I was born in 1949 in Goa India, the then Portuguese Colony, where the body of St. Francis Xavier is kept in Bom Jesus Church. My late parents brought us up with Christian values and missionary spirit of reaching out to the needy and the marginalized. I have one sister and three brothers, one of them is a priest. I am the youngest in the family. We are well settled, a family of doctors and advocates.
I converse in English, French, Portuguese, Konkani, Hindi, Kannada and Wolof.
The words ‘Good Shepherd’ inspired me during a casual chat with Fr Heinencio, my brother. The religious background in my family prompted me to leap into the unknown in 1971 and thus become a member of the Good Shepherd family.
My spontaneous and permanent YES to the Lord made me feel at home in our religious communities and the apostolates that were assigned to me. I was enriched by serving in various capacities.
After completing the Nurses’ Training – General Nursing & Midwifery, I served in the wards of our St. Martha’s Hospital, Bangalore.
I then opted to work in our communities based in the rural areas where medical facilities were not available. My Province Leader equipped me with the training on Community Health Management. This enabled me to provide comprehensive Health Care to people in their own locality with the help of our trained Village Health Workers and volunteers independent of a Doctor.
Working for Tribal people in remote areas was a unique experience. An elderly Tribal woman, overjoyed from the cure of her illness for which I had been treating her, motivated me to study Medicine. Our Sector Coordinator implemented the woman’s suggestion. I completed MBBS through correspondence offered to me by the Indian Council of Calcutta.
The mode of travel was public transport, cycling and walking long distances to attend to the sick in their locality.
Working for girls and women with family/marital conflicts in our Crisis Intervention Centre, Bangalore in collaboration with Catholic Women League was another challenging experience.
The Slum Development Project of our community at Mumbai enabled the children to be responsible citizens, complete their Education and plan their career.
As a Local Leader of our Community at Good Shepherd Convent in Bangalore, I was able to trust our Sisters in the Mission entrusted to them and grow in our team spirit.
Missionary Call. In 1995, I responded with openness to this special call. God worked out for me through different persons to reach out to many more persons in need. Sr Liliane Tauvette, the then Congregational Leader and her team provided me with an opportunity to master the language of French at Mission Langues in Belgium for 3 months. From Belgium I proceeded to Senegal. I was very happy to be involved in the lives of the people of Thies, Senegal in West Africa, especially the prisoners both male and female, Pastoral Care, Preventive & Curative Health Care in our Dispensary. I drove our community car to carry out these ministries.
I also served as a Local Leader of our community at Thies.
It was a journey of dependency on God, self-sacrifice, ‘let go’ attitude, determination, team spirit, learning from others and allowing others to be self-sufficient.
I was healthy and active all along. In 2005 all of a sudden I had loss of vision in my right eye while I was actively involved in Mumbai with the children of our Slum Development Project. It was an acute anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy which damaged the Optic Nerve. There is no remedy to regain the vision to this day.
Thanks to Dr. Antonio Rodrigues, my nephew-in-law, who diagnosed my case over the telephone as Extensive Deep Vein Thrombosis of left leg. Because of this, I received prompt medical assistance thus preventing further episodes. I was unstable on my feet which prevented me from carrying out my routine work. I accepted this problem as God’s special gift.
Once again God invited me through this incident for a paradigm shift to cooperate in his New Plan of Action. That same year, I joined our St. Martha’s Hospital community after 21 years. A team of doctors treated me for Thromboembolism. Now I am on anticoagulant drug to be continued for life long.
As I kept improving in my health, I was entrusted by my Leaders with the charge of the Ultrasound Department for 4 years, and 4 years in St. Martha’s Hospital Pharmacy. Presently I am in charge of our Hospital Stores. I was able to streamline these 3 Departments of our hospital with the support and cooperation of Hospital Management and Staff. I am content in my consecrated life and continue to give my best wherever I am posted.
Right now I don’t focus on any of my ailments even though my outdoor movement is restricted. I continue to be active with my service within the premises of our community and the hospital. When I lost the vision of one eye, I learnt to knit baby sets which I do during my free time. The amount from this sale is handed over to the community for a deserving cause.
I conclude my long story with greater appreciation for the challenging time I had with the prisoners, girls and women, tribals, Harijans and slum children. I cherish those special moments with these vulnerable persons who touched my life. My gratitude to our shepherd God for shepherding me over these years and transforming the challenges into life giving experience and positive energy. My sincere thanks to our Good Shepherd family for their special care and prayerful support during my illness.
My personal positive experience of working with dedicated lay persons invites me to dream that we as a Congregation continue to empower Good Shepherd Lay Mission Partners, trust them and involve them in the Mission.
Comprehensive overview from the GSAPP team - how Good Shepherd Partnership for Mission is developing in this region
The Love-In-Action Group of lay Mission Partners at St Martha's Hospital Bengaluru India raises funds to provide health services for people living in poverty