- VOCATION STORIES
- Sr Leena
- MY CALL AS A DSH
Called and sent forth to love and serve ‘Like a deer that years for running streams my whole being thirsts for God’(Ps. 42:1)
I was twelve, when I did my first retreat and at the end of that, retreat had met a pair of nuns from a congregation of the Sacred Heart. Their joyful appearance and enthusiasm in life had helped in planting the seed of vocation in my heart as well. From then on, I had also developed a great devotion to the Sacred Heart.
Being born in a staunch catholic family, added to keep alive this devotion. I cultivated a habit of going to church everyday before going to school as our school and church were in the same campus. There was a beautiful image of the Sacred Heart, to which I was drawn. I used to place my hand on the heart of Jesus and whisper a prayer, ‘Lord please make me a daughter of your heart’. This prayer continued even when I was not really thinking of religious life. Added to this I had the good fortune of studying my secondary school education in a convent school, exclusively meant for girls, which was a novelty in my village then. Soon after I passed out, the school too fizzled out, as school for ‘girls only’ did not catch the fancy of many in my village. Studying with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary had made me want to join them.
It was a hot summer day and my mother asked me to go with her for a little shopping. On the way I was planning to break the news of decision to my her. As I opened my mouth to speak to her, I met with a strange accident. As I was walking, a sharp stick embedded itself between my toes, and blood started gushing out. That too happened just in front of the house of our family doctor. I was immediately treated. However, I was laid low for two full summer months, as the wound pestered and refused to heal. My decision remained stuck in my throat. At the end of my summer holidays, I joined the junior college, perused my studies, and forgot all about nuns. However, the Sacred Heart had not forgotten me.
At the end of my junior college, I met Bishop Mudartha, the then bishop of Jhansi, who spoke about the Congregation of Daughters of the Sacred Heart. Since I was not enthusiastic about religious life at that time, I did not give much heed to what he was saying. A few days later, something within me stirred and goaded me to know more about that particular congregation, so that I could join them. I approached our parish priest in the hope of getting more information about them. However, the parish priest discouraged me from choosing that congregation for the reasons that, it was a less known congregation, still in its initial stages of development and that Jhansi [North India] is quite far from Mangalore [South India] where I hail from. He suggested that I should join the Daughters of St. Paul in Bangalore instead. I was so crest fallen and disappointed that I went to church to my favourite image of the Sacred Heart and there again placing my hand on his Heart, whispered my favourite prayer that, if at all I became a nun, I must a daughter of his Heart.
I then proceeded towards the road to catch a bus to go home. Just then, a bus stopped in front of me and two nuns alighted from that bus. Immediately something within me stirred and came alive. Not knowing proper English, speaking incoherent words, I jumped with joy when I saw a heart suspended in their neck. Further conversation revealed that those were the nuns belonging to the congregation I was seeking to find out more about. My decision was made there and then, after a few days of preparation I joined the congregation of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart, Jhansi, U.P, North India. One of the two nuns I met at the bus stop, became my novice mistress and the other my regional superior.
I was 17+ when I joined; I have spent 40 happy and fruitful years as a religious. There were many challenges and hurdles; there was even strong temptation to quit. However, what helped me stay anchored in the Heart of Jesus is his love and faithfulness and the fact that he himself had brought me thus far and the assurance that he will take me safe across the bridge as well. For me the meeting with the nuns on that particular day, way back was not a coincident, it was a sure sign of God’s answer to my search. To this day, it is to me like, the burning bush was for Moses, which gave him the courage to go on as far as God wanted him to go. He must have seen that bush and renewed his strength as often as he was discouraged and wanted to run away from his difficult job. I praise and thank God for his faithfulness and great mercy.
‘I will sing God’s faithfulness and love all the days of my life’
Sr. Leena Castelino DSH
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