I met three congregations, but none of them attracted me. However, I continued in this search: where and how the Lord wanted me.
After some years, the Religious of Jesus-Mary came to the parish in which I participated as a catechist.
One day the sisters invited me to a vocational meeting and I participated. So I continued participating in many meetings that took place. What attracted me most about these meetings with the sisters was their welcome, their simplicity and the availability they had for others.
After eight years of waiting, in 1995, I entered with the Religious of Jesus-Mary. When I entered into the Congregation of Jesus-Mary, I felt great joy and experienced that Jesus wanted me in this Congregation.
Sr. Raquel Romero Luque RJM
My name is Raquel, I am Peruvian, I am 38 years old and from a very young age I dreamed of getting married, having two children and living in a small house. I participated in the youth choir and the Missionary Childhood. There, a friend who was in search of entering a religious community, invited me to accompany her to different communities. In one of them, the recommendation of a priest was needed to be able to visit them. So I told Father Alberto, a priest from the parish where I was participating and he immediately told me: “Oh, so you want to be a nun?, I know some nuns”. And on the phone he communicated at that moment with Sr. Nancy rjm. I did not think about religious life, so when the sister asked me if I wanted to visit them, I was going to say no, but Fr. Alberto told me: “I’ll take you, do not worry.” Ok- I told myself. And since then, I’ve been in the Jesus-Maria Congregation for fourteen years. And my friend who wanted to be religious in the end she got married.
For me, my vocation is a mystery and goodness of God.
Sr. Luke D’Souza RJM
The Persons of Jesus and Mary attracted me to the Congregation of Jesus and Mary. From childhood in my home and in catechism, I learnt to love them. I pledged myself to follow Jesus and Mary certain that they would lead me to God. There was a Monogram with initials of J & M on front wall of our Church (previously this was the Chapel of the RJM’s in ‘Parel’) that always intrigued and attracted me. It was much later that this intrinsic meaning of the monogram was revealed to me. Here during retreats and Spiritual Director’s guidance and my Family/Parents/ my Vocation was nurtured. As I grew in a Jesuit school Ignatian influence was very tangible often I heard and learned what A.M.D.G was. For the greater Glory of God. The first RJM I met was Mother Pia Nazareth at Clare road, Mumbai. She initiated me to visit them at Pune in the Novitiate. I did so while consequently visiting the Medical Missionary Sisters. I went on a Picnic/ Outing with the Novices I felt so touched to see their joy and radiant smiles that I decided this is where I will be happy to give my life for Jesus and Mary.
I was educated in a Jesuit School in Parel and never met sisters. When I was very young, I was fond Sr. Clare D’Souza RJM; she was my cousin and had already joined the Congregation.
Reflection & Experience:
I first felt the touches of God when I decided my vocation. After that right through the Novitiate and Juniorate. I continued to live on my desire to please God and to follow the instructions of my formators. The real impact of Divine Touch was when I made my first Directed retreat and learned to pray more than saying vocal prayers. My religious life took a definite turn, I was bent on doing God’s will with guidance of my superiors, and the weekly confession, Spiritual Reading, the spiritual exercises of the day shaped my Religious life. I became acquainted with St. Claudine after my Tertianship that was the year of her Beatification. Every year I look forward to annual retreat. The Charism of St. Claudine has gradually grown into me. My Long retreat before my Golden Jubilee was a milestone it had a strong impact on my life. To conclude I feel content and happy for God’s love and mercies towards me. In spite of my weakness God is leading me through my first Loves/Jesus and Mary. They have always been my lifetime Companions. Of recent years, I am drawn to the Blessed Trinity. My commitment to God wakes me every morning to begin the day. I want to live for Him. I want to grow in close relationship with Jesus who has called me to bear fruit.
Influence of Ignatius:
Ignatius inspires me to dream big .In my younger days I would go to the villages both for Healing ministry, visit the families and the most often for the Eucharistic celebration with the people. The people were strong land laborers most of the girls too had to work in the fields and so they were lovely, simple and eager to learn. So during the months when there was no work we conducted informal education classes for them. Those days the weddings were blessed and celebrated after midnight or early morning; after which we returned and worked in the dispensary. That somehow gave us a feeling of oneness with the people. As well as a desire for MAGIS.
My wish for every RJM during this Bicentenary Year is that we be zealous, open, Joyful and warm in our feminine qualities to SPUR us on for MAGIS…
María del Carmen Sanabria López NJM
“God was present and invited me to follow him”
I was an 18-year-old girl, recently admitted to the Normal of Specialization, with a stable, committed and in love relationship. For me there was no future but to form a home. I could not even imagine something different, but God burst into my life, with much respect, asking for my consent which I gave him and I am grateful to this day for it.
I consider that everything was a path, a process, a set of events and moments where God manifested himself inviting me to follow him, but the foundational experience that led me to be interested in religious life was the invitation to go to missions for the first time. When I lived the preparation retreat for this experience, I remember that at the beginning of the prayer they showed a video of the charism, mission and places where Jesus & Mary is present in the world. I felt an emptiness in me accompanied by an impressive enthusiasm, I felt called to be presence of that working goodness of God through Christian education.
I began to look for information, to live with the sisters of Jesus and Mary in a non-compromising way, wanting to know, but at the same time without being afraid of what my family, friends, will think. Sometimes I even felt I was wrong, but my dreams of “forming a home” was transformed into a desire to “form community”.
When I had my first meeting with one of the religious communities, I was filled with hope when I saw a big smile on their faces, sharing life, joyful, close, and united. I felt at home. That same afternoon in the chapel I placed my hand on the statue of Claudine and said, “I feel the call of the Lord, if it is here, in your congregation; accompany me on the way to discover it”.
From the age of 19, I began to participate in activities that was suggested and invited me for spiritual accompaniment, leaving everything to go with Jesus, wanting to know more and join my dreams with theirs.
Over time I was feeling the confirmations to the call to religious life and a deep experience of God. Driven by her grace and accompanied by Claudine, I said the “yes” by joining the congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary three years later. Today as a novice, I feel completely grateful to God for so much welcome and I continue asking Claudine to accompany me along the way.
Sr. Constance Bansode RJM.
Kendal, Pune, India
When I was only 6 years old, I was in the Boarding of St. Mary, Sangamner. There were Fathers and Sisters taking care of our Boarding house. Everything was provided for us; there we lacked nothing, everything was given with love and concern.
All the Boarders were very happy, receiving a Christian Education in an atmosphere of joy and peace. During our catechism classes, stories of the lives of Saints were read and enacted. That gave me happiness and joy and I wanted to be like them.
My childhood was with and around the Sisters who were very kind, loving and caring. I could freely go to them any time and share my day’s programme with them. They listened to me with trust, with motherly care; they put their hand over my forehead and blessed me with the sign of the Cross, which I liked. I always looked up to them as holy persons, close to God. When they prayed I could sense God’s presence in them.
As a child, I did not see them fighting with each other, getting angry or not talking to each other. In fact, I always felt that they do not commit a sin. This was my childhood understanding and observation of them. In my personal life, I always wanted to be like them. To do the same kind of work that they did for the children. That is the time I felt God is calling me to serve His people and give His children and myself totally for Him. Until now, I am happy with the life I have chosen and I continue to live for Him alone.
Sr. Celina Segovia Sarlat rjm
“God changed my plans; He offered me other better ones: Being a religious of Jesus and Mary“
Twenty years ago, I was happy because I had made the right choice in my career and had a boyfriend. I was in the middle of a degree in Communication Sciences and had a stable relationship with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life. At that time we had been dating for a year and a half. What more did a young university student need? The two elections were done … it was a matter of time to form a family and to hold a bachelor’s degree. But God had other plans for me and I did not imagine it.
I am from the city of Merida, Yucatan, located south of the Mexican Republic, at that time I had the opportunity to make a university trip to Mexico City with all my generation and from there I continued to the north of the country -Juarez City- a Holy Week mission, where God changed my plans.
Although I had participated in missions, while studying high school and since I was a child I heard about poverty in our country, it was until that moment that I let myself be confronted by the misery and the multiple exclusions that indigenous women in our country were victims of. Maybe it was what I was asked to learn about specific marginalization stories, lack of opportunities, impunity, abuse of girls and adolescents.
I especially remember a six-year-old girl: the daughter of an alcoholic mother, and the sister of a teenager victim of abuse by a teacher at the community school … who was not punished for abusing indigenous girls. In this context, the girl could not be cared for either by her mother, nor by her sister … she was left to feed herself. Every day, the little girl took a bus to go to the city center and ask for alms in the street, buy something to eat with what she had received and save money to return home and the next day live the same sad reality … those faces, those stories … touched my heart. A girl would have to feel safe at school, motivated to learn; a teacher would have to take care of his students, worry about learning, and not take advantage of the girls.
From that encounter with this little one, many questions came to my head and my heart, some existential, others involving God, others in relation to women, indigenous people and education … and finally … what if I gave my life to follow Jesus … if I gave God my life …? I thought that with time and when I returned to my home, with my people, with my boyfriend, in college, in the middle of my activities … all this I would forget, but on the contrary it kept worrying me: what if I gave him a gift? my life to God … what if religious life were the means for other women to have another reality, another life … life in abundance?
It was from that experience that my search began … to follow Jesus but where? I was attracted to the “way of St. Claudine Thévenet” – her way of relating to God, her simple form, her desire to disappear – that is, not wanting to be protagonist, she was not interested in attracting the spotlight to her- but what I knew about Jesus and Mary as a student, was education, and that did not appeal to me, I was a communicator or was in the process of being … again many questions came from me heart and my head … and had few answers.
I decided to set out and did what Jesus suggested to those who asked him: “Master, where do you live? … Come and see. I approached Jesus and Mary … I came, I looked … and here I stayed. I discovered that the way to follow Jesus – mission, prayer and community life – was compatible with me. I realized through the accompaniment of sisters, of feeling as a family, comfortable, at home, that Celina could be at her best, I liked the way of praying in community and being a community for the mission, that is, that together we could strengthen the reign of the kingdom. Moreover, education is more than teaching, is to form hearts, is to accompany in the search, is to care for my students, love them … among many other things … For Jesus and Mary I am a communicator of the love of God, of his kindness.
To know and love Jesus and Mary through the formation of women who are in solidarity with other women, capable of transforming the realities of others, gives me with life. Sharing life with indigenous women listening to them, sharing my faith with them enriches me. Creating bridges between girls from the city and women from the countryside where each one shares what one is and is enriched by the other, makes me grow in hope.
That is why I say after twenty years, I never imagined that I could be so happy giving my life for Him. I had to go through fears, questions, uncertainty, to discover my vocation, however, that does not compare to what I have received from him, throughout these years of religious life, in contact with students, missionaries, monitors of the EYM, indigenous people and sisters of the congregation.
God changed my plans and I appreciate it. Being a Religious of Jesus and Mary has been a gift and a blessing in my life. Do you dare to God to change your plans? Dare to seek your way with Him?
Sr. Jyostna Kedari RJM
Kendal, Pune, India
After my loving mother’s death my dear father felt sorry for us and wondered how he would take care of his two very little girls -my elder sister and myself.
At that moment God sent the Parish Priest of Kendal Mission –a Jesuit, to our Khedle Village. My father was happy to meet him and he told him that we had no Mother. What can you do for them? He asked. At once the Priest told him to send us to the boarding and this is how the story of my Vocation begins.
Experiencing life in a Boarding was unique. I grew up in a Spiritual atmosphere with daily Mass, the daily recitation of the Rosary, Morning and Night prayers etc. The seniors in the Boarding, took care of me since I was the youngest among them, This made me feel happy.
It was in the year 1958 when I was just thirteen years old, I was surprised to learn that the Sisters of Jesus and Mary were coming to Kendal Mission. That was in the year 1958- When the Sisters came, all the girls were happy to welcome them. I received Spiritual guidance from Mother Providencia who nurtured my vocation.
Since there was no High School in Kendal, my elder brother Joseph called me to Pune for my Education and guided me through Br. Vidmer S.J. This is how the journey of my Vocation started through Fr. Nuener S.J. to the Congregation of Jesus and Mary, to whom I am ever grateful.
Sr. Louisa Adhav RJM
Kendal, Pune, India
In my family, my grandparents were very pious and so were my parents. They were regular churchgoers and recited rosary daily. Since the age of eight, I had a desire to become a Sister. When I used to see the Sisters in the Church or when they came to visit my family, I had a strong feeling and desire to be like them.
As I was growing up, I sometimes felt I would not be able to live a life like them – a life of sacrifice.
During my college days, Sisters of various Congregations used to come to visit my family. They wanted me to join them. I too visited many Congregations but I did not feel drawn to join them. Srs. Magdalene Sansare, Tara Ohol, Goretti Coutinho and many other Sisters of Jesus and Mary, visited my family. Actually, they thought my elder Sister would join them but this did not happen.
I was thinking of becoming a Religious after my Graduation, but I was not very sure of which Congregation I should join. On completing my Graduation, I strongly felt that God’s call to serve Him and His people. It was when Sr. Magdalene Sansare and Sr. Tara Ohol visited my home that I expressed my desire to join the Religious of Jesus and Mary.
When I visited the Sisters at Provincial House, Boat Club, Pune, I felt strongly that this is my house and this is where God is calling me to be and that this is the Congregation, He has chosen for me. That was really a joyful moment for me that I cannot express in words. Now I am very grateful to God for calling me to be a Religious in this Congregation of Jesus and Mary.