The year 2019 is the Jubilee year for four nuns of the Holy Cross Menzingen in Sri Lanka. Their fidelity to the promise for 50 long year celebrated on 11th. February. Bravo. After years of prayer, guidance, and consideration, they came to the conclusion, that they could remain committed to their promise for life by the grace of God. So they are privileged today, to celebrate this year. May the Good Lord Bless them to continue for Many more years with sound health and faithfulness. We thank God for helping them sail through all the ups and downs of life. We thank God for preserving them in His love.
It was February 11, 1969, these nuns, just in their twenties, dressed in white long rob and white veils on their head, adorned with flower crowns, knelt before bishop Rt. Rev. L.R. Antony then auxiliary to Rt. Rev. Emilianus Pillai, bishop of Jaffna, in the little chapel of the Holy cross convent at Beach Road, Colombogam, Jaffna, professing, Poverty Chastity, Obedience and perseverance in the service of God. As the Blessed Mother Mary, they have said «Fiat» on this day and started their journey of service as Mary to her cousin Elizabeth.
"As the Lord said this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in her"
These 50 years were not the bed of roses as they would have imagined on that festive day of their final profession. Apart from their day to day crosses, they were called to bear in their routine lives, they faced the civil war, the exodus and the consequences of it that took place during their lifetime.
Finally, the war came to an end in 2009 but did not bring peace to the people of the Island Nation. Different needs of these war-stricken people were handled by different Charity organisations, non-governmental organisations and religious organisations. With limited resources, the nuns of the Holy cross took a different perspective to face the aftermath of the war, since people began to experience a host of mental disorders. The nuns took up the challenge, came out of their cloisters, to address this situation. They began to diversify their mission, while, neither the health system nor the society was prepared to address the Post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and depressive disorders. Sr. Rina, One of these four Jubilarians, took a very active role in treating the post-war affected people No sooner the war ended Rina was sent to further deepen her counselling strategy by following a counselling, psychotherapy, in Atmadarshan, a Retreat and Counselling Centre, run by the Jesuit Fathers of Patna in, Bihar, India.
Her language, computing & music skills were additional qualification to be of service to the community. The far sight of the earlier superiors has prepared her by giving her the opportunity to study the technics of psychosomatic treatments, by sending her abroad both to the United Kingdom and Rome. In the UK at the Institute of St. Anselm, an accredited International Centre for Leadership Training, she obtained a diploma which trained her to recognize the importance of the emotional in personal growth and of the need to clear destructive, detrimental emotions from the body, a necessary part of spiritual evolution. Equally, earlier in the mid-eighties, she followed a course for formateurs in Rome. Though this formation was primarily intended to serve the postulants and Novices of the congregation, it became very handy to treat the post-war victims.
When the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) Jaffna province wanted to run the centre for post-war affected people, Sr. Rina Rasiah was appointed the first directrices in the Counselling centre at Chundikuli. Rina not only attended on the affected but also, trained the fomateurs at the same time, Many who benefited from the centre will bear witness to the untiring efforts of this nun.
The Jubilarians, this year, should now be able to look back, recollect on the path they trod to sing ‘Te Deum’ to thank the Lord. But Sr. Rina unfortunately, now could not recollect her past, to thank the Lord, though she is celebrating the 50th. year of her profession.
When Sr Rina joined the sisters of the Holy Cross with lot of determination, she witnessed the Holy Cross Nuns attending on her ailing mother at the Government Hospital in Kayts, from where she hails. The dedicated service the love and care they showed to the patients in the Hospital sowed the seed of the vocation in this young girl’s mind.
"When the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) Jaffna province wanted to run the centre, Sr. Rina Rasiah was appointed the first directrices in the Counselling centre"
The year 1948 was a very Lucky year, especially the 22nd of April for the father of Philomena Vasantharanee, that is the baptismal name of Sr. Rina. Just the night before his first daughter was born, Mr. Rasiah a Teacher, (Rasiah master, that was how he was known in Kayts), staged a well admired «nattu kuthu», (an ancient dramatic form,) which he wrote and directed on the life of Saint Philomena. That explains the name given to his daughter after the Saint, whose authenticity came under question many years later. Sr. Rina was the second in the line of five siblings to Mr. Thambimuttu Antony Rasiah and Mary Agnes Arumugam.
As for Rina, she is only in the present without neither the recollection of her past nor the planning of her future. She was held captive of her own commitments and fallen victim of her engagements. She is undergoing treatment for dementia. At this stage, she is taken good care of by her successive provincials and the sister nuns under conditions suitable to her present situation. As the Lord said « This happened so that the works of God might be displayed in her. » The Almighty has entrusted her into the safe hands. We wish those taking care of her, courage and endurance.
The Author one of the family members of Sr. Rina, along with all her family members, takes this opportunity to thank the Holy Cross congregation for taking good care of her as their own.