For the first time, four sisters of an Italian-founded congregation take perpetual vows in Odisha

The sisters made their solemn profession on 7 October. Their congregation was founded in 1889 by Blessed Maria Schininà Arezzo, a nun of aristocratic origins from Ragusa. They are the first nuns to take their vows in the Asian country.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) –  Four sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus made their solemn profession of religious vows in Odisha.  Sister Leena Bilung, Sister Cordula Bilung, Sister Usha Tete and Sister Rajkishori Soreng were welcomed by the congregation as the first in the history of their order to take perpetual vows in India. "Let us pray and thank God for this gift,” they told AsiaNews.

The ceremony took place on 7 October, the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary, in St Arnold parish church in Cox Colony, Jharsuguda District (Odisha). Mgr John Barwa, Archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar, celebrated the Mass along with three other bishops, Mgr Niranjan Sual Singh, Mgr Lucas Kerketta and Mgr Alphonse Bilung.

For one of the sisters, "The presence of Archbishop Barwa made the celebration even more solemn ". Another noted that "This day is a milestone in the history of our institution in India because it is the first time that [local] sisters make their vows."

The religious order of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was founded in 1889 by the Blessed Maria Schininà Arezzo. The foundress was born in an aristocratic family in Ragusa. After the death of her parents, she decided to change radically her life. Leaving behind receptions and high society, she gave up her wealth and dedicated herself to help the needy, the poor, lepers and unwed mothers.

“The Blessed met Christ among the poorest of the poor,” the sisters said. “She gave up her wealth and gave it to them. She spent all her life to serve the last and the abandoned. Since then, our impetus to love and console the heart of Jesus through the fulfillment of corporal and spiritual works of mercy has spread to eight countries around the world."

Driven by the foundress’s charity, "which flows from the heart of Jesus, our Congregation came to India with a desire to serve better the poor and the needy." (NC)