Mother Giovanna, 73 years of mission for the children of India
by Nirmala Carvalho

The Italian nun, former superior general of the Ursulines of Mary Immaculate died yesterday. In 1978, thanks to foreign and Indian aid, she managed to transform the Holy Family of Bandra from a modest nursing home into a missionary hospital. She did not remember the number of children helped to come into this world.

 Mumbai (AsiaNews) - talian missionary Mother Giovanna Saveria Alberoni, former superior general of the Ursulines of May Immaculate congregation, died on January 18. She was 94. She is a member of the Shalom Community,  Holy Family Hospital of Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai.

 In 1946 Mother Giovanna entered the novitiate, and arrived in India in 1948 , and earned a degree at the Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi. She began working in Indian health facilities in the maternity wards of hospitals in Kanpur, Calicut, Vaiythiri and Mumbai.

Speaking previously to AsiaNews, Sister Giovanna had said: "The cry of a newborn baby is a hymn to life". "With no respect for life, abortion is killing. Regardless of the name that can be given to it, abortion is murder. I believe in life. The cry of the newborn is a cry, but at the same time it is a hymn to life".

The Sister could not remember the exact number of children whom she has helped to birth, but says: "I've always been in the neonatal field, and so the number would be many". In 1978, thanks to foreign and Indian funds, Sister Giovanna managed to transform the Holy Family of Bandra from modest nursing home to missionary hospital, which provides diagnostic tests, treatments, accident and emergency care and preventive medicine.

Sister Maria Giovanna Alberoni is called affectionately "Mother Giovanna". She was born in 1926 in San Giorgio Piacentino, in Italy, and attended a training course at the Ursuline School. After completing the course, the headmistress Bianca Franchini allowed her to continue her master studies and obtain a diploma as an elementary school teacher.

Mother Giovanna would have to continue her studies and go to university. But the experience of the Second World War, along with the strong faith of her family and her commitment to the life of the parish, nourished the seeds of her religious vocation. The missionary said that when her mother was pregnant with her, she prayed to the Lord for the child shewas carrying to be a boy and that he would be a priest.

In 1978 she managed to turn a small nursing home a hospital with 260 beds. In 2012 she was awarded by the Cuore Amico association in Brescia, Italy. Today the Holy Family Hospital is a 260-bed medical facility and is an excellence in the health field, offering first level medical care while adhering to the goal of origin: to meet  the needs of the community serving without distinction of caste , creed or religion.

The nun is representative of the association Heron, which helps poor children to go to school. The program operates in India, Brazil and Africa, and many of its students have obtained a diploma in nursing and other fields. To date, more than 3500 children have benefited from the funds allocated to this project.

Sister Giovanna had shared with AsiaNews, "In the medical field we must always show mercy; without mercy, the medical profession is not possible. We also need to be witnesses of the merciful face of the Father. I always pray to do the will of God. And what I do, I do for the Lord".

Sr Dr Beena UMI ,who belongs to the same Shalom Community, as Mother Giovanna,  told AsiaNews: "... Mother Giovanna was a missionary ... with a vision. Through her caring ways and winning smile she captured everyone's heart . She served the Congregation of The Ursulines of Mary Immaculate in various capacities- as superior of Indian Mission, Provincial Superior of Central Province and Superior  General . Through her dedication and hard work she opened a mission branch in Africa.  Above all she was a wonderful human being . She treated everyone with motherly affection."