Sisters of Saint Joseph of Annecy

My excitement and preparation became real when, in September 2012, I received a letter from Sr. Bernadette Marie asking me to go for a 3 months' internship before taking up my new ministry at CSJ UN NGO in New York. I was both excited and fearful. I had many questions and anxieties about the new culture, place and climate. Patty Johnson, the Executive Director of the US Federation, had many queries regarding my family and Congregational back ground - as well as my qualifications and life experiences. After many phone calls, emails and communication via Skype, I was appointed to this ministry and then began the process of obtaining a Visa. By the first week of December it was ready. Luckily I had plenty of help from our Sisters both in the USA and in Bhubaneswar. Because of their encouragement and support all went very well and finally the day came for me to start on my adventure. I left on 11th February 2013. The Sisters from Bhubaneswar Community, my family and friends were all there to wave me off and so, with much anxiety but full of confidence in God, I left for New York. As the International flight started from New Delhi, my heart began to beat quickly but soon I became acquainted with an elderly man from Gujarat, India, who was sitting next to me and who was very caring and helpful during the entire flight. I considered that he was St. Joseph for me.

When I reached John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, Sisters Griselda (my predecessor at the UN) and Mary Ellen, a Brentwood Sister of St. Joseph, were waiting for me. When we were landing I had seen that all was white but I couldn’t imagine, until I experienced it, how the winter season is in America. What a shock! The cold was terrific with 7 to 8 inches of snow - but the Sisters had brought a coat for me to put on as we went out to the car. However, still I felt the piercing cold - as if nothing was on my body. I was glad when we reached the community in Brooklyn, New York, where they had arranged for me to stay. Meanwhile my elder sister Sandhya and brother-in-law, Caleb, who live in Binghamton, New York, had come to the community searching for me since the heavy snow fall had prevented them reaching the airport on time. They too had bought me many warm clothes. As I began to share life with the Sisters in the community I understood what beautiful and wonderful persons they were. They were very hospitable, thoughtful, receptive and caring. During these three months I experienced life in four different communities of Sisters of St. Joseph but wherever I was, I could feel the same spirit of caring in each community. I never x felt a stranger since we are all from the same root and have the same Charism. They looked after my every need. Soon warm clothes, boots and coats were coming to me from neighboring communities. These kind gestures created in me a deep “bond” and I will never forget this experience as long as I live. The thought which came to me was, “We may be from different continents and cultures but the quality and values of the Sisters of St. Joseph remain the same”. These are charity, hospitality, simplicity and humility. As I began to learn the work in the office I also learnt to go through the Subway System, which is the easiest way to travel in New York City. Soon I was familiar and comfortable with this way of travelling. Before I returned to India, we had a JPIC meeting in Brentwood, New York, from 28th April to 3rd May 2014. It was life changing for me to realize that, although the Sisters of St. Joseph are worldwide, we are all very similar. Our interactions at the meeting created a deeper bond and love among us. After three months I returned to India for my final exams (Bachelor of Legal Law - LLB) before visiting some of our communities in Visakhapatnam and Bhubaneswar Provinces. There I experienced the same love and concern, together from the Sisters for my future mission. Then once again I was back in New York to take up my new ministry as CSJ UN NGO, but this time I had some idea of how things were going to be. The Sisters in New York with whom I had lived, had given me a chance to select the community which I felt could be most supportive to my ministry. I selected St. Athanasius Convent, Brooklyn, New York. (Brentwood Sisters of St. Joseph). We are 12 Sisters in community. All are older than I am, but very active. They volunteer for different kinds of ministries in the Parish, School and Social Sector. Their respect for human dignity and liberty has been most inspiring and I am convinced that internal dispositions of love, faithfulness, commitment to God and neighbour are far more important than outward appearances. I believe that our Charism and Spirituality will never die as many Associates, Aggregates and young people are still attracted to them and have already begun to be part our ministry and concerns. I am indebted to God for making me part of this Global Family of St. Joseph and will be forever grateful for this wonderful experience which has broadened my horizons in so many different ways. "Every little drop contributes to become an Ocean. So, let me be a drop today"