Orphaned when she was 10, she was welcomed at Bandra's St Catherine's Home. "I didn't know God, but I came to know Him through Sister Dominic’s love; she loved me as if I were her own daughter.” Brother Joseph “has been a father to me [. . .] a guiding light for my life."
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – “I have experienced a deep inner joy. I have been waiting for this day for many years,” said Nisha Salvadore D’Souza, describing her baptism, which took place on 2 August at St Francis Xavier’s church in Sawantwadi, Diocese of Sindhudurg.
The baptism took place privately, as churches in India are still under an emergency regime due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For a long time, I felt a strong desire to follow Jesus and be baptised, especially after experiencing the love given to me by Sister Dominic and Brother Joseph, at St Catherine's Home in Bandra,” Nisha told AsiaNews.
“I was born into the Patil family, a Hindu family. My mother died when I was still a child and I arrived at St Catherine's Home when I was 10 years old. I didn't know anything, I didn't know God, but I came to know Him through Sister Dominic’s love; she loved me as if I were her own daughter. She would often tell us the story of Fr Anthony Elenjimittam, the founder of the house, saying that Fr Anthony did this for the love of Jesus and for the children.
“Brother Joseph, the director, has been a father to me. He is just like my dad, a guiding light for my life. Brother Joseph encouraged me in my studies. I had no idea of what I could do when I grew up and how to fulfil my ambitions, but Brother Joseph pushed me to obtain a college education, secure a degree and also get a Teacher’s Training degree, and begin teaching at a prestigious school in Bandra.
“I owe everything to Brother Joseph and St Catherine's Home. I have been helped on many occasions in life, gradually losing my shyness and my insecurities. I have become confident, empowered, educated, economically self-reliant and a responsible adult. St Catherine's Home was my home, my family, the one that helped me in my transformation to achieve academic and professional goals.
“Through Brother Joseph and Sister Dominic, I began to experience Jesus's love for me and through Fr Anthony Elenjimittam’s educational vision, I work to develop children's intelligence through education.
“Thanks to these witnesses, I wanted to follow Jesus, understanding Fr Anthony’s motto: 'For the freedom of the soul and the well-being of humanity'. So I decided to become a Catholic.”
On 29 December, Nisha married Salvadore D’Souza and left St Catherine’s Home to live at her husband's home in Sawantwadi (Diocese of Sindhudurg, about 500 km south of Mumbai).
“To continue the catechumenate, I had to learn a new language (Konkani) and learn to pray in this language. Konkani is a little difficult, but I tried to join in all the catechism lessons and learn everything the priest taught us.
“The priest taught me to pray in the new language and helped me understand the true miracles of Jesus. Now I believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son of the Father. And I'm happy having received Him: The Holy Spirit is in my heart, in my mind, in my soul. He lives in my house.”
In India there are many adult baptisms, but due to anti-conversion laws and controversies, almost no diocese releases statistics. In 2020, over 300 catechumens are estimated to be preparing for baptism in the Diocese of Vasai alone.