WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A PSOL COMPANION
I have been a Companion of the Poor Sisters of Our Lady for 3 years now and would like to share what exactly that means to me.
Initially I thought it would entail spending a lot more time in structured prayer the way â€˜Nunsâ€™ do in my perception, and while I joined of my own volition, I always thought to myself â€“ Iâ€™ll attend if I have time, itâ€™s not going to be a compulsion, Iâ€™m not going to feel bad if I miss out on some meetings / prayer sessions.
Gradually I realised that there was no compulsion to stay or pray. I was attending meetings and events because I wanted to. I have realised and appreciate the value of the realisation that prayer is praising God and centering oneâ€™s life around God and this makes it easier to manage day to day living. Starting oneâ€™s day, oneâ€™s work, oneâ€™s rest, a meetingâ€¦.anything, with a prayer offering; constantly acknowledging God in everything; evaluating oneâ€™s actions at the end of the day everyday with the aim of improvement – this is what amounts to making Jesus / God the fulcrum of oneâ€™s life.
Coming back to being a Lay Companion, I came to understand why the Congregation chose the prefix â€œPoorâ€ for their name. They are not poor â€“ Our Lady of Sorrows is their guiding force and they are richâ€¦â€¦in social service, in generosity, in gentleness, in prayerfulness. Their Vision â€“ like Mary, to revitalise themselves to empower the vulnerable.
When you appreciate the sorrows Mother Mary bore so stoically and with such faith and humility, then only you truly realise the enormity of the sacrifice of Jesus.
This last year the PSOL Companions together with our Animator Sr. Juliet Pullokaran, we organised various activities. These included visiting the Girlsâ€™ Home in Thane â€“ about 8-10 of us went and spent a couple of hours with the 24 girls of various ages from 5-18. They danced and sang for us. We shared some snacks and tea with them and spoke to them. We also interacted with a lady volunteer who tutors them on a regular basis. Her dedication was awe inspiring.
We joined The Sisters of Holy Family Convent & Ish Prabha in visiting the Remand Home at Matunga on 28th Dec. 2016. It was an enriching experience for all.Â We had the privilege to begin by joining a Group from Bandra who came with a Priest to celebrate the Eucharist with all the Children. After Mass the Group from Bandra left and we started the programme for the children as planned. It was a joy for all of us to see the children so happy enjoying all the games and gifts distributed by our reluctant but gorgeous Santa Claus (Xavier Sanches). Christmas came alive as we saw the many happy faces of the children. Sr. Annieâ€™s work in the Prison Ministry is path breaking, generous beyond words and inspiring.
Bal Mela held on 15th Jan 2017 for all the girls of both the Homes (at Vasai and Thane), has become an annual feature of our Group and without any doubt is one of the best programmes organised by us. This was possible because everyone helped in making it a grand success. The children numbering over 50 enjoyed the sumptuous breakfast, lunch and evening snack and participated enthusiastically in all the sports, games, competitions etc.
We also conducted the Rosary every week during the month of November and had the lighting of the Advent Candles during the four weeks preceding Christmas.
In order to bring in some structured prayer, we began to take part in the Evening Prayer from the Divine Office i.e. we began our monthly meetings with the Evening Prayer in the PSOL Convent Chapel.
We also visited the ailing Sisters in the convent infirmary, many of whom are in their late 80s and 90s and all of whom are lonely and starving for company despite failing mental & physical health. Their joy at seeing us is immeasurably touching and rewarding. Despite all of them being afflicted with failing memory, I am invariably touched by their concern about me, my husband and my children every time I go to visit them. There is one Sister â€“ Sr. Antoinette â€“ she always remembers to ask me about my husband Suresh â€“ what a memory!
A special mention must be made of the hospitality we experience of the PSOL, every time we meet at the Ish Prabha Convent â€“ their soups warm the heart and soul!! We are also privileged to interact with Sr. Juliet, sisters & NovicesÂ Â â€“ young girls far away from home, responding to the call of Jesus, committed to living a life of simplicity, humility, obedience in a world of glitz and materialism.
I personally saw unstinted generosity on the part of members who contributed monetarily whenever required. Some of the funds were used for sponsoring further studies (after graduation) of one of the girls from the Vasai Home.
During these 3 years I have come to realise, understand and appreciate the approachability and humaneness of The Poor Sisters of Our Lady â€“ they face mundane and serious issues too â€“ they are different from us Lay Companions in that they take their troubles to God multiple times daily in prayer. I am gradually learning to gain strength similarly.
Mrs. Veronica Pinto