Voice Of The Young

Voice Of The Young

Communion, Compassion and Contemplation

Feb 13
Cherylanne, a young member of the Focolare movement, shows us through real life examples how deep mutual love based on Jesus’ life and teachings, can bring unity among people.

My thoughts go to Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare Movement, a woman, a mystic, a spiritual and social reformer who has attracted women and men of all cultures and ages to follow her charism of unity, and I tried to draw out all that could throw light on these three words through our own experiences and I hope that in turn they could be a light to you and to your journey.
Unity is at the heart of Jesus’ message and his life and is also the deep yearning of every human being.

Love in the Midst of Hatred
It was right in the middle of the hate, violence and division of Second World War that Chiara and her first companions discovered their calling to unity and universal brotherhood. Being able to carry only a small book of the Gospel with them every time they had to run to the air raid shelters when the sirens went off, Chiara and her friends started to read the Gospel and live it in their daily lives, putting into practice all aspects of love that the Gospel spoke of. They soon rediscovered the invitation to constant, reciprocal love to meriting the presence of Jesus among them and this experience made their personal lives and their lives as a group take on a qualitative leap ahead. Chiara had no idea of forming any movement, but eventually a new spirituality came to life,

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Cherylanne Menezes

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Voice Of The Young

Fifteen-Year-Old Swedish Girl Shakes Up a World Conference

Jan 09

In the International Conference on climate change, called COP24, that met in Katawice, Poland, last month, one unusual speaker stood out—a fifteen-year-old high school student from Sweden. Her bold and direct challenge got the world’s attention. Her name is Greta Thunburg. She was already known as a student activist who protested in front of the Swedish Parliament demanding that Sweden honour the promises made on climate change. Then she started skipping school on Fridays, to move government to take responsible action on climate. At first she was alone. Later, many thousands in different countries joined her.

A group of them went to the Conference Site holding a banner that said, “12 years left.” This refers to the conclusion by experts that the world needs to cut emissions by 50 percent before 2030.—Editor.

At the Climate Change Conference last month, she told the audience made up of seasoned politicians and experts:

My name is Greta Thunberg. I am 15 years old. I am from Sweden.

I speak on behalf of Climate Justice Now.

Many people say that Sweden is just a small country and it doesn’t matter what we do.

But I’ve learned you are never too small to make a difference.

And if a few children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we could all do together if we really wanted to. But to do that, we have to speak clearly, no matter how uncomfortable that may be.

You only speak of green eternal economic growth because you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake.

You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet.

Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.

Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

The year 2078, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. If I have children maybe they will spend that day with me. Maybe they will ask me about you. Maybe they will ask why you didn’t do anything while there still was time to act.

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.

Until you start focusing on what needs to be done rather than what is politically possible, there is no hope. We cannot solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis.

We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground, and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself.

We have not come here to beg world leaders to care. You have ignored us in the past and you will ignore us again.

We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time.

We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people.

Thank you.

As Shannon Osaka wrote, “For all those following the climate crisis, Thunberg is both an inspiration and a warning: Sometimes we need a 15-year-old to tell us the truth. And the truth isn’t always pretty.”


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Voice Of The Young

HOW TODAY’S YOUTH TALK TO GOD

NOV 04

Here are some more replies from SSLC students to our questions:
How do you relate to God? What do you do when you pray?

God blesses and provides

“I pray that this year I will work hard and that God must bless me with retentive memory so that I will come out in flying colours, and make my parents proud. I do not forget to pray to God to provide my parents and grandparents with good health. …I pray a lot to God to fulfil my wish but I have not received any of them. I hope my prayers are heard by God..” (Rochelle Lucia Rijo)

Prayer is: Let it be…       

Relationship with God is precious. I just pray that whatever happens in life with me or with others let it be for a good purpose.

(Sherone D’Souza)

Sharing my fears and problems      

I share all my problems and fears with God which I am not able to overcome. When I pray in the morning I first say my shlokas and then pray for my friends, relatives and for myself. (Tanisha)

 I ask forgiveness from God

I ask God forgiveness for all the sins I’ve committed and to forgive my family. I ask him to protect, guide and have mercy on us. I ask him to protect us all from every harm and danger and protect us from the punishment of hell. I ask him to unite us all in heaven. I like to have a conversation or spend some time with God. I get peace of mind and confidence whenever I begin a day by praying to God. God always protects me from all evil things.

(Afreen Rihana)

 I pray to overcome difficulties

I pray to God to help me with my studies and help all my friends. I pray to help me in my future so that I can overcome all difficulties.

(Enrica Morais)

When I pray, I think about all the difficulties my family faced and ask God to make me as well as my family members stronger to face those hardships. Then I pray to God to give me a retentive memory so that I can study harder. At last I pray for all the people who are suffering from any injury.God never takes credit or shows himself after doing a deed. He helps all the people without any discrimination or partiality.

(Artha Chowta)

I pray for the good health of my family, friends and everyone who are suffering. I pray for the good results of our school.                                                                              

(Dhanya Shetty)                     

I ask God to help me with my studies and to give me a retentive memory.

(Keagan Menezes)

Pray for my friends, family and myself

I pray to God that He may bless me with good retentive memory as I am in the X Standard and to give me strength to face all the difficulties in my future. I pray for all the friends who have been my best support in my life that they be blessed with good health. I also pray for my class teachers who helped me in my studies, who encouraged me in every activity.

(Nivedhi G Shetty)

There is a reason

Well God is great, we all can say that but according to me God is a kind of spiritual energy which was neither created nor can be destroyed. Some of us may think whether God really exists. We wonder whether he helps us. It is actually faith. Whatever He does to all of us is for a reason.

(Sherone D’Souza)

I am a person with faith in God. What I like about God is that, he has given me a beautiful family and life. Most of the time He has given me what I have asked for. He is very loving.

(Akshatha Hegde)

God keeps me safe and protects from all dangers. He gives us good memory power to study. He makes our wishes come true. I pray to god much and I believe in Him a lot. I thank God for giving me such wonderful parents.

(Nivedhi G Shetty)

Why poverty?

Whenever there is quarrel in my house or sickness in my house, I always pray but God does not do anything. If there was God there would be no poverty anywhere for this reason I do not like God.

(Ambika S B)


(Thanks to Sr Philomen, Principal, St Theresa School, Bendur, Mangalore for collecting the responses of students to this page.) Editor

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Voice Of The Young

In my moments of weakness

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A second-year medical student from North-East India narrates her journey of faith—her lovely memories, her struggles, her moments of darkness, her newfound sense of God’s closeness.

In his time, he makes all things beautiful in his time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

If someone were to ask me five years ago if I was ready to put my faith to the test, I would have never said yes. But little did I know that my faith would be tested the minute I stepped out of my home town.

It was rather easy when I was a child (not that I’m any older now), it was just easier then because I grew up serving the Lord every day under his roof. For ten years I studied in Loreto Convent. Oh, how I long to go back and walk those corridors! My church, the Grotto Chapel where I attended Mass every Sunday was just next door. I devoted my last year there by visiting my school chapel every morning and in the evening, I would serve mass as an altar girl in the Chapel.

My mother and father have always been faithful people of the Lord and in them my foundation of Christ was made strong, followed by my catechism classes. Of course, I expected that, through the years, it would always be the same.

When I left Shillong for the first time, I was filled with mix emotions. I was excited and happy, sad and sentimental at the same time. As I arrived in my new school in Dehradun, I was told that it was not possible to go to church every Sunday as it was a residential school that had specific timings to everything. It was weird at first, but slowly I got used to it, so much so that I almost lost my way to the Lord. Those two years that I spent in boarding school were one of the most challenging, difficult and painful moments I have ever faced, yet it was magical, beautiful and one of the most amazing, memorable times I’ve ever had.

It was difficult because within a year I lost hope in myself. In a classroom filled with brilliant brains, I slowly started doubting my own capabilities. It became worse when I felt like God had abandoned me completely and that I wasn’t as good as the other students.

Before I chose to attend this school, I had a goal—to be a paediatrician, to help the children who suffer from various illnesses and problems. My only happiness, I thought, would be to see their beautiful smiling faces once they felt better. To feel that I’ve done something in my life to make a change in someone else’s. That would give more purpose to my life and I felt that it was my calling.

But within those two years, I lost all hope. I would pray, but I felt as though God never heard them. And slowly my faith started to diminish. I’m not blaming the school, I’m blaming myself for not trusting in God’s plan. I lost faith. Once I came out of school, I came back home and, to my parent’s disappointment, they saw how much my absence had affected my participation in church activities. It was not until I almost felt like I was going to die when my faith became the strongest.

A month before my medical exam, I had a terrifying experience.

I went to give my friend a surprise. I entered her house even though I saw her very gigantic dog and greeted him. Back then I still trusted my instincts on dogs. As I walked past him, I rang the doorbell and, to my shock, her Tibetan mastiff (which was bigger than myself) got up and, without a bark, started biting me as though I were his dinner. His jaw tried to reach for my neck. He bit my bare foot, pulling me to the end of the compound. I felt as though he was ready to eat me alive. And what was I, compared to his weight and strength? Suddenly, in that moment of darkness, I heard the doorknob turn and the door opened behind me. I felt as though my body was telling me to fight this beast, so I kicked him with whatever energy I had left in me and, although he got my foot and pulled me to the edge again, I managed to kick him to the end the second time and crawl backwards inside the house.

All I could think of was, “Where is the person that opened the door for me?” and “Why didn’t he come help me?” The second I crawled into the house I turned back to see him, the hunting animal that wanted to chew my every bone. He looked at me from the door and growled. He looked at me, but he didn’t enter. No one will ever understand how I felt in that moment. I crawled my way to the dining room, just waiting for someone to find me.

When I asked my friend later that day who opened the door for me, she told me that no one did. I was confused at first, but it was then that I knew that He was looking out for me. I knew for a fact that I heard somebody open the door behind me and I believed He sent someone to help me that day. How I prayed that night, with pain and blood, I cried thanking Him for saving me from a horrible mess.

Some people may see this as a minor incident, for me it is not. For me it was a wakeup call. I was on crutches and medication for several months. My exam didn’t go as planned.

So, the next year, when I was better, I joined a coaching centre back in Rajasthan. There I met my second nemesis, Stress. I knew I wanted to get into a medical college, I knew it was my calling and that I needed to do this for my family as well. The stress got to me at a point where I almost gave up on myself again. But, luckily this time, my faith grew stronger. I was able to pass my exam. Little did I know what would happen next. For my applications, my mum and I travelled the entire India, from Bhopal to Indore to Bangalore, back and forth, then Jaipur and other extremely rural areas searching for a college for me.

By the end of that journey, my faith had weakened. I often questioned how it is that the students who got lower marks than me are getting the colleges that I want. It seemed so unfair that the rich could easily buy their way into everything.

I, however, am blessed with such amazing parents. They never once gave up on me—even when I did. Their faith kept me going. We finally concluded that God had a different plan for me. Seeing that it was my dream to be a doctor, my parents being the best that they are, made sure of it.

And here I am today, a second year student at Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China.

Once I reached China, I realized so many things. I realized how I was meant to be here, I realized how the colleges I had tried to enter would have been unsuitable for me and my family. Everything fell into place the day they decided to send me here. I can actually see the beauty in God’s plan. I’m so happy here and I’m also doing quite well in my studies too. It all just falls into place. And though, in my moments of weakness, I doubted His work, I soon realized how beautifully He had planned everything for me.

I’m not saying it’s a bed of roses, I still have my bad days and times where my faith is anything but strong. But one thing is certain: I know He will always bring me back; He will never abandon me even when I feel everything is going out of control. I know that He is here with me as he is there with you right now reading this. Trust in the Lord, I say to you, and walk by faith even when you cannot see.


Karen Michelle Diengdoh

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Voice Of The Young

HOW THE YOUNG TALK TO GOD

Sep 15

We put this question to X Standard students belonging to various religions: “How do you relate to God? What is it you do when you pray?” Here are their simple and frank answers.

God is my Friend:

I relate to God as my friend who is always there for me when I need him. Whenever I say a small prayer, I feel the comforting feel. I pray to God to protect my family, bless them take care of them and protect them. I also thank for all the good things in life. (RIshima Attavar)

I consider my God as friend whom I tell all my darkest secrets. I pray that He may always bless me and my family and, help me keep away from sin. (Henrika Crasta)

I ask God to bless me:

I relate or pray to God to bless me and strengthen me to face all the difficulties in my life and provide me a healthy life and help me in my studies. (Rachan K.)

I place everything before God:

Prayer is a communication between God and man. I place numerous wishes, desires, needs, greeds, aspirations before him. As I am studying in Xth grade I pray for good health and retentive memory. Besides, I also pray for my family, friends, teachers and loved ones. (Soumini Hegde)

I thank and ask:

When I pray to God, first when I pray to God, first of all I thank Him for all abilities and skills He has blessed me with. I ask God to shower His bountiful blessings on all the people who love me and all the ones whom I love. (Haleema Nafisa)

I pray to God for good health of all in the world. Let all be happy and lead a good life.  I pray to provide me with good and help to face all difficulties. I thank him for whatever he has given me, especially for giving me such loving parents. I also ask him to give everyone such parents and they to live happily.   (Vyshnavi O.)           

God understands:

When I pray I just pray that God protect me, enlighten me and take care of my family. When I pray I pray only this much. I know God will listen to my prayers and will understand my feelings. (Arel-Leora D’Souza)

I pray for help and guidance:

Prayer is really very important in our life. Through prayer there will be an understanding between God and me. When I pray, I ask God to help me not to get distracted to bad things. I also pray to God to help all the students to excel in their studies and for the good health of our principal, teachers, staff and the students and to protect them from danger. (Angel James K.)

When I pray to God the first thing I pray for is to keep me and family and all people I’m acquainted healthy. I pray to God always that I excel in the Board exams and make my parents and teachers proud. I pray to God that my dream may come true and I may become someone I want to be in life. I pray to God that help me pass all the hurdles of life with ease and a tonne of courage. (Andrea Magdalene Pais)

Whenever I pray, I pray God to shower his blessings upon me and my family happy and healthy. I pray to Him to guide me whenever I make a wrong decision, and do what is right. (Abhay R. M.)

God, our Father, listens to children:

I relate to God as a father, who may be strict but kind at heart and always ready to help his loyal children when they are in danger. I pray for concentration in my studies knowledge, betterment of my family and give me strength to face my problems. (Aaron Patrao)

God accepts children’s prayers fast and being a child I pray for the fulfilment of people, their health, let there be equality in all the cases for all and special prayers for my loved ones who brought me to this world—MY PARENTS and my family members and let their love spread amongst all the people. (Zaha Haleema)

In everybody’s Religion they say that God listens to Children’s prayers. In our house we pray five times a day. I pray to keep my parents and me healthy and happy. God listens to every ones prayers whether it is a bit late. (Sanjana Rao)

I feel helpless, unworthy, grateful:

I relate to God like a helpless person, not worthy of his praise. God is the sole reason why I excel every day. With His graces, I am the head girl of this school, have won several competitions, I am an all- rounder and I perform well in my studies.

When I pray to God, I ask Him to help me in everything I do, to give me health and to be a good person everyday. I never forget to thank the Almighty for His blessings showered upon me. (Blanche Rodrigues)

God listens:

In everybody’s Religion they say that God listens to children’s prayers. In our house we pray five times a day. I pray to keep my parents and me healthy and happy. God listens to every one’s prayers, even if it is a bit late.       (Anaam Ahmed)

I pray for those who suffer:

When I pray, I pray for the welfare of all who are suffering and my family members. I also pray to God to help me concentrate while studying.        (Shreya A.G.)    

My day starts and ends with God:

I pray to God everyday. My day starts with God and ends with God. God plays a very important role in my life. I pray for my well-being and my parents’ well-being. I pray to God to keep me strong and determined and concentrated in my studies. I pray to God for physical and mental well-being, to keep me physically fit and emotionally strong. (Shrishty)

When I see an ambulance…

All the time when I pray what I ask is to keep me away from stress and chaos. I ask God to keep me, my family and my known people safe. I ask God to provide me with a retentive memory and a peaceful mind. If I see an ambulance passing by on my way to school or home, I pray for the good health of the suffering person and his family to pass through such a difficult situation.  (Tanisha Adarsh)

I pray for the sick:

When I pray to God I pray for my parents’ good health. I pray that all the people who are having various diseases should be cured and should enjoy their life. I pray for the 10th and 9th std students to make our board exam easy. I pray that poverty should decrease and everyone should be happy. (Khadija Muina)

Thanks for yesterday! Help me today!

When I pray to God, I first thank God for showering his blessings and giving me this beautiful day. Where upon I take an opportunity to prove that I am worthy of this day. I thank God for the last day and wish that tomorrow may be as fresh as today. Then, I pray that I get the concentration and good memory power required for me to excel in my board exam. I also pray for the good health of all the people who have served this world.  (Sanjana S.)

 

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(MAGNET thanks Sr Philomen Saldanha, Principal, St Theresa’s School, Mangalore, for collecting the answers from the students.)

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Voice Of The Young

When the Going Gets Tough

JULY 10

Every life has easy and tough moments—times of ease and trying times of loneliness, discouragement and even despair.

How do young religious and novices find fresh energy and enthusiasm again when the going gets tough?

Their answers make sense—for all of us, whatever our age or situation.—Editor

To the question, “What helps you find enthusiasm again when the going gets tough?” the young gave short and sensible answers.

Personal Prayer:

The most frequently mentioned help—and this is no surprise—was personal prayer, especially praying with the Word of God. Sample answers:

“Reading the Word of God.”

“My prayer life, especially personal prayer.”

“The Mass and my personal prayer help me to face every problem.”

“Surrendering myself into the hands of God, who gives me hope and courage through my personal prayer and the Eucharist.”

“Sometimes prayer; sometimes the encouraging and consoling words from my sisters.”

“The Holy Eucharist, which draws me closer to Jesus.”

“Without prayer, I can’t survive.”

“God gives me the grace.”…

 

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(Once again, thank you, Sr Mariola MSA, for collecting the replies of the young religious and novices.—Editor)

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Voice Of The Young

How I Get Through Life

AUGUST 4

In this frank first person account, young Andrea tell us of the insecurities and fears she faced, and how she learnt to cope and make sense of life.

Life is a rollercoaster; as it is for many people. Some have a more plain-sailing ride, whilst others experience a few bumps and twists along the way. You know what I have realised over the years? It is perfectly okay for it not to be ‘perfect’!

I was born in Dubai, and, although only two weeks premature, I was underweight at 2.2 kg. I stayed in ICU for several weeks before I was healthy enough to go home. Fast forward a few years and I moved to England after my Dad lost his businesses. My family decided to start again from A to Z. The aftermath of the losses still holds a cloud over the family, though it is much lighter now than the storm it brewed. The stress it engraved remains, as many issues still derive from the hardships. I would see my mum pray to Jesus when she was sad or in need. At that time, I never knew, but now I know that it was her ‘escape’ to face reality—the irony. It was a way of talking to someone who you hoped would understand when you felt alone…and that moment has stayed with me ever since.

Fear was stopping me

Skipping a few more years…I grew up in a very modern British household. However, my Indian roots also came into play. My brother and I were given the opportunity to fulfil anything we desired, whilst at the same time being also wrapped in cotton wool (wool of love and protection, which I thank my parents for, since I feel very lucky).

I have always been an energetic and curious person that wanted to explore and sense adventure. But my past experiences made it difficult for me to have the confidence to take some major decisions alone, that would require utmost independence. I recognised that it was fear stopping me from reaching my potential…

 


Andrea Nazareth

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Voice Of The Young

What Attracts Me in Religious Life

JUNE 10

What attracts young people to religious life are not slick brochures or the so-called “vocation camps,” but their own God-experience and the inspiring lives of religious.

The young observe us. They have an “antenna” to sense who is genuine and who is not. They can see whether we look happy or not. They can generally make out who is God-centred and who is worldly.

The best do not come for positions or comfort or financial security. They seek ways of getting closer to God, living the Gospel message whole-heartedly and making a difference in the lives of others, especially of the poor.

Are our lives an inspiring and challenging example?

Are we, as Pope Francis—a religious himself—often tells us, joyful and prophetic witnesses?

Here are the things a group of young religious and novices found attractive in the lives of the religious they know.

Want to try guessing their answers before you actually read them? If so, list the three things you think today’s young people find most attractive about religious life. Now check your guesses with the actual replies of thirty-one young religious and novices.

Top-rated Attractions

Prayer came first. It was, very clearly, the top-rated attraction. Thirteen of them found prayer and God-centredness the most appealing aspect of religious life.

Sample responses:

“Complete dedication to live for the Lord attracts me most.”

“What attracts me is belonging to God and being a partner in the mission of Christ.”

“The way religious spend time in prayer.”

“Blending of prayer, work and community life.”

“Silence and unity attract me. It helps me to grow closer to God.”

“Prayer life, especially gazing at the Blessed Sacrament.”

Linked to this is this second aspect: Closeness to Jesus. Eleven mentioned this as the best thing about religious life.

“The person of Jesus attracts me most.”

“To be a joyful witness of Christ.”

“The close intimacy with Christ attracts me.”

“In the ups and downs of life, religious are happy because of their closeness to Christ. This attracts me.”

Next came community life. Seven respondents were inspired by the community life they had experienced.

“Religious from different backgrounds, cultures, languages, etc., live together, set their minds on the person of Christ.”

Six of them were attracted by the service religious render to people, especially to the poor.

“Religious combine prayer life with service to the poor and teaching children.”

“Fight for justice for the poor for whom no one cares—this attracts me.”

Four were inspired by the simplicity of life they noticed in religious.

“The simple way of life attracts me.”

The following traits were mentioned by one or two respondents each: Joy, silence, asceticism, the vows, hard work, teaching children, accepting suffering without complaining.

In one word, religious who are prayerful, close to God, create loving community and serve the poor are the most likely to inspire and attract today’s young people. Nothing surprising in this, right?

The young have got the order right: Closeness to God, loving relationships, service of the poor.

God, love, service: Who can find fault with these priorities?


(I thank Sr Mariola Sequeira MSA for collecting the responses of the junior sisters and novices.—Editor)

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Voice Of The Young

My Main Dream in Life

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In this issue, we continue listening to what young sisters and novices wrote about their heroes, hopes and dreams.

This month we look at their answers to: “My Main Dream in Life.”

Here is what they said.

Novices’ Dreams:

Most seem keen on serving the poor. Others dream of spreading the Word through preaching or through music. A number of them show a keenness to live close to God and as God wants.

“To become a sister and serve poor people.” (Gracia, novice, 22 years_

“To do something (I don’t know what; that’s in the future) for God and for others, and to glorify God.” (Supriya, novice, 25)

“To be with Jesus, and to serve the poor and needy, especially orphans.” (Priya, novice, 25)

“To be one with people who really need me.” (Vimla, novice, 22)

“To serve God by teaching underprivileged children.” (Shweta, novice, 22)

“To give myself totally to the service of the Lord.” (Rosita, novice, 19)

“To do something good for others.” (Rashmi, novice, 24)

“To be a great singer, that is, to sing for the glory of Jesus and to spread Jesus everywhere through music and songs.” (Melania, novice, 20)

“To become a preacher. I want to proclaim the Good News.” (Sangita, novice, 18)

“To become a good sister to serve the poor and needy.” (Goretti, novice, 23)

“To give up my life for Jesus.” (Madhuri, novice, 19)

“To preach the Good News to all, especially those of other faiths, by my life.” (Laveena, novice, 23)

“To live each moment in the presence of God, and share God’s love and peace with my neighbours throughout my life. This dream I try to fulfil each day of my life.” (Niharika, novice, 21)

“To surrender my life to Jesus.” (novice, 22)

Junior Religious

The following replies are from junior sisters. They have written their age, not their name. Most of the dreams are intensely religious, and many include an element of service.

 “To do something worthwhile. To become a missionary and travel for Jesus.” (29)

“To complete the mission for which I have come.” (28)

“To become a teacher and take care of my family.” (28)

“I dream that my Father is standing near me and holding my hand when I fall.” (22)

“To help small children and give Jesus to all people. To become a great lady like Mother Mary and the saints.” (25)

“To love Jesus with all my heart and soul.” (23)

“To become a good religious and proclaim the Good News.” (22)

 “To the see the Lord one day, face to face, and to gaze at Him. And see everyone kneeling and bowing before Jesus.” (22)

“To become a saint one day.” (25)

“To serve the Lord faithfully, and to spread His name wherever I go.” (24)

The idealism of their dreams is clear and inspiring. May our young religious and novices—and the rest of us—be faithful to these dreams. Studies on fulfilment show that God-centred, prayerful people who lovingly serve the poor are among the happiest human beings. So, youngsters, you are on the right track. Do not deviate, please!

“To be a faithful follower until the end.” (25)

“To serve the poor and to be one with them.” (25)

“To become a good religious and serve God’s people.” (24)

 “To be holy and pure, to serve God’s people, especially the poor and needy, and to carry out God’s mission.” (24)

“To become perfect in whatever I do.” (26)

“To belong to Jesus always, and to belong only to Him.” (24)

“To live my vocation faithfully, and proclaim the Good News, not in words, but in action.” (24)

“To become what God wants of me.” (26)

May the youngsters and the oldies help each other to become what God wants each of us to become.


(Once again, I thank Sr Mariola Sequeira MSA for collecting and sending these responses.—Editor)

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Voice Of The Young

The Person Who Inspires Me most

MARCH 20

We present below the results of a simple questionnaire distributed to young women religious and novices. The very first item they had to fill in was: “The person who inspires me most.”

Who do you think inspires our young religious and novices most? Who are their greatest heroes and heroines?

Try guessing. Then, have a look at what the young sisters and novices actually wrote.

By far the commonest answer was….MY MOTHER.

Out of thirty-one respondents, seven said they were most inspired by their mothers. Another four mentioned both parents. If we add these four to the seven, then, Mother gets 11 votes out of 31.

Father gets a distant second place! Four places under “parents” and one who mentioned Father.

Three sisters or novices mentioned Jesus as their main source of inspiration.

Two mentioned Brother. Another two mentioned Mother Teresa.

One each mentioned the following persons as their main source of inspiration: Mother Mary, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Alphonsa, Grand-mother, Uncle, Aunty, Teacher, Sisters and Priests in general, Sisters who worked for the poor and visited their homes, President Abdul Kalam, a Friend.

Particular sisters or priests were mentioned by seven respondents—each one recalling a specific person they admire.

These findings are not surprising.

When Friends Magazine of Chennai conducted a survey among one thousand young people spread over ten centres in India some decades ago, the results were similar. Mother came first among the persons who had the greatest influence on the young persons’ lives. Father came next.

It may look as if young people are crazy about film stars or cricketers or famous pubic figures for a while, but the persons with the deepest impact on their life are their parents, especially their mother.

Even for us, religious and priests, who go through years of well-planned and highly structured, full-time formation, the influence of our parents outweighs that of superiors and formators. I am more influenced by my mother and father than by my novice master or provincial.

To give concrete face to numbers and theories, here is a touching true story.

I asked a Sister known for being a loving and inspiring formator, “Which is the ministry in which you were happiest?”

Her reply surprised me: “Working among leprosy patients.”

“Really?” I said, “I would find that very difficult.”

“I really felt very happy doing that,” she told me, with a warm smile. “I would clean their sores, bandage their wounds and look after them.”

“How did you develop this love for leprosy patients?”

“From my mother.”

“From your mother? How? Did she volunteer to work for leprosy patients?”

“No. But, when beggars came to our house, my mother treated them so lovingly. Very often, she would ask them to sit, and serve them a meal, and talk with them.”

You will know such incidents.

Almost nothing matches the influence of mother and father. Even when children seem to ignore or reject parents’ advice (as can happen in teenage), they are watching and absorbing a lot. Later, they will say, “My mother used to do it this way,” “My father used to say this…”

If we, priests and religious, are as good as our good family members, and live our priesthood and religious life with the prayerfulness, dedication and sacrifice many of our parents bring to their marriage and parenthood, we would be wonderful religious and priests. Agree?

So, kudos to our parents—especially to our mothers!

Novices and junior sisters, you are admiring the right stars!

(I thank Sr Mariola Sequeira MSA for gathering the responses of the junior Sisters and novices..—Editor)


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