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We the novices and temporary professed of the Province of Sri Lanka/ Pakistan are happy to share with you our experience of Mission Immersion. Entering the season of Easter the invitation was “Go to Galilee, you will see me there”. This invitation challenged us to experience the face of Christ in the suffering humanity. Thus as part of our formation in mission, we set out on a mission immersion program to one of the poorest villages in Padaviya (situated in the North of our country). When we arrived we received a warm welcome by the Parish Priest Fr. Kelum Dias and our Good Shepherd Community there led by Sr. Susani. We spent the first evening relaxing with our companions before we began our program.

 

The next morning, facilitated by Fr. Emmanuel Fernando OMI we prepared ourselves for the immersion experience. Father invited us to -

 

See
Listen
Observe


It was a good preparation. Apart from learning some skills in reaching out to people, we were also called to get in touch with our own inner self on ‘how I feel as I reach out to the people?’ Like Jesus the Compassionate one we too were called to become conscious – to hold within us a heart of compassion that will be moved to bring newness wherever we are. With these reflections we went into one of the interior villages - Dhangolla in the Parish of Padaviya.

It was indeed a ‘Galilee Experience’. We met the suffering Christ in the people. Out of the 52 families in the village, most of them were Buddhists. Religion was not an obstacle to our journey. We visited every family and experienced the joy of oneness. The people were so happy to have us with them; they welcomed us and shared with us their stories of pain and struggle.

 

Poverty was very evident in this village. People live in small mud houses with fishing and farming as their livelihood. These people stricken with poverty do not have the facilities to fulfill even their basic needs. Water is scarce. The whole village is dependent on just one well for water, and during seasons of drought they have to travel long distances to fetch just a jar of water. Even then this water is not good for drinking, and so they get filtered water from a common place set up by the government at Rs. 1 per litre. As some of them cannot afford to buy water they drink the well water that has caused an unidentifiable sickness and kidney disease for which treatment has not yet been found.

 

This situation led us to reflect on our own lived experience. It was a call to appreciate and value life and the resources we often take for granted. It was a call to move from scarcity to abundance. How am I called to bring about this abundance was the question challenging us as we journeyed round the village.

The other problem prevalent among the people is the lack of education. Many of them do not know the value of education and as the custom of the village is for girls to marry by the age of 18 or even before there are many little children running around in the village.

 

One of the interesting things we observed was the richness of resources in the village. The people are blessed with a large piece of land which can be used for cultivation. Yet, they need to be educated as to what can be cultivated during the different seasons and also methods of collecting rain water etc. and for this they need guidance.

 

We took the opportunity to conduct some programs for the different age groups. With the adults we had an open discussion on their struggles and problems – providing them with a trusting environment to share their stories. The youth had an enjoyable time. Through games we shared with them some important values of life. The simplicity of their lives and their openness to learn and grow touched us very much. The little ones sang and danced – it was a time to discover their talents and appreciate one another.

 

Every evening after our return from the village we spent time sharing our experience in the light of the Word of God. We asked ourselves ‘what were we seeing, hearing, observing and feeling? And how the Word of God was challenging/ inspiring us as Religious with a Charism of compassion. Our constitutions reminds us of the ‘continued experience of mercy in all aspects of our lives, send us to be a presence of Jesus the Good Shepherd… “our love should awaken in them a sense of their worth and dignity as children of God.” (Constitutions 5) Yes, we are grateful for this experience of shepherding – the experience of radiating the Divine through who we are. The suffering humanity has touched us deeply. The struggles of the people, their simplicity and simple joy have challenged us to be women with a heart of gratitude and love.

 

The stories of the people continue to echo in our hearts. We see the need to do something practical for their water crisis. We have already begun the process. Our hope is that this mission immersion program will bring about a transformation in our lives and that of the people.

 

We were fortunate to have with us Rosaline, Candida (Province of East Asia) and Pokisam (Province of Central East India/ Nepal) who are in Sri Lanka for their international experience. This is a personal reflection of one of our sisters from Mynmar.

 

“Though I did not know the language, I believed that I could communicate with them through my smile, my being and simple greetings in Sinhala which I tried to memorized. Word like ''Jesupitie'' meaning God bless and ''Stuthi'' meaning Thank you and ''Lassanai'' meaning Beautiful. I was really happy with the experience. I enjoyed my time to spend with them. And I learned from them to be content with what I have and stop complaining in my daily life. People have no time to complain about such little things because they are struggling in their lives for their livelihood. They have taught me a beautiful lesson which will make me a joyful person. I remember them in my prayers and will endure my pain and limitations willingly. I will offer for them my life”.

 

Gratitude to all who made this program possible – to the people who touched us with their simplicity we say ‘may the dew of heavenly blessings fall on you each day and may you be happy’ (St. M. Euphrasia). We have met the Risen Christ in our people – may they continue to experience the ‘Risen One’ bringing them new hope and life.


Novices and Temporary Professed of Sri Lanka/ Pakistan

 

In response to a request made by Rt. Rev. Dr. Raymond Wickramasingha, Bishop of Galle, a branch of “Seth Sevana” Bolawalana named “Mosvold Educational Centre” was opened at Balapitiya on 19th March 2015.

This indeed was a very special day to us Good Shepherd Sisters, as we thanked God for His blessings as we reached the 25th mile post of dedicated service, celebrating the Silver Jubilee at Balapitiya.

This Education Centre will cater to young girls helping them not only for their career development but also to expand their holistic personality. We are grateful to the leadership team who responded to the request, reading the signs of the time and making use of a God given opportunity.

We also express our gratitude to all those who contributed in many ways to give birth to this “Mosvold Educational Centre”.

May this Centre contribute towards the development of our children and bring benefit to the Society.

Let us re-imagine our leadership!

5 Sessions were held – one at Serene Pastures, three in Nayakakanda and one in Kandy to share the Asia Pacific Leadership Sessions. These were well attended by the Sisters and a mission partner.

The meetings began with a beautiful prayer service conducted by Sr. Francine, our Province Leader. Then it was followed by asking the participants their expectations from these training sessions. An attractive Centre Piece on which were placed different objects gave the sisters an opportunity to observe and share their feelings regarding what touched their hearts and their leadership qualities. This also gave us food for thought as we move from a Hierarchical Model of Leadership to one of Participatory Model.

Sr. Francine’s presentation made us aware of our leadership qualities and led us to reflect and to re-imagine our leadership as Good Shepherd Sisters. Every session was followed by a group sharing and open discussion. Sr. Selinta presented two types of leadership and two types of leaders; Spiritual and false leadership, born and made leaders. She invited the sisters to develop qualities of an effective leader in the society. The day ended with an interesting session on leadership and evolution by Sr. Prisca.

On the Second Day Sr. Anita gave us a glimpse of the Socio Cultural World of Jesus. It made us aware of Jesus’ mission here on earth even with those excluded by the society. Then we were taken on a journey to our Mother House in Angers by Sr. Euphrasia through her presentation. This helped to take our minds to the missionary realities and the missionary journey. Following this Sr. Madonna presented the need to widen the leadership circle and invited us to become midwives to give birth to suffering and marginalized ones.

The Third Day was launched with the attractive reflection “TRASNA” which means crossing place. In life journey, each of us has to face our realities with many crossings, both easy and difficult. As leaders how do we face life? Which ways do we choose? Thereafter, Sr. Selinta took over the stage and shared about the lay partners and the history of mission partners’ birth in the Congregation. We as a Province realized that we were slow to be open to this TRUST in the lay partners.

This session ultimately led us leave with positive thoughts that we can change and can face challenges in the future for the betterment of our lives and others.

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