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Mother Aloysia Vaz

A LOVING TRIBUTE TO BELOVED MOTHER ALOYSIA VAZ                         

 

 

 

“Because she loves me, I will rescue her; I will make her great because she trusts in my name. When she calls I shall answer, I will be with her in trouble and rescue her and honor her. I will satisfy her with a full life and give her salvation.” (Ps. 91:14)

The above quote from Psalm 91 was aptly placed before a write up on Mother Aloysia, in the ANNALS OF THE UMI MSSION IN INDIA, in the Golden Jubilee Souvenir of 1984.

Beginning the journey through memory lane, to gaze at Mother Aloysia’s life lovingly and gratefully, she can be called “A pearl among pearls” very dear to God and precious to Him. She has gone to its celestial home, to its creator and redeemer, to experience the ‘beatific joy and fullness of life’ with Him. She is already in the bosom of the Father, as the psalmist held out to her.

Mother Aloysia reminds of the long and full 76 years of Consecrated life and Mission in the Ursuline Congregation. The memory card will show about her active ministry, quiet prayer, gentle, compassionate and loving service of hospitality to all, wherever the Lord placed her. She lived in many of the Ursuline communities such as Payyannur (10 years), Kannur (3), St. Patrick’s, Kanpur (10), Nirmala Hospital, Calicut (3), Mariampur Convent, Kanpur (5), Kannur (14), Piacenza, Italy(6), Kannur (21), Brigida Bhavan, and Calicut(4).

Mother Aloysia, a heroic woman of faith, started out her ‘faith journey on July 25th 1920, born in a traditional Mangalorian family, as the first fruit of Mr. Louis Vaz and Mrs. Juliana Mathias, both of loving memory. She was named Gladys. The siblings were Veda, Wincy, Addie and Eula, all of whom would have joyfully welcomed her this day into the heavenly court.

Her mother desired greatly to see her qualified as a teacher, like those who taught her in the Apostolic Carmel schools. But Gladys’ earnest desire was to work for the poor and among the poor, in a missionary Congregation. She prayed and she won the bargain because God was on her side. On completing her intermediate course, she joined the Ursulines of Mary Immaculate on 9th January 1941.

Her novice directress, Mother Xavier Sabaddini, one of the five pioneers, instilled in her great zeal and ardent love for the mission. Her desire of identification with the poor and for the poor had its beginning ‘among the poor orphan children’ at Punchakkad, Payyanur. The novices were accommodated in one big hall with the sisters and the orphan children. Life was literally poor. They faced poverty, hard work and many inconvenience.

She admired the trust and confidence of Mother Margaret Benocci, the Delegate of the Mission, who struggled hard to provide for the needs of the community. They were completely cut off from all contact and financial help from the Mother house in Italy because the 2nd World War was in full swing.

In the midst of these War time hurdles the long awaited day of her First commitment took place on July 16th 1943. Gladys Vaz was named Sr. Aloysia Vaz, after St. Aloysius Gonzaga. She adapted his spirituality of pure love and refined nature of the so-called present day ‘soft skills’ as her pattern of behavior. The joy of her parents, brother and sisters knew no bounds. She pronounced her final vows at the mother house at Kannur on 16th July 1946.

She was privileged indeed to join hands with the Italian Missionaries like Fr. Peter Caironi, Fr. James Montenari, Fr. Aloysius Del Zotto, Fr. Michael Vendermin, Fr. L.M. Zucol, Fr. John Sequiera, all architects of the Chirackal Mission.

Mother Aloysia lived 97 grace filled years, 76 of which were spent in tilling the soil and sowing seeds of virtue and hope in the Ursuline Congregation, the Church and the world. She did it all under a range of competent roles as local and Regional Superior, Delegate of the mission, first Assistant to the Superior General and the Provincial Superior.

Immediately after her profession she was called to exercise the vow of obedience by accepting to do her graduation and B.Ed at St. Agnes’ and St. Ann’s College, Mangalore. Now as a teaching sister, she was sent on mission to teach at St. Aloysius’ School, Kanpur in 1954. She assumed the role of the Superior of St. Patrick’s Convent up to 1964. She was highly proficient and much appreciated by her students and parents.

Delegate of the Mission

“Called to walk in the way of the Lord who stilled the waters,

Called to walk in the way of the man who calmed the seas,

Called to live in the world and be free to live for others,

Called to walk in the way of the man from Galilee!

She was called and missioned to a new and demanding role in March 1971 to be the Delegate Superior of the Mission in India. The responsibility seemed too frightful, the times too progressive, full of risks and challenges! Adaptation and renewal of religious life in response to the call of Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI (Vat. II) convinced her, on the one hand, of the urgency for the same and on the other hand she felt the weight of the task on her shoulders.

When Mother Aloysia assumed the role of the Delegate Superior in 1971 there were 19 communities. By the year she handed over the administration the number had grown to 37. This is a clear proof of all that Mother was able to do; to staff the institutions with as many qualified persons as possible as well as to maintain them with spiritual and material resources.

She played her role as one of the main architects, following Mother Stefania Murelli, the first delegate of the mission, and along with Mother Giovanna Alberoni, and Mother Louis Margaret, to the growth and expansion of the Indian mission. She brought it up to its present state, with Ursuline presence in many States and Dioceses of India.

‘Coming things cast their shadows beforehand’ the saying proved right in Mother Aloysia’s life too. She was well prepared through the mission of the Delegate Superior to accept a still greater and more responsible role. She participated in the General Chapter of 1985 and there, lo and high, she was elected Assistant to the Superior General.

Six years in Italy, at Piacenza, the place of the Foundress, birth place of the Institute “house of St. Ursula! Each day gave her fresh and new experiences! 

In the General Chapter of 1991 she was relieved of the office of the assistant General and returned to Kannur in January 1992. To quote her own words again, “I have to realize that in our weakness we become an instrument of God’s grace, once again I had to accept from his hands the responsibility of the Vice Provincial, although I felt I am a useless instrument for this task.”

After completing the term of 3 years she was relieved of all the responsibilities. To quote her once again: “ Now in the evening of my life I understand that much of my time was given to activity and now I have ample time to spend with the Lord in prayer especially intercessory prayer which will lead me into greater humility and love. For growth in spiritual life is growth in love. May the Lord draw me ever closer to him until I am prepared to meet him!”

Her faith journey reached its peak point of ‘beatific vision on Monday 3rd April, 2017, at 7.10 am. Yes, it was the summit of a plentiful harvest of her magnificent faithfulness and sincere and fruitful love for God and of her committed service to humanity.

Her mortal remains were placed in Nirmala Hospital Chapel. The on 4th April Mother Aloysia was brought to her beloved home, Payyambalam. With tear filled eyes and saddened hearts the sisters spent few moments of prayer followed by the Office for the dead and a Requiem Mass.

Ursuline sisters from most of the convents were already present since the previous day and the others kept coming.  People from all walks of life, who knew and loved Mother Aloysia were coming, praying and paying their respects towards her throughout the day and night. Priests from the diocese and otherwise, sisters from other Congregations, our associates in the institutions, neighbors, friends, social and political leaders – Mr. James Mathew, M.L.A. Taliparamba, Mr. Satheesan Pacheni, D.C.C. President, Kannur, knew of our Mother’s ‘going home’ from the news papers and kept flowing in to pray for her.

The bier, holding the remains of beloved Mother Aloysia was duly placed as usual in the aisle of the chapel, with white flowers laid out, signifying awaiting future glory and loving respect from all her religious sisters and all her loved ones. Her loving countenance beamed with light and serene joy, so much so it looked like that Mother Aloysia wanted to tell her sisters some parting words and was very eager to wing her way to heaven and bless each one!

For the Ursulines, Mother Aloysia was not only a strong rock to support and strengthen but also the glue that binds each sister together in the Congregation. She journeyed with the sisters and celebrated with much joy and pride, their achievements, big and small.

Pages could be written and hours could be spent in enumerating how dear you are to the Ursulines Mother dear! How zealously, positively and progressively you have planned, influenced and guided the on-going formation and renewal of our Congregation, especially during your tenor of office as Delegate Superior and assistant to the Superior General! Your Sisters admire and praise you:

“Mother dear, we love you, we honour you! We bow our heads before you in grateful appreciation for all that you did for us.  Do accept our tribute of love. Your radiant eyes, cheerful and gentle nature, were a source of joy and esteem for everyone.

The Ursuline Family is grateful to you for your life and presence in our communities as oasis for the wearied and thirsty, as listening heart and ears for the crushed and depressed. Like the Foundress, Blessed Brigida Morello, always desired from the Ursulines, you have identified yourself with Jesus’ kindness and generosity. We thank you for setting examples of big-hearted concern for the unjustly treated and the materially poor, especially women and children, very specially for the poor and needy of the Chirakkal Mission. You were very much concerned in alleviating their sufferings.

You have run the good race; you have fought the good fight and you have gone to be with the Lord! Mother dear, we love you with our whole being. We thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!!”

The final prayer over the mortal remains was a very moving ceremony with a large number of devout persons lining up to pay their loving respect before proceeding to the cemetery. The Bishops of the Diocese of Kannur, the Diocese of Calicut and practically all the priests joined the journey’s end and bade farewell to Mother in the graveyard of the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Burnassery, Kannur. Mother’s body was laid to rest close to our Pioneers and all the deceased Ursuline Sisters.

 May her soul rest in peace and MAY SHE INTERCEDE FOR ALL FROM HEAVEN!