Sister Josita Eniakattu: A Profile

Posted by Veronica Priest

March 6, 2024

I was fortunate to be born on February 2, 1947, in Kakkoor, Thirumaradi, one of the picturesque villages of Ernakulum district in the state of Kerala, “God’s own Country”. As the second of five children of Joseph and Thresia Eniakattu, I was baptized as Eley (Elizabeth) and Elcy A.J. (Aniakattu Joseph) is my name in the school. At home they called me Elamma. My religious name is Sister Josita Eniakattu. My siblings are Annakutty, now Sister Bellarmine, CMC, Mathachan, Joy and Babu. My mother was the eldest of four girls. Their mother died when they were very young. After marriage, my father moved to my mother’s home with his father-in-law and wife’s three younger sisters. He became the legal guardian of the family. In 1951, my family migrated to Malabar in North Kerala when I was four years old. Our family settled in Chungakunnu, a village surrounded by verdant hills and flowing rivers in Kannur district. We were some of the early settlers in Malabar, an extremely under-developed area of Kerala in those days. There was neither school nor church, nor a hospital nearby and not even proper roads for transportation.

Sister Josita Eniakattu with her three brothers.

Sister Josita Eniakattu with her three brothers.

I have fond memories of my maternal grandfather who was a very affectionate, caring, devout, hardworking and wise person. He was generous and well respected by everyone. My early childhood revolved around him. I used to spend a lot of time with him outdoors walking around the fields, watching him work, listening to him talk about different kinds of trees, fruits, plants, etc. He taught me to say simple prayers. He was my wisdom figure. My mother was very loving, affectionate, prayerful, generous and sociable. She visited the sick and helped the poor in whatever ways she could. My father was rather quiet, God-fearing and very hardworking. My family was very faithful to our daily morning and evening prayer. Every evening we knelt in front of the little altar for family prayer. The children took turns saying the Angelus and Rosary, and my mother continued with the rest of the prayers. We were encouraged to attend Mass on Saturdays, Sundays and other holidays. Catechism classes for children were a regular feature after Sunday Mass. I was an active member of the Mission League.

In those early years there were no formal schools nearby. Hence, I had my primary education, classes 1-5, in a non-formal school in my neighborhood. I studied in St. Joseph’s High School, Peravoor from class VI-X. My sister and I walked daily eight miles to the school and back with a few other companions. During the monsoon, we had to cross several swollen rivers and sometimes took detours by the hills as there were no proper bridges across the rivers. We had lots of fun gathering oranges and other edible things along the way and enjoying them as we walked back home. Occasionally, I stayed with my aunt who lived close to the school. On some weekends I walked home alone from my aunt’s house enjoying and admiring the beautiful nature. I cherish the memories of those long walks listening to the sounds and silence of nature, alone with God, where I might have developed the taste for contemplation. Nature became my close friend at a very early age.

My sister took admission in St. Joseph’s Girls’ School, Arakuzha in south Kerala when she was in class IX. Reluctantly, I joined my sister in the same school when I was in the final year of high school. Both of us stayed in the hostel. The school and hostel were managed by the Carmelite Sisters. My new headmistress, Sister Thomasina and a few other Sisters were very kind and helped me to adjust to the new school. I was good at throw ball and other games. I also enjoyed the art classes, painting, drawing and embroidery.

After the S.S.L.C. (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) examinations, my sister and I returned home and waited for the results. I got my result after two months. It was a happy day for me to know that I had passed the S.S.L.C. examination of 1962, but it took a while for the certificates to reach me by post so I could not get admission into any college the same year. While waiting and wondering about my future, I came across a missionary magazine, ‘Preshita Keralam’ where I found an advertisement from the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth inviting girls to join them in their missionary activities in Mokama, Patna, Bihar. My father sowed the seed of vocation as he encouraged me to think about it if I were interested. Thus began my correspondence with Sister Lawrencetta Veeneman in Mokama. After receiving my letter and sensing my desire, Sister sent me information about the required certificates and other necessary things if I wanted to join the SCNs. I informed my mother regarding my desire to join the Congregation, but she thought it was a passing fancy of her adolescent daughter who might have been bored by staying at home. But God had other plans for me in a mysterious manner.

Sister Josita Eniakattu

In September of 1962, Sister Lawrencetta asked me to meet the two American Sisters, Marita Ann (Teresa Rose) Nabholz and Florence Joseph (Mary Frances) Sauer who would be going to Ernakulum, in Kerala. My father accompanied me to Lissy Hospital, Ernakulum, where I met the two Sisters and had a short interview of some kind. Though I was quite young, only fifteen, and looked small, they accepted me immediately. After a week, I travelled with the Sisters to Chennai where they had several days of Registered Nurses’ meeting. After the meeting, Sister Mary Frances flew to Calcutta, and Sister Teresa Rose and I travelled by train to Calcutta. In Calcutta we had to change trains. We reached Mokama very early in the morning around 3:00 on October 4, 1962. It was indeed, the first long train journey for both of us as Sister Teresa Rose had only come to India in the beginning of the same year.

We walked over to Nazareth Hospital from the station and rested there until time for Mass. That morning, with the help of a staff nurse, I wore a sari for the first time. I felt very awkward in the yards of cloth wrapped around me, but tried to be the best I could in it. After the Mass, I went to the convent with the candidates and Sisters. Thus, my first day in Mokama began.

Sister Teresa Rose was the candidate director. Olive Pinto and Evelyn D’Souza were candidates. The senior candidates Mary John (Sister Karuna Thottumarickal), Mary Joseph (Sister Maria Palathingal), Mary Thomas (Sister Lucia Thuluvanickel) were attending nurses’ training program. I attended English and Hindi classes with the candidates and postulants. Sister Teresa Rose taught instruction classes. All of us attended Anatomy and Medical Ethics classes with the nurses in the hospital. Food preparations without any spices were tasteless and difficult to eat in the beginning, but later on I got adjusted to them. We had daily outdoor games, evening walks to the shrine, recreation after supper and occasional picnics under the trees nearby. Olive and Evelyn joined the Postulancy on 2nd February, 1963; after that I was alone the whole time until the new group of candidates arrived in June.

On 2nd of February, 1964, along with my companions, Thresiamma Arackathottam, Rosamma Puthoor, Annamma Palatty and Rosy K.A. I joined the Postulancy program at Mokama. Sister Lawrencetta was our Postulant Mistress. She was very kind and gentle yet firm in her dealings with us. Sister Patricia Mary Kelley continued to teach us English and other subjects while Sister Martina, a Sacred Heart Sister, taught Hindi. Occasionally we walked to the shrine with Sister Lawrencetta after supper. I was delighted to watch the clear starlit sky and to learn about the different stars, constellations and planets as Sister would point them out to us. It evoked in me a wonder and an interest in the vast heavenly bodies.

Sister Josita Eniakattu as a postulant in Mokama in 1964.

All five of us entered novitiate on December 21, 1964. Prior to the entrance to the novitiate, we attended an eight-day retreat. After supper on December 20th, there was a ritual of Sister Lawrencetta cutting off our long hair with the assistance of two second year novices. It called for some detachment since long hair is something very dear and special for a young Indian girl. On the morning of the 21st, Sister Lawrencetta and some of the novices assisted us to dress in the white habit, black shoes and white side beads. Sister Lawrencetta then gave each one of us a new name. From then on, Elcy Joseph became Sister Josita Eniakattu. It was an experience of being stripped of the old self and putting on the new self for Jesus. Indeed, an exciting moment in my life! We proceeded to the chapel for the Eucharistic celebration with the whole community and witnessed the First Profession of the second-year novices. That was the beginning of our canonical year which would follow the second year of novitiate.

Sister Josita Eniakattu’s entrance to Novitiate with Bishop A. Wildermuth, Sister Lawrencetta Veeneman, Sister Marita Ann (Teresa Rose) Nabholz, and two groups of novices.

Sister Teresa Rose was our Novice Mistress. She taught us SCN Constitutions and other topics like prayer, spirituality, Church History and Psychology. There was strict observance of silence in the novitiate. Sisters Patricia Mary and Mary Celeste Collins taught English and other subjects. Our parish priest, Father John Smith, SJ, taught Scripture and a bit of Theology. On Saturdays we visited nearby villages. We took care of the children on Sundays when their mothers attended Mass. That was quite a job and a test of our missionary vocation, carrying the screaming and yelling little ones with their leaking noses and keeping them from running back to their mothers inside the church. We also had afternoon games, evening walks to the shrine, common spiritual reading, daily recreation after supper and occasional picnics under the ‘Mahua trees’ nearby.

I made my First Profession on December 21, 1966, along with my companions Sisters Celine Arackathottam, Marianne Puthoor, and Ann Rose Kurisingal who later discontinued. Right Reverend Bishop Wildermuth, SJ, was the main celebrant for the Eucharist. Bishop took a few group photos after the Mass. There were no family members or any other guests for the occasion.

Sister Josita Eniakattu’s first vows on December 21, 1966. Pictured are Sisters Celine Arackathottam, Josita Eniakattu, Marita Ann (Teresa Rose) Nabholz, Marianne Puthoor, and Rose Ann Kurisingal.

I attended the juniorate program for one year in Mokama under the guidance of Sister Patricia Mary, the junior director. At this time, we had classes on teaching methods by Sister Ann George Mukalel and teaching practice in St. Xavier School, Mokama, supervised by Sister Patricia Mary. Sister Anne Marie Thayilchirayil taught English classes. As part of the English class, we juniors put on a drama, ‘Queen Esther’ which was well appreciated by all the Sisters. I stayed on in Mokama till May 1968, part time teaching in the school as well as helping Sister Teresa Rose in the Regional office.

In May 1968, I was sent to Sophia College, Bombay, for my Bachelor of Arts Degree course. I stayed in the college hostel along with Sisters Olive and Josephine Naduvilekunnel. Occasionally, Sister Olive would take us to her home where we enjoyed the family atmosphere and her mummy’s delicious food. I recall, with nostalgia, my stay at the college hostel in a room overlooking the Arabian Sea. In the evenings, I used to spend much of my free time at the window watching and contemplating the changing colors and moods of the sea. It took me to the depth and vastness of the Almighty Artist. After four years of study at Sophia, I graduated, with philosophy honors and Psychology from Bombay University in May 1972.

Sister Josita Eniakattu with Sisters in Mokama.

Sister Josita Eniakattu with Sisters in Mokama.

Although I enjoyed my studies and adjusted quite well with hostel life, I was very happy to return to my SCN Community in Mokama. I received my first appointment as Director of the Candidates. The call of Prophet Jeremiah inspired me to say “yes” to this call. Though young and inexperienced, I accepted this ministry with total trust in the Providence of God. Sister Teresa Rose, then Provincial, and my own formation director, was my mentor and guide. I worked with two groups of candidates in Mokama and with another group in Ranchi, as the candidacy program was shifted there. I did my best in teaching, guiding and organizing programs for the candidates. Those three years were a time of learning as well as initiating the candidates into SCN life. It was a joyful and challenging time for me.

Sister Josita Eniakattu with her first group of candidates in 1973.

On June 17, 1973, I made my Final Profession. In preparation for my final commitment to Jesus, I had the privilege of making a one month retreat in Kurisumala Ashram, Kerala under the guidance of Father Francis Acharia, for a week, and Father C.M. Cherian, SJ, two deeply spiritual gurus. It was a beautiful time in my spiritual journey, a time of being alone with God on the foothills of the Annamudi Mountains, unraveling the mysteries of Mother Nature. It was here that I really fell in love with Jesus, my Savior and Guru. I had the opportunity to join the monks for the liturgical hours and worship. With special permission from my director, I lived several days alone in a hermitage away from the ashram. I remain ever grateful for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and to Sister Teresa Rose who trusted and gave me permission to arrange and attend that very special preparation for my final commitment.

Final Vows of Sister Josita Eniakattu on June 17, 1973. Sister Josita is pictured with Sisters Teresa Rose Nabholz and Patricia Mary Kelley.

In June 1974, I received a new ministry to teach at Pushpa Krishi Vidyalaya, Sokho, one of our remote rural missions. My first journey to Sokho was a memorable one. Sister Gracy Thombrakudy and Father Pat Rebeiro, SJ, who had come for shopping, received me at Jamui Railway Station. While traveling back to Sokho, Father Pat drove the jeep through the jungle winding up and down the hills, practically making the way to Kervateri Ashram because the river was flooded. Sister Patricia Mary and the novices welcomed us. It was impossible to take the jeep across the river to Sokho, so, we crossed the swollen river and walked over to Nazareth Bhavan, our house in Sokho. It was already getting dark. Sisters Rose Plathottam and Lucia Thuluvanickal were waiting for us. That long tedious journey was indeed a good introduction to my missionary life.

Life in Sokho was exciting and challenging. We lived a very simple life in a small mud house with thatched roof which leaked whenever it rained. There was no electricity, running water, or attached bathroom. Meeting snakes and scorpions inside and around the house was very common. After getting a brief orientation to the place and ministry, I started my teaching apostolate in Pushpa Krishi Vidyalaya. As the name suggests, the students were taught regular classes and also cultivated vegetables, corn, and flowers on the land around the school. Teaching the simple and poor children of the village was a joy. Sometimes we had to go to the villages looking for the ‘lost sheep’ who would run away from the hostel and their classes. In the afternoons and on holidays we visited the families in both nearby and distant villages. Our food was simple, mostly rice, dhal and potato. Occasionally, we enjoyed the meat of chicken and wild rabbits bought from the villagers. Regular Eucharistic celebration in the evenings, with sharing of the events of the day, was very enriching. Whenever Sister Patricia Mary went to Mokama for council meetings, I went to stay with the novices in Kervateri. The long walk to the Ashram through the jungles, and crossing the river reminded me of my younger days back home. Being in Sokho, in the spirit of a true missionary, I learnt much while adjusting to various situations and people of different opinions. Indeed, ‘to evangelize is to be evangelized’. Though my life in Sokho was only for one year, it left a rich and unforgettable mark in my community and apostolic life.

Sister Josita Eniakattu at the Mokama Shrine.

In 1975, I was sent to Vasai in the state of Maharashtra to teach at St. Augustine’s School, owned by the Irish Christian Brothers. I lived with Sisters Mary Scaria Menonparampil and Mary Thomas Parankulangara in Casabella, a rented house in Small Carpentry village in Papdi Parish. Our life was very simple and close to the people around. We commuted daily to the school by public bus. I taught English and Social Studies in the high school for four years. It was very a satisfying and fruitful experience. Children came from simple, middle-class families. In the evenings we visited families. It was an opportunity for us to meet young girls who were interested in joining us.

Sister Mary Scaria, one of the pioneers of Vasai mission, was transferred, and I was appointed as the new coordinator of the community. Sisters Ann Scaria Menonparampil and Ann Palatty had joined the community. We had to vacate Casabella and once again look for accommodation elsewhere. Luckily, there was an empty old house nearby which was available for us. Finally, the Province bought a plot of land close to St. Augustine’s School in Barampur and decided to build a convent for the Sisters. Being the coordinator, I was entrusted with the responsibility of the construction of the convent. None of us had any experience in construction work. We received the approved amount of money, Rs. 1 lakh (hundred thousand) from the finance office for the needs of the building. For the rest, I had to depend totally on God. Shouldering this new responsibility along with full time teaching was a real challenge. But God did send some angels to help me in carrying out this task. Foundation stone was laid and construction work for the new convent building began in earnest. In May 1979, I was asked to go for my Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.) studies. So, I handed over my responsibilities to Sister Cassilda Castell, the new coordinator. By then, a major part of the construction of the convent was completed.

I started my B. Ed. studies in Maharaja Sayajirao (M.S.) University, Baroda, Gujarat, along with Sisters Pauline Paraplackal and Stella Chulliyil. We lived in the university hostel. I found the studies enjoyable and rather easy. I took English and Geography as my teaching subjects. Preparing the teaching aids using my own creativity was a joy for me. Interestingly, I was offered a teaching post in the school where I had my final practical examination. But, gently and firmly, I declined the offer. I came back to Bihar with a heart full of dreams and passion to be with Jesus and continue His mission for the poor and needy.

Creane Memorial School, Gaya in 1983. Pictured are Sisters Josita Eniakattu, Sandhya Baxla, and Latika Kottuppallil.

On my return in June 1980, I was appointed as headmistress of Creane Memorial Middle School, Gaya. Living in Nazareth Academy community, I started my ministry at Creane Memorial with great enthusiasm and zeal. Sisters Geeta Kochettonnil and Anice Vattukulan were my companions. Sisters Sandhya Baxla and Latika Kottuppallil joined me subsequently. We enjoyed working together. We were also blessed with a very good committed teaching staff. Father George Zeibert, SJ, the manager of the school, was very supportive in all the activities. The school catered mainly to students from poor and lower middle-class families. Giving quality education, with good human/Christian values to the students was our priority. Parents appreciated and supported the efforts made by the Sisters and teachers. Teaching was my passion and being in Creane Memorial gave me the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with the poor and needy.

Sister Josita Eniakattu during Creane Memorial School, Gaya Sports Day in 1982.

In 1983, Sister Shalini D’Souza, Provincial, on her official visitation to Gaya, asked me to resume formation ministry in Mokama. Realizing the need of the Province, I accepted the call, though a bit reluctantly, since I would have enjoyed remaining in the teaching apostolate. Sisters Sandhya Baxla and I were given farewell from Creane Memorial in May. I took charge as Novice Director without any delay. Once again, I depended totally on God to guide me as I had no prior preparation in this area. While in ministry, I was given the opportunity to attend a counseling course at C.M.C. (Christian Medical College), Vellore, and a short course on St. John’s gospel in Patna and Midi-Sadhana in Lonavala, Pune. Those programs equipped me with some tools to work with the novices. Sister Marcelline Indwar, pre-novice director, and I collaborated and supported each other. The spirit of God guided and inspired me with insights needed for carrying out this very important phase of formation in a relevant manner.

Sister Josita Eniakattu with Sister Marcelline Indwar as Formation Team.

In 1986, with the approval of the Province Assembly, the four months of lived-in-village exposure program was introduced for the second-year novices. This new venture was an effort to make our formation more gospel based, relevant and ‘mission oriented’. The whole program was based on an ‘action-reflection-action’ process. Living very closely with the people and participating in the hard realities of their daily struggles was indeed a transforming experience for the novices and me. The values and teachings of Jesus in the gospels and the SCN Constitutions came alive for us.

Sister Josita Eniakattu with Formation Team in 1987.

 

Sister Josita Eniakattu with 1987 vow group novices.

From June 1988 to June 1989, I got the opportunity to live with the novitiate community at Nazareth Mother House, U.S.A. with Sisters Rita Spalding, Josephine Barrieau, Carolyn Wilson, Ann Margaret Boone (novice director) and two novices. I was appointed as liaison between India Province and Central Leadership. In that capacity I worked at SCN Centre, attended some of the Central leadership meetings and provided information about the happenings in India Province for official purposes. I also got the opportunity to attend some workshops and seminars related to religious vocation and formation in the U.S.A. During the second half of my stay in the U.S.A., I audited part time classes on Scripture and Christology at Nazareth College, Louisville. I am ever grateful to Sister Mary Lynn Fields who made it possible and gave me accommodation in her community along with Sisters Gwen McMahon and Shirley Nugent. During my stay at Nazareth, I also had the opportunity to visit some of the Sisters in their different missions, joined mission appeals, visited Mother Catherine’s childhood home, and other significant places. It was truly a year of many blessings and some challenges. I returned to Mokama in June 1989 and continued my ministry as novice director till April 1991.

Farewell and final meeting of Sister Josita Eniakattu at SCN Center at Nazareth, KY.

1991 was my Silver Jubilee year, so I took a sabbatical for six months. I joined the renewal program organized by Sister Teresa Rose Nabholz, the On-Going Formation (OGF) Director, for Silver Jubilarians in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu. We stayed at the Medical Mission Sisters convent in Shebagannur, a beautiful place for renewals. We had some very enriching inputs from several resource persons both men and women. Meeting Father Samuel Rayan, SJ, a great Indian Theologian was a special blessing for me. I was inspired by his classes and liturgical celebrations. From Kodaikanal we went to Shantivanam Ashram in Kuluthalai, Tamil Nadu, for our retreat. Being in Shantivanam Ashram founded by late Father Bede Griffith was another special experience. Towards the end my sabbatical, I also studied a bit of Liberation Theology under the guidance of Father Samuel Rayan, SJ, at Vidyajyoti, Delhi.

Silver Jubilee renewal of 1991 in Kadaikanal. Pictured are Sisters Teresa Rose Nabholz, Ann Palatty, Josita Eniakattu, and Celine Arackathottam.

After my Silver Jubilee celebrations in Mokama in 1991, I was asked to teach in St. Augustine’s High School, Barampur, Vasai, substituting for Sister Cecily Velleringatt, who was preparing for M.A. examinations. It was indeed a very different experience from what I had earlier in the same school. The face of Vasai and the school had changed drastically over the years. Classrooms were crowded, and the students were influenced by the urban culture. Teaching there was indeed a challenge at this time.

Sister Josita Eniakattu in Chaibasa community in 1993.

In June 1992, I went from Vasai to Nazareth Convent, Lupungutu, Chaibasa. Sister Teresita Theruvankunnel had died in April of the same year while she was missioned in Lupungutu. I joined Sisters Gracy Thombrakudy and Lilly Thomas. Bibiana Kindo joined us later on. I served the community as coordinator and taught at St. Xavier’s Middle School. Teaching the simple village children and interacting with the teachers and parents were indeed joyful and satisfying experiences in ministry there. Life for the following two years in the community was a mixture of joys and many challenges. There were problems from within and without. I recall an incident which happened in September 1993. Some thieves rang our doorbell around midnight demanding and threatening us to open the door. That was the beginning of a night of horror for us. Though we shouted for help, only God came to our assistance. Finally, we all got into one room which had no ventilator. In a short while we could hear the thieves breaking into the house. When we heard them pushing on our door, we locked ourselves in a small bathroom which was also attached to the dining room. We held on to each other and prayed while the thieves ransacked the rest of our rooms searching for money, valuables, and the Sisters. We and the kitchen girl huddled together in the bathroom till 5 a.m. praying and encouraging each other. By the grace of God, we were protected from the clutches of those evil men throughout the night. The whole event was a deep faith experience for me: God fulfilling His promise ‘Fear not I am with you always’. After a week, the village leaders caught the culprits and handed them over to the police. Life and ministry continued as usual with less disturbance and more understanding and peace. In December 1993, Sister Lilly Thomas and I were transferred from Chaibasa for our safety before the men were released from the jail.

Sister Josita Eniakattu at Chaibasa spring.

After a few weeks of rest and regaining my strength of body, mind and spirit, I joined Nazareth Convent, Ranchi in 1994. I was asked to assist Sister Jayanti Lakra, candidate director and administrator of the house. Along with Sister Ann Roberta Powers, we made a good team together. The ministry at Nazareth Convent was meaningful and fruitful. There was enough to do; teaching the candidates, repair and maintenance of the buildings, shopping, etc. We also visited Christian families in the nearby villages building up good relationship with them. Community life with Sisters Ann Roberta and Jayanti was joyful. We worked, prayed, played and celebrated together with the candidates. But the call to move on from Ranchi community came soon.

Sister Josita Eniakattu in Ranchi community.

In June 1995, I was transferred from Ranchi to Bangalore at Nazareth Niketan, Madiwala, as administrator and coordinator. Sister Celine Arackathottam and the young student Sisters welcomed me. By mid-June, Sister Celine left for Kakkavayal, to begin the first SCN house in Kerala. After taking care of the household chores and administrative matters, I had ample time for creative activities and visiting families. I looked forward to evenings and weekends to be with the Sisters in the house. Days of celebrations were very special for the community as everyone pitched in for the preparations and enjoyment.

Sister Josita Eniakattu as coordinator in Madiwala Bangalore.

After a year, Sister Celine Arackathottam returned from Kakkavayal with some serious health problems. I accompanied her to different hospitals for all the required medical consultations and tests. She was diagnosed with several blocks in her heart and needed to undergo an open-heart surgery. With the support of my local community, I attended to Celine in every possible way in the hospital and in the house as she recuperated. Celine felt confident and trusted in God who accompanied her through all of us. I believe that God, who gives all potentialities, also helps us to make use of a particular gift when it is needed. I continued to be in Madiwala attending to various responsibilities of the house, as well as to the needs of the young Sisters and candidates until 1998.

Pilgrims never stay on; they keep moving from place to place. So, being a pilgrim in life’s journey, and a missionary, I was called to move back to North India. I joined Nazareth Academy, Gaya in 1998 and was appointed as a part-time teacher-cum-administrator of the school. Getting back to teaching and meeting the familiar people was joyful, but the job of administration was challenging. Along with Sister Cecily Velleringattu, I visited the women prisoners in Gaya Jail once a week. Listening to their stories and teaching them how to read and write was a meaningful and compassionate ministry for me.

Sister Josita Eniakattu with the Provincial Leadership Team, 1999-2002.

In 1999, I was elected as Vice-Provincial of the Province and moved to the Provincial House, Patna, with Sister Teresa Kotturan, Provincial. I handled most of the secretarial work as well as some of the communications to the Province along with other responsibilities of the Vice-Provincial. Being in leadership gave me the opportunity to share, plan and promote the life and mission of the Province. Occasional visits to the local communities and ministries enabled me to know the different realities faced by the Sisters. During the General Assembly 2001, some major changes were made in the government structure of the Provinces. The five-year term of the India Province leadership team was terminated after three years. Province Assemblies were held in Western and Eastern Provinces for election of the new leadership teams. In June 2002, I moved out of the Province Office and Provincial House, Patna.

Sister Josita Eniakattu as Vice-Provincial, 1999-2000, with Sister Teresa Kotturan.

From October 2002 to May 2003, I attended a ten-month Diploma Program in Counseling and Spirituality at St. Anselm’s, Institute, Cliftonville, U.K. It was an opportunity to live, learn and interact closely with religious men and women of varied cultures, countries and experiences. As an integral part of learning to counsel others, each participant was also required to undergo personal counseling on one-to-one level along with group counseling and therapy. I entered into these sessions seriously and received healing and integration. God blessed me with new life, new learning and skills in counseling and spiritual guidance. During holidays, I had the opportunity to visit some of the historic places in England as well as Ireland, Scotland and Innsbruck in Austria. Graduation day was grand. Among a few others, I was selected to be on the staff as well as to continue my studies for another year at the expense of the Institute. It was a privilege and opportunity, but after prayerful discernment I decided to return to the Province.

Sister Josita Eniakattu in the UK at the institute in St. Anselm’s.

On my return to the Province in June 2003, I joined Shalom Community, Patna. I assisted Sister Marcelline Indwar for a few months with the combined tertianship program of SCNs with the Notre Dame Tertians. In 2004, I was appointed director of our On-going Formation program. The same year I also joined Atmadarshan Retreat Centre, Patna, as a resource person. Conducting workshops and retreats with the Atmadarshan team for Religious men and women was meaningful and fruitful. Each retreat was a deepening and strengthening experience of my own spiritual journey as well as the ones I guided. I truly felt the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit in the sessions we conducted.

Sister Josita Eniakattu in Atmadarshan.

As OGF director, I planned and coordinated renewal programs for different age groups of perpetually professed including Silver Jubilarians. In 2005, I was also appointed as director of temporary professed Sisters and moved to Nazareth Convent, Mokama. After two years of being in these positions, I realized that I was not able to do justice to all the responsibilities entrusted to me. Hence, at my request, I was relieved of the responsibilities of OGF Director. I could then fully focus on the growth of temporary professed Sisters who were in ministry and studies and accompany the Tertians preparing for their perpetual vows. Since the young SCNs were missioned in almost every local community in the Province, I travelled a lot to meet them and be present to them in their ministries and community life. It was also an opportunity for me to get to know the Sisters and their involvement with the people through various ministries and be a part of their joys and struggles in mission. In all my travels I experienced the protection and Providence of God.

In 2010, I moved to Nazareth Convent, Chandapura, to free Sister Reena Theruvankunnel, Vice Provincial, for her much needed sabbatical in U.S.A. I continued to carry out my various responsibilities while staying on in Chandapura with Sister Reena. In May 2012, I moved out of the position as Director of Tertians and Temporary Professed. After the establishment of the new Bangalore Province in June 2012, I left Chandapura, Bangalore.

I had the opportunity to take a short sabbatical till December 2012. As part of the sabbatical, I spent some quality time in Sameeksha, Kalady, as well as in Jeevandhara Ashram, Jaiharikal, and in other Ashrams in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. Those experiences were a fulfillment of a long-awaited dream in my life. There is a part of me that longs for deeper silence and stillness. Ashrams in their beautiful quiet natural settings have offered me that gift. I spent my time in communion with my Creator God in the lap of Mother Nature in prayer and quiet contemplation. Healed, refreshed and renewed, I returned to Patna in December 2012.

Sister Josita Eniakattu in Jaiharikal Ashram in Uttrakhand.

In January 2013, I joined the SCN community in Birsanagar, Jamshedpur, and took up counseling for the students in Gyandeep Vidyalaya. During that year, I also did part time counseling for the ‘differently-abled’ children of our non-formal school in Rajgir. I found that ministry very meaningful for me and beneficial for the children. In both schools, the children were from the marginalized sections of the society. Through counseling, I was able to enter into their lives and help them to deal with some of their difficulties and problems. Many of them experienced healing and were able to do better in their studies. Listening to their stories was also very touching and transformative in my own life.

After the unexpected death of Sister Cecily Velleringatt in September 2014, Sister Basanti Lakra, Provincial, asked me to be the Director of the Tertians once again. Realizing the need of the hour, I generously accepted her request. That meant more journeys, being away from local community for a long time, and ministry responsibilities in the schools in order to be present to the needs of the Tertians in Goa, Bangalore, and elsewhere. It had its positive and negative impacts.

In November 2015, I was appointed to Arunodaya in Patna, to assist Sister Teresa Madassery, Director of the Training Program and Coordinator of the Community. At that time, Arunodaya was set up with facilities for accommodating Sisters requiring medical check-up in Patna. Along with providing hospitality, I accompanied the Sisters to the hospitals when needed. I also helped out with teaching English as well as counseling some of the trainees. I continued to accompany Tertians in preparation for their perpetual vows.

Sister Josita Eniakattu at her Golden Jubilee celebration in 2016.

2016 ushered in the Golden Jubilee year of my religious life. In preparation for the Jubilee, I spent some quality time with my group making a retreat together. It was indeed a graced occasion for us to recall, share and thank God for the blessings of our past fifty committed years as SCNs. My family had a celebration for me at home with Sister Ann Palatty, some close relatives, neighbors and our Sisters from Kakkavayal. My local community, Arunodaya, had another grand celebration for me in the Provincial House. It was indeed a special privilege and joy for all four golden jubilarians to be together for the Province level Jubilee celebrations in Patna and Bangalore.

Sister Josita Eniakattu at her Golden Jubilee celebration in Patna in December 2016.

Once again, I was appointed as On-going Formation Director and moved to Nazareth Convent, Mokama in September 2017. As OGF director I continue to plan and conduct renewal programs and retreats with the OGF team for various groups of finally professed Sisters in the Provinces. I am also able to give some voluntary services to the novices and candidates as well as accompany a few of the young SCNs by giving them spiritual direction and retreats at this time. These various involvements keep me active and alert in mind and spirit.

Sister Josita Eniakattu with Sisters Mary Scaria Menonparampil, Rosemarie Lakra, and Karuna Thottumarickal.

Sixty-one years have passed by so quickly since I entered the great SCN Family in Mokama in 1962. Most of my life has been spent in formation and other Community ministries. There were many blessings and challenges along the journey of my life. God also gave me the needed graces to face the challenges and make the best out of them. Blessings after blessings have been poured into my life by my gracious God. I am deeply grateful to God for the gift of my faith, my family and my vocation, my SCN family, companions and friends and all those who have supported and sustained me during these years of my religious life and mission. In loving gratitude, I surrender myself to Jesus, my Savior and faithful Shepherd who has guided me through the ups and downs of my life with unconditional love and compassion. I look forward to living the rest of my life with joy and gratitude to my God and being a blessing to others in community in whatever way God wants me to be.

I hope and dream that the SCN Congregation will continue to be the leaven in the Church and society as we live out our prophetic role as Religious. From the present trends, we know that our membership will not be very large in the future, but we are called to be a transformative presence wherever we are, united in heart and mind. May we have the grace and courage to live out our Charism creatively in relevant ways, reading and discerning the signs of the time and responding to the urgent needs of our people, especially those on the margins of the society with love and compassion, as Jesus did fulfilling the Will of His Father empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Josita Eniakattu, SCN

Interested in reading more Marie Menard Committee stories? Click here: https://nazareth.org/tag/marie-menard/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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