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The Splendor of India Part I: Sister Marguerite Stewart

Posted by Administrator (admin) on Mar 30 2017
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In celebration of St. Francis Center for Renewal's seventh annual Star Struck Gala, we share with you several articles from sisters who served there and who called India "home" for a period of their lives. The Gala's theme -- The Splendor of India -- comes shining through in these reflections.

In this installment, Sister Marguerite Stewart recounts her many visits to the School Sisters of St. Francis missions in India.

The Splendor of India is the theme of the 2017 Gala of our St. Francis Center of Renewal. It’s a theme that touches my heart and brings back wonderful memories.

In 1989, the School Sisters of St. Francis were invited to begin a home for young women interested in our community. For 12 years, I was blessed to be a part of those beginnings. My biannual visit to our home in South India introduced me to a land rich in traditions and color. The scenic beauty of the land was often breathtaking. I witnessed India, too, as a country of great contrasts: The very wealthy, and how they lived, but also poverty so extreme it is hard to describe.

Though all of this was new and fascinating, what will always remain with me is the Indian people, especially the young women who entered our community and are now a part of our congregation. Along with teaching them English, I was there to help them learn about our congregation and its charism. But they taught me far more than I taught them!

Each morning in the chapel, I observed these young women, seated cross-legged on the floor, in deep contemplation. This method of praying was so natural to them. Additionally, love and care for creation was an integral part of them. Daily they watered and worked the soil around lovely colorful flowers of various kinds. Their kindness and respect for their elders touched me so deeply. ( I don’t believe there are any institutions to care for the elderly in India; that is the responsibility of the children.)

I was especially intrigued by the young women’s music and beautiful dancing. From a very early age, girls are taught their native dances. In their brightly colored dresses, they perform at social functions, as well as at school and church activities. When I showed enthusiasm for their dances, they patiently taught me to dance and to sing their lively songs, as well.

Our Indian Sisters daily witnessed to me a simplicity and joy in living. Their surroundings, attire and food (extremely hot), were very basic, and they found joy in the simple things of life. Yet though they had very little, they daily fed the poor who knocked at their door.

Today our sisters in India number about 80. They bring their loving spirit and individual gifts to many parts of India, as well as to Italy and the United States. We are so grateful for them and their magnificent culture. They enrich us.

Sister Marguerite Stewart

Last changed: May 08 2017 at 4:49 PM

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