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Mother Giovanna Alberoni

 

 Sr. Maria Giovanna Saveria Alberoni     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

        D.O.B: 01.10.1926         
Professed: 18.09.1948
                     R.I.P: 18.01.2021                        

 

“I heard a voice from heaven saying, blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (Rev.14/13)

Beloved Mother Giovanna, slipped away from this earth into the eternal embrace of her Divine Master, serenely and peacefully, as she breathed her last on 18th January 2021 at 1.45 pm. at Holy Family Hospital, Bandra as the Ursuline Sisters and medical team commended her soul to the heavenly Father. God in all His grace restored, confirmed, strengthened and established her in His Kingdom.
Mother Giovanna commenced her earthly journey in a little village of Northern Italy, San Georgio Piacentino on 1st October, 1926 as the second of three girls in a lovely united and God fearing family. Her parents Giovanni and Giovannina brought her in deep faith and love for charity. Inspired by her mother, little Mariucchia, as Sr. Giovanna was fondly addressed, attended the Holy mass regularly.
After her primary schooling, she completed her professional training in teaching from the institution of the Ursulines of Mary Immaculate in Piacenza. Thereafter she was privileged to render her service in the same Institution. The exemplary life of the Ursuline Sisters attracted her to Religious Life. She joined the Congregation of the Ursulines of Mary Immaculate on 16th January 1946 and professed her first vows on 18th September, 1948 and chose the name Sr. Maria Giovanna Saveria Alberoni.
The fire of the missionary zeal attracted her to the Indian mission as she pleaded seven times to be sent to India, but was asked to wait and her patience was rewarded. The Lord gave her a gift on her profession day – a visa to India. This great smiling Ursuline left her Motherland and all her dear ones and arrived in India on 4th November 1948. A generous heart, burning with love of God and humanity, coupled with missionary zeal and enthusiasm enabled her to fight the challenges, in a land of unknown tongue, unfamiliar customs, diverse cultures and a people totally strange and new. Her enchanting smile and amiable ways captivated the hearts of many Indians as she began her life in Kannur, Kerala in 1948 and headed for her studies in St. Agnes College Mangalore.
On completion of her medical studies from Lady Harding Medical College, Delhi, as a full-pledged and dedicated doctor she began her service in Mariampur Hospital, Kanpur as one of the pioneers. During this time, in 1970, Mother Giovanna generously offered to render her service in the refugee camps in West Bengal, where millions of refugees from Pakistan were huddled in makeshift camps. In the later years, moving from the north to south of India she rendered her generous service as Medical Superintendent and a practicing Gynecologist in Nirmala Hospital, Marikunnu, and Good Shepherd Hospital Vythiri , Kerala.
In the year 1978, Mother Giovanna arrived in Mumbai to take over the Holy Family Hospital which was handed over to the Ursuline Sisters of Mary Immaculate from the Medical Mission Sisters. Mother Giovanna was the pioneer and the brilliant brain behind its phenomenal growth. Her gentle healing hands and magnanimous heart was experienced by the people of Mumbai. She extended medical assistance to the Slums in Bandra East by establishing Navjeeth Community Health Centre in the year 1978, which today has expanded and branched out to many of the Mumbai slums and to tribal hamlets with an integrated development approach.
Mother Giovanna steered the destiny of the Indian Mission as she was entrusted with the responsibility of Provincial Superior of the Indian Mission from 1986 to1988. The untold sacrifices, keen perception, analytical mind and prophetic vision of dear Mother Giovanna gave new dimension and orientation to Ursuline Indian Mission. At this time of the history of the Congregation, the Indian Mission was reorganized into three Provinces for better administration. Mother Giovanna was appointed as the first Provincial Superior of the Central Province. Through her dynamic and charismatic leadership, she lovingly guided the Sisters and led the Province from 1988 to 1992. After completing her tenure as Provincial Superior, Mother Giovanna was appointed as the Executive Director of Holy Family Hospital. With her vibrant leadership and far sightedness she directed the hospital to emerge as a premiere Catholic institution in the city of Mumbai with state of the art medical facilities.
She was Elected as the Superior General of our Congregation and moved to the Generalate in Rome, Italy from 1997-2003. She accepted this great responsibility with a generous heart and deep trust in God. Being at the helm of the Congregation, she strived hard for the beatification process of the Foundress Brigida Morello of Jesus, which at last was actualized during her tenure. Under her able stewardship, the Ursuline flag was planted in the African Continent as we ventured into African Mission in Libya, Tanzania, and Kenya.
In the year 2003 she returned to India – Holy Family Hospital, Bandra. She was appointed as the Mission coordinator and worked enthusiastically for the welfare of the poor and marginalized. She played a vital role in obtaining sponsorships for education of thousands of children across India. Even at her advanced age, she continued to contribute and bring in value addition to the hospital through her diligent and wise guidance, as a member of the Management committee and Ethics Committee till the end. With a heart full of compassion and tender loving care she visited the patients in the hospital even on a wheel chair and comforted them with her healing presence. One of her sayings that echoes in our hearts is “What you give must cost you, your time must be more valuable than money”.
Mother Giovanna enjoyed good health even after her open heart surgery in the year 1998. She continued to come to the hospital with her timely suggestions, observations and guidance till Mach 2020. Thereafter she was confined to the room due to COVID -19 isolation protocols. Though not able to move out of her room, she took keen interest in knowing the day to day operations of the hospital. The social isolation restriction and fragility of old age took a toll on her health. During this phase, she was assisted and taken care by the nursing staff of the hospital, day and night. Sr. Gisella and Sr. Deena kept company with her, prayed with her, and attended to all her needs. An automated ICU bed with monitoring and oxygen facilities was arranged in her room.
Gradually as Mother’s health deteriorated, she was admitted to the hospital on 5th January 2021 after a good tour around the hospital premises and garden by which she was truly overjoyed. She was diagnosed to have severe electrolyte imbalance which was being managed medically. Towards the end she was becoming drowsier and confused as her sodium levels were continuously lower. She received the anointing of the sick on 16th January, from Rev. Fr.Daniel Fernandes. On 18th morning, she had breakfast as usual and relished a cup of coffee. She enquired about the Provincial Chapter details, from the Sisters who returned from Bangalore. Thereafter she fell asleep but responded to the verbal commands. At around 1.00 pm her vital parameters showed abnormal fluctuations. The expert medical team rushed to her bedside immediately and attended on her. Simultaneously Sisters from the community hastened to her room. In spite of all resuscitative measures she failed to respond. Around 1.45 pm she slipped away from this earth into the eternal embrace of her Divine Master serenely and peacefully. Most of the members of Shalom community were privileged and blessed to be at her bedside and witnessed her last breath.
Beloved Mother’s mortal remains were placed at Morello Hall in Holy Family Hospital by 3.30 pm. Many Bishops and Priests from Mumbai Arch diocese, Priests and Sisters from far and near Religious Communities, Doctors and Staff from the hospital and Mother’s friends and well-wishers paid their last respect to her. In spite of the lockdown restrictions in Mumbai, large number of people flocked in to bid their final farewell to Mother. On 19th January at 3.30 pm the final liturgical service was officiated by Rev. Fr. Clarence Fonseca, Parish priest of St. Andrews Parish. As Mother’s mortal remains were carried in a procession, from the hospital, the nurses and nursing students’ clad in white uniform stood on either side with lighted Diyas. With tear filled eyes and heavy heart, the employees gathered in the hospital premises to bid adieu to their Mentor and Founder. His Lordship Most Rev. John Rodrigues, Auxiliary Bishop of Mumbai along with 25 concelebrants offered the Holy Mass at 4.00 pm. in St. Andrew’s Parish- Bandra with restricted number of participants. In his introduction he acknowledged and placed on record Mother’s contributions and highlighted that it’s rare to find a person like mother with compassion, caliber, commitment, vision and courage. His Lordship, read out the message from His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias, who expressed his profound sentiments and deep appreciation towards her. Rev. Fr. Frazer Mascharenhas SJ, parish priest of St Peters Parish in his touching and befitting homily addressed Mother as an epitome of kindness and compassion. He urged us to emulate her virtues and live her legacy to be icons of selfless service. After the Holy Mass and prayers beloved Mother’s mortal remains were taken to crematorium at Santacruz, little away from Bandra. Her final journey was accompanied by Provincial Superiors of Indian Provinces, Mission Superior of Tanzanian Mission, Provincial team of the Sacred Heart Province and a few members of Shalom community. As her mortal remains were cremated, we raised our hearts to God Most High by singing hymns and praying, to welcome her in to His eternal Home. With deep sorrow in the hearts the Ursulines Sisters received her ashes which will be sent to Italy, to be placed in her family tomb.
The Ursulines are always indebted to beloved Mother Giovanna for the rich legacy she has left behind to imitate and to live. Ursulines owe much for her loving and remarkable contribution to the Congregation especially for the growth of the Indian Mission. Yes, the light is extinguished but it continues to illumine the hearts and minds of the Ursulines and dear ones. Dear Mother Giovanna has left for her Heavenly abode, here below the Ursulines deeply miss he. In Mother Giovanna the Ursulines have an ambassador to intercede for us in Heaven. May she enjoy the beatific vision.