Sorry for another late post! Things have been so hectic here, and there’s only so much time during the day to make up a blog post. Let’s catch you up to speed.
After our first day being at the leper colony, our second day was more or less what it is going to be like for the next week. The second day was also the beginning of the real reason we came to Calcutta in the first place, to be with the Missionaries of Charity, and serve alongside them. Our day began (and will continue to begin) at 6 AM with the Holy Mass at the Mother House, the worldwide center of the Missionaries of Charity, which is a beautiful start to our days of service with the Eucharistic Lord already within us. It is important to mention the Sisters are in the little chapel by 5 AM, reciting their morning prayers and singing their hymns to their Beloved, being with Jesus and sharing a moment of intimacy with Him before eventually serving Him in the poor. After Mass, a small breakfast is served with some delicious chai tea, as all the volunteers from around the world gather together to go out to the various assignments, particular places to serve with the MC’s. Around 7:30 AM, we were sent out.
The SJV seminarians have two sites that we’ll be going to every day for the next week, Daya Dan and Kalighat. Each of us has a main site that we serve at from 8 AM-12 PM, and every other day, we go to the alternate site from 3 PM-5 PM. Daya Dan is an orphanage for children have various mental disabilities. The spectrum of disability is wide, where some can speak and talk to us and even speak English, while others do not even realize we are right in front of them. Kalighat is the home for the destitute and dying. People who have been abandoned on the streets, who struggle with mental illnesses and/or mental disabilities, and are close to death, will be taken to Kalighat, where they can be fed, taken care of, and die with dignity, knowing they were loved at the end of their life. By 6 PM, we’re back at the Mother House for a Holy Hour with the Sisters, which becomes a time of thanksgiving and rest after a tiring but rewarding day.
And that’s basically what we’ve been up to the last two days. At this point, we’ve been to our main site twice, and today we visited the alternate sites for the first time. Daya Dan and Kalighat are two different ministries to two very different types of poverty. But it is the same love and it is the same Lord that compels us to serve. In addition to this, we’ve had some fun while we’ve been here! We went out Friday night with some of the other volunteers from Minnesota for some barbecue dinner. We’ve also taken Kolkata buses to our sights, and rode in All-India famous Tuk-Tuks, a three-wheeled cab, which is more equivalent to a roller-coaster than a taxi drive.
Many things have stood out to us as a group, and one blog post certainly cannot cover all the Lord is pointing out to us, but what was most striking to me, at least, is what should not be striking in the first place. The witness of the Sisters. It should not be striking because we should expect the Sisters to be as holy and courageous as their founder, yet so they are. Their love for the poor is strong, but only because their love for the Lord is greater. Jesus is the reason behind Sister Sophia’s gentle smile as she struggles to feed a child that does not even realize she is there. Jesus is the reason Sister Gina can hold the head of the abandoned man, with days left till death, and embrace him with the warm touch of her hand on his cheek. Jesus is the reason the MC’s are in the chapel from 5 AM to 7 AM every day, without fail, and back again from 6 PM-7 PM. Their service to the poor is not simply work. Their mission is derived from love. Love for the Lord alone compels them to act without fear or hesitation.
As a final note, in connection to the witness of the Sisters, it has been powerful to meditate on the force of Mother Teresa’s example and starting the Missionaries of Charity. All of this started very early in her religious life, actually, where she will say, “I wanted to give God something very beautiful.” Her desire to make God loved beyond everything else is what paved the way for the Missionaries of Charity to become into what it is today. All these Sisters, here in Kolkata, and across the world, literally radiate joy and light. It occurred to me just yesterday, especially now that she is a saint, the Lord can speak on her behalf. “She has done a beautiful thing to me.” (Matthew 26:10)
Imagine what our lives could become if we responded to His love the way the Missionaries of Charity do, without fear or hesitation. Hopefully, something beautiful.
Please say a prayer for us, but pray especially for the Missionaries of Charity. Know that we are praying for you everyday!