During the lockdown our Sisters were confined to the house for the most part of six months. Sr Ishrat organised weekly zoom classes with Sr Anna Sheehy for the temporary professed Sisters. It was a very successful venture. The idea of a book club emerged for Sr Anne O’Leary while she was leading an online Retreat with the Sisters in Fargo in August 2020. Subsequently, following a chance conversation with Sr Anna and then a dialogue between Sr Anna, our Formators and Unit Leadership, a dream unfolded! A Nano Nagle Book Club was initiated as a pilot project for the novices and temporary professed Sisters in Pakistan and Africa accompanied by the Sisters from Fargo! The following is a reflection written by one of our temporary professed Sisters describing her experience of both. It is a first for us and I am grateful to the Sisters from the USA and Africa who have participated in this intercultural project, enriching the lives of our young Sisters. I am also grateful to Sr Anna for organising it, to Sr Anne O’Leary for giving of her time and expertise so generously and to our own formation team in Pakistan for their planning and support. May God bless all of you.
– Sr Riffat Sadiq, Unit Leader, Pakistan
My Journey of Pandemic Time
I feel, being a young Religious, life is like a tree – a tree which is planted by God and nourished by many people. Many people and events contribute to beautify it. A good soil, watering hands, look of love, tough and soft chats, cutting the bushes growing with it, different weathers, cold and hot winds and the whole atmosphere has a role to make it a strong, fruitful tree. As I look back on the six months of pandemic time, I feel a severe Winter season was going on. The trees were gone colorless with storms, snow, cold wind and there is hardly a ray of sunshine. Machines were jammed. Doors of institutes were locked. The vehicles waited for a green signal for a long time. At different times of the year weather changes in different parts of the world, but this bad weather the whole world experienced at the same time. As I look at the suffering of Mother Earth opening to receive so many dead bodies, my head hurts and my lips are speechless.
There are always two sides to any story. No doubt suffering has brought grief but this time of pandemic has given lots of Spring beauty to many lives and I am one of those. In my seven years of journeying in religious life it was the very first time that long community chats took place at every meal. There was lots of time to pray, reflect, go back in history of my own personal life and get to know others better. In community together we played, did the cleaning of the house, cooking, stitched masks for people, went to give Communion as churches were closed, prepared online classes and tuition classes for the weak students. It was a great opportunity to improve artistic gifts as well. I read many books which helped me to grow spiritually and psychologically. Life is not all about white color, there were some black days as well. As this was the very first time staying for a long period of time together in the community, there was some friction as well. Lots of learning even in ‘black beauty’ times took place.
I am very thankful to Sr Anna Sheehy who showed great concern, love and care for the Pakistani young Sisters by giving us online classes from Ireland. Sr Ishrat, Junior Mistress organized the timetable for us with Sr Anna because of the lockdown when the schools were closed. This was the very first time the junior Sisters had a teacher through technology from another corner of the world and to be energized in this manner. We were just like children with excitement at our first zoom meeting, but Anna was very patient with us. Many topics were covered. Personally I feel her classes were a great source of growth at personal, community and in ministry level. She helped us to grow deeper in the mystery of Religious life. Lots of material in the form of power-points was sent and we were asked to do reflections which were sent back to her and appreciated with golden words. Building up healthy relations with community Sisters by different techniques was done. Transformation of life was the main focus and it took place very well in the whole group. Spirituality of Nano was done which was a reminder to look at the needs of the time and to work for them. Tips to come out from personal sufferings were introduced, this helps in day to day life on staying healthy. How to have balance in work with people was also taught.
As school opened, the question was asked if we wanted to continue these classes or not. Mostly Sisters showed a desire to be strengthened in some way. The group was widened for our next class – Sisters Judith and Peggy from Africa, Lorraine and Shauna from the USA as well as the novices joined us and one more teacher was there to give a new horizon to life. Sr Anne O’Leary had the idea to have a ‘book club’. According to that idea, we started reading the book ‘A Dream Unfolds’. We were encouraged to read a number of pages before we met on zoom. Our communities and our formation team gave us every support to continue our classes. Sr Anne gave us input on a power point. Lots of new knowledge about Nano’s history was given. It was very informative and then everyone shared about the passages they liked from the book. It was a wonderful experience to meet and listen to our Presentation Sisters from other corners of the world. This group of learners has become wider and classes are still going on. We are grateful to Anna who has put her best effort to help us stand straight in a respectful manner. She brought Spring season for us in the cold war of sickness. By sharing her time with us she has strengthened us in many ways. It was a great experience of gaining life and giving life. God bless Sr Anna who is a friend, Sister and above all a spiritual mother for young Pakastani Sisters in this pandemic time. It was a privilege to increase the fruit of our trees in a stormy season of life.
She lives Nano’s saying, “If I can of service in saving souls in any part of the world, I would willingly do all in my power.”
Submitted by: Sr Anam Salamat