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"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,

before you were born, I had consecrated you.

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The uniqueness of God's call


My name is Sr. Joyfulmary Syiemlieh, I come from Meghalaya, a beautiful state with many hills and valleys, located in the northeastern part of India. I belong to the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver, founded by Blessed Maria Teresa Ledochówska, based in Rome.


I would like to share with you how I came to realize this beautiful vocation to follow Jesus more closely and to embrace the religious life in response to God's call. First of all I would like to share with you some information about my family, my childhood and school. . I was born into a "simple but faith-filled family". My parents, dad Shortstarland Lyngkhoi and mom Probina Syiemlieh had to work hard to take care of their six children. I have an older brother, and being the eldest of the girls, I have the responsibility of looking after my younger brother and my three younger sisters.


My parents sent me to "Nativity Higher Secondary School", an English middle school run by diocesan priests and nuns. I studied in this school from kindergarten to high school  X, and I've had various experiences. We used to read God's Word every day during the assembly, we had various activities during the week such as sports, talents and self-discipline process. As it was one of the best schools in our part, the upper classes were of a high standard and of course the responsible nuns were very strict. This created in me a sense of dislike towards the nuns and I always tried to keep a sufficient distance from them. Although I was never punished, but the feelings were always there. I just respected them   greeting them, but I have never been involved in close conversations.  

As I grew in age and reason, I gradually developed a predilection for aviation and therefore wanted to become a stewardess. Thus, I became   member of the Scout and the Guides in my classes VIII, with the hope of pursuing my dream through this and coming to it. During my registration with the Guides, I was sent for various competitions, training, trekking, national tours, etc. I made the most of the opportunities and became the leader of the group with many uniformed matches. I was very proud to be able to achieve as much as a young student could wish for, and my family was also very happy with the good progress made in  my life and my studies. So, being a member of the Guides, in 2011 our group was sent to a camp in the state of Nagaland to introduce us. We were there in the school of San Giovanni feeling so good with all the pleasant hospitality of the nuns and priests. We really enjoyed our stay there and it was one of the evenings where there was a birthday party of one of the priests, we were also invited for the celebration so we went well dressed in our uniform. It was the occasion in which I spoke for the first time with the sisters with openness and I treated them like our friends and I asked them many questions. Our interaction with them was wonderful that we ate together with them. Precisely on this occasion I changed my thought of not taking the sisters as a dislike, I also created in myself a sympathy for them, I realized that they are very helpful, lovable and even can smile.


When it's   when it was time to return from the camp, we left after saying goodbye to everyone and the nuns included. On the way back at midnight, while we were waiting for the train, we happened to see some young people reciting a play about Jesus in public off the street, beyond the train station. They were so enthusiastic and out loud they wanted all the people who passed here and there to be able to listen to them. Thus, we too have heard them well and that moment in which they spoke of "Jesus did not come to call the righteous but sinners". I had heard it, but I never took it seriously. They tried to get these words into people's hearts, all I saw and paid attention was their action and their zeal to do it in public without shyness or fear. This touched me because what they loved to do, they did well, leaving behind all their feelings about what people can say or how people can react. They simply focused on their role and purpose. In a short time the train arrived and we continued our journey back to our home.


The months went by so soon that it was time to prepare for the final exams of school X and with all the hard work I focused on my ambition to become a hostess, I made the effort to pass the exams. I remember my father telling me that he is ready to pay for the entrance interview even if it will cost so much, but only if I pass the exams well. This gave me the thrill of imagining that I will definitely be a stewardess with no flying experience. My intention was to be as I wanted. So, pending the results, we as friends asked each other what we will do after the X standard. Each of them responded according to their wishes and ambitions and I too did the same. So, was it during this time that I really thought about what I wanted to be? All I had in mind was really my desire. I felt so confident knowing that I know I will be what I dreamed of and liked the most. But at some point, I was reminded once again of the experience I had of the young people at the station who played the drama and of those nuns I met and I felt so happy every time I remembered that meeting with them. . It really gave me some kind of joy from within. I started comparing those nuns in my school and the nuns I met. I could see the difference in their life even though they chose the same lifestyle.  


I started to feel good about this lifestyle and got close to the nuns. But I had a problem that was in my head, that if I tell about my second wish to be a nun, everyone will be surprised because everyone in the school knew me very well who I was and cannot imagine that I am a nun because I am a very person. talkative, used to wandering instead of going to church and all the youth life thing, and besides I told them I wanted to be a stewardess. Finally I expressed my wish to my family members and my mother was shocked because she had never heard from me that I had this interest, but I spoke unwanted about the nuns because they were very strict. So, she told me that none of your friends wanted to choose this life, so where did you get this idea from? She told me that you are too young to decide on this life and if you have to go to a convent you have to do all things by yourself you are not capable of doing it, so she advised me to think about it later after my 2nd PUC studies She thought that my thinking could change in a few years. My father was also surprised and told me that all I said is that I wanted to be a stewardess, but now why this sudden change? My father was not so happy to send me to the convent because I am the eldest daughter. I had to take care of the family and earn something for the future. But I was like that  certain with my decision, even if I did not know anything about this way of life and its missions. All I knew my heart burned within me to be like those young people who were zealous in spreading the faith and like those nuns who spread joy and could change the minds of many who came in contact with them.  


My strong desire lifted me high and I could no longer resist and I decided to go join those nuns as soon as I received my results.   I begged my mom to send me, but she told me that without dad's consent, it's not good that I need his permission too. Eventually, my father was convinced and agreed with me. Then I went to tell the parish priest that I wanted to go to the convent and join the nuns where I went to the field. Listen to me he told me "are you sure you want to try this lifestyle" because he has rarely seen me in the Church. He suggested that I participate in the vocation camp and told me to join the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of St. Peter Claver in Bangalore, but they will not be there during the camp, or if you can join other Congregations. I did as he instructed me and attended the camp and I blindly chose this Congregation without knowing the charism, because all I ever wanted is to stay in the convent and start my life just like them without knowing any of these sisters of this Congregation. . I contacted these nuns (Sister Selin, the superior) and spoke to her and they agreed to come and pick me up from my village and take me to their convent. Finally I also received my results and passed with good grades. I was so happy that I passed the exams and the nuns came and my mother and uncle accompanied me to the convent, we traveled for four days by train.  


When we got to the convent, I could feel a completely different atmosphere from that of home, because there was silence everywhere. My mother whispered, my dear daughter, I am still here for the next three days in case you feel uncomfortable and tell me I will take you home, instead I was so happy to see so many nuns. Finally the day came when my mother and my uncle had to go back to the station, I did not say a word and my mother understood that I am happy with my decision, before saying the last goodbye I could see her eyes full of tears because I know she loves me and could never think of me wanting such an ambition that it will cost a lot in life. He dismissed me from them leaving my mother, even though the separation was so difficult especially from my loved ones.


Since then, my training began: two years as a candidate in Bangalore, one year of postulancy and two years of novitiate and shortly before I could make my first profession my dear grandmother and my mother died. I was in a dilemma again when my mother passed away because I have my younger sisters who were very small and no one was there to take care of them, I thought about staying with them at home, but Jesus strengthened me in these depressing times and he made my faith in him grow, remembering my first joy and my zeal to decide and to want to dedicate myself to the religious life. For this I have chosen the beautiful words of (Philippians 3,8) "I consider everything as garbage to gain Christ" for my first religious profession on July 6, 2017 in Nagpur. Now I am happy that by the grace of God in every decision I have made in my life, especially in times of trial, He has never forsaken me. He is truly the Way, the Truth and the Life. After my first profession I was sent back to Bangalore to take care of the children of the slums for almost a year and now I am currently in the Generalate in Rome.

Sr. Joyful Mary

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