12/09/2016, 11.52
INDIA
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Sister Meena Barwa: Handmaids of Mary mark Feast of the Immaculate with renewal of vows

by Nirmala Carvalho

Seven nuns operate in Madhya Pradesh. Yesterday 19 new sisters made their profession in Orissa. About 500 sisters in India and Germany. With particular preference for the poor, women and children, working in the field of social work, education and healthcare.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The Handmaids of Mary (Hm) in Madhya Pradesh celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception by renewing their vows. The festival coincides with the anniversary of the foundation of their congregation, born in 1944 in Orissa. Speaking to AsiaNews Sister Meena Barwa, of the Handmaids of Mary in Orissa, says: "For us it is a day of great joy, which invigorates and encourages us in our spiritual lives and in our mission."

Sister Meena is the niece of Msgr. John Barwa, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar in Kandhamal district, the theater in 2008 of the fiercest persecution of Christians by Hindu radicals. The nun was the victim of a gang rape in the early days of the pogroms, but has had the courage to publicly denounce her attackers and testify at their trial. Remembering how she managed to overcome the terrible trauma, she said that it was "the love of the Mother of Christ at the foot of the cross, that supported me during my personal passion."

Yesterday she and her sisters of Madhya Pradesh (seven in all) celebrated the Virgin and their foundation by Fr. Edmund Albert Joseph Harrison sj. The celebrations began the previous day (December 7) with an adoration of six hours. On December 8, the religious renewed their vows during a Mass with all the parishioners.

Sister Meena reports that in Orissa 19 other nuns have professed their perpetual vocation. With these professions, all over India and in Germany there are about 500 Handmaids of Mary. "We work especially in the villages - she says - bringing our service of evangelization, especially of the poor, women and children. We are committed to education, social work and medical care. We take care of the lepers and the elderly, with a particular preference for the most disadvantaged groups". 

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