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A BOLT FROM THE BLUE
Because He lives
I can face tomorrow
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Page of Contents
No. Title of Section
Page
1
Foreword
2
2
Introduction to the Report
3
3
The Experience of a Lockdown
4
4
I have heard the Cry of my People...
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5
In Solidarity with...
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6
Our Spiritual Lifeline
21
7
Where do we go from here?
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8
DHM Mission in the post Covid Scenario
25
9
List of Communities
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FOREWORD
The report that follows has been compiled on the basis of an attentive reading
of the reports sent by DHM communities in the North Province of India. All
of the communities were challenged into making an active response to the
eruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, touching almost every country of our
world. No one imagined that the pandemic would last for over four months
and is still spreading rapidly in countries like India, despite the mobilisation
of all possible resources to contain the infection and the number of deaths.
The reports of the communities reflect the feelings and efforts of sisters in
responding to the first phase of the pandemic between the months of March
and May 2020. Most of the interventions manifest similar patterns of
reactions and outreach, hence the report has been divided into four themes
that run through the reports.
We have avoided mentioning the names of individual communities as the
content is repetitive in many instances and we are more concerned about
highlighting the sensitivity, shared concern and creative initiatives of Dhm in
the lived reality rather than in identifying who did what.
The important point is that Covid-19 remains a mysterious and sudden
happening in our world and as such it does contain a message from the One
Who watches over the work of his hands. How do we understand what we
have lived and prayed through? How do we see our response for the future?
I thank Mercy and Shirley who have worked with me to prepare this
document, reviewing the script, helping with the lay-out and visuals, typing
and keeping the records of various letters received. Thelma has been kind
enough to help with the graphics. Without such co-operation, this document
would not have seen the light of day.
We thank Magy, our provincial, for her encouragement in the writing of the
document.
Hazel
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INTRODUCTION
In early March 2020, an invisible virus spread its tentacles from China, with
unnoticeable beginnings to rapidly invade every part of the world, storming
society with a fire of infection even leading to death. Within days it became
an uncontrollable pandemic affecting the lives of millions of people, affluent
and destitute, resulting in lakhs of deaths and unforeseen social misery.
India started taking the matter seriously from mid- March 2020 and since then
the numbers of persons affected by what is now known as COVID 19 and the
deaths that followed have been increasing with each passing day. India saw a
jump of over 11,000 novel coronavirus cases for the third consecutive day,
taking the total number of infections to over 3.32 lakh, while the death toll
rose to nearly 10,000.(Times of India)
In order to stem the devastating contagion of the Corona Virus, people are
advised, to maintaina certain distance from one another, that hands should
be washed with soap before meals, while the right type of medication is still
being explored. In the absence of knowing more effective ways of spreading
the sickness, social distance and isolation were found to be an effective
preventive measure and it was immediately propelled into action leading to
confining people in their homes and to the immediate closure of educational,
industrial, commercial, administrative institutions as well as the paralysis of
the transport system including buses, trains, lorries, private cars.
Overnight 80% of the workers in India were unemployed, without any daily
wage job to fall back on, families were stranded in the city and there was no
possibility of returning to the village except on foot, children, luggage and
all! Where was the water to constantly disinfect hands? How could one
maintain social distance in shanties where 6-8 persons shared a room! Despite
quick U-turn promises of monetary compensations, food rations and
temporary shelters it was just impossible to reach out to the needs of millions
of daily wage andmigrant workers residing in the poorest housing colonies of
the scattered states of the vast sub-continent of India
In the midst of this heart rending scenario and chaos, the Government. under
social pressure,
`NGOs, business agencies, charitable organisations, local
people, and religious organisations all came forward to meet the immediate
needs of people, keeping hunger and starvation at the door and nurturing hope
in the human heart for a better tomorrow! The DHM in India while being
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subjected to the lockdown also experienced a sensitive concern for the people
around them, some of them in their parishes, villages, institutions, community
projects and mustered whatever support they could to reach out to those in
immediate need. The report of each DHM community reveals a beautiful
gesture of warmth, compassion, and outreach to the least and last among our
sisters and brothers thus expressing the priceless text of Mathew’s
gospel(Ch.25 v. 40)”
you did it to ME.”
2. THE EXPERIENCE OF A LOCKDOWN
It was a usual working day in March. Our boarders were
at
school...everywhere people pursued their daily tasks...
Suddenly our students returned all excited, a cacophony of sound:
“No school from tomorrow, we must be homeward bound.”
No school? Inform Parents? What rumours are making their rounds?
Quick! We have to find out and clear our doubts!
The school confirmed the news; we had no time to lose
The parents arrived to accompany their children...
Will it be for long? Or, just a few days?
We replied it’s an official order and we have to obey.
And so it was in our houses all over the country:
Whether boardings, work centres, villages or institutions
News came in from all sides, everyday a new instruction...
A gradual quiet descended upon the environment,
No honking of cars, no screeching of wheels,
no whistles of trains, nor rumbling lorries!
A new word enters our vocabulary: LOCKDOWN!
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A changed way of life sets in.
I hear you cough? Take aSyrup!
You have a fever? Check it without fail!
You sound breathless? Go to a doctor!
You’ve just arrived? Quick...have a bath!
Ready for dinner? Sanitise your hands!
Keep social distance at all times
Wear a mask...stay safe...
take care...these became the mantras
of welcome and farewell in lockdown conversation.
Some felt happy the first two days - in such peace and calm to be cast,
A balm for our busy-ness and a stimulus to catch up with pending tasks,
Perhaps time even to relax with a movie... or enjoy the beauty of nature.
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But as the news of the Corona Virus spread,
With mounting figures of infection and death
One realised it was a pandemic, our hearts trembled in fear and panic
I am an elderly sister, vulnerable, what if the virus grips me?
What will become of me and my community?
As fears cloud my mind, I try my God to find,
Sharing with sisters became a strength and consolation
Our mobiles, a live source of information;
Thus did God open our eyes and sensitize our hearts
To feel the plight of our neighbours, near and far
If we felt so strained and stressed, despite all our security
What of those whose lot is to face daily hardship and insecurity?
The inner spirit impelled us to look out of our window
And watch the struggling chain of humanity - with sorrow:
Men and women saddled with luggage holding their children,
Tired faces, weary limbs trudging the miles in heat and sweat
Is there anyone to offer a lift, a cup of tea, a piece of bread?
Step by step onwards they go to a future unknown...
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Helplessly we bow before Thee,
Into your hands we commend our lives and theirs,
O God and Father.
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3. I HAVE HEARD THE CRY OF MY PEOPLE...AND I COME...
This cry echoed strongly in the hearts of our sisters in all the communities of
the Province.
Most of them felt constrained by the slogans: Stay Safe, Protect Yourself, and
Keep Distance from others.
Sisters, especially those in the mission stations living among their people felt
compelled to reach out directly or indirectly, even in some instances, as
frontline workers. Of course safeguards had to be prudently observed but
observing safeguards in the face of starvation and death among people is not
the way of the Lord. The DHMsare called upon to dare and risk her life to
uphold the cause of those whom society treats as the ‘underdog.’ Let the
communities speak
Community A
“During the lockdown we came together as a community to decide on how
we could reach out to the needy people in the village’’. One of the sisters
proposed an idea which was accepted and the whole community felt the need
to support each other.
“What urged us is the helpless situation, the poverty of the people, the need of
the hour to show solidarity with our brothers and sisters. The spirit of our
founders, their availability moved us to respond to the need of the time. ”
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The fact that we are in constant touch with about 35 villages in the area
enabled us to identify the families who were affected by the lockdown and
who were in dire need of food supplies.Thus in the first phase of outreach,
with the help of donors, about 1,660 food kits were distributed to tribal
families and various other groups , such as widows, poor upper class families,
the poor among the migrant Catholic population. At the same time many were
helped to procure ration cards so as to ensure the continuity of a food supply.
The second phase of outreach was to migrant workers from these 35 villages
who were in dire need far away in their places of work where they were also
experiencing the lockdown. The DHM listed the names of these people who
had migrated from the villages, so as to provide accurate information of the
migrant workers in Andhra Pradesh who now wanted to return home. A group
of our villagers who had migrated to Karnataka was also identified in the
same manner and their return was worked out with the officials in the states
concerned. In all 170 migrant labourers were able to return home because of
the cooperation of the Tahsildars on either side who arranged transport
facilities at government cost and at no cost to the workers.
The third stage is now the rehabilitation of the workers who have returned, so
that they may find a means of earning their livelihood for the future. At
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present, vegetable seeds have been distributed so that they may be able to
have kitchen gardens coming up in the next months, hopefully helped by rain
water. However funds are lacking to draw up a plan for the future
rehabilitation of these communities to enable them to stand on their feet and
live with dignity on their own lands.
Community B
After reconciling to the fact that our boarding was empty because of the
lockdown, we planned our tasks as a community. During the first days we
were happy to have some quiet to relax, to pray and reflect. We had already
purchased a good stock of food grain for our hostel but since we did not know
when the lockdown would be called off, we decided to utilise this stock to
give packets of food grain to our needy neighbours. There were many of them
and as the days passed we saw that our stock was hardly sufficient.
We dared to write for help to two Spanish organisations whom we knew well,
even though we were aware that their country was suffering greatly due to the
pandemic. Their response was so touching because they were sensitive to our
need and did send some monetary help for our relief work. The Dy. Collector,
the officials of the Municipal Corporation and others were pleased with our
outreach programme and extended all the support we needed for the transport
of food to the families and villages concerned. The Sarpanch and his workers
were happy to be asked to collaborate in the programme.
It was truly a joy to see the smiles of happiness on peoples’ faces as they
received the help they got unexpectedly. It was also sad and painful for us to
see so many people become homeless and unemployed overnight, as they
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were trying to return to their homes destitute, on foot in the heat, without food
and water.
Some people tried to play politics, wanting to help their own people. Such
instances occur even during the time of an epidemic. As we became aware of
their game, we avoided their traps.
Community C
The news of a sudden lockdown put people in a traumatised situation and we
all felt helpless as we could not see our way through. What could we do when
the Govt. has asked us to stay indoors? The Director of the DiocesanSocial
Service Centre sent us a message: Can we do something in this situation? The
first news was that people have nothing to eat. Immediately with the help of
an animator, we contacted the Tahsil Officer. The head of the office was on
his rounds but we were able to make contacts by phone and explained our
plan of action, which was a quick survey of the number of families in need of
food in various villages. The officer-in-charge immediately gave us the
permission and a good ration of dry food packages were packed for about 300
families besides 800 masks and 80 gloves to the police team. We were able to
obtain important donations from Caritas, from local shop owners, medical
and educational personnel and our girls with training in tailoring stitched
masks for the villagers.
The distribution of masks and gloves to
the police team was much appreciated
and from that time our relationship has
grown positive. Whenever people have
to be consulted, they invite us to be
present. We were also to make
available a room for 4 police personnel
who are on duty during the day and
need a place to rest at night. Thus we,
too, could go out to buy the things we
needed.
During the first week we were warned not to move out of the house but it was
heart-breaking to see people walking on the road in front of the house: “tired,
weary, thirsty, hungry. We saw people beaten, pushed and attacked by the
police” who had blind orders and who felt helpless as they could not control
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the crowds. I spoke to one of the police who shared their point of view: They
too, have families in their own places whom they cannot meet or help. They
too, are being overworked with no proper food or rest, no one to care for
them. They have to be at our service, on call at any time. We saw the doctors,
nurses, cleaners, drivers, police, working day and night, at the risk of their
own lives and that of their families. “For all the times we could see people
suffering and could not reach out, Lord we ask your forgiveness.”
Community D
A small community of 3 members in an urban slum area in the parish felt
the need to contact local donors in order to give food kits of dry ration to
daily wage earners and domestic
workers who were unemployed.
The DHM were able to reach out
to seven hundred families with the
help of volunteers. The challenge
was to control the crowd when
they
become aware that
something is being given free. We
were not able to satisfy all who
were in need. We did what we were able to.
Community E
“Having heard about the great need and suffering especially of migrant
workers, the community of sisters living at the St.Pius Complex explored the
needs of the population in two areas inhabited by migrant workers, coming
from Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu,their work having come to a standstill due to
the lockdown.
They have no means of survival. Two DHMs assisted by two local volunteers
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prepared a list of 35 families,with all the information required and submitted
it to the CSR of a chemical firm which will render financial assistance of
Rs.5000/- per month to each of the families over a period of 3 months.
A few families of construction workers were helped by the distribution of
cooked food, but on the whole most of the families preferred receiving dry
grain which they could cook and serve according to the needs of the family.
The DHM community also sponsored cloth to prepare masks needed by the
people living in the slums.
Community F
Our motivation for outreach came alive by what we saw on the highway from
our house between March 25 and March
30th. We saw bicycles, trucks, vehicles
loaded with people and their belongings
travelling to their homes in different
villages. They had left from Mumbai, Surat
in the night arriving at the Vattaman
junction early in the morning. They looked
tired and distressed. They searched for a cup of tea in small hotels and tea
stalls, but everything was closed. We wondered how to help such large
numbers of people. The first days made us so fearful too. We were following
the instruction of being in the house, watching the news and praying, but we
also did not know how to help. Even our staff were at a loss, as to whom help
should be given. They were hesitant about joining a programme being
conducted by an MLA for political reasons.
We decided that we would help with whatever we had, the poorest of the poor
whom we could identify. A benefactor came forward to help us to give food
kits to 70 families. The community of 3 DHMs and our volunteers came
together for packing and distributing the
provisions. Our sisters stitched over 60 masks
for distribution to those who needed them. We
were especially happy to help our neighbours
from U.P and M.P who had come for
employment in Companies. They had
nowhere to go and no one to help them, hence
they welcomed our outreach. We, too,
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experienced happiness in sharing the little we had and in being in solidarity
with the people in their need.
Community G
“When we heard about the lockdown we really did not understand much. The
questions that first came into our minds were: How long would it be? What
about our needs and what provisions should we make? As we thought of
ourselves, the thought of the poor, especially our parishioners came to mind.
Knowing their economic condition, we were aware that they have neither
money nor space to buy and store provisions. Immediately we decided to
purchase for them 75 kg. rice, 25 kg.dal.
We were thus able to help 20 families
from our parish in the first week of the
lockdown. They felt very grateful for
this gesture. The College of SW helped
us to procure food ration for 30 families
lasting for a month. Our benefactors
along with individual donors were kind enough to provide food kits for the
families of our students in slums, some to our parishioners, peons and
security personnel in the nearby residential areas.
The distribution was not easy as some areas were absolutely barricaded since
some Covid-19 cases had been found in the area. We needed the help of the
police, some of whom were the parents of our school children. Only with a
pass from the SP could we go ahead. Despite such obstacles we managed to
reach the people in need.
Community H
“I was unable to be present with my sisters in
the community because of the lockdown
which made it impossible for me to travel
from Mumbai to Delhi, but I kept closely in
touch with my sisters who got an opening to
help the poor in our vicinity by the
distribution of cooked food packets with some
donors. I was able to encourage the sisters to reach out to the poor by getting
e-coupons for free rations and sharing our garden vegetables.
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Community I
During the first days of the lockdown we were somewhat fussy about food
but suddenly it was as if the Lord whispered: “Do you know that because of
the lockdown, people all over the world are going hungry and you...?”
Immediately we decided to limit our preferences, stick to just what is
necessary for our health and to have food only for each day.
As we watched the
news coming in, we
realised that people
outside our house were
suffering greatly.
We moved out
discreetly and found
that many families
working in brick kilns
were in need of food.
We therefore did a
quick survey of 5 brick
kilns and submitted the report to the mamlatdar who helped to get food grains
for the needy families. We were able to give 550 kits of dry food grain to
those families as well as to others in need.
One DHM says: I do take precautions but I move freely among the people
without fear. I am also sad to note that so many peoples’ lives are in danger,
yet people do not give up their corrupt ways: cheating in ration shops,
increase in food prices, indulging in show-off charity. Even those who have
enough try to find excuses to arouse pity for themselves to receive help.
Community J
We are a small group of 3 DHM in a tribal area. A government circular
reached us asking all institutions to support the effort of the govt. as a sequel
to the situation created by Covid-19. The 3 of us wondered how we could
help. On consulting our staff members they drew our attention to the number
of people who have returned from Nashik and Surat without a salary or any
savings. The families have need of food provisions and the govt. has made
provision for giving all of them rice and wheat. We asked the staff to identify
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the people who were handicapped, aged, children whose parents have not yet
reached home, widows. However to go to the villages we needed to have the
permission of officials. Some were helpful and cooperative, some kept us
waiting long hours, even for 3 days because a patient was found with a corona
positive result and a further
3 day lockdown period followed. However
having obtained a 6-day pass we were able to give supplementary food,
masks and soap to over 100 needy families. Our staff and volunteers willingly
helped us in this task observing all the necessary precautions. We found that
our tribal people were busy with farm work and not too affected by the
“Corona Virus”. The staff kept in touch with us by phone to find out whether
we were in need of help. One animator
to whom we wanted to give some food
provisions told us she did not need it and
that she would prefer that we gave it to
her neighbour whose need was greater.
We have much to learn from our tribal
villagers. People there are simple,
sincere, hardworking with a spirit of
concern and sharing
Community K
The majority of the people in our tribal area are small farmers, daily wage
earners such as cargo and fishing boat workers, drivers, small vegetable
vendors and some industrial workers. With the country in a Lockdown mode,
the situation seems frantic and desperate. How talk about enhancing self-
reliance, empowering people with jobs, skills and education! The time has
come to shut down all our well planned activities in the College and prepare a
new vision and action plan with concrete measures to help those in actual and
immediate need relevant to the present
situation. The four DHM in the
community got in touch with village
leaders to identify the needy, aged,
sick members in the surrounding
village communities. We had to buy
provisions for the people, and make
packets for food distribution. Our
inspiration was the front line workers,
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especially the medical workers who with courage and resilience risked their
own lives and those of their families to bring care and healing to patients. To
the staff and students who could not reach home, we gave shelter in our hostel
and conducted Handicraft and English classes which would be useful to them
in their life situation.
Community L
We hardly understood the situation around the Corona Virus infection at first,
but when we saw the TV news we realized that there was much suffering
around us. The rich could count on their stored wealth but the poor, daily
wage earners had nothing to fall back on. We shared the small amount of
grain we had with ten families. The Jesuits from St. Xavier's Ahmedabad
contributed 100 food kits for us to give to families in need. We spoke with
the people about preventive steps to observe to stop the spread of infection.
Community M
Our outreach was planned through the College of Social Work which kept us
in touch with the thousands who became homeless and unemployed
overnight. They were in a position of absolute helplessness as no form of
transport even was available to them. They suddenly became beggars on the
road pleading with passers-by for something to eat.
With the help of students and volunteers the work that had already been
started was continued with a special emphasis on daily wage earners,
including construction workers, domestic workers, migrants, women rag
pickers and senior citizens in collaboration with the staff, students, Alumni
and other NGOs.The people were helped with a supply of cooked food,
hygiene and sanitary care.
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Some students even worked as volunteers in the BMC office at risk to
themselves. They understood better the heavy responsibility that the BMC
had to shoulder in such a large, cosmopolitan city like Mumbai.
Sisters of the NN Community were attentive to the needs of the pavement
dwellers living on the footpaths of New Marine Lines and supplemented the
supply of cooked food from the BMC with dry rations keeping specially the
needs of children in view. Some sisters kept in touch by phone with isolated
and elderly individuals.
Voices within the Campus
Most of the communities above spoke of outreach work outside our own
campuses but there were several instances of outreach within the campus
because of Government restrictions and our own limitations as a community
stretching ourselves to respond to situations as they arose in our house or
institution. Let us listen to their some of their voices:
“The Canteen continued to function as workers were allowed to stay on the
premises to provide for women who were stranded in the city.”
“Where there was no staff to attend to the care of senior sisters some
members of the community had to see to their need besides replacing the
absent staff in the general house work of each day.”
“Five sisters who went for a short visit to their families were suddenly
blocked for a month by the lockdown. They experienced making an effort to
reach out within the family situation, attending to daily chores of cleaning,
shopping for family needs, cooking, gardening helping children to pass their
time in constructive activities, taking care of sick members, even helping in
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the case of conflict situations in the neighbourhood. Since it meant spending
days of Lent and Holy Week with the family it was a time of praying, doing
spiritual exercises, fasting, living the Passion of Jesus together in the home
since common exercises in the Church could not be carried out according to
tradition.”
“During the 6 weeks of lockdown we felt our isolation and distance from the
needy people around but we could not go out because we needed permission
from the government officials. One day two of us left the community house
courageously walking as there was no transport and managed to reach the
government office, helped by some police who gave us a lift. However, the
Govt. official was not helpful and we returned feeling our helplessness, our
limitations and our total dependence on God. It was the day before Good
Friday...we walked with Jesus.”
“We are a small community of 3 sisters, one elderly, one in the Parish and
one engaged in an organisation for women. We have a good relationship with
our parishioners in the neighbourhood who showed concern for us, phoning
to ask about our needs, sharing vegetables with one another, telephoning
those who were lonely in their homes. Through our organisation for women,
the staff reached out to women in need by the distribution of food kits and
through counselling services by telephone.”
Through the experience of the lockdown, we learnt not only to reach out to
others in situations of poverty and need, but also to accept with gratitude the
kindness and thoughtfulness that others show us in their generosity.
Lead kindly light
Lead thou me on
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4.
In Solidarity with the Local and Global Community
In listening to the voices of DHMs, we sense their closeness to the pain and
suffering of people and their deep desire to reach out in response to “love one
another as I have loved you”. The magnitude of suffering and the limited
resources at our disposal made one realise that sisters alone could not
effectively reach out to those in need. They needed the help of many others at
every step of the way. The challenge was: how to build a network of support
which could help us fulfil our goal, especially when this goal envisaged is a
common good that touches the hearts of all our fellow citizens, rich or poor
irrespective of caste or creed, highly placed or ordinary travellers on the
journey of life.
We found that in most cases when we dared to share our desire to help, to
manifest our compassion for people in their situations of distress, it was like
lighting a flame from our heart into the heart of another, thus generating more
light and more power to pool resources, motivate larger numbers, draw
volunteers and become creative in our approach to people.
The little lamps lit from one to another, whatever the motivation, became a
force to reach out to thousands of people in need. It was an outreach far, far
beyond what our limited resources could procure, thus repeating the miracle
of the five loaves and two fish in the Gospel.
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If such an effort can be sustained everywhere in our country what a furnace of
love would burn at grass root levels thus enabling the light and fire of love to
mount from street corners and hamlets to the country and beyond national
boundaries. Thus may we change a pandemic of fear into a panorama of love
with a strong heart beat for the poor and excluded.
This is what we as a Society are called to do; this is what the Church is called
to do. This is what Pope Francis constantly reminds us of: to witness to the
solidarity of humankind where enabling persons to realise their God-gifted
dignity is the most pressing call on the way to progress and development.
“When we feel that God is calling us to intervene with others in these social
dynamics, we should realise that this too is part of our spirituality, which is an
exercise of charity and, as such, matures and sanctifies us.” (Laudate Si para
231)
5. Our Spiritual Lifeline
Fear and insecurity marked the first feelings of our sisters especially those
who live in small communities at a distance from one another. This feeling of
fear created anxiety about oneself and anxiety about the future: our houses,
our works, our people, our families...everything. There was also a feeling of
isolation which re-inforced fear and helplessness, especially in the context of
the lockdown.
To whom shall we go?
Ofcourse to the Lord and it was there in the silence of the surrounding
atmosphere that our sisters spent long hours of prayer, seeking to understand
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God’s Will and to calm the vibrations of fear within each one’s heart. Those
trepidations were calmed in community sharing and community prayer which
gave life and support to each one, to see things positively and happily
continue the way. It was this positivity that enabled our sisters to move from
self- anxiety to concern for others, to lose oneself in God and find new life to
share with the neighbour.
During these times of lockdown we do not hear of community conflict or
stress in relationships. Together did we share all our fears and tears; together
did we face the challenge of going out, overcoming obstacles and reaching
out to people. What a strength we found in the unity of our mutual sharing as
we encountered joys and disappointments! In our common motivation to
reach out and serve our less fortunate sisters and brothers, we found strength
among ourselves, greater closeness with our people and with God Whose
Light and Power guided us all the way.
This spiritual lifeline was strengthened by a number of inputs that reached us
through our mobile phones which kept us in touch with our sisters in India
and abroad, with religious congregations, friends and relatives who sent
special messages, video clips, affirming our loving confidence in God and the
peace He gives to those who place their trust in Him. The frequent messages
sent by our Provincial were like Vitamin tablets to sustain occasional”
drooping spirits.”
Several communities made online retreats that religious congregations offered
precisely to help people build their inner resources of faith and confidence in
God, so as to find freedom from fear and the freedom to walk courageously in
the way of the Lord.
Even though it was an exceptional time of closure of churches, no public
Eucharistic or Liturgical community celebrations so characteristic of the
Easter season, the para-liturgical community celebrations and those televised
on our mobiles were helpful to motivate us to pray in the intimacy of our
communities, to concentrate more on the passion, death and resurrection of
Jesus rather than on the externals of large community celebrations. At times
we were able to pray with individuals who desired to join us. Being able to
join services in any part of the world, especially with our Holy Father from
the Vatican gave us a great sense of being part of the wonderful worldwide
family which is the Church. Since every country has been affected by the
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pandemic there was a great sense of unity of the whole of humanity humbly
bowed in prayer before our God and Father. It helped us think of the large
numbers who had died, their grieving families and the difficult conditions of
life they too, are facing.
All the sisters appreciated the many hours they were able to spend as
individuals and as a community in prayer, in spiritual reading, in community
spiritual exercises that built a sense of being a privileged community before
God who has chosen us and whose Presence gives so much meaning and
richness to our lives. One community spoke of the lockdown as a moment of
grace because there is so much of restless rushing in the “normal” way of life,
that one could truly relish the quiet comfort of God’s presence in prayer.
There is no doubt that during this period of lockdown, God became
increasingly the centre of our lives, the inspiration for our relationships in
community, the strength and joy of our sharing and active involvement with
the people.
Where do we go from here?
6.
Reflections on a continuing and post- COVID 19 scenario
In India, we are in the midstream of COVID 19. We have made sustained
efforts to curb its spread and flatten the curve, but the statistics of each day
show continuous increase in the incidents of infection in many parts of the
country. Existing services and expanding services do not seem to be adequate
for the demand and while concentrating on COVID 19 as a priority, other
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ailments equally serious tend to be ignored making life for patients a difficult
situation to handle. If one does not have one’s own family or personnel to
help in care giving, the negligence of patients especially the elderly and those
living alone, is disturbing.
In the wake of valiant efforts on the part of many to help migrant workers
return to their homelands for survival, the question arises as to how long one
can dole out relief and how the return home can also be a new step towards
self-reliance and a life lived with human dignity. What resources do we need
to build and develop in order that the rural homeland may become a
permanent home with a vision of productivity and economic independence to
stop the mad rush to dehumanised living conditions of an urban metropolis?
In this process of reflection, how can we dialogue with our returned migrant
workers to motivate them for a future in which all can envisage the common
good and a collaborative effort to build their future? How can we work
towards a development in communion with all (whatever be caste or creed)
and not in a spirit of cut-throat competition? How do we understand God’s
Word to us through the COVID 19 experience? It has been an experience
which has taken the world by surprise, overturning our plans in the fields of
health, education, religious practice, economic and commercial enterprise.
There is insecurity, confusion and fear in the minds and hearts of many...
“I shall not call you servants...I call you friends(Jn.15,15) emphasizes a
depth of intimacy with Christ, source of apostolic fruitfulness...”(Const.p.5).
What is the Lord saying to us in India today? We need to reflect, to dialogue
with the Lord and among us as sisters of a family. “The Society is open to the
needs of time and place” and in dialogue with the Church and local
authorities, discerns the pathways of mission.(Const.p.13) The Church is
searching today...We too search... May the Spirit light our way and guide our
steps in the way of the Lord!
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Good Better Best
Whatever He tells you
Do it with Zest
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DHM North Province
List of Communities whose reports were considered in the
compilation of this document.
A
North India
1 Amaria
2 Baddi
3 New Delhi
B Gujarat
4 Bharuch
5 Vadodara
6 Narukot
7 Koth
8 Vattaman
C
Maharashtra
9 Premankur
10 Vasai
11 Chuim
12 Nirmala Niketan
13 Kharasgaon
14 Vaijapur
15 Kolad
16 Nandurbar