Mangalore (AsiaNews) - "I defy anyone to say that our elderly are a burden. Their existence is full of meaning, they are living people who give us a deep joy". Sister Auxilia works at Premnagar, the city of love, a home for the elderly poor of Bajjodi, near Mangalore in Karnataka. She tells AsiaNews: "Euthanasia is the biggest devil in the world. Our seniors are a great treasure, their life experience is an asset to society and for all of us older people are a blessing. "
The Premnagar centre has 80 places, divided equally between men and women, where "elderly poor of all religions and castes live as a family." It was built by the Little Sisters of the Poor, the congregation founded in 800 by Sister Jeanne Jugan, canonized by Benedict XVI on 11 October this year. Sister Auxilia entered the congregation 19 years ago and says "welcoming the first saint of our order" is an invitation to "continue to receive the grace of the Lord and serve Him through the poor".
The Premnagar house of is one of 13 opened by the Little Sisters over the more than 120 years of their presence in India. They first arrived in Calcutta in 1882 and since have also reached Bangalore in 1900 and then Mangalore in 1978. Hospices like Premnagar are "a blessed place, a house of prayer," says Sister Auxilia. "All of our seniors are poor and are our joy. We are learning from them: the suffering and joys of life have given them a great wisdom. "
The oldest guest in the City of Love is Cecilia D'Souza "an old lady of 104 years of age who has been living in the house for 16 years," says the nun. "She moves through the house on a wheelchair and spreads happiness and joy in us, other guests and also the many people who come to visit us." Sister Auxilia said Premnagar houses many people who are over 90 "are all happy to be here and their love for life is instructive”. The Little Sister adds: "These poor older people participate in all activities of the House, they teach each other crafts, like handicrafts, making baskets that are then sold and many other things." The city of love is a big family where the days are spent in common life and daily activities of all kinds.
Sister Auxilia says: "Their enthusiasm for plays and shows that we organize is incredible. Although for some mobility is a serious problem, this does not diminish their interest in participating actively in theatre or other entertainment”.
The moment of death in Premnagar is special and touching. The Little Sisters take turns to hold vigil by the bedside of the dying, never leaving them alone, accompanying them until death with love. Sister Virginia, the mother superior, says: "It is a time marked by grace, our poor elderly die with dignity and love, filled with gratitude."
Sister Virginia says: "The charisma of the Little Sisters is taking care of the poor. We ask for alms in the streets, in markets, we circle the city, knocking on doors asking for food, clothing, whatever we may be given. Sometimes we are laughed at, sometimes insulted, but we respond to their contempt with a blessing. "
The mother superior says: "We do not need anything, each day we depend on providence and there are also many people who are really generous with us. Today the world is begging for love and this is what to pray for our elderly poor: that the world can be filled with love, shared love among people. "